THE MUTUMWA MAWERE COLUMN
As Africans, we are eloquent in describing what we do not want but we seem not to be capable to define what we want.
The continent’s citizens shared something bigger and stronger in their struggle against colonialism and apartheid. Africa had a cause that it used to launch the anti-colonial struggle and crusade. The justice of the continent’s cause against a race-based hegemony was the justice of its struggle.
Most African countries are still filled with citizens who have no clue of the big picture and what the continent needs to accomplish to reposition its brand as a sustainable and winning brand.
The founding fathers of Africa have in many cases failed to give citizens a sense that they or their contributions are important and invariably the continent’s citizens end up retreating to their comfort zones where they focus on their individual circumstances without any incentive to do more. How much faster would Africa be able to address its developmental challenges if every African had the heart and soul wrapped up in taking aim and shooting at the same target? How many of Africa’s citizens are part of the renaissance crusade or the platinum rights struggle?
A cause is the real reason that any progressive society exists. A cause gives rise to an action, a motive, a principle, a belief or purpose. A cause ordinarily comes from a defining moment in any nation’s history. Searching for meaning and the need to be part of a global community that is progressive and capable of addressing its own problems with home grown solutions should spur us to be less tolerant of our current predicament.
We must ask why the cause that encouraged and inspired Africans to fight for civil rights has not been succeeded by any new cause to provide a feeling of belonging, a sense of purpose and loyalty, peer pressure to perform and a catalyst for action against individuals who masquerade as Africa’s leaders while engaging in actions that undermine the continent’s progress. It is important that we critically examine the leadership issue and who really makes decisions for Africa.
After 50 years of independence, Africa’s decisions continue to be made by non-Africans operating under the umbrella of African flags. The critical decisions about what Africans eat, wear, and which resources to exploit and the utilisation of its human capital continue to be made outside the continent and yet the decision to liberate Africa was made by Africans.
Africa’s colonial system was maintained by a systematic investment in ensuring that the natives remained perpetually ignorant about money, economic education, and financial literacy to the extent that being white was associated with being smart and rich. While the colonial system used ignorance as a key raw material for its sustenance, the post colonial African state has not fared well in the fight for equality and justice.
We can only do better if we know better and we seem to have invested in making Africans believe that there is a causal relationship between political leadership and education on the one hand and business success and education.
The anti-colonial struggle was about civil liberties, the democratization of the rule of law in ensuring that the constitution had a meaning to all citizens, leveling the legal level playing field. However, nothing has changed in Africa and the struggle continues to be about civil liberties, economic and political democracy fifty years after “uhuru” and yet it should be about building on the gains of the struggle and should be concerned with better education, greater ownership and access to capital. Africans in general have been short changed by themselves and really no one is the biggest enemy of Africa than us. In the final analysis, no one can hurt us, but us.
There can never be a more noble call than a call for Africans to take their lives back. Africa needs a new cause that suggests that we must all take a new and more optimistic yet practical and pragmatic approach to politics and economics. Why, because so many African nations with a few exceptions are in trouble; with so many negative and frightening indicators that are far worse than at the time of independence, it should not matter whether someone is black or white, rich or poor, capitalist or socialist/communist, liberal/neo-liberal or conservative and illiterate or literate as long as change visits the continent. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in regime change or not but change must visit those African states where no change means more in the wrong direction. Anyone who advocates change should be seen as a friend of Africa than those who are against change in the mistaken belief that no change helps the poor and vulnerable.
It should not matter as one Chinese leader once said what colour the cat is if it can catch a mice. Our leaders have failed to put in place policies and programs that are needed to eradicate poverty in our communities. Last week, I chaired a debate on the topic: “The Africa we want – What ideology should inform it – Capitalism or Socialism”. The consensus at the end of a heated and lively debate was that Africa should not waste its time on discussing the “isms” but the continent’s policies should focus on: “Getting It Done”.
Africa needs to Get It Done, because a good deal of the work done by African governments to improve the quality of life for Africans has simply not worked for everyone. We have had our wilderness period following the successes of the liberation struggle, but now is the time to move on. In 2007, we can no longer simply have a hope for a better Africa; we must live it in our generation and on our terms.
Africa needs a new deal. The struggles for political hegemony in post colonial Africa has largely been between political elites who come from the same womb. Africa’s post colonial leaders have been drawn largely from the academia and their adversaries have largely been drawn from the labour movement. In both Africa’s academic reservoirs and labour think tanks, we have yet to see any evidence of practical demonstration of leadership that adequately captures the imagination of Africans to be better and not bitter.
Africa needs a new charter that calls for the full opportunity for economic and financial wealth and the assertion of economic rights as platinum rights for which a crusade is needed. This struggle needs new leaders who can inculcate a new set of values for the continent. Africans need to embrace a new ideology of platinum rights in their individual lives, making a commitment to invest in education for themselves and their children as the highest priority after food in the refrigerator and a roof over their heads. Africa needs a new generation of stakeholders beyond the academic and labour interest groups.
weekly column appears on New Zimbabwe.com every Monday. You can contact
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