IN a passage in the New Testament, Jesus warns his disciples to “take heed and be wary of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees”.
Leaven, being an agent to make dough rise, is naturally thought of as a positive ingredient or something to be desired.
Faith leaders explain that by this verse Jesus sought to warn his disciples that while the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees appeared desirable and true, it was in fact noxious.
This week, President Robert Mugabe was in Botswana preaching his own gospel of African liberation, the enduring misdeeds of colonialists and the crucial need for regional cohesion against enemies of African progression.
His statements were by no means novel. In fact, in the last decade, Mugabe has scarcely missed an opportunity to attack what he sees as Western neo-colonialists or regime change advocates who seek to continue the under-development of Africa through political and economic manipulation.
His leaven does indeed sound tantalising. It plays right along with Africans’ inherent self-pity and our tendency to blame external forces and others for our misfortunes.
It is possible to track this philosophy back to the Scramble for Africa, when outsiders brought disease, violence, subjugation and terror to a largely egalitarian continent whose own conflicts were resolved with primitive weaponry and social institutions.
Africans have a historical paranoia, a fact known only too well by bogus traditional doctors and other pseudo-spiritualists who ascribe every ailment to witchcraft and conspiratorial enemies.
Mugabe’s call to arms does sound sweet to the ear, a rallying cry for the region to shake off the colonial hangover and allow indigenous Africans to take control of their economies and thus their own fates.
In fact, some of his statements ring true. Are we not ourselves pursuing citizen empowerment in various forms and through various agencies?
Do we not believe Batswana should have a greater share of the economy? Do we not subscribe to the idea of Africa for Africans and that solutions to our continent should come from within?
However, to use another Biblical simile, a tree’s nature is known by its fruits. And in this light, the results of Mugabe’s gospel are clear for even the most hardened supporters.Advertisement
His wholesale confiscation of land through violence and the desertion of the rule of law, coupled with institutionalised corruption, tribalism and racism as well as the emergence of a governmental fiefdom based on a cult of the leader, makes his gospel hard to swallow.
Regional citizens have seen first-hand the implementation of Mugabe’s gospel in his own country and have also witnessed its impact on his own people.
Rather than solely blaming the past or ‘hidden hands’, Africans need to take responsibility for their own realities.
This starts with prudent governance, respect for constitutional institutions, elimination of corruption and our greater competitiveness in the global village.
Whipping up a frenzy of populist fervour won’t take us there.
“With proper governance, life will improve for all.”
– Benigno Aquino III