Analysis

Dear Mama Nkosazana, I don’t mean to be disrespectful but…..

A Rejoinder to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's letter to Kwame Nkrumah By Thami Kobi

Dear Mama-Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,

I scribe not to contradict you, as that would be disrespectful to an elder, but rather to deal with the rose-colored glasses and romanticism that’s pervasive when referencing your correspondence with Nkwameh Nkruma.

I am sure that that was not your intention and you were very much alive to the danger of an ahistorical dissection of your content, as that would be an assault to memory.

Africa, the cradle of human kind and civilisation (Timbuktu Scripts) had to surgically remove the cataracts distorting her vision of reality and kept her in perpetual infantility. Professor PLO Lumumba correctly condemns the persistent ‘conceptualization’ of Africa, the engraved stereotypes about Africa economically, politically, socially, psychologically, spiritually, physically, and environmentally.

Mama not only did we have to tackle such racist stereotypes from Europeans but had to also deal with Africans who have accepted that they are ‘sub-humans’ and aspired to ‘whiteness’. Centuries of systematic mental dismantling of African culture, values, morals and traditions, led to Biko observing that the mind of the oppressed is the most potent weapon the oppressor has in his hands.

Educational institutions were weaponised. Thus, laying the foundation for the co-option and assimilation of ideologically bankrupt ‘educated’ African elites and the persecution of organic conscious leaders. African sons and daughters perished in the hands of oppressors and their institutions. Their only crime was to gallantly demand dignity for Africans.

Mama, we remembered the shattered bones of martyrs during the Frontier Wars and the Herero Revolt in the South. The revolutionaries of the Mau Mau Uprising and the Maji Maji Rebellion in the East. We recall The Aba Women’s Revolt (which imbued the Women’s March against passes in the South) and the Mouride Brotherhood (of Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba) in the West. We dare not forget the Algerian Revolution, the Libyan Resistance Movement, and the Egyptian Revolution in the North. Africa 2063 stands strong on the foundation made out of those bones. Challenging the 1884 Munich Conference.

Ethiopia’s independent state served as an inspiration especially under his Highness Emperor Haile Gabriel Selassie.

In a clarion call, Frans Fanon wrote that each generation has to discover its mission and try to fulfill it or die in obscurity in betraying it. The above generation tried to fulfill its mission rather than betray it and their blood kept nourishing Africa’s soil, to paraphrase Tsietsi Mashinini.

However, post-independence Africa had a tumor to be dealt with: old corrupt and hand-picked ‘leaders’ that resisted vacating institutions of power and who were savagely brutal towards opponents. Ideologically bankrupt leaders who turned to be criminals, exactly what Thomas Sankara warned about.

This ideological bankruptcy led to civil wars, genocide, dictatorships, and the sinful plundering of Africa’s resources to the benefit of ‘former colonisers’ and the new elite who were custodians of colonial interests. Gate-keepers for neo-liberalism.

Such mental posture is what Paulo Frère called binary-consciousness. Mental-contradictions where you hate your oppressor but yet aspire to their material possessions and status. Thus, one doesn’t fight to dismantle the unjust economic system in order to benefit the majority of the people but to benefit oneself, family and friends. Africa’s post-independence was riddled with such slave mentality.

Mental liberation was the ultimate battle that needed to be won. It was hard because germane to mental slavery was the ethnic and tribal vitriol designed to undermine unity among Africans.

We had to come up with an education system that spoke to African culture, values, and traditions. An education system that comes from the grass-roots level and inspired by African values, culture, morals and traditions as Paulo Frere adumbrated. Educate and conscientise people on a massive scale. Water had to break first for 2063 Africa to be born.

Such paradigm shifts were deliberately frustrated by the coterie. They made sure that all the economic benefits accruing out of the natural resources of Africa went to and built Europe, no beneficiation for Africa and its people. The elites were living in palaces and had personal bank accounts abroad with large sums of monies in them, meanwhile people had no schools, hospitals, jobs, or food to eat. Precisely what Chris Hani warned us about.

Mama, the Congo had enough natural resources for electricity to light up the whole of Africa, but that was undermined by private business interests in cahoots with corrupt political leaders leading to decades of deadly conflicts. It was scandalous.

A continent endowed with various kinds of natural resources like gold, diamonds, platinum, oil, gas, copper, uranium, etc., the richest in the world yet the most undeveloped, poverty-stricken, and plagued by externally fuelled internecine ethnic wars. It was shameful.

As a result of such man made calamities on Africa and its people the rejection of corrupt leaders and political parties that fought for liberation but got co-opted into the unjust neo-liberal economic system that kept millions in abject poverty through corruption, nepotism and cadre-deployment was ominous.

Africa’s education had successfully conscientised the people about their unjust material conditions and the enabling role the liberation leaders and parties played in its perpetuation.

The youth of the continent came to a sobering realisation that their grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles are directly contributing to the proliferation of poverty, unemployment and instability through their blind loyalty to political liberation movements regardless of their pervasive moral bankruptcy.

We resolved that it cannot be business as usual. Echoing at the back of our minds was George Orwell’s warning that a people that keep voting corrupt leaders into power are not victims but accomplices to the crimes those leaders subsequently commit. An antithetic posture to the status quo was a necessity and a requirement for structural changes.

As a young majority in Africa we decided to tackle our man-made despair and apathy towards the political and economic systems by mobilizing each other via social internet platforms. It dawned on us that corrupt leaders keep relying on their old age votes when it comes to election time because elders will go out in numbers and vote for them, while the youth did not even register to vote let alone go and vote on the day of voting.

Black consciousness, inspired by Steve Biko, was the philosophical outlook with regard to the dialectical material conditions embedded in race relations in Africa. We conscientised each other about the importance of voting and its link to economic decisions. Highlighted how it can take out corrupt parties and leaders from power and vote into power people that will uplift the poor. The youth found its mission, and was hell-bent on fulfilling it regardless of the violent consequences that were meted out by the corrupt establishment.

We articulated the importance of agency in our lives and where we would like to take Africa politically and economically.

In dispensing with apathy towards the edifice, we dealt and exposed the deceptive and manipulative role the media played in manufacturing consent for the benefit of the elite, to paraphrase Naom Chomsky. We realized that the media in general is privately owned and its owners most of the time do business with the corrupt government leaders. Thus, there’ll be no objectivity when dealing with the material conditions of poor majority and siphoning of money from the fiscus meant for service delivery.

We uncompromisingly confronted embedded journalism and exposed fake news.

We forced the media to introspect the bias nature of its news reporting perpetuation injustices. They had a choice to make: Be part of the solution or problem? It could not be business as usual even for them, individually and collectively. Their job was to disseminate information for the benefit of the public and expose instances of abuse of power, not to tell people what to think or what they should concern themselves with.

We occupied spaces seldom thought susceptible to political weaponisation.    

We resolved and sent a clear message that we will not tolerate outside interference from imperialist countries that seek to only plunder Africa’s resources, and voted into power leaders that spoke about beneficiation when foreign companies are interested in investing in our natural resources and sustaining the environment in the process.

We made it clear that Coup de’ tats will not be tolerated in Africa. Western imperialist meddling in African countries must come to a screeching halt. They either come with honest intention of doing business or they do not come at all. Fermenting instability and exploiting Africa needed to end. Those companies had to adhere to the international standards enshrined in the KING REPORTS on corporate governance and accountability.  

The military belongs in the barracks and is there to protect the sovereignty of the continent and not delve into politics, and that there will be no military foreign basis in Africa or military aid as this undermines Africa’s sovereignty and pursuance of an independent foreign and economic policy. Africa shall have its own military army and solve its own conflicts.

We resolved that no aid of any kind shall be accepted from former colonisers as it is just a facade and 90% of the money, as Dambisa Moyo pointed out, circulates in those donating countries and never makes it to Africa. No more loans from the IMF and World Bank for they come with conditions that undermine a country’s sovereignty and sets it up for whole scale privatization. Africa is rich enough to finance its own developmental programmes, the problem has always been the corrupt leadership.

Mama the world needs Africa, its resources and its young population but this time around engagement will be on our own terms, not prescribed by Bretton Woods’s institutions. Women led this fight at all fronts, and that is why we legislated the equal representation of women in governments especially in leadership roles. The empowerment of women was and shall continue to be a corner-stone of Africa’s success.

Mama, we instructed our young elected leaders that no African country shall pay ‘colonial tax’ (as France has been demanding from its former colonies) or have its reserve in other continents other than Africa. The continent shall trade with any country it wants to. We demanded the reform of the UNSC with Africa and South America being permanent members in the SC.

Africa drafted a resolution demanding that the UN headquarters should be removed from the USA as it is now weaponising the institution against those that differ with it on economic and foreign policy issues. We proposed that those institutions be moved to Africa as it is a central continent. Africa demanded the move towards the de-dollarisation of international trade as the US is using its fiat currency to conduct economic terrorism on other countries through imposing illegal sanctions for maintaining their independence and sovereignty.

We demanded the wiping-off of all African debt incurred by self-enriching and colonially appointed or approved leadership, otherwise Africa will demand compensation for centuries of colonialism and slavery double the amount of her current foreign debt. Africa has to start on an even scale as she took her fate in her own hands with regard to development and economic prosperity.

If Israel could be compensated for the holocaust then it’s about time western countries responsible for and benefited from colonialism and slavery are held accountable for their crimes against humanity. Period.

The young elected leadership of the continent stood firm knowing that the entire continent was behind them when presenting these uncompromising positions in the UN. Africa closing rank was like pulling the rug from underneath the western colonial imperialists. Africa had managed to marshal the support of its allies in South America, Asia, Middle East and Eastern Europe.

It was a moment of truth and a collective elected leadership that was given a mandate of no compromise with imperialists.

The leaders absolutely knew that we would burn them and their families at the stake if they dared to sell-out, not that we were worried about that because it was leadership of principle carved from the bosom of Africa herself. Grass-roots organic leadership alive to shared African daily struggles and inspired by the continued fights of Lula, Chavez, Maduro and Morales against capitalism.

We could not have done it if there wasn’t a paradigm shift that embraced consciousness and agency.

Africa 2063 stands on ambitious dreams of youth that went against their grandparents, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, and sometimes brothers and sisters. Our families disowned us as we were viewed as ‘too radical and naïve’ because we rejected with contempt the notion that Africans will get their riches in ‘heaven’ after death and must suffer now materially while the Europeans that came with this religion lived in riches here on earth from the backs of Africans.

We were called the lost generation. Friendships ended because we refused to swallow the pill of bondage. Our ideas were called unpragmatic yet our very actions were rooted in pragmatism, as Dewey espoused it.

We paid an enormous emotional price for our posture and was followed by the ultimate one.

Africa caught up with developed countries because the youth demanded, from its young educated leaders, laws to be passed that protect our economies and laws that punish companies evading tax. We demanded institutions to be established and equipped in order to implement these laws.

We demanded the judicial system to reform and let it known that judges are there to serve the people and not interpret laws to serve private interests or to undermine the moral values of society through making judgements more concerned about the rights of the criminals rather than the victims. That was unacceptable and committees were established to review all the laws and get rid of colonial laws that held the judicial system at ransom, and at the expense of progress and justice.

We demanded from the judiciary to administer justice that differentiated between punishment and rehabilitation. Justice that is interested in punishment when you kill a fellow human being, not rehabilitation. If the law says you must die for killing a person then you must or rot in jail, after a fair legal process.

We demanded politicians to enact laws that say if you rape children, women, and elders then you should know that you will rot in jail and never be released on parole. We are not interested in your rehabilitation but you must receive the legally prescribed punishment. Criminals had to know what the law is and the consequences of their choices. However, if you steal, rob, break-in, high-jack cars without doing grievous bodily harm to the victim then you may be considered for rehabilitation.

Judges needed to know that they exist on the behest of communities. Their salaries are paid by people’s taxes and their loyalty lies not towards the law but to the people.

Those rogue judges that passed judgements contrary to the boni mores of society, hiding behind the technicalities of the law, were dealt with and removed from the judiciary as they held back the advancement of Africa. We zoomed in on judges whose decisions seems to be for incarceration even for minor petty crimes but allow bail for heinous crimes that do not merit bail.

We looked at overcrowding as to whether is deliberate for business purposes hence we also looked at the various boards that judges and legal practitioners serve on and possible direct or indirect link to the service providers of the Department of Correctional Services. The whole justice system was corrupt.

We unapologetically rejected the foundations of the western legal system as it is premised on the supremacy of individualism rather than the collective and justice. Africa and its civilization is premised upon the well-being of the collective, society as a whole. Individuals serve and find meaning in society and not the other way round. I am because we are.

Politicians were forced to enact laws that jail, not fine, Europeans that use racist terms to refer to Africans. This was the result of seeing how Africans were disrespected under the laws of these corrupt and co-opted leaders, which resulted in Europeans who felt and behaved as if they were still masters in plantations during colonial times.

The youth had a problem with a government that built prisons instead of schools and creative hubs. They forced government to invest in R&D and support SMMEs. Thus leading to a vibrant and thriving business environment that encourages young Africans to start their own businesses because government’s role is to assist them based on the viability of their businesses and not their proximity to power.

Black owned multinationals and legal firms and industrialists emerged because we instructed and demanded government to give them business and stop enriching western companies that evade taxes and take profits to other countries. We dealt with the red-tape of opening a business and monopolies.

We enacted laws cutting bloated salaries and benefits of public servants especially nationally and provincially, and redirected those funds to improve the salaries of police, teachers and nurses to signal the importance and appreciation of their services to the nation. They educate, heal, and protect us. There is no higher calling than that. 

We enacted laws that state if you kill a law enforcement officer you will be put to death, having been found guilty by a fair legal process. Not prison but death. Every single (1) bullet directed at a police officer equals to 10 years in prison. Assaulting and/or wounding a law enforcement officer equals to life imprisonment, which means you only leave prison upon death. Law disobedience can no longer be treated with kid’s gloves in a violent and crime ridden society and enforcing it is a serious matter.

It was highly problematic to see government feed criminals in prison daily yet millions of innocent children went to bed on an empty stomach and didnt have a roof over their heads. It was shameful to see criminals receiving better health care than the citizens themselves. Hence the overhaul of the prison system, how it worked, and the redirecting of resources to service delivery.

Governments hired skilled and qualified youth to fill millions of vacant posts with experience not as a key requirement. Tertiaries don’t give work experience. Labour Brokers and Credit Bureaus practices were criminalised as they were weapons against black economic emancipation and participation. We forced government to take a “risk” by hiring its own young and unemployed population thus retaining key skills and less brain drain.

As much as 2063 represents Africa’s moment of unity and economic emancipation but it must never be forgotten that it all started in 2030 by the young martyrs that gave up everything for its realisation.

With love,

-Unfulfilled Potential

 

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