WHAT Nelson Mandela would have reminded us:
That as He fought in the 1950 & 60’s, the entire continent of Africa was under the colonial yoke
He would have reminded us that we Africans have suffered more than any other race.
He would have reminded us that there was a time when globilisation meant the slavery of Africa.
He would have reminded us that there was a time when slavery lost it’s value and lustre.
He would have reminded us that there were men and women from Europe who took away our freedom and took away our land.
He would have reminded us that through our own effort in the 1950s and 1960s we liberated ourselves.
And the heads of states who were alive then sat down in Addis Ababa in the month of May in 1963 and each one of them spoke eloquently and passionately, reminding us that the acquisition of flag independence was just but the beginning.
He would have reminded us of the great speeches of the many great men of that day and he would have told us that the host on that day Haile Selassie of Ethiopia reminded the hosts that Africa can only regain her esteem if our people are free and if she exploits her resources.
He would’nt have stopped there, he would have gone ahead and reminded us that even before we arrived in Addis Ababa in 1963, the neo-colonial project was alive and well. And that the neo-colonialists had already killed Patrice Emery Lumumba in 1961.
He would have reminded us!
He would have gone through all the speeches of the leaders present on that day on 25th Day of May 19-hundred-and-63.
He would have reminded us of the speech by Julius Kambarage Nyerere and he would have told us that Mwalemu told us that we came here to Addis Ababa not to unite but to underscore the fact that without unity we will be recolonised again.
But he would have concluded with the speech of that great man Kwame Nkrumah and Nkrumah warned us that if we do not unite we will be colonised again.
And he would have said as I look at Africa today I ask myself has Africa liberated ourself from our own declared enemies?
The enemy of poverty is it dead and buried?
Have we written the obituary of poverty, he would have asked?
Have we written the obituary of ignorance, he would have asked?
Have we written the obituary of disease and sorrow?
Are we at the dinner table as equal partners or we still reside in the menu to be consumed by other civilisations….Madiba would have asked?
And I think Madiba would have surveyed the continent of Africa seeking evidence whether the continent of Africa is truly liberated.
He would have started at Cape Town and he would have looked at Cape Town and said: Yes, we liberated ourselves and there’s political liberation from apartheid but he would have asked rhetorically: Is there a possibility that there is economic apartheid?
Madiba would have posed questions but he would not have stopped there, he would have gone to Namibia and asked: Is it different now that we have an African government? Are the young men and women who are resident in Namibia liberated? Do they have opportunities for innovation and invention? Are they tilling their land? Are they getting the fruits of their labour? Are they exploiting their minerals or they are merely workers?
He would have asked of Namibia but he would not have stopped there.
He would have gone to Botswana and he would have asked: Who eats the choicest meats in Botswana? Are they eaten in South Africa or Europe, he would have asked?
He would not stop there. He would go to Swaziland, to Lesotho, to Mozambique, to Malawi, to Zambia, to Angola, and he would ask the same question: Have we liberated ourselves?
And he would have gone to the Democratic Republic of Congo, that country so endowed, and he would have asked if the spirit of Patrice Emery Lumumba settled.
He would have wondered how a country so endowed is the poorest on earth and in the continent, he would have asked. He would have posed questions.
Madiba would have cast his eye and he would have posed the question: Did we not fight and attain independence so that we may not fight against each other?
He would have asked: Are we still fighting and killing each other?
He would have sought evidence to ascertain if we have liberated ourselves from the pain of killing each other.
Madiba would have gone to Somalia and he would have seen the blood letting in Somalia
And he would not have stopped there.
He would have gone to Central African Republic where a brother is rising against brother and sister is rising against sister.
And he would have gone to the Democratic Republic of Congo where there’s unending civil war.
He would have gone to Northern Mali, Mauritania, and to Guinea Bissau and to the Southern Cameroons and he would have come to the verdict that we have not stopped killing each other for no reason.
But he would have not stopped there.
He would have asked about this thing we embrace called democracy. Have we become the richer or the poorer because of it?
He would have looked at a few leaders in different parts of the world and he would have used an African proverb to injunct those leaders that no matter how good a dancer you are, you must leave the stage at a certain time.
He would have told them that leadership is a relay race.
He would have told leaders in Africa that the true success is when your successor succeeds you and there is wisdom, just as we can borrow from the ocean, just as wave pushes wave to renew the ocean, so new blood and young blood must push old blood in order to renew society
And Madida would not have stopped there.
He would have asked: How is it that a continent so endowed, because Africa is endowed
If he went to the West of Africa he would have said: Don’t we have cocoa in Ghana? He would remind us: Did we not call Ghana Gold Coast before we renamed it because of the gold that resides there?
He would have asked: But who makes the cocoa, how is it that the cocoa that is produced in Ghana and Corte d’Ivoire is then converted into chocolate in Switzerland and in Belgium?
He would have posed the question, how is it that the tea that is produced in Kenya is then taken to the United Kingdom and upon a little addition is then christened, British Tea, he would have asked?
He wouldnt have stopped there.
He would have asked: How is it that gold and diamonds produced in Africa are traded in the London Stock Exchange? He would have asked.
Madiba would have asked: Why is it that Africa produces what it doesnt consume and consumes what it doesnt produce? He would have asked.
Madiba would have also wondered if slavery is alive and well or dead.
But Madiba would have looked at the goings on in Libya and he would have looked at black men and black women being sold..
He would have seen dinghies drowning in the Mediterranean sea – drowning and capsizing people in the Mediterranean sea.
He would have seen young men and women being rejected at different ports in Spain and Italy and Malta and He would have asked: Are we children of a lesser God?
He would have posed a lot of questions. He would have asked: How is it that a continent of 1 billion people is still at the bottom of all instances of human development? He would have asked.
He would have posed questions but Madiba would not have drowned himself in sorrow and lamentations
He would have prescribed solutions.
He would have said: Africa must unite But he would have exalted us that our unity must not be at the level of sloganeering and mere rhetoric.
He would have said if Africa wants to be recognised among the committee of nations as a continent that is wise as indeed it is wise, those who are in political leadership must be men and women who recognise that political leadership is indeed a trusteeship on behalf of the people.
He would have reminded us as a South African friend reminded me yesterday that we must do away with dealers and have leaders instead.
He would have reminded us as a South African friend reminded me that we must do away with cheaters and have teachers instead.
Nelson Mandela would have recognised that Africa can indeed liberate ourself.
He would have told the leaders in SADC that the region must allow free movement of labour in a manner that allows people to exploit their potential.
But when in SADC Madiba would have concerned himself with two key things: He would have asked: Why is it that corruption is still a scourge in our midst? He would have asked: Why is it that in SADC we have men and women whose appetite for public goods is insatiable?
He would have asked: Why is it that men and women are in the business of stealing on an industrial scale?
And Mandela would have said:
Mayibuye i Afrika
Viva Mandela, Viva South Africa. Viva Afrika. Amandla!