By: Kevin Mofokeng
When I look at Africa, many questions come to mind. Many times I ask myself what would happen if Haile Selassie was to rise up, and see what is happening. Many times I would ask myself, what would happen is Kwame Nkrumah was to rise up and see what is happening.
Because what they would be confronted with is an Africa were Nigeria is unsettled, war amongst citizens and Boko Haram militants is on-going, that is not in the front pages of our newspapers, because we don’t even control our newspapers and the media. Currently Kenya is at war with Al-Shibab militants, but we talk about it mutedly. In South Sudan, the youngest nation in Africa. Niger. Libya. South Africa. In Somalia it’s no better.
Africa is at war with itself. This is what they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with an Africa which its statistician and romantic economy say its growing but which in truth is stagnated. That is the Africa they will be confronted with. An Africa that’s suffering from schizophrenia, it does not know herself. An Africa which its young men and women have no interest in and have no love for their continent.
They would be confronted with an Africa where young men and women are constantly humiliated at the embassies of European countries and United States of America as they seek the Almighty green card. An Africa where its young men and women from Niger, Senegal, Mali, drown in the Mediterranean as they seek economic asylum in Europe. This time around Africans are not walling and kicking as they are being taken away to be enslaved. They are being seen walling and kicking as they seek to be enslaved in Europe or United States of America. This is our tragedy.
They will be confronted with an Africa where its people have lost self-pride. An Africa where they are not proud of their things. An Africa where in the hotels of Nairobi, even food have foreign names, when we fry potatoes we call them ‘French fries’ even though they are fried in Botswana/ that is the Africa that they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with another Africa.
An Africa whose story is told by Europe and United States of America. The CNN, BBC World, France 24, Sky News. An Africa where young men and women have no pride in their continent. When they want to enjoy themselves, they sing praises of football teams from Europe and United States of America. It is Manchester United, Arsenal. It is Real Madrid, Barcelona. Not Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates. Not Mufila Wondrous. Not FC Leopards. No! They will also be confronted with an Africa which does not enjoy theatre and drama.
That Africa that celebrates Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. It celebrates Leonardo Dicaprio. The Africa does not celebrate Genevieve Naji of Nigeria or Terry Pheto of South Africa. It does not celebrate Botswood, Nollywood, Bongowood or Riverwood, it celebrates Hollywood. That is the Africa they would be confronted with. They will also be confronted with African women whose greatest source of joy is Mexican soapie opera La Pratona, the rituals of the rise. Why must we remind ourselves of these realities because throughout the ages, the battle has always been the battle of the mind.
And if our minds are conquered then we are going nowhere. That is why in the ages of enlightenment is Europe, Rene Descartes famously said “I think, therefore I am” . and therefore if Africans are to begin to make a contribution in the affairs Africans must begin to think. But the question is are we thinking? We have universities in their numbers. We have engineers, but our roads are not being made by Tanzanian civil engineers, it is the Chinese who are making our roads. We have doctors whom we have trained, but when we are sick, particularly if you are a member of the political class, we rush to first world aid, to the United Kingdom, France, Usa- and recently because the Asian are beginning to get their act together, we run to Dubai. Notwithstanding that we have the Kenyata Hospitals, the Mhibili’s of Tanzania, the Mamaemo’s of Zaire but we have no faith in our doctors.
In the area of education we also don’t have faith. Our political class introduced something that they call free education but is free indeed free of knowledge. Because they are so suspicious of those institutions that the typical African politician would not dare take their children to those schools. Their children will be educated in the British system. In the American system, so that when they graduate, they go to the United Kingdom, United States, not that there’s anything wrong with those institutions but the agenda is wrong because our leaders long lost the script and ought to be described for who they are, our mis-leaders.
But we are co-authors of our own misfortune. Whenever we are given an opportunity to elect our leaders we are given a blank cheque and if you give one a blank cheque and allow them to analogize and then go on to say that they were given the blank cheque to buy a Mercedes Benz. How does that happen because what we do is elect thieves. We elect hyenas to take care of goats and when the goats are consumed we wonder why.