Africa’s stone age politics – a confirmation of our primitivism?

One of the most contentious debates ever to capture the minds of mankind over the course of history has been whether African people were more primitive than Europeans.

Grace Mugabe

Of course, there has never – and, I believe, there can never – be a scientifically acceptable answer to such a question – besides, I do not believe, in this politically-sensitive world, there can ever be anyone audacious enough to carry out such a research.

Personally, I have never believed that there were ever any  genetically-determined intellectual differences between the world’s racial groups.

Being a Christian, I sincerely believe that all humans were created in the image and likeness of God, and as such, are equal intellectually.

However, I do believe that there are some aspects in our upbringing, socialization and environment that determine our intellectual capacity – and this is where differences in our intellect capabilities may fester.

This is definitely not a scientific discourse on racial intellectual differences, but an attempt to understand the reasons behind the apparently primordial nature of African politics.

Before cutting ourselves, as Africans, to pieces, it is worthwhile to point out that barbarity in politics has never been confined to only one set of people.

In fact, some of the most monstrosities ever known to human history were committed by Europeans – be they on their mainland, the New World, or their various colonies, through such atrocious practices as slavery, and ethnic cleansing.

This was, arguably, the darkest part of human history, and will always be regarded as such.

As much as other races were, obviously, involved in similar practices – one way or another – these were, by comparison, at a less grand scale.

However, in the 21st century, one would have expected the human race to have evolved to such an extent that the politics of barbarity should have been firmly confined to the dark ages.

Needless to say, that is not the case.

In Africa, the supposed cradle of humanity and civilisation, today, the primitive politics is still the order of the day.

Looking at Africa today, would anyone believe that this was the home of such magnificent civilisations as the Axum Empire (Ethiopia), Songhai Empire in west Africa, Land of the Punt (Somalia), the Kingdom of Kush, Egypt, and so many others?

This once great and mighty continent has been so callously turned into a global embarrassment by our leaders, who have exacerbated doubts in the minds of many as to Africans’ abilities to rule themselves.

How else can one describe a situation where, a leader refuses to step down, and employs every trick – no matter how gruesome – to stay in power till death – whilst, he or she proclaims to be a democrat?

Can it ever be excusable for a leader to manipulate the constitution, not for the enhancement of democratic values, but in order to prolong his or her leadership – whose mandate would have been coming to an end?

A recent case in point would be that of Uganda’s Yoweri Musoweni, who is pushing for the amending of the country’s constitution to remove presidential term limits that would have prevented him from seeking another term.

Similarly, there is Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza, who amended the constitution so that his presidency will also be extended.

His neighbour, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, not to left out of this power frenzy, a few years back, pushed for constitutional changes for him to rule for more decades.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Joseph Kabila had a ingenious strategy to prolong his grip on power, whereby he had the country’s electoral commission declare that elections that were supposed to be conducted late 2016 – where he was not eligible to run, as his term had expired – where to be postponed indefinitely, as there were inadequate preparations for the plebiscite.

The electoral commission recently announced that the long-overdue elections were to be held end of 2018!

In Zimbabwe, we have a 93 year old leader who will do everything possible – including oppressive laws, an unfair electoral system, and state sanctioned repression – to ensure that his 37 year hold on power is unbroken.

In 2011, Africa was also the scene of major uprisings that toppled longtime dictators in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia – whilst, potential rebellion in other predominantly North African countries were quelled after abrupt constitutional changes to appease the populace.

The continent has also been fertile gound for armed conflicts mainly as an unfortunate, but desperate, response to tyrannical regimes, whose people had had enough.

Of late, conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Republic of Congo, and South Sudan, could be attributable to this phenomenon, as their leaders – at the time of the outbreak of the armed insurgences – were mainly viewed as despotic.

I could go on and on, touching on other African dark clouds – such as coups in several, especially West African – countries, but I believe that the case has been made.

There is something fundamentally wrong with our politics – and ‘civilised’ is definitely not the word to use.

Why is it that the only time that any significant constitutional debate takes place on the African continent is not to enhance the lifestyles of the ordinary people, but to consolidate the leaders’ grip on power?

Why are African leaders so brutal that they are willing to kill their own people in order to stay in power – as millions upon millions have lost their lives on the continent, not as a result of natural causes, but at the hands of their leaders?

Is these not textbook cases of psychopathic behaviour – which removes all forms of conscience, and compassion?

What type of a leader would plunder most of the country’s precious resources – enriching his or her own family, whilst the rest of the population wallows in poverty?

Where a First Lady can buy a decorative ring for US$1.4 million, and yet the vast majority of the country’s citizens can not even afford one decent meal per day.

A continent that is endowed with some of the world’s richest resources – potentially making it the wealthiest on the planet – has been reduced to a basket case, by a corrupt leadership that seeks only to enrich itself, at the expense of its citizens.

Year in, and year out, Africa is always in the news headlines as a result of abject poverty and hunger induced by such a leadership.

Only in Africa – outside of a monarchy – do we witness a family that considers itself the ‘owners’ of a country, such that leadership is passed on from one family member to another.

In fact, the situation is far much better in a monarchy because such a system would generally be acceptable to the people of that country – provided they are freely permitted to change the status quo, should they so desire.

How else can anyone characterize such a leadership as witnessed on the African continent?

There is nothing more humiliating than watching global news media, and hearing that another African leader has amended the constitution, so that he or she can stay in power longer than was mandated.

Or, how millions of people in South Sudan are needlessly dying, starving, or fleeing their homes because of a war caused by two power-hungry people – none of whom truly caring for the people – are fighting over power.

Is this a continent to truly be proud to be part of?

I see and hear a lot of people saying how proud they are to be African, but my question is: what is there to be proud of?

Can Africans in other parts of the world genuinely walk around with their heads held up high?

I think not!

Our leaders have, indeed, made us the laughing stock of the entire world.

A significant number of White people have for centuries tried to convince everyone else, as well as each other, that Africans were many steps below the evolutionary ladder.

Yet, when we finally have an opportunity to prove them wrong, our leaders do everything in their power to prove them right.

African leaders have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they are primitive in all aspects.

How else can one describe such bestial behaviour?

It is now time for the rest of African society to prove to the rest of the world – and to ourselves – that Africans are the founders of civilisation, and that we are the cradle of humanity.

We have been looked down upon for far too long, and we can not allow our leaders to add to this misconception.

Our leaders have actually made Africans further lose belief in themselves, as they have emboldened the anti-African narrative.

We have to bring back African pride, and prove that we built and ran some of the most successful kingdoms ever known to mankind, and that we can do it once again.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is available should you invite him to speak at any gathering and event. Please call/WhatsApp: +263782283975. Please also follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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