As the people of Africa, including those in the diaspora, commemorate the establishment of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May, one can not help feel a deep and heart-rending sense of shame, betrayal, and anger – as we can not help wondering just exactly how all those men, women, and even children, who lived during the colonial era, and whose visions and aspirations for a continent free for all, and overflowing with milk and honey, could have so easily been turned upside down into one of the worst nightmares ever cruelly imposed on them by their erstwhile gallant heroes and liberators – who have since morphed into the typical Satan’s demons and oppressors.
Of all the days of the year, today is the one that I desist – in fact, dread the most – from ever watching television, or participating on any other media platform – as the likelihood of encountering images and videos of our forefathers and mothers from the colonial period, expressing so much optimism over their anticipated imminent ‘independence’ from the york of racial segregation, disenfranchisement, and oppression.
I can never keep those tears back when watching those agonizing pictures of mostly innocent masses fleeing from colonial police forces’ tear gas stinging their eyes, baton sticks tearing skin from their backs, and dogs unleashed to bite pieces of flesh from their legs – usually, just because their brave men, women, and children dared standing up against colonial and apartheid regimes’ brazen brutality and suppression.
Who can forget the heartless bombing of such liberation forces camps as Nyadzonia, and Chimoio in Mozambique, and others around the southern African region – where most wars of emancipation were waged?
Or, the forced disappearances, and assassinations of several struggle stalwarts – with names as Rhodesia’s Edson Sithole easily coming to mind.
Why do I find such images so disturbing that I desist from watching them?
Well, what is so disturbing, and easily fills me with much agitation, regret, and an overwhelming sense of betrayal is simply that – although, Africa can claim to have been set free, the truth on the ground is that, it is still as oppressed, subjugated, and disenfranchised as before.
Nothing has changed for the average African man, woman, and child. If anything, the situation has only worsened.
Are innocent masses still not been subjected to police brutality, whenever they dare stand up for their rights – with the same tear gas stinging their eyes, baton sticks ripping their skin open, and dogs being unleashed to ravage them with impunity?
In fact, have scores of unarmed people not been cold-bloodedly shot dead on the streets by security forces, on the pretext they were being violent – something clearly against any international norms?
To matters worse, opposition and labour activists have been wantonly abducted by suspected state actors, only to be heinously beaten up, sexually abused, and then dumped along some road…if they are ‘fortunate’, as some, like Zimbabwean journalist Itai Dzamara, have never been returned since his forced disappearance in 2015.
And, if the people express their grave displeasure, they are ridiculed by the powers that be – with such hateful and evil statements insinuating that these abductions were faked and staged.
I wonder how these ‘leaders’ would react if I were to also claim that the Nyadzonia and Chimoio attacks during the liberation struggle, or Sithole’s disappearance, were all faked and stage managed, merely to sole the name of the colonial powers?
I could even go a step further, and allege that these liberation fighters in these camps were simply fighting over some ladies, and ended up shooting each other! How would they feel with such reckless comments?
Do these gruesome acts of aggression and savagery committed by our so-called ‘leaders’ in an ‘independent’ Africa, not remind us of those similar gallant heroes as Edson Sithole – who, today, more than four decades later, have never been found?
So, what has changed?
Just because there are some Black people who are now enjoying this so-called ‘independence’, is nonetheless, meaningless to the vast majority. Besides, did some Blacks not also have it very good during the colonial era?
The OAU, now transformed into the African Union (AU) – what that changes, I also do not know – was ostensibly established for all Africans to have a better life, to be free from leaders who only think of their own selfish interests, and are heartless enough to destroy the innocent lives of any who dare question them.
How many Africans are currently living in abject poverty – not even able to afford the most basic of food, without potable water, with their children out of school as a result of the unaffordability of fees, or dying from preventable and curable diseases due to the unavailability and unaffordability of the most basic essential medication?
Whilst on the other hand, African leaders are some of the wealthiest people on this planet – not through sweat and hard work, but unfettered corruption and plundering of countries’ resources. These are ‘leaders’ – for lack of a more appropriate word – who would rather loot the country until everything is destroyed!
If anything, what these African ‘misleaders’ have managed to do ever since attainment of ‘independence’, has been the wanton destruction and depreciation of whatever economic ‘development’ achieved during the colonial era – such that, what we currently shamefully witness, with all these endless ‘economic blueprints, as Agenda 2063, is Africa not improving from what was inherited at ‘independence’, but actually merely trying to return to colonial standards.
What we are witnessing today, is not producing more in agriculture, manufacturing, or service delivery – but, actually African nations returning their economies to what they were at ‘independence’. Right now, even Zimbabwe, is busy talking about “reviving the country to its previous bread basket status”.
Which status is that? What those in authority are simply saying is that, when the country attained ‘Uhuru’ in 1980, it was the second high biggest tobacco producer in the world, it produced enough food (maize, wheat, beef, milk, etc) to feed the entire continent, it was one of the major growers of cotton, and its industries produced enough iron and steel, glass, asbestos, nickel, chrome, gold, and so much more, to drive the global economy.
However, since we became ‘free’, all our leaders have managed to do has been to destroy, destroy, and destroy – leading our country into a nation of paupers, famine, a laughing stock, and a basket case.
Now all these ‘leaders’ refer to economic development, is merely attempting to return their countries to colonial economic standards.
Such is the tragedy of these so-called ‘Pan Africanists’, who proved to be nothing more than power-hungry looters, who were more interested in attaining and maintaining their hold on power, than attaining, maintaining, and improving their nations’ economies, so that they previously marginalized majority benefit.
Nevertheless, I would never hold my breath – as human experience has proven that, once someone has failed to even maintain what they inherited – but, instead destroying it – there is virtually zero chance of their ability in restoring it back to previous standards, let alone improving to even greater heights.
The OAU was meant to give back all continents’ citizens their God-given right to be heard, and their vote taken as sacrosanct.
Yet, that apparent disenfranchisement of the colonial period still persists today – moreso, on a far greater level, as elections in most African countries, including my own Zimbabwe, have never be free, fair, and credible – characterized by a state media that is openly and proudly, yet unashamedly biased, to political violence and intimidation (including the use of food aid and traditional leaders to force the the poor to vote for the ruling party), as well as election rigging whereby the electorate’s vote is perverted.
Again, I ask – what is there to be proud of on this day? To me, this a day of utmost shame as an African. Are we such primitive people, who can not be expected to be civilized enough to successfully lead our own nations, and run our own lives, without reducing ourselves into some brutal thieving dictators?
Are we not even ashamed that we even still laud tyrants such as Zimbabwe’s Robert Gabriel Mugabe, or Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi as some pan-Africanist heroes? Is it being a hero when one butchers his own people, denies then a right to vote freely and fairly, loots national resources for self-aggrandizement, whilst the rest of the nation starves to death?
Even the AU, and other regional groupings as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), honour them as iconic liberators and gallant heroes – going as far as defending some the continent’s worst rogue ‘leaders’, without so much as uttering a single word of rebuke.
In fact, such anti-African and disgraced institutions – which are nothing more than useless ‘leaders clubs’ – would rather make noise over meaningless concepts as ‘lifting sanctions on Zimbabwe’.
Should they not be making noise over the revolting and disgraceful activities of these pariah ‘leaders’ – which invited those so-called ‘sanctions’ in the first place – which, are largely targeted at individuals, and have no bearing whatsoever on the ordinary people’s lives.
If that is the definition of ‘iconic leadership’ and ‘gallant heroism’, then thank God, I am not any of that.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a Zimbabwean social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on Whatsapp/Call: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263788897936, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured