Perennial complaints of racism should force Africans to focus more on developing their own countries

I will never support and defend racism - which, I regard with utter disdain, as the lowest depths at which a human being can ever sink.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Indeed, we are all of one species – as much as I am still debating within myself as to how exactly species are determined – and, we need to treat one another with love and respect.

Therefore, my heart bleeds when I learn of endless incidents of racism being reported in various parts of the globe – more so, in the daily, professional, and even sporting lives of those of a different race, ethnicity, and even religion.

It takes me back to when, as a little nine year old boy – having recently moved to a former white suburb of Redcliff, and white school in 1982, soon after Zimbabwe’s independence – was called a “kafir”, and a few racist parents barring their children from befriending me, even resorting to beating them up, whilst calling me “monkey and baboon”.

Although, this primitive and savage tendency has been with us for as long as human beings have existed – leading to clearly racial wars and killings, slavery purely based on ethnicity, and colonialism largely of nations belonging to those of a different skin colour, even resulting in cases of genocide (as occured to Namibian Herero, Nama, and San at the hands of the Germans between 1904 and 1908)  – one would have expected today’s world to have developed, evolved, and become more civilized.

However, even in recent years, allegations of racially-inspired injustices, discrimination, and even subjugation are tragically still very much part of our daily lives.

In fact, just last week, there were numerous troubling reports coming out of the Russian attack on Ukraine, whereby those of African descent were said to have been mistreated in their attempts to flee the war ravaged country, as they sought refuge in other European neighboring states as Poland and Hungary.

There were accusations of racial profiling by Ukraine police, being thrown off buses and trains, and made to wait in separate queues for unfairly longer periods than their white counterparts.

As mentioned earlier, I also dream of a world that lives in peace, love, and harmony – with each and every one of us being blind to race, ethnicity, tribe, creed, religion, and even gender – but, facts on the ground prove that we are still a long way away.

The question then becomes – “how can we work with our prevailing situation and minimize, wherever possible, these incidents of discrimination”?

Why are there so many of us Africans in such European countries as Ukraine – some which are clearly more racist than others?

Again, without trying to sound justifying racism – but, we need to be realistic about these issues.

Let us remember that the adage, “birds of a feather flock together” was not merely plucked out of the air – as there is proven scientific and psychological logic to this.

According to Tajfel and Turner (1986), the phenomenon referred to as “social identity theory” suggests that, individuals experience collective identity based on their membership in a group, such as racial, ethnic, and gender identities.

Furthermore, there is what is termed, “similarity/attraction theory”, which posits that people like, and are attracted to, others who are similar rather than dissimilar to themselves.

This is a fact we can not deny – and, in all likelihood, each and every one of us practice this more often than not… although, it may not necessarily be in the form of brazen hatred of those different from us.

The fact that we choose to establish friendships and relationships with a particular type of people, and not another – is in itself an example of this phenomenon.

Thus, as much as we all have to unite in fighting this scourge of racism – let us also be honest with ourselves that it is natural, to some extent, and is likely here to stay.

We then need to figure out what it is we are running away from back home in Africa?

It has never been a secret that our continent has been known for all the wrong reasons – including rundown economies, joblessness, poor educational standards, hunger, wars and conflicts, and so many more circumstances that render life unbearable and unliveable.

Those who have had the opportunity for a “better life” elsewhere, have inevitably and understandably left their own countries for supposed “greener pastures”.

Should we, then, not be pushing for our own countries to become the “greener pastures” that we desire?

Would it not be more prudent if we spent more effort fighting for the end to rampant corruption and plunder of our national resources (more often than not, at the hands of our own governments with the complicity of both foreign states, and multinational corporations), meaningless power struggles (which usually end in fierce conflicts and wars), and standing up to leaders who mismanage and ruin our countries?

Africa is a well-endowed continent – which can easily feed the entire planet, and become the wealthiest in terms of real economic prosperity that directly benefits its ordinary people.

So, why are we not uniting as Africans in ensuring that we resist power-hungry kleptomaniac leaders who have sought only to enrich themselves, whilst their populations wallow in abject poverty?

Are we not supposed to be the continent that attracts Europeans – not to colonize us again – but, for a better life, as they view our land as the “greener pastures” to run to?

Racism is detestable, and can never be tolerated – but, as it stands today, Africans need to do everything in their powers (and, there is nothing more powerful than an united people), and fight for a continent where we all can prosper, and no longer see the need to flee towards where we are not welcome.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +264782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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