The tragic events unfolding in South Africa have plenty of lessons for the rest of Africa. Unfortunately, the continent, including South Africa itself, seems hell bent on plunging into the same problems and coming out, none the wiser.
Lesson one is that political independence and true emancipation are not one, but a two sided heads and tails coin, which needs to be examined closely for it to have value. As it is, Africa continues, sixty years after independence and less for South Africa after apartheid, to continue to pride in those glory days gone by.
Those politically heady days were full of political promise when promises were plenty but little was available by way of how the challenges of baking the cake Africa post-independence was going to face were real. We left it to fate and the ugly reality seems to have now hit us in the face. Generation of the children of 1960s, their children and now grandchildren are still wallowing in the miasma that the wealth of our nations shall come down like manna from heaven.
Lesson two states that continued political research into what works and what doesn’t must be made a culture and that leaving tomorrow to fate is not an option. Africa has been captive first to alien Christianity brought about by western settlers and then prosperity gospel both which seems to thrive on the down trodden having their place in heaven.
We have refused to acknowledge that before the white man arrived, Africans had their religions and their ways of life.
The third lesson we must learn is to deliberately allow independence political ‘Umkhonto we Sizwe’s’, parties to die their natural deaths seeing as their usefulness ceased as soon as the ‘apartheid or colonial’ flag was lowered.
This third lesson is crucial because the messaging during independence is, “do away with this ruling junta and the rest (milk and honey) shall be granted unto you.”
This heaven on earth messaging is what saw Kenya, Tanzania and many of the Southern African states liberated and those ruling parties, particularly in the case of Tanzania continues to ride roughshod over the political affairs of the country (CCM having taken metamorphosed from the ruling founding ruling party, Tanu).
Jomo Kenyatta and Kenya’s liberation movement sold this fallacy to Kenyans and his cabal continues to ride into the sunset over Kenya and her wealth.
South Africa and Tanzania both sold this milk and honey ruse to their citizens but, forgot to teach them the most important lesson, that hard work was going to be needed from independence.
That we were sold ‘the good life’ without being told there would be ‘the good fight’’, has left many Tanzanians and South Africans in a quandary.
It’s only a few days ago when a property development firm from the United States entered the Tanzanian market. Idle charter was quick to dismiss them as ‘madalali’.
Twenty years ago the same udalali claim was used to fight the entry of marketing communications companies specializing in cutting edge advertising from Kenya into this market.
The entitlement is such that it would take 50 years to learn what it ought to take much less by merely learning from others through collaborative efforts. Are we surprised our adverts still featured political loyalty as opposed to brand product loyalty?
It is today politically incorrect and the ruling parties won’t go down the path of correctly stating that the messages sold to our citizens at independence have played a huge role in the rut we find ourselves stuck in.
There are millions of young, angry, hungry unemployed Tanzanians and South Africans especially the latter, who every few years go into a riot, that would not want to work but want a decent living simply because they are South African and government owes their ancestors.
Think about it, in recent years social media has given platform to young Tanzanians who are happy to see millions of acres of land lie fallow unused because “the land is ours.”
These are the ones happy to wait for the Hiace for every Tanzanian promised by a right thinking editorial team a few years ago in a journalistic “journey of voyeurism.”
The columnist is a researcher & Communications specialist with the firm Midas Touché East Africa Email [email protected]