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Africa is stuck in unworkable social and political systems

Publication Date: 5/28/2008

KENYANS ARE YET TO REALISE that the current political dispensation is not the answer to their incessant political and socio-economic woes.

As a result, they are unable to demand a total overhaul of their governance system, starting with a strong resolve to seek fresh faces that can be trusted with the nation’s leadership.

Africans in general continue to bury their heads in the sand while perfecting the art of building their nations on falsehoods and illusions.

Some have gained a measure of success, but this success rarely lasts beyond a generation due to the fickle foundations of their institutions.

What has happened in Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa testifies to this.

The killings that followed a flawed General Election, in Kenya, the violence in Zimbabwe, and the violence against foreigners in South Africa are a result of lack of effective policies by mediocre African governments.

Elections are always rigged even in developed countries, and illegal immigrants are a constant threat to social systems and well-being of many nations, but people do not choose to kill their brothers, sisters, mothers and children like wild animals as happened in Kenya, and now in South Africa.

Instead of initiating and building on their own policies, African leaders prefer copying what has already been discarded elsewhere as unworkable.

They always ignore the fact that tolerance can only be enhanced when it is redemptive, not when it is wasteful and senseless.

Human beings can tolerate suffering, but they cannot tolerate meaninglessness. The violence in Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa and in many other African nations is steeped in meaninglessness.

Africans need to start basing their operations on truth and facts if they are to turn around many of the conflicts, hatreds, jealousies and violence destroying their continent.

Most violence comes from insecurity. But it is a self-defeatist hopelessness that blinds human beings, and prompts them to eliminate others, ignoring the support, love and generosity of their victims.

This is what happened in Kenya’s Rift Valley three months ago, and it is what is happening in South Africa today.

Africans need to realise that their anger, hatred and cruelty come from their own pain and suffering, and the solution is not to vent it on others. The solution is to embrace the facts and truth so that they can channel their pain into productive uses.

African leaders must also take responsibility for not working hard enough for reconciliation. They need to do more to rein in hegemony, negative ethnicity, elitism and chauvinism.
African governments are responsible for not taking the right measures to curb the appetites of opportunists who manipulate the gullible sections of society into violence for their own interests.

SOME PEOPLE ARGUE THAT WORLD media represent Africa poorly, but is the media image of Africa true or is it exaggerated? If it is true, is it a result of inter-ethnic conflicts, racial conflicts or other factors?

The problem is that Africans have agreed to be defined by the same Western media perceptions, and local journalists have learnt to parrot the same prejudices.

The major powers have thus found it easy to use what they perceive as Africa’s inherent divisions, unquenchable corruption and violence, in order to dominate Africa.

Africans always see themselves as ethnic entities first and citizens of their countries second. They are inordinately proud of their ethnic communities and turn to them to seek refuge whenever they are caught in the wrong.

They are deliberately failing to pay adequate attention to the failure of their political systems, their political parties, and ideologies.

Africans have also fallen prey to borrowed concepts, especially the dictatorship of the so-called dominant view based on opinion polling. In many African countries, opinion polls are manipulated and cannot conclusively determine what the public thinks about social or political issues.

Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing. It is a contradiction for ODM leaders to press for a blanket amnesty for the people who committed crimes against humanity during the post-elections crisis while, at the same time, calling for “truth and reconciliation” in Kenya.

In essence, they are denying the perpetrators a chance to become human again through contrition, remorse and repentance. They are contemptuous of the need for the victims and relatives of the victims to restore their dignity as human beings.

While appreciating their constituents’ pressure, ODM leaders must also reckon with the fact that the victims want public acknowledgment that what happened to them was wrong, so that the burden of shame can be lifted from their shoulders and placed where it belongs.

They’re ashamed of powerlessness and inability to protect the integrity of their own bodies against rapists, arsonists and murderers.

Mr Mule is a Kenyan journalist based in Cologne, Germany.

Write to the author

About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.


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