Africa’s leaders are a different breed, one that’s become synonymous with plundering the continent’s resources and the refusal to leave power…this among a plethora of numerous other transgressions.
A few years ago I got a couple of tattoos on my left arm, one of which is an inscription that says “Liberation from Struggle”. As much as I love the symbolism of this particular statement, it’s only now that it’s starting to make real sense to me. You see, the history of Africa is embodied in struggle and, naturally, the battles for liberation from that struggle. These liberation milestones are what we like to celebrate as “Independence day”. My South African and Kenyan brothers and sisters refer to them as “Freedom day” and “Jamhuri Day” respectively. Different nations give it different names but it is essentially the milestone that marks the point of liberation from struggle.
After these “independence” days, a “new” life starts…supposedly. But it’s not really new. For instance, in Zimbabwe, the leaders of the struggle became the leaders of the liberation. This was the case in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, etc.
You see, whilst many view the “independence” day as the point of liberation, the liberation is not a milestone in itself. It is in fact the period following the milestone, where “independence” day could be that milestone I guess. In a sense we have two periods i.e. Struggle and Liberation, and these periods are separated by an independence day.
So essentially, there are two types of leaders: “Products of the Struggle” and “Products of the Liberation”. The problem in Africa is we are endowed with Products of the Struggle (POS) when in actuality it is Products of the Liberation (POL) that we need. Ever noticed how most African leaders will rebuff their challengers by calling their struggle credentials into question?! “He didn’t fight for this country” or “She wasn’t even born when we were fighting the struggle”…these are POS! And the people they are talking to? Those are the POL.
You see, the primary job of the POS must be to ready the country for the POL. But this is not as easy as it sounds, problem being the POS lived the struggle and has that struggle coursing through his veins. This is irrespective of his intellect. It is important to highlight that it is not the intellect of our POS leaders that is being called into question but rather the trauma he has endured.
I needn’t tell you the struggle period wasn’t a good place to be. It was a godawful world filled with corrupt and self serving mercenary-esque goverments which were built on prejudice, nepotism, exploitation, self enrichment and just plain old venality. Regardless of which side of the battle field you were on, you were immersed in this life and it brainwashed you to think, act, and be exactly what it was. It traumatised you to the point where it became very unlikely that you would ever totally escape its clutches. Herein lies our African problem. Our governments are filled with POS, many still living the life they saw and learnt from the struggle. The life of corruption, self enrichment, and exploitation of a nations wealth and its people. They have never been rehabilitated, never grieved, or ever had a chance to heal.
What should “ideally” (if ever ideal exists) have happened in Africa is this:
1) we should have been led through the struggle by the POS
2) reached the end of the struggle and marked that milestone with an “independence” day
3) Thanked our POS, phased them out quickly, set them up with nice pension plans and celebrate them til the end of time for their sacrifice
4) Introduced Afro-specific governments led by POL with appurtenance from apposite POS
Is it thus too late for us? Well, it’s never too late. POL are springing up in corners here & there of African politics. They are slowly but surely occupying positions in governments, municipalities, wards, etc. The trick now is to ensure they get support from the right POS and not get poisoned by the wrong POS. Otherwise Africa’s perpetual cycle of hurt may never end.
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