I often ponder what it truly means to me to be Afrikan. Does that identity represent a currency with any value or meaning? And if so, what difference does it make today? Truly speaking, what pride do we share as Afrikans if any at all? We have witnessed major triumphs in the eruption of voice of the people across the continent in Egypt and Tunisia yet we sit with the world’s worst despots such as Robert Mugabe, Yoweri Museveni, Muammar Al-Qaddafi, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.
In many instances we call these men our liberators when we should berate our captivity. I mourn the death of our proliferation and genius as nations buried in the coffins of greed, materialism and patriarchy. Now forgive if I might sound unpatriotic but I deplore the systems that we have erected that deny us- the heirs of this land- men, women and children a right to the abundance of this continent and that render us subservient to the self serving agendas of a powerful “elite”.
As a result of this degeneration at every level of society it is the most powerless who are denied access to basic human rights of freedom, justice, free association, free speech- the human right to choose. However, access is not denied to the privileged minorities that can purchase these rights at a price that the poor must pay and suffer heavily under the cost of. The creation of semi-feudal systems and hegemonies are constructs of our own greedy intentions. There is a phenomenon in our midst that threatens our most intimate and vulnerable states. It is indeed the exchange of favours or cash or favours for services rendered. We believe we are entitled to a predetermined standard of living and in order to achieve it, it is justifiable that we can exploit whatever means available to us to achieve that stature. We are seldom critical of undesirable behaviours because at the heart of it, they are a reflection of our desires and socialisation experiences. As Afrikans we euphemise our corrupt practices as “donations” , expressions of gratitude or mutual empowerment. However, therein lies the contradiction… What gratitude can there be one be for services rendered under coercive circumstances. Yet we say “this is way of the world” and it is a system we understand that serves both the exploited and the opportunist.
Forgive me for my acerbic reflections on such practices, but I feel that to accept and coexist with this canker is to endorse the despotic leaders to whom we give credibility, who in turn repress us heavily under the proverbial thick (and heavily bejewelled) finger of King Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. The Bible warns us not to participate in bribes as it makes the “mind dull” where God’s anointed should be apportioning justice and impartiality to the vulnerable. Bribes separate us from the fundamentals of life to which we have a right- land, dignity, human rights and justice. They render us inhumane and compromised within life’s markets without recourse. As custodians of health, justice and the order of administration (to mention a few) we surrender the power of offices against our better judgement to the malaise of mediocrity, incompetence and indifference.
These practices are not only corrupt within themselves but they undermine whatever concept of humanity that we forge and create for ourselves. Corruption removes from us – our capacity to exercise insight and judgement and undermines the value of true giving, thanks and gratitude – ubuntu. Our corrupt practices distort and compromise our ability to find contentment in the simplicity of service and to value acknowledgment for excellence and ingenuity -that is not parasitic by nature.
Yet in Afrika, there seems to be no other reality. I have looked in vain for some solitary hope for truth and humanity. However, it seems I search in vain- I hope to prove myself wrong. Is it alone, I walk this earth in search of an honest nation/ man/ woman of God? Yet quite contrary I find only evidence of the cruel exploits of “survivors” leaving in their wake- leaving our wake the sadness of decay.
What has become of our honourable, virtuous men and women of dignity, pride and security? We are left with nations of empty and hungry souls- -devoid of emotion or purpose, yet desperate for a place in the world. If we as a people are unable to make provision for a meaningful acknowledgement of the value and contribution of each individual regardless of status and other material paraphernalia, then we can consider our humanity redundant! At a real level there is an emptiness that plagues all our innermost souls- our collective and individual moral predispositions will shout hostile incriminations against us. Indeed, we are not free…