Black colonists: The bane of our so­ci­ety

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

THE re­marks made by United States Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho, Matthew Har­ring­ton, as re­ported else­where in this edi­tion, all but con­firm our 30 April 2015 story en­ti­tled “Amer­ica ‘threat­ens’ to cut aid to Le­sotho”. The story had stated that Le­sotho’s rat­ings on good gov­er­nance — which is one of the cri­te­ria the United States gov­ern­ment uses to de­ter­mine its aid ben­e­fi­cia­ries — would be “se­verely af­fected” if the coali­tion gov­ern­ment pro­ceeds to re-ap­point Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli as Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der and “il­le­gally” re­moves Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

It also re­vealed that the Amer­i­cans were con­cerned by the fact that no one had been brought to book for the LDF at­tacks of three key Maseru po­lice sta­tions on the morn­ing of 30 Au­gust 2014, which for­mer pre­mier Thomas Tha­bane had said was a coup at­tempt.

Fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of the story, ac­cu­sa­tions were bandied about by some quar­ters that this news­pa­per was try­ing to stoke ten­sions be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Maseru os­ten­si­bly for po­lit­i­cal ends. They er­ro­neously in­ferred that we were sup­port­ing their po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents by pub­lish­ing the story. How­ever, Ba­sotho fi­nally heard it from the horse’s mouth and would do well to take note.

Hope­fully, gov­ern­ment will fi­nally come out of de­nial on this mat­ter and work to­wards en­gag­ing the Amer­i­cans to ad­dress the con­cerns they have raised. Oth­er­wise, the con­se­quences of the frost­ing of re­la­tions would be too ghastly to con­tem­plate.

It goes with­out say­ing that Le­sotho’s econ­omy is an­chored on the good­will and co­op­er­a­tion of the Amer­i­cans and any with­drawal of aid would have im­me­di­ate and telling im­pli­ca­tions. With the yearly Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion (MCC) Board re­assess­ment of Le­sotho loom­ing in De­cem­ber, our el­i­gi­bil­ity for re­ceiv­ing spon­sor­ship for devel­op­ment projects is now in jeop­ardy.

Among the cri­te­ria used by the MCC board to as­sess de­serv­ing coun­tries are the sound com­mit­ment to accountable and demo­cratic gov­er­nance. To un­der­score the enor­mity of what Le­sotho stands to lose, the 2008 MCC Com­pact was val­ued at US$362.5 mil­lion (over M3 bil­lion). As if that is not per­ilous enough, Le­sotho risks miss­ing out on the African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act (AGOA) which is ex­pected to be re­newed in Septem­ber. AGOA is a non­re­cip­ro­cal trade pref­er­ence pro­gramme that pro­vides duty-free treat­ment to United States im­ports of cer­tain prod­ucts from el­i­gi­ble sub-sa­ha­ran African coun­tries of which Le­sotho is a ma­jor ben­e­fi­ciary.

United Na­tions fig­ures show that since AGOA’S in­tro­duc­tion, Le­sotho’s gar­ment in­dus­try has grown to con­trib­ute 20 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. Around 44 000 Ba­sotho earn their living as a re­sult of AGOA with its dis­ap­pear­ance lead­ing to the im­me­di­ate slash­ing of 15 000 jobs. This would be cou­pled with Le­sotho-based for­eign man­u­fac­tur­ers con­sid­er­ing re­lo­ca­tion to more in­vestor­friendly na­tions that of­fer bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties for ef­fi­ciency and labour com­pe­ti­tion. While Le­sotho is a sovereign na­tion with the pre­rog­a­tive to chart its own des­tiny, the events of re­cent months have not cov­ered our beloved King­dom in glory. The seem­ingly un­ruly be­hav­iour of the LDF, which has seen a num­ber of sol­diers ab­ducted and de­tained in­com­mu­ni­cado, have only wors­ened Le­sotho’s al­ready bat­tered im­age.

This has only been com­pounded by the mur­der of All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) stal­wart Thabiso Tšosane, whose killers still re­main at large. The flight of the op­po­si­tion bloc lead­ers, ABC’S Dr Tha­bane, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho Keketso Ran­tšo, serve to il­lus­trate the cri­sis point the in­sta­bil­ity in this coun­try has reached. It thus be­hoves Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili to show lead­er­ship by re­as­sur­ing all Ba­sotho of their safety in the coun­try and ad­dress­ing the con­cerns the Amer­i­cans have raised. His con­tin­ued si­lence on the mat­ter cre­ates a breed­ing ground for ru­mour mon­gers who are caus­ing alarm and de­spon­dency among the pop­u­lace.

The warn­ings by the Amer­i­cans can­not be taken lightly or wished away. The pre­mier needs to rise to the oc­ca­sion and save Le­sotho’s eco­nomic and de­vel­op­men­tal well­be­ing. AS we cel­e­brate Africa Day, we need to take stock of where we are as Africans and where we are go­ing. Re­cently I learned of a new term called “Black Colonists”.

The first im­pres­sion I got, be­ing a black pa­triot I am, was that we could live in a world where we Africans can be given our place in his­tory.

This would be a world where we get to “con­quer” the rest of the world; a world where we take our ideals, prin­ci­ples and Ubuntu to the world; a world where the colour of our skin and eth­nic­ity is a source of pride and not looked at with scorn (which still hap­pens to this very day).

And the best part of it is that we would not be us­ing prim­i­tive means such as sail­ing boats to look for spices in or­der to “con­quer” the rest of the world.

How­ever, my utopian thoughts lasted mo­men­tar­ily as I came to re­alise the true essence of the term.

I re­alised that in­stead of us trans­mit­ting all that is good about be­ing African out­wards, Africa is be­ing re­colonised again. Only this time, the colonis­ers have dif­fer­ent faces, shapes and means.

Th­ese new colonis­ers are fel­low Africans, they look and be­have ex­actly like the Euro­peans, and some of us even re­fer to them as our lead­ers.

They have cre­ated a sit­u­a­tion in the “An­i­mal Farm” whereby they fought for free­dom but now it is dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish be­tween them and the farm­ers be­cause they keep get­ting fat­ter while the rest are still starv­ing.

Be­low are some of the few ten­den­cies I have noted from th­ese Black Colonists:

The Black Colonists have adopted “I get to ben­e­fit first and the rest will fol­low”: This ba­si­cally means that th­ese peo­ple ben­e­fit from the re­sources of so­ci­ety and keep them for them­selves.

They be­come an elite within so­ci­ety with all the power while the rest get only scraps. And they give the rest barely enough to main­tain the sys­tem but not enough for the rest to have sus­tain­able liveli­hoods.

The Black Colonists have put in­ter­ests over prin­ci­ple: [anal­ogy] I had a very in­for­ma­tive dis­cus­sion with an old man about his­tory.

He told me that once they had a meet­ing at the White House with Amer­i­can rep­re­sen­ta­tives and made a long heart­felt pre­sen­ta­tion about the ef­fects of colo­nial­ism on their coun­try and that they wanted the Amer­i­cans to help them in their pur­suit of free­dom.

Af­ter the pre­sen­ta­tion, the Amer­i­cans told the del­e­ga­tion that they un­der­stand the Africans’ plight.

How­ever, they can­not as­sist as it was not in their in­ter­ests and that if ever they gain in­de­pen­dence then they should come back to Amer­ica be­cause it will then be in the in­ter­est of Amer­i­cans to work with them.

This is ex­actly what th­ese colonists do; they will not give you the time of day un­less they get to ben­e­fit some­thing from what you ask of them.

The Black Colonists have cre­ated delu­sions in so­ci­ety: Mean­ing that the con­cepts of “free­dom”, “equal­ity”, “rec­on­cil­i­a­tion”, etc., be­come ab­stract terms be­cause the very peo­ple that are sup­posed to be en­joy­ing them are in the same ma­te­rial con­di­tions as they were in the past. And some will ask “am I go­ing to eat free­dom and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion?”

And the worst part is that th­ese Black Colonists have mo­nop­o­lised th­ese con­cepts, act as if only they have all the wis­dom and only they are en­ti­tled to them.

There are count­less other ten­den­cies by the new Colonists and for em­pha­sis I just men­tioned the few above.

In con­clu­sion, one al­ways has to be weary be­cause in mat­ters like th­ese you are not only sup­posed to crit­i­cise but one also has to ad­vance a crit­i­cal ar­gu­ment.

Fur­ther­more I refuse to be part of th­ese arm­chair crit­ics who are doom­say­ers and cre­ate a sense of de­spon­dency.

Th­ese black Colonists take dif­fer­ent shapes and forms, as stated ear­lier, so they can in­clude politi­cians, church lead­ers, civic lead­ers, and oth­ers.

What is ap­par­ent is that we need to stop th­ese Black Colonists, but per­haps the HOW part of it can be the ba­sis of the dis­cus­sion.

I will start by say­ing that I pledge, God-will­ing (and I do not use this term lightly), that I will not be counted amongst the Black Colonists one day as I aspire to have a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion to­wards so­ci­ety in the fu­ture.

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