Black colonists: The bane of our society
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.