African cri­tique of Africa

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Big Read - Micheal Mh­langa

The first crime and the first cor­rup­tion of all cen­turies is per­haps the en­slave­ment and coloni­sa­tion of one peo­ple by another for what­ever rea­son. For that rea­son, African in­tel­lec­tu­als in the name of their in­tel­li­gence can satirise Africa and cri­tique African lead­ers for their thiev­ery, po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence, lazi­ness and other sins with­out lend­ing weight to colo­nial fic­tions and myths about Africans.

The point Lu­mumba misses by a wide mar­gin is that some African lead­ers were shaped in the way they are by colo­nial ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems and ide­o­log­i­cal in­doc­tri­na­tion, hence the way they have led Africa astray. African lead­ers de­serve to be bashed for their crimes against Africa and hu­man­ity, and that bash­ing does not have to de­fend the colo­nial and slav­ish wound that all Africans and all black peo­ple in the world suf­fer.

Africans ex­ist in a po­lit­i­cal and le­gal world sys­tem that was not de­signed by Africa, where a world sys­tem was im­posed on the con­ti­nent in vi­o­lent his­tor­i­cal colo­nial en­coun­ters from which the con­ti­nent may not re­cover soon. Speak­ers like Lu­mumba might think that we must be done with is­sues of slav­ery and colo­nial­ism by now, in 2017, but ev­i­den­tially is­sues of slav­ery and colo­nial­ism are not done with us yet.

The be­gin­ning of any durable cri­tique of Africa and Africans should be­gin with a bap­tismal ob­ser­va­tion that Africa pro­duces its own his­tory not un­der con­di­tions and cir­cum­stances de­signed by it­self, and Africa has been shaped by a cruel his­tory con­ducted by its en­e­mies and ex­ploiters. Po­lit­i­cally and philo­soph­i­cally, such crit­ics of Africa and Africans as Pro­fes­sor Lu­mumba should be born again. That his name sounds like that of Pa­trice Lu­mumba should help him think again. Given his so­cial power, in­tel­lec­tual in­flu­ence and po­lit­i­cal ex­am­ple, Lu­mumba should be cor­rected as he is a pow­er­ful wrong model that en­e­mies of Africa might use to do Africa down even more. THE dilemma of young Zim­bab­weans to­day in pol­i­tics is the con­fla­tion of loy­alty and ex­ploita­tion. The fail­ure is out of ei­ther ig­no­rance or hunger as they strug­gle to dis­tin­guish be­tween be­ing re­li­gious to a cause and be­ing tools of the po­lit­i­cal para­noid.

Should one de­cide to quiz the so-called cham­pi­ons of youth pol­i­tics in Zim­babwe on what loy­alty is, the best re­sponse you can get would be how one should be re­li­gious with­out rea­son­ing and ques­tion­ing any of the com­mands dis­pelled to them. A com­mon mis­take of fail­ing to in­ter­pret the mean­ing of “nzira dze­ma­soja” is so pop­u­lar among those who have be­come ac­quainted with pas­sive­ness. Such a dis­as­trous think­ing and prac­tice ren­ders the Zim­bab­wean youth as the best pos­si­ble de­scrip­tion and a def­i­ni­tion of a most ed­u­cated pop­u­lace yet the least learned congress.

Youths, like other peo­ple in Zim­babwe, are think­ing, creative and a di­verse con­stituency. They are not in­tel­lec­tu­ally or con­cep­tu­ally ho­mo­ge­neous sim­ply by virtue of be­ing young and en­er­getic. Like other be­ings they are prod­ucts of their cir­cum­stance and their re­sponse to those cir­cum­stances, many times they have fallen vic­tim to their sit­u­a­tion due to so­cially en­trenched po­lit­i­cal ill norms.

Be­fore we delve much into the com­men­tary, it is good that we give a def­i­ni­tion of youths es­pe­cially in po­lit­i­cal spa­ces. A mo­ment of di­gres­sion to a dis­cus­sion we had with my col­leagues af­ter a busy day at work, as we were con­clud­ing the day with a cou­ple of drinks in one of the Bu­l­awayo cor­ners, one of the com­rades pre­sented a con­tro­ver­sial un­der­stand­ing of the youth in pol­i­tics. He ag­gre­gated and sub­di­vided youths in pol­i­tics into two cat­e­gories that is the youth and the masses.

This ag­gre­ga­tion can be used as a de­ter­ment of their use­ful­ness and their use­less­ness in po­lit­i­cal spa­ces. Te­dious Ncube made two im­por­tant dis­tinc­tions be­tween the youth and the masses. In his clar­i­fi­ca­tion, he de­fined the youth as a peo­ple con­scious of it­self in ways of pol­i­tics, modes of thought and cul­tural her­itage.

On the other hand, the masses mas­querad­ing as the youth is un­con­scious of it­self; uni­form and quan­ti­ta­tive, de­void of spe­cific po­lit­i­cal prin­ci­ple and cul­tural her­itage and is with­out foun­da­tions and empty. This crop of the youth (masses) is the cause of this de­bate due to its empti­ness hence be­com­ing an ob­ject of pro­pa­ganda, des­ti­tute of re­spon­si­bil­ity and lives at the low­est level of con­scious­ness.

This crop of youth in its un­crit­i­cal think­ing has been an em­i­nent threat to Zim­babwe’s democ­racy and the youth em­pow­er­ment agenda, be­cause of its naivety in thought it finds it­self in spa­ces of sig­nif­i­cance, not be­cause it de­serves to be there but be­cause of its ac­ci­den­tal mas­quer­ade cul­ture. This has been aug­mented by the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal Zim­bab­wean youth through a se­vere self-im­posed pa­tron­age sys­tem.

The role played by young peo­ple in the strate­gies of rulers and in the en­su­ing out­comes has be­come a topic of in­ter­est in the dis­course on po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions. It can be ar­gued that, be­sides ob­vi­ous di­ver­gences in par­tic­i­pa­tion and com­pe­ti­tion, loy­alty and ex­ploita­tion dif­fers in how much value each group of peo­ple pro­vides to its po­lit­i­cal ac­tors.

Over the past months, we have wit­nessed dif­fer­ent young peo­ple mak­ing po­lit­i­cal in­roads, as­cer­tain­ing and af­firm­ing the youth voice in the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum. Power con­tests, which are nor­mal as­pi­ra­tions for any nor­mal hu­man be­ing, are dis­pelled and con­firmed through the youth voice young peo­ple have be­come the cur­rency for po­lit­i­cal trans­ac­tions in all po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions.

Should an as­pi­rant not get the youth cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, their po­lit­i­cal en­deav­ours are slammed and we con­clude you have no po­lit­i­cal le­git­i­macy. I would be glad to give named ex­am­ples, but my think­ing is that, it is only true when we view this po­lit­i­cal para­noia as an ail­ment with a long-stand­ing con­fu­sion of what loy­alty is and what we mean by po­lit­i­cal ex­ploita­tion.

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