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Paradigm shift needed

04 July 2014, 19:44

The human security architecture may be taking shape if the stated progress by Minister Mashabane, on Friday, 4 July 2014-in the New Age, is anything to go by, but Africa’s progress is always humstrung by what belies more than fifty years of failed peace and security: an unstable and useless politico-cultural and social foundation.

Racist pundits have sought to present Africa as “stuck in history” these include celebrated theoreticians like Francis Fukuyama who wrote the “End of History” and others like Robert Kaplan who wrote “The Coming Anarchy”.

The central thesis therein is that Africa should never be expected to be at peace and by inference that the “progress” allegedly advanced towards by the rest of the world in technology, sophisticated trade and investment was essentially out of the reach of Africans.  

This is nothing new since even Hegel- said the black man was without a history and therefore was unable to civilize. My reproach at Franz Fanon on his thesis-Hegel et Le Negre-( Hegel and the Black man) is also relevant to the sentiment I wish to publish herewith.  Fanon, inspired by Hegel, had seen the inaction or limited blood struggle of the black man against white colonialism and subsequent suppression as dictated by a lack in their political and thus socio-cultural and economic assertiveness and thus evolution.

Put simply: we (black Africans) never fought off (nor were we ready to die fighting) colonialism and the few white colonizers who had guns and gun powder  albeit it that we had advantage in numbers and that’s why troops of mascular warriors got driven to surrender land, dignity, wealth political, racial and economic identity to become slaves and animals that fight and devour each other.

Of course, I don’t think that Hegel and Fanon had  a correct view of violence endured and opposed by the Africans then,  nor is their historical arguement correct  because conquest was also politico-cultural as seen in Nongqawuse; and as Walter Rodney would have said the displacement of Africans from their land, from world history and ultimately from world politics through the Berlin conference  was equally a gradual and very sneaky process, where ideas were stolen and due recognition for the pyramids for example was simply wiped out of records-and the effects are still very present today in the political philosophies that have been allowed to fester in Africa and these still create a separatist stench throughout Africa.

Sir Arthur Lewis in “Politics in West Africa” states the issue of Political and Economic underdevelopment quite efficiently when he states that the failure of Africa was set when the different cleavages were given differential and politicized identities and their primordial existence was re-written to have been one of peaceless coexistence mindless killings and conquest that the colonizers "helped" put an end to. 

The fact the Minister Mashabane speaks of 2063 as the goal for a peaceful Africa is a sad reminder of how deep the colonial conquest in Africa truly has been.  In his book, “Victims Become Killers” Mahmood Mamdani refers to how the Belgians actually inspired the root of successive genocides in Rwanda from the genocide against the Twa and Hutu by Belgium, then that of Hutu by the Begians through theTutsi, who were called the lost tribe of Solomon; then the most recent genocide of Hutu against Tutsi were the Belgians and United States actually stated at the United Nations Security Council why they planted this deadly seed- they saw Africans as prone to civil war  and warned that the world should stay out. 

By inference therefore:  the blacks are naturally murderous and prone to destruction, this cannot be changed  the world must move on with civilization.

 Beyond the anger that these citations invoke I hope to remind Africans in this piece that actually our problem  is the lack of plurality and nation building consciousness, this will make peace elusive even in 2063.  Africans need to devote more energies in creating plural societies and opposing political marginalization.

There are signs of great promise that say to me that Africa realizes that peace is not won through deployment of armed forces but through political paradigm shifts- rightfully the African Union has suspended and continues to suspend Egypt for deposing a popularly elected government through its military. This sets the tone for the right political culture that Africans must build on-plurality and respect for norms.  

The challenges still exist in difficult areas like Bokoharam and Al Shabaab controlled areas- the solutions will not come through standoffs and military deployments, but political interchange, gradual trust building and reformist political inclusion will be the only solutions.

The South African lesson is that this will not be easy, but determined leadership and an increasingly educated society that will learn of importance of nation building, while also developing a civic awareness will deliver ultimate peace and prosperity.  Post apartheid South Africa  has done well to create a basis for social cohesion and attitudes will requires increased education, responsible and conscious public life but the state must lead.

South Africa leads social cohesion through  very significant interventions in education,  the number of black South African in former white universities is a step in the right direction since  there is an increasing number of socially and economically aware South Africans who understand how to legally deal with racism and discrimination and who will not easily pick up arms to deal with problems but will vote, and call for radical policies.

More importantly,  South Africa is increasingly creating integrated communities and one of the flagships- Cosmos City in Gauteng mixes races, classes and ethnicities. Admittedly, government had to fight cases in court to locate people near Deinfern,  but after winning those cases pundits had to accept that have a predominantly black state subsidized property next to their suburbs did not bring down property prices. 

South Africa is actually doing what moderinisation theorist,  Karl Duetsch would call social mobilization.  Beyond mixed housing, allocation of state subsized houses does is no longer on race or ethinicity as it was for the  old  black townships under apartheid-where allocation created a Tswana, Zulu and Venda section.

This is the great lessons that our continent can learn from South Africa, politically directed administration aimed at social cohesion, then we will have secure, peaceful and prosperous Africa.

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