By Lawrence Umukoro
"We can’t think like Africans, in Africa, generally. We are in Johannesburg, this is Johannesburg. It's not some national road in Malawi," –
Incumbent President – Republic of South Africa
“I am an African… A human presence among all these, a feature on the face of our native land thus defined, I know that none dare challenge me when I say - I am an African! …I am an African. I am born of the peoples of the continent of Africa. The pain of the violent conflict that the peoples of Liberia, Somalia, the Sudan, Burundi and Algeria is a pain I also bear.”
Former President – Republic of South Africa.
With heavy hearts and deep sorrow I pen this note; a note to my African brothers and sisters, a note to friends and foes, a note to the greater people of this wonderful continent of Africa and beyond. Truly my heart aches. Just incase you missed the introductory note, I shall pen it again:
"We can’t think like Africans, in Africa, generally. We are in Johannesburg, this is Johannesburg. It's not some national road in Malawi," - Jacob Zuma, President – Republic of South Africa
The above were comments made by the President of South Africa in response to a question posed about the morality of the e-tolls system, a controversial policy that aims to bill the citizens of the province of Gaunteng for each kilometer travelled on National roads.
President Zuma’s statement can be absolved in 2 directions. The one angle points towards a tone that belittles the concept of Africanism and showers “hot piss” on the graves of Afrocentric champions like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Martin Luther King of the USA and Cheikh Anta Diop of Senegal and also delivers hot slaps on the faces of Prof Wole Soyinka of Nigeria, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and any sensible and knowledgeable self believing African. The other angle points in the direction of Xenophobia and alienates South Africa from the struggle for African Renaissance.
How can a President, instead of emphasizing and promoting emphasis on the African brand and the contributions of Africans in the development of Africa, represent the citizens of this great continent in a derogatory manner? Is this what Zimbabwean born Nobel Peace Price Laureate and United Nations Prize winner for Human Rights – Albert Lithuli fought and died for?
Is it possible that the former wife of President Jacob Zuma, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who now heads the African Union, champions these same views? That Africans are generally stupid and unproductive? Or that South Africans are truly not African or part of the African brand? It is imperative that the AU urgently call on President Zuma to make a retraction and apologize - they can go on to recommend that the President of the AU also denounce those comments and drop the “Zuma” name from her last name with immediate effect.
Does the Banjul charter, to which South Africa is a signatory, not insist on the institution of international human rights instruments that promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms on the African continent? How can President Zuma ridicule a sovereign nation on a public platform? Doesn’t the promotion of African Renaissance by the AU promote a concept that African people and nations shall and will overcome the current challenges confronting the continent and achieve cultural, scientific, and economic renewal. Should that not be the general thinking, especially in Government?
Perharps President Zuma should return to UNISA and register for the course in “Thought Leadership for Africa’s Renewal” ironically chaired by former President, Thabo Mbeki or perhaps he should quit the public space and return to exile – either way the people must decide. But what kind of people do we have if the reaction of the audience to his statement was that of cheer and laughter - especially worrying because it was in an academic setting!!! Even on twitter - the same holds, ‘Malawi’ and ‘Africa’ are trending because the bulk of the populous, instead of rising up in arms against their president, are making fun and jokes and taking lightness to the matter, what a national shame.
My people, a time has come for Africans to awaken and renegotiate their existence in their continent. Away with mediocre authorities that propagate Eurocentric views and denigrate the value of the African mind. Away with leaders who are ignorant not because they do not have access to information but because they do not read. Away with anyone who is determined to deliberately divide the people of Africa and bring to null the processes for the rebirth of this great continent. AWAY.
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