As 2019 draws to a close, dragging along with it the past decade of state capture – not quite as finished as some would have us believe – and the earlier post-apartheid years, we should all hope that 2020 will herald a new African mindset.
This new African mindset will seek to take charge of the future and to stop fruitless self-flagellation over what could have been, while pointing accusing fingers in all directions.
It will embrace South Africa’s reality as a country of a very rich and complex human diversity that has evolved over many decades and now spans many countries and several continents; a diversity that must be rallied to create innovative, winning solutions that can beat many in Africa and around the world if positively enabled and deployed.
It will accept that the apartheid and colonial past is what it is, with all the good, the bad, and the ugly. The new African mindset should acknowledge that we have lost enough of our tomorrow crying over a yesterday that will never return.
The dirty, stinking boot under which Africa’s potential has remained trapped is no longer filled with the foot of outsiders, people we like to blame for the bad decisions we have allowed politicians we voted for to take on our behalf ever since the early 1960s, when most African states were decolonised. The boot is filled with an African foot that seems to fear its own potential – having heard for far too long and believed the lie that it is good for nothing – or that it simply lacks confidence in Africa’s potential to be greater than it has shown itself to be.
But we cannot continue to defend the indefensible in our midst, to glorify despots, thieves, abusers of African rights, and to forever embrace traditional and political leaders whose utterances and conduct stand in the way of Africa emerging as a modern global player.
Africa will continue to stagnate, overtaken by many newcomers, while it lacks the confidence it needs to hold its head high.
Get up, stand up
Africans cannot expect others to love them if they do not love themselves first; they cannot expect others to respect them if they do not, first, respect themselves; they cannot forever blame the West and others for walking away with better deals for themselves - following binational and multilateral negotiations - when they send weak, greedy, and inexperienced negotiators with no sense of foresight to represent them at such negotiations.
They cannot insist on better deals for themselves when they fail to appreciate Africa’s real worth and are repeatedly open to giving away a lot in exchange for little, even nothing, sometimes preferring personal gifts to better deals for the countries they represent at national and multilateral forums.
And Africans must stop looking for love in the wrong places. They must insist on respect, provided that how they conduct their business and lead their countries deserves respect.
Our leaders cannot expect respect if they fail to show appreciation for their own self-worth and don't reject deals with others that seek to subjugate their country to the will of others instead of enhancing value. They cannot blame others for the bad things that happen in Africa when their gaze remains invested in the unattainable return to a long-lost, glorified and romanticised pre-colonial era that can never be again.
When Africa finally awakes, having realised that the past is what it is, that Africa has no monopoly over historic pain, the new African mindset will begin to realise that history waits for no one. It will rationally begin to plan for the future, actively seeking to free itself from bondage and free its own potential to build for the future.
As we end 2019, South Africa remains a prisoner of a long-gone past. We should work at ensuring that things change in 2020, or else we shall remain forever running in circles, like a dog trying to bite its own tail.
No society in the world - human, faunal, floral, or microbiological - exists outside of a set of rules or a functioning natural order. In South Africa, the rules we agreed to play by are enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
We also agreed to build a law-driven society in which there would be equality for all before the law, with no one standing above the law.
Those who continue to walk our corridors of power and the streets of our land with the false belief that their political shield will protect them forever are mistaken; they are obstacles to the awakening of the new African mindset that is needed to free South Africa to its potential, with all South Africans playing their part, each according to his/her means and ability, to making ours a truly winning country.
* Solly Moeng is brand reputation management adviser and CEO of strategic corporate communications consultancy DonValley Reputation Managers. Views expressed are his own.