Monday 17 May 2021
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Challenging African Elitism, Neoliberalism and Failed Reforms (Prt. 2)

Dear Editor, allow me to continue with the subject I started off last week. There is neither honour nor freedom in being silent to the inhumanity against the African public.
Steve Biko firmly believed that ‘we have to imprison ourselves in the ideal of humanity,’ in the absence of such an ideal, the guardians who come to power will seize it to enhance their self-made humanity.
The outcome of such a poor vision will eventually lead to a perpetual Orwellian Animal Farm in which the more equal animals became the carriers of whips, eating the best produce, living in luxury at the expense of others etc. In their being entrusted power to govern, they will create a new culture of fear and exploitation and a superstructure that serves their interests.
In our silence the present-day African political leaders have escalated their assault on the African public. These Black Ladies and Gentlemen who dance to the tunes of the dollar, euro and yuan as they sell off the continent behind closed doors are part of Africa’s socio-political underdevelopment. They’ve given us new vision for politics – a platform for promoting programmes and structures that serve the agenda of the highest foreign bidder.
Such politics draft policies, establish government ministries and programmes, “usually meaning nothing to the mass of the people, and sometimes representing a reactionary reversal of the efforts at national liberation” (Rodney Walter). There are many ministers and ministries many of us will not miss if they were to be scrapped by the end of business day today. Their existence or non-existence makes no difference to the ordinary person.
These economic arrangements should be seen for more than their power to affect economies. In fact, they are part of a larger philosophical system that strives to establish a culture of enormous social and economic imbalances. For example, the economic negotiations of Namibia and South Africa with the former National Party, were in fact to continue the economic hegemony that would be protected by the constitution. Think about the land ownership disparity in these two countries, with policies that are tightly protecting those who benefitted from the oppressive system and the demands of the foreign donor communities.
We’re told that we’re sovereign states and we determine our own destinies. What’s our sovereignty when we cannot even bargain the cost of our own trade? We borrow money from foreign countries and institutions just to eat, rather than to create more wealth or production that can trade at a global scale and drive our own economies.
African states are theoretical sovereignties, practically, they’re operated as privately-owned corporations of the political elite (controlled from Beijing, London, Moscow, New York, Paris etc). Leaders at the helm of foreign control cannot bring about the required socio-economic reforms without upsetting those who control their pockets from abroad. The reforms born out of such imbalance of power only serve to extend the present illegitimate practices that are destroying the continent.
Unfortunately, it’s the African public continues to endure the most of these illicit arrangements. Evidenced by establishing weak, dysfunctional public institutions of law, healthcare, and education, while the elite send their children to study abroad in Western and Chinese institutions and being flown to Dubai, Singapore etc for medical check-ups. At home they stifle local initiatives, giving tenders to Chinese, Indian, and American companies and robbing the locals of business. In the public academy they install politicians as chancellors, to silence the voice of critique and reason and create a culture of fear of academic freedom.
At the political front, democracy has been hijacked to serve autocratic tendencies, as is the case in Rwanda and Uganda, marked by relentless harassment of opposing voices. It’s politics that take after the colonial regimes that sought to harass Africans who were demanding for their freedom. Today, liberty in many African states is a luxury, such that it has become a matter of trading off one’s liberty for bread and since you can’t have both. As such African leaders are kept busy with village type of politics in which they feel supreme over the weak masses, but are themselves keen dancers around the money tables of the West and China. These very men can’t lift a finger to negotiate trade terms but are at home side-lining qualified academics and professionals by filling public vacancies with incompetent political appointees. They fail to provide proper, functional and effective public infrastructure and basic necessities such as clean water, housing, healthcare etc.
Until the citizens of African develop a consciousness and culture of resistance of dominance from within those who ought to be nothing more than guardians will think themselves as kings. We the citizens have to the responsibility to safeguard out liberties from being hijacked for the benefits of a few. We have to stand up for ourselves and resist this manmade onslaught of government brutality, abuse, humiliation, impoverishment etc. Africa is our home, and we should refuse the politics that would have us feel as Africa belongs to a selected few and our lives are set to orbit around the mercy of such.
Basilius M. Kasera, Dean of Students (IUM)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this opinion piece are my own and do not reflect those of IUM or its associates.

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