Do not burn the bridges of freedom
For centuries, we have been walking through the lane of teething troubles with some sort of elated instants which cannot quench the thirst of our broken smiling faces. Our history has everything, only if we take time to learn about the progress of this continent. Whenever my intellect is subjected to write about leadership in Africa, I always love to acknowledge the profound principles and efforts made by the forefathers, since the colonial era to the point where all the African countries became free. It is the naked truth that their contribution was like a breath of clean fresh air to a man who was buried. For such a great contribution they are all loved by every true son and daughter of Africa, even in their absence, because they deserve it. They had significant leadership qualities, which inspired and influenced people with their real personalities. They headed their countries to prosperity and glory, and that is the reason every now and then the rest of the world needs leaders with their attributes.
On every 25th May we celebrate the Africa Day with an opportunity to remember the occasion when African countries signed a Charter of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which later evolved into the African Union (AU). During the occasion the pioneers of unity expected so much from their struggle, by putting their visions and agendas for Africa as a single integrated unit. Little did they know that their successors would have a different agenda!
In this 21st century, Africa is rich in real testimonies of poverty, crime and violence, social injustices, and economic challenges. There is a wide and fast growing gap between common citizens and leaders who are serving in the offices. Between the two lies no clear agenda of where their countries are going, every side is prioritizing their interest.
The aspirations for the Africa we want are not the priority of leaders we do elect now and then. What is an African Agenda then?
If Emperor Haile Selassie were to have put his ego before his intellect, then the year 1963 would never have marked such a historic and momentous day when Africans stood together on the stage of the world, and asserted the role and direction of the world affairs, to discharge Africa’s duty to the great continent. All Africa’s Head of States assembled in Ethiopia had one vision, to set Africa free and unite all her people. Today Africa is perverted with the idea of non-interference in the affairs of other nations, not knowing that is a demarcating line of African brotherhood and unity. What Emperor Haile Selassie, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah, and Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere struggled for was not the silence of African states when one or two countries are subjected to harmful consequences of colonialism, rather they were seeking solutions for African problems. It is sad that when Congo or Somalia suffer violence, the rest of the African countries remain silent as if nothing has happened. It is sad to see leaders burn the bridges that made us stand in pride as Africans, yet they celebrate those great names in pretense.
If Julius Kambarage Nyerere were to have put forward regionalism and political boundaries before unity, then Tanganyika would never be marked as the Mecca of revolutionaries. It is unity that made African countries free, not hypocrisy, not greed, not even egocentricity. Nyerere’s leadership made it clear that the freedom of Tanganyika was meaningless if other African countries persisted under colonial rule. He invited all the freedom fighters to Tanganyika to discuss the future and unity of Africa; Eduardo Mondlane, Samora Machel, Hifikepunye Pohamba, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and others had blissful moments as they could feel at home. Yes, that is the Africa we want!
Where would Africa be if Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, Steve Bantu Biko, Hector Pieterson, Hastings Ndlovu, Josina Muthemba Machel, Yaa Asantewaa, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Mariama Ba, Victoria Mxenge and others were to have quit the struggle and surrender themselves to the western world?
Let us learn from the foundation of our core pillars. One African proverb says, “People give, but do not be in a hurry to take.” In some African cultures, there is a belief that the tendency of taking and giving gifts is not always good; some gifts can contain a charm of spell attached. Some people belong to a cultic practice and when they give things, it will take something good from you such as your good fortune, future earnings, good destinies, or even shortening your life. That is to say, not every gift is a blessing. Some gifts are baits in disguise; they are gifts with strings attached, that is why even though people give, you should not be in a hurry to take.
The proverb takes me back to the days when one of Africa’s heroes, a socialist revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara, reminded Africans to be aware of the foreign aid, as he said “Our country produces enough to feed us all. We can even produce more than we need. Unfortunately, due to the lack of organization, we still need to beg for food aid. This type of assistance is counterproductive and has kept us thinking that we can only be beggars who need aid. We must put aside this type of aid and succeed in producing more. We must produce more because the one who feeds you usually imposes his will upon you. Let us consume what we can control.” My question is one, you leaders of today, how many of you in the office have sold their conscience to certain interest groups simply because they are too excited about the gifts?
With love from her ancestors, Africa should know that it is hard to cure the madness that originates in the family; and whoever allows that should be marked as an enemy. Africa’s Founding Fathers were true patriots and sons of Africa. They were people who put Africans first and believed sincerely in their call. They paid the ultimate price, with even their own deaths, but the worst of it is that their heirs did not put their ideas into action. My question is simple, you leaders of today, for how long are you going to nurture greed and embezzlement at the doors of our states of legislature?
“If you do not know where you are going every road will get you nowhere.”
The journey to the Africa we want is never easy, if we will keep going without looking at where we started. Our forefathers will sleep in peace knowing Africa has an inclusive growth and sustainable development, strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics.
They will be happy to see a united Africa based on the ideal of Pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance. We should all remember that when the sailor is unskilled, the boat will not move with the steadiness it deserves. Let us burn no bridges of freedom!
In the loving memory of young
Free will fighters, advocates n’ fatalities of colonial subjugation
Those who were cut-short by the gunfire, biological weapons, o’ folkloric wars!
You will always be with us
Gone but not forgotten,
Forever In Our Hearts!
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Norbert Mporoto is a Tanzanian Freelance Writer, Editor, Translator and Poet. He composes poems of all kinds and writes novels and short stories. He also writes articles on several contemporary issues. Norbert is also skilled in the preparation of Business Plans, Project Proposals, Memorandums for Companies, Educational research and reports. You can reach Norbert at: https://linktr.ee/Mporoto