The ‘missing’ missing links (Part 2)
It is said that the elephant has long memory. That memory helps the beast to remain connected to the painful experiences of the past in order to prepare for a better future wherein dangers are avoided more purposefully than in the past.
Remembrance is the glue that keeps things and moments together and connect one experience to another for the sake of progress, development and the common good. Many great discoveries can correctly be attributed to Afrikan peoples over thousands of years. The danger is that Afrika has not kept a repository of her discoveries and inventions as a result of which many connections to the past are missing.
This makes it harder for the new generations to build upon the great edifices of Afrika’s past glories. It is an undisputed fact that Afrika has given birth to humankind, yet Afrika cannot tell this narrative in a manner that that makes Afrika the source, rather than the perpetual borrower and imitator of everything truthful, noble and meaningful.
This is why we believe that our existence begins with colonization. There are too may missing links in the Afrikan narrative, and until this narrative is told in accordance with the Afrikan interests, Afrika remains the missing link in the missing links in human civilization generally and in Afrika specifically.
The world and the entire human civilization will never come together before the Afrikan story is told correctly and consistently mainly by Afrikans themselves. In order for this to happen, the gaps in the Afrikan Personality must be filled before it is too late.
Amongst the glaring missing links is the great disconnect between the leadership institutions Afrika used to have and govern through to maintain peace and stability before colonization and what we have now to replace what we say we fought against.
Hence post-independence Afrikan political elite leaders live in a bubble by themselves, suspended from reality and in constant fear of their own voters as they move about in absurd security protocols just for the sake of showing off that they and their families have arrived – who knows from where.
Our political leaders in the main have seceded from the people and live in their own make-belief world, which they sustain only through pomposity, fear, intimidation to make people accept hell as heaven. In the words of Noam Chomsky, they engage in all kinds of state machinations to manufacture consent from the populace who do not know their rights from their obligations as citizens.
When Ivory Coast President Laurent Bgabgo lost the national elections in his country in 2010, his wife Simone foretold that angels visited her in her dreams and instructed her to instruct her husband and fellow tenant of the State House not to make a mistake by handing over power to anybody in the country.
She convinced His Excellency that it was by God’s design that he had to remain the Head of State in spite of the voice of the people who spoke through the ballot box and asked him to go. So he heeded her dream and refused to accept the elections results. A popular uprising ensued and both the President and the First Lady were found hiding in steamy bunkers with hardly any clothes on in their bodies.
The trouble was that they internalized a falsehood that they were, by virtue of the enormous resources they once had access to, and because hand clapping crowds surrounded them wherever they went, that they are above the normal possibilities of hurt, disappointment and humiliation.
When the tide turned, everything that went around came around, big time. Both President Gbagbo and his First Lady are sitting separately in international prisons in Holland, Europe, for human rights crimes.
Power has completely evaporated from their sight and sites. Yet the party they led when they were at the top and the Ivory Coast as a country are still there, and hands are being clapped, for different people.
Perhaps the biggest missing link that bedevils Afrika is the absence of Afrika from the way in which Afrika is governed. State Houses in Sub-Saharan Afrika are ghost houses or residents of absent former colonial administrators. There is hardly anything Afrikan in those houses except the bodies that sleep there for a maximum of ten years, as prescribed by the Constitutions.
The real permanent residents are the ghosts of white colonial landlords who through nightmares visit the new leaders who live in fear that these former colonial masters might just return to evict them from power through the ‘anti-revolutionary’ and ‘misguided’ opposition leaders who are hated even though they are an integral part of a multiparty democratic system.
Another disconnect is the fact that Afrikans are too uncomfortable about, and even ashamed of, their cultural heritage except when it comes to occasional use of cultural expressions, music and dance.
Mainly for tourism through which attempts are made to commercialise nudity and primitive stages for brief moments to extoll in the curious eyes of sun-burned foreigners the virtues of what Afrika once was and had.
It is a commercialization of a dead culture whereas other nations retain their cultural heritage as an integral part of their being members of the international community.
For instance, many of us Namibians in the capital, when asked by foreigners where to go to see some culture in Windhoek, would point to the small assortment of Ovahimba women and semi-naked children who hang around the Hilton Hotel with heavily clayed and red oiled bodies.
For the most part they serve as a source of ridicule to most Afrikan Namibians who, as armchair culture warriors would not take any of those Ovahimbas into our fancy cars for fear that their clay and oil would destroy the upholstery of our car interiors.
Worse, if a cultural officer allowed one of those Ovahimba ladies into a GRN car, he/she might lose his/her job for causing irreparable damage to the vehicle. Such a culture is thus devoid of internal and intrinsic beauty, elegance and nobility.
It would appear that our cultures as Afrikans are missing so much so that they show up intermittently during the births of our babies, during traditional celebrations of marriage, and most certainly when we suffer sexual impotency or have to face the ugly face of death.
A very big missing connection is the extent to which we Afrikans, through our leaders in religion, culture and politics have aided the loss of the sense of justice that Afrika of old knew and lived by. In Afrika, justice was a very important aspect of communal life.
In times of strife and disunity of opinion or when crimes and offences were committed, the Afrikan jurisprudence was always predicated upon restorative justice.
The reason that hearing and adjudicating a case took the whole community and waited for all to speak their views was the commitment to arrive at a conclusion that restored the justice that was interrupted by the offence. In post-independence Afrika we live in now, punishment is sought after an offence was committed—as justice is seen in terms winners and losers. In Afrikan jurisprudence, there were neither winners nor losers.
The situation was restored to its original form so that everyone accepted the outcome as binding on all and returned to where they were as members of the same community. In today’s justice the participants are bellicose and not in the least interested in justice in the true sense of the word. They only want to vanquish the other.
Language is another very serious missing link in Afrikan socio-economic development. In 1948 the luminary Afrikan sage Cheik Anta Diop asked a very vexing question, whether a real Afrikan renaissance (Afrika’s renewal) was possible without developed indigenous Afrikan languages through which to recapture and reinvent the Afrikan narrative on a continuous basis in rational ways and in dialogue with the rest of the human family.
Many of us in Namibia think our thoughts in what remains of our mother languages, then translate the thoughts into Afrikaans as we were introduced to formal education in Afrikaans, then what comes out of our mouths is in some version of English without singular and plural and where the past tense is often in Afrikaans. What we are heard saying is the third stage of our thought process.
Worse, most of the instruments we work with every day in our careers and professional lives are in languages that do not rest in the bosoms of our beings. This is why democracy and freedom that is meant to be citizens-based continue to suffer in the ICUs of African governments.
Afrikan leaders are averse to difference not because they are bad people, but because their notions of power relations have been wired in their own mother tongues that do not allow for objective logic and agreement to disagree.
The notion of difference, NOT disagreement or constructive criticism, sleeps in their languages and are foreign to constitutional democracy based on equality by virtue of being citizens.
Albert Einstein once wrote that if you do not have in your own language a word for something that is very important, that thing that is very important may as well not exist for you because you cannot participate in a conversation about it intelligently. And if you use another person’s language to express that which is core to you, you may as well hire those who respect that thing in their first language to represent you.
This is why we Afrikans behave more democratically and are more eloquent about good governance when we are in company of other people, to be exact, when it comes to white people.
When we use these rules amongst ourselves we are abusive and hurtful to one another because the rules of the game we use are not internalised and we apply them in a zero-sum game. The children of the middle class black families in Namibia and South Africa are becoming the disappearing generation as they have no interest in the languages of their parents, even when the parents’ English is extremely limited.
Parents who are battling to speak English raise their kids in their limited English, and in so doing deform the intellectual competency of the child right from the word go.
Can we imagine how shrinking the world becomes when these kids have to learn and live competitively with other children whose world is introduced to them in the language they hear spoken with meaning and emotion at home?
That is, when they have to converse intelligently with the children who hear their parents speak fluently about basic things in life, such ethical and moral behavior, honesty, integrity, self-respect and the value of work instead of using the dictionary every time a word is challenging, yet cannot ask mom or dad? Do we wonder why the Namibian youth expects everything to be done for them by the Government?
We need a fundamental paradigm shift. If we wish Afrika to see different results, we must begin to do things differently. In a country like Namibia we need to move rapidly forward with a new mind n to assist Namibia to find and leverage its competitive edge in the region, on the continent and the world.
The world owes us NOTHING! The three markers of this necessary paradigm shift are in (a) a new diversity consciousness by way of talent identification, talent development and talent management; (b) we need to tap into our gender generation gap realities, namely that the girl child and young people are the majority; and (c) Namibia is a vast land with a very low population density and thus a challenge for real development.
We need to encourage more people to choose Namibia as a place for their future and their children. In other words, the country needs to spend more resources on the girl child, divest deliberately in the young generation not only for political leadership but for all areas of the economy, and liberalize immigration protocols to attract professions and skills in the country. Once we connect commitment and talent (NOT RACE) to sustainable development, peace and stability, we have the bridge to the future with room for all as free individuals regardless of race, gender, age, religion and nationality—recognising only the common good and our duty of care one for another.