As this smoke from this burning house we call South Africa clouds my vision, I persevere on, armed with pen in hand as I pour all the weight of hurt from my heart with a sincere hope that sharing this pain will mitigate my country’s sadness. At times I wonder why African knees are so weak that we can barely stand next to these idols without kneeling before them. Are we as a race so desperate for the next black messiah that we allow our oppressors to hand pick our heroes for us? Or is it a consequence of living under the yoke of colonisation and white supremacy for so long that we have forgotten how strong we truly are?
When has it ever made sense for your enemy to pick your heroes for you? It is during these times that I get low, during these times I am faithful believer to the gospel that states, “only in Africa , you’ll find former masters still running the show”. Only in Africa, will you find multitudes of men and women seeking aid yet their core interests lie in discovering the next black Jesus who will wish away all of their worries. Maybe that’s why the streets of Johannesburg were painted black and yellow during the day, only for the ANC to jump into bed with the National Party night.
I am a proud child of the soil. So proud I find nothing but joy when waltz down the street of Bulawayo with dusty trousers and dried sweat on my forehead that testifies that I have paid my dues for the day. I can not help but sympathize with Africa radicals who can not contain their rage as the white world anoints Mandela as the next best thing to God the African race has got. Such tomfoolery often attracts destine, yet in Africa it is met but a loud roar of applause.
To a certain extent I agree with secular opinion of Mandela’s status. I agree that they are some facets of his character that warrant some of the hype associated with him. For instance his closing during the Revoria trial showed all the attributes of a leader with the capabilities to match the likes of Ben Bella, Marcus Garvey and Amilcar Lopez Cabral when it comes to empowering Africans. I politely disembark from this hype ship when they say that Mandela transcended past the three gods of African liberation. Mandela was a politician, Garvey, Cabral and Bella where revolutionary leaders of African men everywhere, they is no comparison.
Since February is American black history month, maybe entertaining this ludicrous suggestion will provide a good learning experience.
Mandela has been dubbed the godfather of African liberation, whilst that makes for a good looking tombstone with a heartfelt message, it is as big of a lie as saying elephants are on that grass diet in order to join the size zero craze. When it comes to true gods of African liberation a few men can compare to Amilcar Lopez Cabral.
Whilst Mandela was fit to tie the laces on Kwame Nkrumah shoes, he was not worthy of polishing the crap of Cabral’s shoes. During a time when the colonial powers were eager to squash leaders of African liberation, Mandela was offered a sit in office, that on its own is a huge stain on his legacy. When the Apartheid government was eager to assassinate the likes of Samora Michal, Joshua Nkomo and Steve Mbiko, they had no problem preserving Nelson Mandela and offering him solace in their company.
Mandela tenure can be summarised as a game of make up with the former colonial powers, Amilcar Cabral venture into politics created a new method of fighting colonial exploitation. His favorite technique was to educate all liberated people in economical, political and military sciences. His credo was based on the philosophy that unless Africans are at a point were they can truly understand how the world operates, they would forever remain easy prey to the oppressor. He was often quoted saying that any form of independence that doesn’t give the African the chance to revive her culture or master her wealth was paper independence and not worth having.
Mandela used most of his office time getting people involved in backing the Springboks during the 96 ruby world cup , Cabral on the other hand used every opportunity he had to create self sufficient villages run by community leaders for the community. It is recorded that Cabral community projects resulted in building more schools, better roads, a clinic in every village and libraries than the Portuguese had done in during their entire colonial rule. Mandela works in office led to the illusion of a rainbow nation whilst Cabral’s time as the leader of the PAIGC can be summerised as a period of identifying and rectifying the homographs of colonial propaganda against the African.
Mandela saving grace is his closing speech during the Revoria trail. I consider the message to be the epitome of African identity. Yet all facets of his speech were a remake of Cabral speech in 1961 during the PAIGC’s conference in Dakar, Senegal. Cabral had made it clear tat his fight was against any form of oppression, Cabral swore to continue fighting for the emancipation of the oppressed til his death. Cabral’s assassination enabled him to live and die according to his philosophies whilst Mandela switching lanes after his release from prison and allowed the Boers to maintain the fruits of their oppressive tendencies during the Apartheid era prevented him from being a true liberator of South Africans. As Mandela’s version of Cabral’s speech was immortalised ink, Cabral immortalised his philosophies in policies that truly uplifted Africans in Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau.
What makes Cabral an eclipse and Mandela an over cast day is the fact that Mandela failed to achieve a tenth of what Cabral achieved with an enemy that was desperate to negotiate. Mandela the capacity to rule South Africa and was in a position to push any policies forward yet he didn’t use it. Cabral on the other hand achieved all his achievements during a liberation war. He didn’t have the luxury of sharing a table with the Portuguese as they were trying to assassinate him every other day. When it comes to African liberation, Mandela is but a dwarf before giants of the mold of Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, Robert Mugabe and Samora Michal. What makes for a delightful sight is that all these against are still mortals before the god that is Amilcar Lopez Cabral.
Being labelled the shining light for the unification of Africa through your actions makes for a good reading on anyone’s tombstone, unfortunately this doesn’t make it true. The first Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella was the true beacon for African unity. His similarities with Mandela makes for a more compelling discussion. Both men were once incarcerated for their liberation activities by colonial powers. Both men’s policies during their time in office proven detrimental to the indigenous population and both men tangled with the Aparthied government. The major difference between these two is that Bella’s time in prison strengthened his resolve whilst Mandela will to fight for the oppressed waned. Ben Bella managed to make up for his domestic failures with productive continental policies whilst Mandela did little to benefit the African continent . Lastly Ben Bella believed that true justice meant holding the Apartheid government responsible for its atrocities whilst Mandela was willing to jump into bed with them without any compensation to the South African people.
Ben Bella’s leading role in imposing a ban on trade with Apartheid government after the Sharpville massacres was a clear message to the world on his stance against the oppression of Africans. If you dared to attack one of us, none of use would play with you. Bella also offered military aid to all those who were prepared to fight the Apartheid regime.
During his maiden year as President, Ben Bella nationalised all the farms and put stringent laws to regulate international trade. His main goal was similiar to Cabral’s, he wanted complete independence for every Algerian. Take away South Africa’s ruby word cup win, Mandela has nothing to show for his term in office. Despite the fact that most of Bella’s domestic policies were a huge failures, his work with the ANC, ZAPU and SWAPO are the epitome of true African unity.
Bella willingness to invest most of his wealth into creating the OAU shows you were his heart was. He was more concerned about using the complete liberation of Africa and true unity to heal Africa from poverty and stop its exploitation from the west. Mandela’s story of human growth and forgiveness makes it easier for the former colonial powers to lift the heavy burden of guilt off their shoulder and pretend that their sins against Africa have been forgiven and its alright. This however does little to educate, encourage or groom future African leaders in the art of African unity.
Bella story is soiled with blood, sweat and tears. Such stories don’t make for good bed stories, yet the fruits of his labours make for dream African nations. If Mandela’s story is a Disney fairy tale suited for bedtime stories, then Ben Bella story is the Oxford dictionary designed to educate and define true liberation and unity.
The last piece on Mandela’s puzzle is based on him being called the master of creating a skittle like rainbow nation in South Africa. The subject of lack integration is a mucky pool of subjectiveness and depending where you’re allegiance stands, you will define either by African people acting more western or westerners learning to respect African identity and not attempt to alter it.
Based on Malcom X’s coffee analogy, anything that seeks to dilute African identity is not integration but mental colonialism. Mandela’s rainbow South Africa was an extremely creamy coffee. Whilst Mandela was busy selling away African integrity, Marcus Garvey was working on building an African identity that will forever command respect from the west without altering African culture.
When Mandela was busy maintaining the capitalistic structures within South Africa, Marcus Garvey was redefining the wealth dynamics with the African community, be there in Africa, the Caribbean or anywhere in the world in order for the African to utilise her buying power in way that enables Africans to develop themselves. Whist Mandela led South Africans into a Boer house and left us there to burn, Garvey was teaching Africans how to build a house for that would offer refuge to the African.
I often looked at Garvey work as a 100m sprint. In field that features seasoned athletes, it is only fair to give the casual runner a head start to give him a chance at reaching the finishing line in sync with the rest of field. That was what Garvey was chasing, Since the fundamentals of capitalism detect that the rich get richer whilst the poor remain stuck in poverty; the African would never catch up with the Europeans unless he was given a boost and only through economic prosperity could the Africans be viewed as equals and be in a position to integrate without losing African identity.
Cabral’s philosophy rooted from Garvey’s concepts on African empowerment. Garvey was also a strong advocate of self education. Most of his publication were filled with references to books that would further advance African education. Considering that Garvey was not a president, his achievements on the field of African education compared to Mandela’s failures with the education in South Africa make Garvey look like a super hero.
To fully appreciate Garvey’s model of African prosperity, one has to look at the by products of Zimbabwean education based off Garvey’s model. Zimbabwean managed to produce a 75% pass on O-Level Cambridge papers, considered by most to be the hardest Secondary school exam board.
Mandela never did anything to raise the value of the African in order to bring us closer to true integration. He was content leaving Africans to their own devices whilst allowing African liberals to acquire more wealth by diluting themselves with European identity. Worse of, he maintained the discriminative Apartheid education system that helped created a larger gap between white people in South Africa and the Africans along economic lines.
Evidence points to Mandela as an abject failure. To a large degree I agree with it. That agreement does not stop me from appreciating the works he did to spread message of a possible world where the black man could live free along the white man. After all, it was his name that inspired the class of 1976 to fight Boer oppression from the class room. It was his legacy that motivated thousand to enroll into Umkhonto Wesizwe.
Yes, Mandela tenure as President washed away the lustre of his pre prison days. His days as a freedom fighter have been forgotten in favour pushing his message of forgiveness. Through praising that as Mandela greatest attribute, they’re undermining the efforts of courageous women who risk the wrath of the Boers as they transformed their leaving rooms into ANC meeting halls, their bed’s into young liberators hiding spots from the Boers and the young students who stood up during an era where the killing of Africans demanded less emotional responsibility than slaughtering a chicken.
That downgrades Mandela legacy into a good work out song. It provides us with that feel good feeling about human nature by does little to strengthen the African identity and changing African lives. Mandela is the golden bull of idolatry that is being worshiped instead of the true gods of African liberation. The day his legacy falls like the walls of Jericho is close at hand. Bayethe!