Joburg is a city of many contradictions. Its skyline is dotted with beautiful skyscrapers and its streets full of soul…the art and music ‘feel’ throughout the city is something to marvel at. The sound of jazz and soul, the scents and tastes from all over the world are easy to find here.
But if you listen keenly enough you’ll also hear and almost taste the pain of so many jobless and desperate men and women, those that have to sleep out on the streets and those abused by the heartless, brutal and violent history of this Nation.
But I love the city. It is ‘Love at first sight’.
I love it because it’s a truly cosmopolitan city. Its development cannot be rivalled by any other Sub-Saharan Africa Nation. (But is the Nation really united?)
Which brings me to this question, can Africans govern themselves?
Or are the trappings of power too tantalising for us as a people? Many African nations demanded and fought for their independence. They pushed for self-rule, but I find myself questioning the logic behind that agitation. Were we ready? Or did we just see the lifestyle of our colonisers and desired it without having a proper model of leadership from our own traditional and cultural backgrounds?
The African was ruled by the fist and the Chief/King acquired and grabbed whatever he wanted. Could our national forefathers have seen an opportunity to gain and amass wealth from our liberation as a people? Were they ready to ‘LEAD’?
What is Leadership? At its very core, it’s the ability to ‘Influence’. How can you lead without first leading yourself or having a vision for where you want to take those that follow you? Our leaders only influence on negative, divisive and harmful ways. I find that many African nations inherited a system of governance and a vision/plan but they never probed whether it was viable for their people or not.
A failure from our forefathers has meant that we are still playing catch up with the rest of the world on a playing field that wasn’t ours, to begin with. Could it be we are still being driven by aspirations that were thought of with the European citizenry in mind?
Joburg is the city that made me realise just how unequal the continent really is, we have a highly developed city and country but also an inhumanly poor citizenry especially of the black South African. A nation with over 70% of its land owned by the white minority; a cosmopolitan city and nation of unequal’s beyond measure.
For black Africans to truly claim that we are capable of leading ourselves we’d have to begin by drawing up our own future with our own terms and goals free from western ideological influence.
We have been driven by a passion to be at par with the rest of the developed nations yet we fail to satisfy the simplest of needs, ‘education, health, ease of doing business, allowing organic growth of businesses and ideas’ etc. If development means selling our land and buying into the aspirations and dreams of others then the black African will never truly enjoy the liberties his forefathers fought for, he’ll never fully enjoy the rights of self-determination and the freedom to dream, try and fail in his own personal endeavours. He’ll spend his entire life trying to live and attain the ideals of others.
I strongly believe we can rule ourselves and attain the highest standards and ideals unique to us. We are different for a reason; our products and nations should model that uniqueness. I strongly believe that ideological transformation must begin at our schools. Because though we have many highly educated professionals in our respective nations, we also have many who have bought into the ideology of claiming we should conduct ourselves like the west to be considered developed. To me, that is mental colonisation of the African continent.
Allow me to clarify; I have nothing against the world or the ‘white’ man. I have many such friends, I love them. They are amazing people, unique in their own special ways. And I respect that.
I want my children to grow in a society that respects their unique differences from others, a society that will allow my daughter to choose her future. A place where she’ll compete with others on a level playing field and she won’t feel the need to sacrifice her ‘African uniqueness’ on the crucible of global competitiveness and uniformity. She can well remain a child of Africa ready to solve African problems with organic African solutions without necessarily looking to the west for answers for her life and future.
Can you imagine such a continent with me?