Whenever Afrikan leaders meet and pretend to be solving the problems plaguing this beautiful continent, which they do quite often in Midrand (Johannesburg) they always find a way of putting the blame for the high levels of corruption, poverty, squalor, bad governance and under-development squarely at the door of their former colonial masters. They always succesfully, through well-rehearsed rhetoric manage to do this without analysing their own contributions to such failures or understanding their role in the shortcomings. It was such glorious moments many decades ago when the Union Jack started its final descend, with Uncle Bob (Marley) singing a liberation song ('Zimbabwe') while another Uncle Bob (Mugabe) who has since become a symbol of everything that is wrong with Zimbabwe clapped hands joyfully. In many Afrikan countries the Union Jack came down for the last time many decades ago and was soon replaced by nationalist flags.
Over many years those new flags have come to symbolise oppression, stolen elections, squalor and the haunting power of Harold McMillian's 'winds of change' speeck. No oppressive kingdom stays eternal it must be noted, even if such a regime is led by a black man who claims his country will never be a colony again.
Let's see what's wrong with some African countries in alphabetical order;
Just a few months before Portuguese High Commissioner, Commodore Leonel Cardoso brought down the Portuguese flag, ending five centuries of Portuguese rule thousands of kilometres away in the United States of America there was a Central Intelligence Agency briefing to the US National Security Council of President Gerald Ford. John Stockwell, a former CIA officer in Saigon who was tasked with setting up a support structure in Angola and who was in attendence testified in 1984, "The CIA director (said) 'Gentlemen, this is a map of Africa, and here is Angola. In Angola there are three liberation movements. There is the FNLA, headed by Holden Roberto, they're the good guys. There is the MPLA, headed by Agostinho Neto, who's a drunken psychotic poet with a Marxist background. They're the bad guys' - and they used exactly that terminology, the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys', so that those people on the National Security Council could get it straight what the game was". But then that was not the game, as Savimbi was not mentioned and he later became a potent force until he was compromised by his friends and assassinated, signaling the end of the civil war. No wonder immediately after Cardoso boarded a warship and sailed back to Portugal, the situation exploded and the aforementioned civil war between MPLA and UNITA started.
Much can be put at the door of the West for having used folks like Savimbi as cannon fodder but today Angola has the worst human rights record. Savimbi is dead, UNITA is a chapter in a history book but the situation for the ordinary Angolan has not changed. Why should Portugal be blamed, especially by MPLA when it gave them the government on a platter? Because darkies suffer from slave mentality, which in South Africa is called apartheid mentality.
Afrika has many belief systems and faiths, both religious and traditional. It is only fair to embrace a secular approach when it comes to issues of religion because no country can claim to be a fully fledged democracy when people who believe in something contrary to the majority are subjected to long jail terms and bannings. The 'secular' government of Abdelaziz Bouteflika can claim all they want that they are upholding the rule of law when they annul elections won by their ideological rivals but the fact that the continent is crumbling makes it hard to comprehend why should it be a glorious event to celebrate Afrika Day when the people should be mourning. The fact that many Algerians still continue to drown in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea in makeshift boats on their way to Europe is an indictment on Afrikan leadership. There's no way France should be held liable for the deteriorating state of affairs in that country. The ruling party must look within and ask itself why does it always seem that those who count the ballots always win the elections, especially in Afrika.
Reporters Without Borders, in their last report claimed that freedom of the media is better in Namibia than it is in South Afrika. However, from the view of the outsider it might seem like there's relative calm in SWAPOland, the truth is that independent voices are being stifled. Journalists who hold a different view to that of the government are ruthlessly censored as public servants are warned not to buy media that has been identified by government as anti-revolutionary. The censorship then goes beyond the publication as even individuals are afraid to be found in possession of censured newspapers as if they are drugs. Blame can be put on Britain, maybe Germany or most probably South Afrika but the truth is that since 1990 that country has been left to its own systems.
Former president Frederick Chiluba has been found guilty in absentia of corruption and misappropriating of funds through an account masquerading as an intelligence organisation expense account. He denies all allegations. Chiluba came to power with much fanfare as he was viewed as a potential messiah after upsetting long serving Kenneth Kaunda in free and fair elections. Kaunda has since gone on to become a celebrated statesman. The levels of corruption in Zambia today, which saw the recent elections nearly being fought around a Chinese/Zambia trade relationship expose the levels of poverty and desperation after so many years of democracy. Many Zambians, under President Levy Mwanawasa's government continue to flood South Afrika in search of better opportunities, and to escape a failing dream.
It is perceived to be the breadbasket of Southern Afrika with a currency that is stronger than the South African Rand. What is not being told about this very secretive country is that while it can claim that its diamonds are conflict free and have undergone the Kimberely Process, the land from which they are mined is often than not owned by the native San people who have waged a fruitless campaign to get compensation from the government for exploiting their natural resources. They are reportedly being moved around without regard for their human rights and cultural rights. Some years ago they took their case to Britain to challenge the allegations that 'Diamonds are Forever'. But was anyone listening? No amount of wealth is worth people's human rights, Botswana should know better. You can buy the media but not people's voices.
Now this is a classic case of a country that has gone seriously wrong. President Robert Mugabe continues to rule over a country that has since lost more than five million of its citizens to other countries where they are squatting as refugees. One wonders if he can see it when he is driven around the streets of Harare. Or maybe he needs to commission a national census to realise that what South Afrikan president Thabo Mbeki said in the national assembly last week that we have to deal with the fact that we'll have visitors from the North is worrying South Afrikans. No amount of words can start to tell the failures in that country that continue to be piled at the door of 10 Downing. The question to be asked is, what role did Britain play when Mugabe, against any logic chose to host the butcher of Ethiopia Mengistu Haille Merriam in his country? What role did Britain play in his reported massacre of the Ndebele in the 1980s? Did Tony Blair supply the weapons?
The fate that befell Mozambique can not be successfully divorced from that of Angola. The CIA with the assistance of the Nationalists in South Afrika made a decision to plunge that country into chaos to stop it from wholly falling under Soviet influence. It was the battlefield of two ideologies during the Cold War. RENAMO was used to unleash terror and suffering to the people of Northern Mozambique and to disrupt rail and road support to liberation movements in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). After Zimbabwe gained its independence, RENAMO's role was in limbo. It was going to be the only proxy presence of Portugal in that country. But what followed later and the refusal of FRELIMO to sit down with RENAMO and sort their problems can not be blamed on anyone but pride. The civil war in Mozambique, which was a US-Soviet war by proxy could have ended many years ago, if the leaders chose to let go of their selfishness and focused on the interests of the people of Mozambique as they seem to be doing now. If any blame should be put on the West, it should be that they are failing to provide money to finance the demining process which started years ago and continues to be held back by lack of money.
Now this is one of the few model countries in Afrika. Liberated by the late Mualimu Julius Nyerere and having tried to be stable against attempts by the West to gag and destabilize it, Tanzania managed, with little Chinese support to go as far as helping many liberation movements around the Southern African Development Community region. FRELIMO, Umkhonto We Sizwe and even the Ugandan rebels who toppled dictator Idi Amin were once hosted and hosted there, against world condemnation. Tanzania even provided 20 000 troops to help remove Amin from power. However its alleged treatment of the people of Zanzibar and Pemba can not go unmentioned. While it used to believe that people have the right to self-determination, it should also give the same rights to the people of the two islands.
The late President Hastings Kamuzu Banda ruled over this country with an iron fist for decades. And when he finally left it was found that his grip to power was propped by political opponents disappearing without a trace. Malawi is blessed with massive natural resources like textile and fish but they are not enough to feed its own people as it's one of the poorest countries in Afrika.
Very few people that I have spoken to understand why Lesotho continues to exist as a sovereign country when it's so dependent on South Afrika for its survival. A walk in Maseru is not different from any other town in the Free State province of South Afrika. In 1996 when there was political conflict in that country then acting President Mangosuthu Buthelezi dispatched a batallion to crush resistance and take control of affairs. It was over in a few hours with less than five dead South African National Defence Force soldiers. If the leaders of the mountain kingdom stopped looking to Britain, which continues to fund development projects (which result in corruption) and look to South Afrika as a mother and them as a province, development can be speeded. At the time of writing the Katse Dam Project is benefitting largely the Gauteng Province of South Afrika with water. Maybe the United States of Afrika ideal should start here with the phasing off of passports when one visits the land of the great King Moshoeshoe.
This is one textbook case of a failed monarch. AIDS activists are quick to release statistics of infection rate in this landlocked kingdom and the picture is grim. So grim that their king imposed a moratorium on sex while he did not lead by example. Poverty is rampant, opposition parties banned, trade union movements crushed and the King revered. Recently King Mswati III reportedly spent R15 million ($2million) on his birthday bash in a country that is so dependent on South Afrika and donors for its survival. The problem with Swaziland is that while Makhosithive (the King) was trained in England he has not seen the reason why there should be democracy in his own country. He continues ruling the country from the comfort of his palace at Ludzidzini through the Tinkundla system which was only relevant in 1973. He marries a new wife every year whom he builds a palace and buys a BMW X5. This is while the poor people starve and no free political activity is encouraged.
There is no ruler more popular than the late Mobutu Sese Seko who allegedly plundered $5 billion of that country's wealth. The country has always had the badluck of falling under bad rulers. In the case of Mobutu, the FNLA's Holden Roberto (in Angola) was the brother-in-law of the dictator. When the CIA was supporting Roberto they were doing so through Zaire (now DRC) and no matter how corrupt Mobutu was he was a very important conduit of American aid and had to remain in power at all cost. It only took a negotiated deal brokered by former SA president Nelson Mandela to get Mobutu aboard the SAS Oeteniqua and out of politics only to die a peaceful death in exile a few years later. The money was squandered under the watch of the US and was never returned by the banks that kept it all these years. Then came rebel leader Laurent Kabila who did not improve the situation but schemed with Zimbabwe's Mugabe and Gen George Mujuru to plunder the country's diamonds in Eastern DRC. And now his son is the president of the democratic DRC but journalists continue to rot in jail. What Joseph Kabila's fears are is a mystery, but the situation is not improving in that country, especially in the presence of rebel movements sponsored by Rwanda and the Interahamwe still hiding in the bushes. And with Jean-Pierre Bemba now in Portugal, no one knows what he's up to.
Poverty and rampant corruption continue to haunt this country where locals are quick to tell anyone who listens that former presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi gave to their families and cronies half of the country. "Half of Kenya is owned by the Kenyattas", they told me as we walked through a slumvillage of Korogocho. Today, while they say that their current president Mwai Kibaki has done more good than bad, one wonders why are people still held in Kenyan prisons on suspision of belonging to some Islamic Courts fighting over the border in Somalia? There is relative democracy but the gap between the poor and the rich is so wide it raises questions of what is it that Britain did to sustain a legacy of subjudication. The Masai are accusing the Brits residing in a military garrison of copulating with the locals, breeding Coloured kids they refuse to support after they have finished their tours and returned to Britain. They blame the government of acting passive to their pleas for Britain to take responsibility of its 'bastard' offspring and of censuring the country when it destroys their grazing fields to make way for development. Darky leaders are subjecting other darkies to suffering to satisfy their colonial masters, as Kenya is doing with its obsession to satisfy the US and Britain.
This is another classic example of a failed state. The horn of Afrika has never had a stable government since Mohamed Siad Barre died and chaos engulfed the oil-rich country 16 years ago. This is a story few people know and which I'm told it the whole truth and nothing but the truth; there's oil in Somalia and there are contracts that Barre had signed with major US oil exploration companies at the time of his death. Those contracts were never explored as clans accused each other of masterminding his death. When warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid took control of Mogadishu the corporates in the US pressured their government to do something. The Bill Clinton Administration drafted a UN Resolution that called for the deployment of forces to protect United Nations food convoys to refugee camps. But the story you were never told was that the US Marines volunteered, not to protect food convoys as Pakistani forces were already doing that but to instal a puppet regime that would respect the contracts signed with Barre, exploit the oil and live happily ever after. It's now history that they were ambushed and 13 were killed.
Years went by with lawlessness, Aidid died in a battle with other clans warlords. Then Islamists Courts came to power and put together a stable government. The US in its current war-mongering mood panicked and dispatched the CIA to Ethiopia to advise the government on how to root out the Islamists because 'it was feared Somalia will harbour Al Qaeda. US Special forces (allegedly) were sent to help the Ethiopians uproot the Islamists and instal (the original Clinton plan) a puppet regime. That's the situation today, there's no stable government because the one the US wants to rule does not have a mandate from the people but from Kenya and its friends.
UGANDA; The civil war that has raged there for
some time is a result of the president always wanting to flex his muscles and not wanting to open his government to pluralism. In a recent poll one of the candidates was accused of rape and threatened with jail term to disrupt his plans to campaign. A civil war that refuses to end continues to rage with none side trusting the other. Since he toppled Idi Amin president President Yoweri Museveni has never seen any reason to cede power to another person but instead amended the constitution to extend his term last year. The once rich with tea and banana Uganda is not as economically strong as it should be and rebel leader Joseph Koni is in hiding, only delegating juniour officers without resolve to negotiate with Museveni whose only mission is to wipe the Lord's Resistance Army.
This is another Zimbabwe, but here atrocities are committed under the watchful eye of Google Earth. Villages are burnt to the ground in acts of retribution. President Omar Hassan Al Bashir's government is accused of arming the tribesman known as the Janjaweed to kill, rape and raze villages to the ground. He settled with the South to strengthen his war with the Darfur. When they tell him he should protect civilians he says 'yes' even though at the back of his mind they are responsible for an insurrection against his government. He only allows African Union peacekeepers because he can manipulate African leaders who are all like him and have their fingers pointed at Europe. Darfur continues to burn, 200 000 are dead already, 2 million displaced, the US calls for a UN force, but nobody trusts the US these days because it abandoned the Palestinians in a test tube. China has uncovered natural resources and will veto everything resembling sanctions at the UN. And Sudan is an Afrikan country.
This is a country whose president is accused (within) some quarters of having killed the former president. No one wants to believe it because Paul Kagame (a former intelligence officer) is 'one of the good guys' in the eyes of many. But there are very limited human rights in Rwanda. The Interahamwe, who are accused blamed for the 1994 genocide and are alleged to be hiding in the Congolese bushes are still alive and potent. Kagame want them brought to justice, thus he always threatens to invade Eastern DRC to look for them. But there is a report drawn by a former French intelligence officer implicating him in the shooting of the plane that carried the former president. An incident that led to the bloodshed on 1994 and that paved a way for him to become president later. For some time they were blaming Belgium and saying it should fulfil its moral duty towards the people of Rwanda. They were also blaming the US 'for not jamming the radio signal' when a call to kill was made using radio in '94. They also blamed former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for not responding fast enough when he was heading the UN Peacekeeping team responsible for the Great Lakes area. They failed to blame themselves for failing to see the humanity in the next person, whether Hutu or Tutsi.
This is still an explosive country as South Afrika maintains a military presensce just incase one day it explodes. And it does more often than not. But there have been claims that South Afrika's presence is an imperialist one as it is to soften the huge investments made by South Afrikan companies in Burundi. Yes, soldiers continue to die as a shaky truce keeps the country on volatile ground.
This is the only Afrikan country never to have been colonized, even though Italy tried. However that song that made Michael Jackson famous 'We Are the World' was written to raise funds to buy food and feed the children of this vast country of His Majesty Haille Selassie. Ethiopia is known for its competent athletes and a butcherous president Mengistu Haille Meriam. Mengistu, a close buddy of Mugabe, is now exiled in Zimbabwe. He managed to plunder this country to the point that in 1985 hundreds of thousands of people were starving while the marxist murdered political opponents and refused any attempt at pluralism. Today it should be a stable country, but the US has already gotten to it and is using it to destabilise Somalia.
We'll deliberately stop here and not mention Morocco and Western Sahara's struggle for self-determination, Liberia's many years of agony, Ivory Coast's never ending strife, Sierra Leone's limbless children and adults, Nigeria's many years of military dictatorships and the recent stolen elections, Chad's continuing conflict with its neighbours, assisted by Libya's Muammar 'Brother Leader' Gadaffi, Nigeria's Niger Delta and treatment of the Ogoni people in Ogoniland, Egypt's banning of the Muslim Brotherhood and the long service of their current president Hosni Mubarak, Equatorial Guinea's Obiang Ngwema iron fisted rule, Mauritius's never-ending coup de tats and displaced people from the Diego Garcia islands which is now a US military base and many more failed Afrikan countries that make a mockery of Afrika Day. I swear that if Kwame Nkrumah was to rise from the dead, he would cry a Nile of tears.
Let nobody lie to you and say that South Afrika is the valhalla that everybody from many Afrikan countries aspires to live in. There are good things about this country, like democracy, race and tribal relations (there are more than fifteen indigenous languages and no fights). However the growing economy continues to fail poor people. President Mbeki's ideal of an annual six percent economic growth does not translate into employment. His Black Economic Empowerment ideal continues to enrich a small clique of businesspeople aligned to his party. Education is not the best. Teachers continue to sleep with learners and are protected by a powerful union when brought to account. The police are still taking bribery and raping prostitutes like in any Afrikan country. The army is arrogant and thinks that they are running things around here while the only thing they are running are their own households. The hospitals ill-treat patients and clinics often do not have medication. Unemployment is rife because the little we have we share with three million Zimbabweans, many Swazis, Basotho, affluent Mozambicans, Batswana, Nigerians, Congolese, Zambians, Tanzanians, Somalians, Pakistani, Indians, Chinese, Ethiopians, Egyptians and Angolans. At least the Kenyans and Ghanaians who are here are highly educated and are contributing to the ideal. South Afrika is good but its passive stance against what is happening in many Afrikan countries is worrying. No wonder, while Afrika Day is a holiday in many Afrikan countries it is not in South Afrika.
Bob Marley sang, "We unite/ we will be free/ so long". It was a war-cry of the late 1980s. Often than not articulated by poets such as convicted bank robber Mzwakhe Mbuli, "Africa will know no peace until we the South are free." This time it means the Zimbabweans, and finally the whole continent can celebrate Afrika Day as a unit. Uhuru!

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