What if?

I believe by now the liberation of black people from white rule and attainment of political freedom (independence) since the late 1950’s in Africa should by now have prepared African people to rule and effectively take charge of their lives.

South Africa’s political freedom in 1994 also should have made it possible for majority of blacks to enjoy liberation from poverty, economic strife and led to prosperity. Yet we see the attainment of independence in Africa and freedom in South Africa having brought more challenges to the incumbent leadership, past and present. Wasn’t liberation from slavery, colonialism and apartheid expected to have brought victory and prosperity to Africans? What if it didn’t?

What was at the heart of our liberation struggle?

The slavery, colonisation of Africa and the cause to suffer under apartheid meant a destruction and devastation of an African culture, tradition and spirituality. Africans have endured a total annihilation of their humanness that was orchestrated and perpetrated by white people for over 400 years. In other words the 400 years totally stripped Africans to the core of their belief system, wisdom, independence, nationhood, religion, etc. I need to stress this point vociferously as it lies at the core of our struggle.

This in a nutshell, is what was at the heart of an African struggle!

How was the plot lost?

Our struggle was supposed to have been about ‘reclaiming’ our lost authority, humanity and spirituality first, before even beginning to talk about equality to white people. A white man, after brutally oppressing black people for years, suddenly realised he could not go on with that option. He needed to prolong the suffering of African people in another guise that was to be ‘acceptable’ to black people.

He thought of educating a few black people among thousands who were illiterate, by sending theses few darkies overseas to study. Please do not get me wrong here, otherwise you may lose me! Why all of a sudden would black people like, John Dube, Pixley Ka Isaka Seme, Alfred Mangena, Richard Msimang and George Montshioa, be allowed to study overseas at the height of oppression? I leave that one open to your interpretation…

If you educate one person out of ten illiterate ones, what would be the desired outcome? That one person will feel superior to the others, whether consciously or otherwise. The educated individual will believe that he/she was wiser or knowledgeable than the others and thus would either undermine them and eventually want to dominate them.

Back to the point, the leaders who ‘formed’ the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) were mostly educated overseas, and there is nothing wrong with that. My conclusion would be, ‘education opened their eyes and spurred them on’ to take action against their masters, which otherwise they would not have done had they been held captive under oppression.

But my discomfort with the whole thing is: their struggle was to equate themselves to white people by seeking equal rights, justice, freedom, etc. What if in 1912 their dreams were realised and their wish granted? Would they have been equal to white people just like that? No, and I repeat, and emphatic NO! They would have been equal on paper, i.e. legislatively, but in real life they would not have been!

Africans were inferior to whites at the time, I bet some Africans would have taken their rights of equality back to white people, as it would not have meant anything to them! They had no money and surely did understand the economic system, the education system, and many other systems that were introduced by the white man.

Our struggle was about ‘decolonising and deslaving’ ourselves and not equality with white people. If Africans were to be equal to the oppressor, then by inference Africans would become the ‘new’ oppressors of their fellow Africans too. Is it not happening everywhere in Africa today, even here at home?

Armed with their overseas education they ‘missed the plot’ by not addressing what was at the core of the black suffering which was, the erosion of a black man’s spirituality and the devastation of his humanity including his lost authority. I do not wish to downplay the contribution these leaders made, but I am saying what if they had attacked the real issues that continue to plague the African people to this very day?

How colonisation managed to obliterate the spirituality of black people?

I once watched a documentary about an elephant handler who needed to tame it as it would be used in a circus and other uses many people use it for. First the handler has to break the elephant’s spirit by tying the animal to a tree and unleashing ruthless beatings until its ‘spirit to fight back is broken’ the commentator said.

In that documentary, the elephant was shown initially fiercely fighting at the assault by its handler, but it endured savage beatings for days and nights until it could no longer fight back and gave in. That was about the saddest thing I have ever seen!

Somebody may say, “But animals are different to humans, then why are you even suggesting a comparison between the two”?  My answer would be: “Both of us, animals and humans are spiritual beings and we have souls”.

Africans have endured savagery at the hands of white people for centuries and we eventually had our spirit broken. If you disagree, then answer this question: why then was it possible for the majority of African people throughout Africa to be captives of the Europeans for centuries. We tried to fight back, that should be mentioned, but did we succeed in stifling the colonial master’s brutal force over us?

Look at the devastation in Africa in terms of famine, disease, poverty, wars, etc. If we were not ‘dispirited’, none of these would be. A closer look to home, the rampant corruption, dysfuntioning schools, abject poverty, HIV/AIDS devastation, etc, continue to afflict the lives of the African people.

Solution: We need to reconnect with the universe.

For too long Africans have existed ‘in the periphery of the universe’ instead of co-existing with it. Our exit to the fringes of the universe was as a direct result of white devastation in our lives for over 400 years.

In other words the human’s co-existence with the universe is like an umbilical cord that connects the unborn child to its mother. Once the umbilical cord is severed and cut, the baby detaches from the life-support and becomes independent of the mother. The analogy about the umbilical cord here is depicted as necessary for the baby to be born into the world.

But the umbilical cord I am referring to is a spiritual one that must never be cut. Once it is cut that would mean the humans that depended on the life support system, which is the universe, will seize to co-exist with it. That would spell disaster for such people once detached from their life support system. They will be spiritually dead as they no longer will have the life support that must sustain their lives.

The Europeans managed to do exactly that, severing the spiritual umbilical cord that connected black people with the universe, thereby devastating our lives to this very day! Until the day we ‘plug back’ our being to this life support, we will continue to be ruled by other people.

Ask yourselves why the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, despite some of them (Chinese, Indians, Iraqis, etc) having been colonised by Europeans, but they still have not lost their shape in terms of their religion, culture, spirituality? What happened to us?