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Young African Magazine

Africa: The State of Affairs

Published 15 June 2021

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The first politician I ever knew and loved died when I was in first grade. His name was Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, I knew him as Father Zimbabwe, the hope of our nation. Twenty-two years later, Nkomo is one of the leaders Africans were robbed of, a true revolutionary and a son of the soil.

Nkomo said: The hardest lesson of my life has come to me late. It is that a nation can win freedom without its people becoming free.

Nkomo died a Vice President, loved and celebrated, in a Zimbabwe that was the bread-basket of southern Africa and the hub of industry. This quote did not make sense to me when I first read it, he ought to have been hopeful, proud of his and his comrades, the liberators, victories. Why was his outlook so dire?

On the global stage today, the collective perception of Africa would cause the likes of Nkomo, Sankara, Tambo, Nkrumah, Biko, Mandela and others to tremble and ask to stay in the hopeful ages past. After over half a century of liberation movements, our societies have not been moved forward in the ways that matter. Freedom is just but a pale haunting ghost in the imaginations of our youth who continue to aspire for it knocking on several doors only to be denied access. It has been said that education will liberate us, our political voice will liberate us, religion will liberate us and at times we are made to believe that the liberators will liberate us again. Everywhere you go, the metrics for freedom are still measured against the dark ages past when our people could not be African in Africa after being conquered by men on horseback. We need an evolving measure, a rebranding of what freedom is because Africa has changed, Africa has evolved and morphed into more than it was when the sound of firearms was the herald of a new day and the flow of blood was the watering of the sown seeds of change.

I’ve often imagined Africa like the blind people you may see begging in my hometown. Most are led by a little child navigating around the wealthy districts of town, outside restaurants and pubs where people are being merry. Other than being an aide to where the next step could be, the child is necessary to conjure empathy from those passing by with spare coins jiggling in their purses. This is our seemingly dead-end and helpless state as youths on the continent. Our leaders are old, paranoid and without vision. They cannot tell the past from the present and are inebriated with power, illusions of grandeur or simply guilt, they cannot see where to place the next foot to move us forward. We the young, are paraded as an asset, potential, a work-force, innovators, a hope for the continent. We are the means to an end, watching coins drop into the cup in our outstretched arms from the rest of the world that want better for Africa for whatever reason, but these coins are soon cleared into the pockets of our blind leaders, to make way for more pity coins. One doesn’t give a beggar with a plate full of money does he? Africa sits on unimaginable wealth it should not even be on the streets begging.

Are we liberated if our countries have become corrupt states, policed or military governments with democracy as a garnishing word for the constitutions? We are past George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the tyranny and corruption in our politics is now blatant and bizarre and the spectators and accountability partners in the global citizenry are now desensitised to our suffering. Our leaders are using the same tactics former colonial and apartheid governments used, they call it law and order because they do not represent a monarch in Europe or a minority race. Liberation movements have turned to dynasties, monarchs that are not respecters of the will of the people they rose to power on. The people are insignificant spectators, required to continually show their gratitude to their liberators through dancing while donning colourful fabrics with their faces on. It is now common place for African presidents to be extending their terms in office, amending constitutions to allow them to continue holding the futures of millions of young people at ransom.

Nkomo said: The country will not die; the young will save it

Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo about Zimbabwe said, “The country will not die, for its young will save it”. A lot of young people have given their lives to save their countries. The quest for every freedom for African bodies has demanded the sacrifice of the lives of the young. The brutality of our armed forces, released like packs of hunting dogs on the trail for those with dreams of a better future for their country. Institutions have become fortresses that serve the interests of these leaders while laws are now passed to protect the paranoia of these aged men and women clearly in over their heads. Power really is intoxicating; to think that a revolution by the young will be stopped by social media restrictions or the barrel of gun is an insult to their own past uprising.

The young will save Africa, the young will save Nigeria , the young will save Zimbabwe, the young will save Liberia, Namibia, the DRC, name yours. We need new leaders that will rise above the tribal politics that divide our people with the hate that has led to genocides. Our generation wants to see a day when education is decolonized and afforded for all. Health care, clean water and a safe environment are basic human rights that are still too far from the reach of vision in the eyes of our blind liberators. Amongst us, a new crop of leaders who’ve only seen a continent gripped by HIV/AIDS and want to see different is rising and taking the charge. Young people are rising because they are tired of gender based violence and discrimination, for ours is a generation that does not condone, accept or look the other way. We will continue to find the agency within ourselves and learn from the victories of others. To re-visit and learn from the erased parts of our past and interrogate the rot in current leadership. Each of us will take up their weapon and fight in the different battle fields of the causes to our war. Whether it be wielding a pen on behalf of the voices of the future, raising another hashtag that exposes impunity, marching with fists in air at the face of gas and ammunition, or simply carrying a banner on a Friday for Climate Action. History already has it written that We Shall Overcome.

A new day is rising, a new sun crossing above the plains and forests of the cradle of Mankind. With it is the realisation that Africa should take her place in the world. Young people now know that a better continent is up to them to fight for and build.

How long will our soil be saturated with the blood and cries of the young African, seeking a better future, it ENDS NOW.

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