via A letter to Barack Obama | The Zimbabwean 02 July 2014 by Vince Museve
From those to whom much is given, much is expected. In January 2009 I watched as you were inaugurated as the 56th and first black President of the United States of America. The elation I felt was indescribable. I even shed a tear, as Rev Jesse Jackson did, and imagined that at last we had man in power with a better understanding of Africa and the challenges it faces. I saw in you a leader of the free world who appreciates that we in Africa have the same thirst for freedom as those in your United.
Today as sit here in my country Zimbabwe, six years after your inauguration. All I see is hopelessness, poverty and the entrenchment of a dictatorship that has caused enormous pain and suffering for our people. The audacity of the hope I had for a free and prosperous country have all but vanished.
I have listened many a time to our leaders here talking about our sovereignty and how we have the right to self-determination. These are empty words, a facade intended to pacify the international community while robbing us of the future we once imagined.
Mr President, Africa is not free. Zimbabwe is not free. The myth that freedom is the act of holding regular elections must be rejected because, despite this, the substance of life itself continues to deteriorate. The social conditions in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular will never satisfy our full potential as long as we have men in power who believe that they alone are entitled to hold onto political power – regardless of their ability to create a better future for us.
Despite all the international excitement about Africa’s rise, we must ask ourselves: How can Africans rise when their liberators have become their oppressors? How can we ever experience freedom when our leaders deliberately suppress the new generation who seek to create a liberated Africa based on the universal principles of democracy and the right to self-determination?
My country is on the verge of economic collapse – not because we do not have the will or the resources and the skills to rebuild it. But because we have men and women who do not believe that our freedom is important; they do not believe that their time has come and gone. They do not believe that they must now leave us to rebuild a non-racial modern society. They are frightened of what we may become and will use all in their power to limit us.
The saddest development in my country is that even those in the European Union have abandoned the struggle for freedom. They have decided that it is better and more convenient to accept the conditions set by a dictatorship than to support the principles of freedom upon which their own union is based. They think that our standard of freedom and the quality of life we desire should be less than what they demand for their own families at home.
A new Zimbabwe can only emerge through a new generation of young African leaders whose self-esteem is not based on the injury or harm they cause to others, but on making a difference for the poorest and allowing all to live up to their full potential. Then Africa will arise.
But young African leaders can only emerge if they receive the necessary international support. We have seen it many times in Zimbabwe over the last 34 years, where those who seek a different Zimbabwe will never truly rise because the system is designed to stifle change and maintain the status quo.
Your United States represents to us the highest ideal of liberty that we young Africans must continue to fight for. But we can only do so with you on our side.
Mr President, I continue to hope that before your time is over you will do what you can to keep our dreams of a better Zimbabwe alive. I hope you will apply your mind to how we can together keep the dreams of millions of young Africans alive – because they deserve not only better leaders but a better future.
Mr President, we in Africa need a chance and who but the 56th and first black President of the United States can make a difference and help us? – Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org