The world was yesterday morning (26 December 2021) shocked with the tragic news of the passing away of legendary anti-apartheid and human rights defender, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, at the age of 90 years.
In the midst of all the well-deserved glowing tributes and obituaries – narrating his life-long phenomenal and outstanding fight for social justice and equality, mainly against a prejudicial racially-segragatory South African apartheid system – I wondered to myself whether Africa would ever breed another such luminary.
Would we ever see another man, woman, or child – brave enough to stand up and speak up against grave injustices, subjugation, and pure wickedness perpetrated upon the people of this continent – and, at the same time, grab the international limelight and recognition as Tutu, and other greats in the mold of the late South African struggle icon Nelson Mandela?
As I pondered on this most difficult question, one fact stood out quite glaringly – indeed, the continent has arguably already been producing heroes and heroines of the stature and grand-standing as these amazing men – but, there is one major hindrance that stops them from receiving even a meagre fraction of the recognition deservedly awarded to Tutu and Mandela.
The sad realities of the world we live in today is that, oppression is seldom identified as oppression, unless it has been perpetrated by Whites against Black people.
The brutal truth is that – the world has somehow strangely come to terms, and even accepted as normal, Black-on-Black subjugation, brutality, and even genocide – and, never makes as much global headlines and noise as White-on-Black savagery and barbarity.
That is why today, some crazy White psychopath can post a racist slur against a Black person on social media, or a gang of drunk White hooligans can make monkey noises towards a Black soccer player – and, within minutes, the news would have made global headlines, whilst attracting widespread condemnation, with world leaders issuing strong statements of disapproval.
Yet, on the other hand, a Black national leader can maliciously deploy his military to brazenly attack unarmed protestors – thereby, fatally shooting them in cold blood – yet, globally received as just another news item from Africa, not worthy of the worldwide outrage and uproar usually associated with a White police officer choking to death one African American civilian.
Such are the tragic realities that we, as Black Africans, have to come to accept as how we are perceived in the eyes of the world.
That is why we will never ever have another Tutu or Mandela – since, these giants made their names fighting White suppression and brutality – something the world has justifiably come to frown upon with utter disdain and revulsion.
However, the story is far different for equally intrepid and unshakeable young African men, women, and even children – who have unwaveringly and unrelentingly stood up against, and even confronted, their ruthless and barbaric Black-led regimes, that have cold-heartedly oppressed their own people, and greedily looted national resources for their own self-aggrandizement, leaving millions of their citizens wallowing in abject poverty.
Quite frankly, there are those in countries as Zimbabwe, whose indescribable suffering, and untold repression, at the hands of their post-independence Black regime, has forced some to painfully label the cruel subjugation and injustices of colonial times as having been “better”.
Yet, in all this, none of those fearlessly standing up, and speaking up, against these evils have been given the same global recognition as Tutu and Mandela – in the face of unspeakable persecution, characterized by widespread arrests largely on spurious charges (without any convictions, in most instances), abductions, beatings up, sexual violence, and killings used as weapons against voices of justice.
As I thought of all these things, in my great anguish at the regrettable hypocrisy of the world – I wondered how the international community would have reacted had all the suffering we have endured at the blood-dripping hands of our Black leaders, had actually been gruesomely meted out by a White apartheid or colonial regime.
Would our activists today – who have remained largely unrecognized and unacknowledged – not have been making global headlines, and attracting solidarity demonstrations worldwide, had it been fifty years ago, and fighting a White apartheid or colonial oppressor?
As a matter of fact, even here on our continent – the Christian clergy (from where Tutu came from) has unfortunately chosen the path of wining and dining with our Black oppressors – a stark reminder that, they also, have accepted that it is alright for Blacks to opresss Blacks.
The final question in my mind was thus – is this apparent global acceptance and normalization of Black-on-Black subjugation and injustice not, in itself, a form of racism – inspired by a disturbing view that it is to be expected for Black people to be savage and uncivilized towards one another…but, can never be accepted if committed by the more civilized Whites, who should know better?
Just a thought!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org