In all my 47 years of existence on this planet Earth, there has always been one thing that has always thoroughly vexed my intellect – as I have greatly struggled to fathom how something that appears so beautiful, could, at the very same time, be made to look so ugly. If ever I had encountered any paradox in my life, then this is the most outstanding of them all.
As a life-long passionate lover of history, I have always been fascinated by the ideals of such concepts as Pan-Africanism, and Anti-Imperialism – espoused and propagated by such luminaries as Marcus Garvey, William Edward Burghardt (WED) Du Bois, and so many others – as these came across as the exact panacea that the doctor ordered for the people of Africa, and those of African descent all across the world – in their centuries old struggles against enslavement and colonization (whose origins can be traced way back to the first resistance on slave ships, through rebellion and suicides, to colonial uprisings).
Who would ever question the logic behind the need for encouragement and strengthening of bonds of solidarity between all indigenous and diaspora ethnic groups of African descent, based on a common goal of advancing and uplifting our social, economic, and political standing, as a united people?
Of course, having endured centuries of Western hegemonic enslavement and colonization, the most rational core principle of such a philosophy would have been for the people of Africa, in their unity, to resist any form of external political and economic exploitative and oppressive interference on the continent’s affairs – especially in the manner of colonial power and foreign hegemony.
Who would want that anyway?
However, as I grew older – and my head moved from the idealistic school text book and encyclopedic knowledge, to the real world – something suddenly shockingly and devastatingly hit me, like a painful tonne of bricks… immediately, waking me up to a bruising truth.
Most of those – particularly, political leaders – who purported to warmly and devotedly embrace these marvellous and amazingly progressive Pan-Africanist and anti-imperialist principles, did not possess even a single aorta of love for their fellow African countrymen and women, whom they presided over.
If anything, they were downright cruel, heinous, and savage kleptomaniacs, who did nothing for the African people they led, besides committing some of the most atrocious, barbaric, and murderous acts of banditry on those they were meant to protect, uplift, and unify.
In fact, before writing this article, I decided to just Google the names of some of the most prominent Pan-Africanists and anti-imperialist of our modern times – and, to say that I was shocked would be a gross understatement, but was rather, petrified and stupefied beyond measure.
I would not dare highlight some of the characters, who were audaciously named in these lists – since I do not want to distract from the core message of this essay, by igniting unnecessary emotive arguments and quarrels in other Africans countries, as I would have mentioned leaders they hold dearly in their hearts, and possibly end up accusing me of deriving my skewed notion of their leaders from “imperialist Western media, which is against any one who stands up against Western hegemony”.
I hear that a lot, and so, for now, I will only talk about someone on those Pan-Africanist and Anti-Imperialist lists, whom I have first-hand traumatizing experience of his brazen, shameless, and vile disregard of his fellow African countrymen and women’s human rights, and has since been proven to have presided over one of the most thieving regimes on the face of the planet…the late ousted president of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
As a Zimbabwean, who lived through his 37 years of ruinous economic policies, which were primarily driven by a cruel self-aggrandizing and plundering motive for him, and his cronies in the ruling establishment – at the heartless expense of the rest of the population, who were abandoned to the caprices of joblessness, poverty, and starvation – whilst, any who dared speak out, and stand up against such insatiable and unparalleled greed and selfishness, were immediately meted with atrocious vindictive injustices, such as cold-blooded barbarous murder, abductions, torture, mass rapings, beating ups, unjustified arrests on trampled up charges, and brutal repression of any demonstrations and protests (under the most outrageous reasons).
Yet, this was one of the leaders proudly inducted into the ‘Pan-Africanist and Anti-Imperialist’ Hall of Fame -or, rather, Hall of Shame.
As I sit here today, Mugabe’s removal, through a 14 November 2017 military coup d’etat, did not change anything, since this was merely the climax of a long-drawn-out ferocious and vicious intra-ruling ZANU PF party factional power struggle – which, had absolutely nothing to do with matters of national policy and governance, or the Zimbabwean people, at large – and, the so-called ‘new dispensation’ (compromised of the same old tired and worn out ruling elite opportunistic clique, that had insensitively and sadistically ravaged the lives of ordinary citizens during Mugabe’s 37 year long reign of terror) simply continued on the same destructive and murderous path – still under the guise of Pan-Africanism and Anti-Imperialism.
Just because a ruthless African leader steps on the toes of the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK), or any other powerful Western country, and is declared ‘persona non grata’ by those countries, most certainly does not – and, should never – automatically qualify him or her as some crusading Pan-Africanist and Anti-Imperialist.
There is undoubtedly more to being an authentic Pan-Africanist and Anti-Imperialist than merely ensuring that one gets on the wrong side of the West – and, possibly having some sanctions imposed on him or her!
How are we, then, to expect a generation of young Africans, who are genuinely delighted and honoured to be identified with Pan-Africanism, and Anti-Imperialism, when the luminaries associated with such noble, inspiring and progressive concepts, are no better than street muggers, thugs, and hooligans?
What is to motivate my 17 year old son to aspire to become an outstanding Pan-Africanist, and Anti-Imperialist, when all that he has witnessed all his life has been the utter and repulsive destruction of his own country, his own neighbourhood, his own parents’ livelihoods, and his own future – at the looting and blood-thirsty hands of a regime that loudly preaches the values and ethos of ‘Pan-Africanism’, and ‘Anti-Imperialism’?
Should we be surprised when these same young men and women are to, then – and, very understandably – rush right into the deceitful hands of those we initially did not want to interfere in our own internal affairs, predominantly due to their unsavory, despicable, and abominable enslavement and colonial past, and yet are today disingenuously touting themselves as angels of democracy and human rights (as they not-too-successfully attempt to hide their institutionalized repression and subjugation of their own citizens, as well as their flirtation with rogue regimes, and some military juntas, whose rise to power through coup d’etats they sponsored)?
Why can we not have sincere and well-meaning examplary truly Pan-Africanist and Anti-Imperialist political leaders, who honestly seek to implement and advance the real ideals of these magnificent, progressive, and empowering principles – that will certainly unite the people of Africa for economic, social, and political advancement and upliftment…founded on the respect for each other, protection of every citizen’s fundamental rights, and an equitable sharing of our nations’ abundant wealth and resources?
Is that, seriously, too much to ask?
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is also available for those requiring editing, writing, and/or researching services for non-fiction and fiction books; advocacy and publicity material; press/media releases, and articles; policy blueprints; public speeches; manifestos; corporate or organization reports, documents; and university thesis/dissertations, etc. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Calls: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263788897936, or email: email@example.com