During Post Africa’s Independence from various European Countries there was Leadership -Transition change after long battles which saw Africans dying as they fought for their liberation. When the West eventually decided to let Africans lead themselves they had no option but to step aside. In essence, we received political power while the economy remained in the hands of the former oppressor. He became an economic oppressor who led from behind, with various African leaders given State powers while others were funded to destabilize. Africa to date is still in need of economic freedom! Depending on the method of liberation, we saw the rise of leaders like Lumumba, Samora Machel, Julius Nyerere etc. In most instances as these leaders rose to power, the West then infiltrated the continent by using fellow African brothers to kill their own leaders. This they would justify by accusing their leaders of corruption and their anti-west oriented policies. The reality is that the oppressor never left. He was never willing to leave and is very much with us.
Africa went through a lot. There was a period when its children were intolerant to electoral change. There was a period when an African leader would not finish their term because a rebel leader would be so impatient and cause instability. In other instances the impatience would be understandable like in Zaire when Mobutu Sese Seko was leading. His love for money and greed could no longer be tolerated. In Uganda when Idi Amin rose to power he portrayed himself as the solution while in fact, his mad ideas would kill his own people. These are incidences which have transpired and shaped our history. We continue to learn from them.
Africa’s demarcation by the 1884 to 1885 Berlin conference also worsened the situation. Tribes were divided based on colonial borders and this gave rise to tribalism. Other tribes were placed next to rivers and fertile soils indicating their economic advantage while others would be placed at frustrating places. The oppressor never considered such facts.
His interest was inward looking, it was about him and his ability to loot our resources. This left Africans pointing fingers at each other, hating each other not realizing that colonial demarcations are at play. A case in point, in South Africa in Mpumalanga Province Swati speaking people are next to the wing closer to Swaziland, in Limpopo Province Tsonga speaking people are closer to areas next to Mozambique where a majority of Tsonga people are found. The Botswana people in North-West Province are closer to Botswana where a majority of their fellow cousins are found and so is Bloemfontein Province and Lesotho. The Hutu-Tutsi tribal conflict is also
a result of the colonial separation of Rwanda and Burundi amongst other factors.
The reality is that, this meant that Africans in various countries felt the need to fight for their right to exist and survival. It also meant that as they fought for resources and the right to existence, opportunist would hypocritically champion their genuine struggle and utilize their course to contest for electoral power. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the famous M23 rebel leader would tell you that he is fighting for a just cause for the right of his people who are marginalized based on tribal politics. Of course, he would raise tribalism in his utterances and the complain about mineral wealth which were not benefiting his people.
The underlying cause was and is still colonial demarcation and inability of African leaders to lead above tribal lines. Not all rebel leaders are incorrect in their course, some of the issues raised were and are still genuine. A case in example, the course raised by “ Pirates of Somalia” is correct. The only challenge is the violence!
Today, we are seeing positive strives in the continent, African leaders are starting to respect electoral processes. This is a positive step!
Electoral democracies are taking place, Africa’s children are voting in democratic environments with prospects of improvements in other areas.
African leaders of this generation must be congratulated. In Nigeria a seating president lost power to General Buhari and the seating President Jonathan accepted defeat. Today we celebrate Ghana, yesterday we celebrated Gambia and praised dictator Yahya Jammeh.
But Yahya seems set not to accept this. He misled us and portrayed himself as a sober leader. Worse he used his ‘Allah’ as comfort and congratulated the new leader. We are shocked today he woke up seeking a new election, rejecting the previous results. Did his God change his mind? Is his God honestly ready for the consequence of this? He needs to see life outside leadership, his people have rejected him. He was so sure he forgot
to rig elections and his people spoke in volume. He must be noble to stop what he seeks to do. It can only kill his people and cause a massive war.
Yahya Jammeh and his national TV announcement is a shock and a
disappointment. We don’t want such and reject what he seeks to do.
We must congratulate African leaders for realizing that for Africa to grow and realise its dreams, elections ought to be free and fair. Their results must be respected and endorsed by outgoing leaders. Surely, if other African countries are serious about leading in healthy environments, they will know that electoral peace is important.
The reality is that, a seating leader must know that he is serving on the endorsement of his people. He must deliver on his services and improve their lives. When electoral reforms are respected, leaders will not relax and loot simply because they know their people will remove them from State Power.
Rhulani Thembi Siweya is a the founder of Africa Unmasked and an NEC member of the ANC Youth League. She writes in her personal capacity.