We are a sad people today because amidst the positive strides we have achieved, yet we wake up to be reminded that domestic violence is still a reality. A reality that there are still women use as suicide bombers, women denied the right to an education just like the recently released Chibok girls in Nigeria. These innocent girls were captured while at school.
We today remember Thomas Sankara [assassinated former President of Burkina Faso] who once said, “The Revolution and Women’s liberation go together. We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or out or surge of human compensation. It is a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph. Women hold up the other part of the sky.”
These are realities we are faced with – sad realities which need to be changed. But how do we correct these. South Africans are on a correct path, a path which is beyond talking about statistics. These victims have names to them. Karabo is one of those. We are happy there are men amongst us who are organizing themselves to march and isolate the perpetrators.
In all these we must know the solution is not an overnight one. However such a step is commendable.
As we celebrate Africa Month with Africa day officially recognised on the 25th of May each year, we must celebrate always remembering that this is the correct time for Africa to rise. We are a people with rich wealth and minerals to unshackle our people from poverty.
We must celebrate great African Authors like NGUI WA THIONG’O, BESSIE HEAD AND MANY MORE. We must celebrate Africans in the diaspora who have over time advocated that Africans are capable. We celebrate them because through their writings we have become a better people.
We also note that, in Africa beyond these leaders we have capacity, we are a people who have produced a United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan from Ghana and Boutros –Boutros Ghali from Egypt. We recently have a United Nations Deputy Secretary General from Nigeria, Ms Amina Mohammed.
As we celebrate, we must again ask ourselves: ‘how do we bridge the borders to make Africa better?’, ‘which borders must be unshackled’, who is better placed to do this? Who is better placed to ensure that there is peace in South Sudan, and that another Malawian Hyne man does not sleep with widows, raping them hiding behind culture.
How do we make sure African leaders respect their own constitutions, improve the living conditions of their people? All these efforts contribute to BRIGDING THE BORDERS TO MAKE AFRICA A SAFE HEAVEN FOR ALL.
For Africa to be greater we must advocate for media freedom, which will tell the true African story, which will empower its people with knowledge. An African media hub which will integrate all Africans. It is a fact that those who lead incorrectly are against media freedom, they thrive on managing dissenting views by banning any media platform. This must come to an end. We can bridge the borders. We must always remember that media is a component of democratic rule aimed at advancing and deepening democracy. It needs to ensure responsible reporting and telling facts from fiction.
For peace to remain in Burundi, President Nkurunzuza must ensure political stability and good governance. We say this because even if he comes from the progressive forces which saw his country being liberated from a long war, his people are not happy with him today and the violence must stop. Just like the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, Burundi too need stability and proper governance. Instability is a serious reversal to our gains as a people.
Geo-political instability in South Sudan is a major cause for the recent world refugee camp crisis in Uganda, with Bidibidi overflowing. It cannot be! it is the largest world refugee camp recently. Mariam Makeba once said “We do not want to be reminded that it is we, the indigenous people, who are poor and exploited in the land of our birth.” It is indeed incorrect for Africans to feel and be displaced in Africa today.
In bridging the borders, we need African leaders to respect the African Union and assist in its funding. We need the strengthening of institutions like the African Peer Review Mechanism. It has become a useless body which is not respected because our leaders who are member states do as they wish.
It needs to replace institutions like the International Criminal Court with a living Pan African Parliament which will have teeth to bite. It cannot be that the ICC is used by others to prosecute African leaders only. Africans must themselves hold their leaders accountable.
Bridging the borders for us should mean knowing and talking each other’s languages. One speaker says ‘Language is an affirmation of identity as a people and common heritage’. We are one, separated by colonial borders. We can bridge them! We can learn each other’s languages. Our languages are our heritage.
We celebrate BORDERLESS HUMANITY which has carried us thus far. This humanity must ensure we refrain from Xenophobia. When we see a crisis in Zimbabwe and a need for medical practitioners in Kenya, we must rise to help each other. Our freedom is a product of Frelimo assisting the people of South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is a product of UNIP intervening in Tanzania. We gained independence united as a people, helping each other. Humanity is part of us.
Civic society must be strengthened. They must be organized and our people must participate in social responsibility engagements.
We must remind each other that tourism amongst ourselves as a people should be encouraged. In Durban Africans sat side by side to expose and talk about how we can economically assist each other through tourism. This is an essential part of encouraging travelling and knowing fellow Africans. We must be proud of our land. Proud of our beauty, travel it and celebrate it.
Young people of Africa, before touring Europe must visit Egypt and see the pyramids, visit Mapungubwe in South Africa, be in Timbuktu in Mali, young people must bridge the borders of tourism.
Beyond dining today, let us continue to take interest in our continent and participate in decision making. Our only hope is a united people, bringing ideas and making Africa better. We must celebrate for we are far, we are a people with zeal to make it possible.
Rhulani Thembi Siweya is the founder of Africa Unmasked and an NEC member of the ANCYL. She writes in her capacity as patron of Africa Unmasked.