Let’s work on healing wounds that our fathers inflicted on us

Saturday October 29 2022
 Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala poses at her home in Potomac, Maryland, near Washington DC, as she was confirmed the first woman and first African leader of the beleaguered World Trade Organisation. Africa has always depended on her women. Let us lead, then. PHOTO | ERIC BARADAT | AFP


So what would a neopan-Africanist future look like? I gave PLO Lumumba a hard time last I wrote, out of respect. We are done with the wounds of our fathers, now we need to heal the wounds our fathers dealt us.

In case I wasn’t clear about that, I want to make it clear now: We are the ones we need to be dealing with, first and foremost.

And I do want to say one thing: For all that Africa has gone through we are still here. We do not live in reserves like Australians and Americans.

We have not been relegated to history like so many of the people of the Caribbean and South America. It might not seem like much, but it is much to give thanks for.

I am not insensible to histories. The way we are now as a planet is not a mistake: Human endeavour has been working on it for millennia with increasing vigour.

Water crisis


I might have grown up with tap water but I remember a childhood with clear streams in it, cups of cold river water passed around, and fish fresh from local ponds. I sit here today having known that the water crisis we have been undergoing for months has been predictable for years.

My government only admitted to this shortage this week, as if the dry taps of Dar es Salaam could be otherwise explained. They think we are stupid.

It comes down to leadership, doesn’t it?

Water management. Vision. Societal thriving through correct choices? It all comes down to what we understand the term “leader” to be.

Many of us think it is a special gift that basically only men can possess. We put a lot of trust into that, childishly. Yet some of us see it as a form of real work and ultimate self-negation and sacrifice, putting people first.

That is why I called the African Union and the leaders it supports a failure. They fail their own people all the time.

If our own presidents cannot demonstrate character, why should we listen to them when they blame anyone else but themselves for the troubles that face us? They are not leaders, they are nor servants of the people: They are tyrants and oath-breakers on top.

Believe in race

I am not insensible to history. Colonialism never left, hey? It just evolved. I don’t even believe in race any more due to knowing this about humanity.

I live in Tanzania, which was invaded by Uganda back in the day. I know our neighbours. I support the East African Community in the understanding that we are often our own worst enemies — inside and outside our countries.

I am yet to forgive the Coalition of the Willing — the CoWs. What nonsense!

Who knows who the cows were colluding with anyways? I keep an eye on the East and on the West but most of all on us. Like I said before, the ones who can hurt me are right here.

Yes, we can

An elder sister in feminism reached out and said: enh, now challenge the movement like so. We can do with renewal. To her I say: Yes, we can. Africa has always depended on her women. Let us lead, then.

For those who are going to try and vex me with tales of how I live in a country led by a woman: Nobody has time for tokenism. I mean real steps — minimums of 33 per cent representation on our public service and all positions of authority. Maternity and paternity leave, childcare, flexible working hours.

A slight decrease in obsession with penis size, which might leave room for endeavour and, more importantly, thought. You know, countries with a preponderance of women in positions of public service do better in all areas of governance except war?

This isn’t about denigrating men: We are all prisoners here of our own device. Hierarchies of evil like sexism and power have taken too many lives. As this pertains to Africa, it is clear to me that we need to reconsider a lot of what passes for tradition.

So. What would a neopan-Africanist future look like? It would look radical. Radically environmentally friendly and humane.

Radically egalitarian

Radically willing to use technology to socialise access to food, water, goods and services. Radically accepting of humanity in all its forms and expressions and thus radically egalitarian.

But also radically breaking from the past. We need to reflect on and reject the chains of colonial thinking and its aftermaths.

We need to find our confidence and commonalities again, not our fractures and chauvinisms.

We need flat structures of governance, not motorcades. And we need to laugh. We might even have to dare to be a prosperity economy as a continent, because we can.

Of course, we should all speak Kiswahili to make it happen, right?

Have a soulful week.