Benjamin Mkapa still committed to duty

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“TAKABVA neko kumhunga hakunepwa” is research logic that vindicates the often denied inherent capacity of black Africans to study history as a compass with which to chart a meaningful future.
And, there are many more idioms in our language that point to an African ancestral awareness that the way forward for Africa was research: “Zvinhu maedzwa, chembere yekwaChivi yakabika mabwe ikaseva muto; “Ambuya voshaikwa, bere rorutse mvi”; “Kamoto kamberevere kanopisa matanda Mberi”; “Musakanganwe zvazuro nehope.”
If they said it, then, it means that they thought about it because that language was the material of their thought.
It is those idioms that gave them the communal personality that predisposed them to build the Great Zimbabwe, to resist colonisation in the First Chimurenga, and when defeated, to reorganise and wage liberation struggle in the Second Chimurenga.
What is undeniable is that idioms are essentially theories drawn out from observed patterns of history.
They are formulated in the interests of the indigenous speakers of that language, and when the indigenes stop speaking their language in favour of the enemy’s language the interests defined and carried by that language are compromised.
It is perhaps the most plausible explanation why, it seems always the case that even after going to war and shedding blood to claim self-determination the victorious and liberated African slave has always gone back to the cruel European master for instructions on how to carry on; instructions on how to interpret and manage the freedom actually won in mortal combat.
I thought about all this as I read Benjamin Mkapa’s observations on the EU–Africa relationship especially pertaining to the recent EU-Africa Summit in Brussels as published in The Sunday Mail.
They are the observations of a former African president who also used to go to Europe.
I think in as much as the stand-off between Britain and Zimbabwe degenerated into a racial stand-off between Zimbabwe and the shameless European Union, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand he should have mediated and bravely shown his own partisanship to African sovereignty in the same manner the racists were showing blatant partisanship to a colonial crime against black humanity.
It is the perfect forum he should have chosen to tell them: “We played a part in the liberation of Zimbabwe and look I am partisan when it comes to that independence.”
And then, he should have waited to see what moral the racists would invoke to challenge his position as mediator.
Then, he would have come out exactly like Comrade Mugabe who has always said that if the West never invites Africans to monitor and judge Western elections, then they surely have no moral call to demand the same right in African elections.
I think Africa is blessed to have former presidents like Comrade Benjamin Mkapa. His observations give hope that not all is lost.
His insistence that Africa must seriously re-think its relationship with Europe in favour of greater continental economic co-operation is the flawless logic of a leader who has remained committed to duty long after his term of office.
But, by far the most beautiful observation was: “… when they come to me and tell me on the basis of reciprocity, you open up your market, we will open up our market, I say to them: ‘Wait a minute, what would I make to be able to sell in your market; competitively with your market? But if you brought your goods into my country you will kill the local industries because our people psychologically think your goods are superior; better than ours.’
“This really does tell you there is a certain aid dependency, not only materially, but also psychologically.
“You know, it’s so pathetic.”
And he brought out a truth I can bet most of us have tragically not been aware of. He asked: “ …do you know that there is more trade between African countries than there is between Africa and Europe?
“The growth is greater between African countries than it can be with Europe.”
And, the question that then confronts all African sovereignty is: “If that is the case where exactly is Africa losing it?”
At least for once, it is good to have a former African President who can be so positively down to earth and candid: “I am not running down the leadership, but some people like the ceremonies and photographs which come out of there.
“No, truly; a whole leader of a country being happy to have those photo sessions smiling at the camera.”
And it brings to mind, Morgan Tsvangirai posing with Angela Merkel and refusing to let-go of her hand, to the chagrin of Western media who went to town about it.
Perhaps the current African leadership must take a cue from the reflections of a former African president and seriously begin to ask why, if the EU-Africa relationship is passed off as an equal relationship, it is African leaders who are always being called to Europe in meetings whose African attendance is determined by Europeans.
Is the attending African sovereignty really sovereign?

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