The Colour of Hope: Part Five


THE author’s foreword sums up the direction of hope and renewal in Africa.
The point has already been made in previous submissions that the youth are the future of Africa’s rise from the ashes of colonialism and its sequels (neo-imperialism and globalisation).
The youth are ‘the colour of hope’, but this responsibility, this task of shouldering the burden of Africa’s desires, does not come automatically.
This hope is not guaranteed just because the youth are ‘green’; it is a responsibility that comes with a clear understanding of the rules of the game.
As the foreword puts it, the opening up of the political space to the young comes with certain demands on the incumbent.
These sons and daughters, nieces and nephews of Africa’s elders need to be aware of the nature of demands placed on them.
These sons and daughters, nieces and nephews of African elders need to connect with the people, with their history and with their cultures for only from these can they attain correct bearings into the unforeseeable future.
Yes, from the foreword comes forewarning:
“Since it took various tribal engineers generations of trial and error to put into place the systems that now have not blended well in the colonially crafted contemporary homelands, the youth should not rush to experimentation with the first product that comes off their fertile minds.
“Neither should they disregard human decency in whatever they choose to do.
“All said, if they cannot produce a more humane system, let them tolerate our folly (my emphasis).”
Nothing can be more telling than this especially in an age where the internet, Google and other search platforms threaten to put to extinction the relevance of the elders.
These are wise words warning the youth (represented in the play by the Princess Royal, the Prince and the Niece at Court).
Their guest to revolutionise the status quo in the name of modern discourse of ‘rights’ and ‘freedom’ (gender rights, children’s rights, freedom of choice, freedom of association and freedom of speech) must be guided by a proper understanding of the direction Africa should take.
Of course the author admits that ‘green’ (youth) is ‘the colour of hope’ but this ‘greenness’ alone is far from enough.
‘Greenness’ alone if it is unguarded can be a recipe for disaster.
Yes, youthfulness is full of energy, energy to transform a lot of things, but this energy can only be profitable if it is properly directed.
This is the point Chief, the Uncle makes when he says:
“Youth, left alone, would know how to live and love, let love and let live.
“Youth unburdened by mythical baggage, unpoisoned by freed and parental ego trips, would know who among them are trustworthy.
“Provided the mothers called them all ‘our sons’ and ‘our daughters’. Provided the mothers taught them to say: ‘our mothers’ and ‘our fathers.” (p104).
The import of this quote is far-reaching.
It calls for recognition of mutual significance in this experiment called life. Appropriate socialisation should come from elders.
They are the ones who have seen it all.
Ndivo vanoziva kuti kumhunga hakuna ipwa.
Their duty is to instil in the youth a sense of collective belonging and collective responsibility; responsibility to their culture, to their land and to continuity.
It is a stern warning against blind beginnings much as it is against blind and unquestioning worship of the things past.
In other words, Liyong calls for a compromise, an informed compromise between the past and the present in forging the future.
This is the message Princess Royal embraces when she says:
“One of our legs will be native, the other foreign.
“We shall march to the tune of the new native-foreign song.
“What ingredients from the past?
“What new ingredients from the foreign?
“What new connections from our own making we shall incorporate — these are matters to occupy the minds of the young generation as they take the reigns of power.” (p105).
The cultural and political syncretism she is talking about needs special understanding.
It is not based on proportional representation of African ingredients, foreign ingredients and independent minds of the youth.
It is a mixture of proportions guided by values.
The central denominator is the African value-chain picking the positive from foreign elements as well as new ways of adding value to the African way, thereby bringing the way to date with technological and other goings-on in the world.
Yes in this global march Africa cannot choose to be a spectator but a partaker.
Liyong warns against cultural inertia as well as against misguided cultural missiles.
At the centre of the play’s main theme is the African philosophy or worldview which seems to me to be the only ‘constant’ informing on any cultural or political transformation initiatives.
Unhu/Ubuntu and cultural identity together beget collective vision.
That is what is being captured by the concluding poem/song which has been penned/composed together by both elder and youth.
Crown Prince and Chief the Uncle recite it together.
It is about an ideal ‘golden time’ co-authored by the old and youth together where ‘fast flows the seawards streams… (and) hillside plants can live/and ridges can live/and ridges, plains, valleys/may shake with verdant flee’ (p106).
The poem celebrates the beauty of nature where natural processes are taking place unhampered by the destructive greed of mankind, and by the way not all mankind, but those bent on profit maximisation at the expense of natural co-existence of man and his world.
Right-thinking Africans revere land as the source of all life.
The metaphors of water and the ‘verdant’ symbolise both life and youthfulness. The seawards streams capture the continuum of history — it flows from the past and from individual streams into the collective presence of the sea where the sea represents the ocean of life.
Such is the African vision — we are what we are because we belong: Man is not born free, but is everywhere in chains of bondage, bonded to the collective — I am because we are.
This is the final message to the youth (Philippians 4 vs 8).


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