Monday, 23 May 2016

The Truth That Hurts

 By Nick Mangwana

This edition of this paper covers the Africa Day commemorations. This is a great day to be celebrated. It is very good to highlight our achievements. But this will be chest pumping for nothing if we totally ignore our failures and shortcomings.

So in this week’s instalment we are going to look at the criticism which was reportedly said by Mr Donald Trump the Republican Party of America’s front runner. Mr Trump is alleged to have said these very painful words, “African Americans are very lazy. The best they can do is gallivanting around ghettoes, lamenting how they are discriminated. These are the people America doesn't need. They are the enemies of progress. Look at African countries like Kenya for instance, those people are stealing from their own government and go to invest the money in foreign countries. From the government to opposition, they only qualify to be used as a case study whenever bad examples are required. How do you trust even those who have ran away to hide here at the United States hiding behind education? I hear they abuse me in their blogs but I don't care because even the internet they are using is ours and we can decide to switch it off from this side. These are people who import everything including matchsticks. In my opinion, most of these African countries ought to be re-colonised again for another 100 years because they know nothing about leadership and self governance".

In my short life I have read many racist insults but this one was very hurtful. The most hurtful insult is the one that has a ring of truth in it. It might not be much. Just a little. But that truth said by someone with an intention of hurting your feelings can really demean you. Now, I am a man of average height, I keep myself on the slim side. If someone was going to insult me by saying, "iwe dhafukorera (you, fatty man)" I would laugh at them. If they talk about my height, I would laugh in their face because my height is nothing to write home about. I wouldn’t win or lose a love contest on it. It is no big deal. Imagine if they were to say to me, “amai vakafa” (your mother is dead), I would still laugh at them or simply ignore them because the old lady is very much alive and glowing in her ‘80s. But should they turn around and say “baba vakafa” (your father is dead) then woe betide them! The strange thing is that it is true that my father is dead. And that statement is a statement of fact. I only respond thus because it is said in a way calculated to hurt. It is also because there is offensive and unaccommodating nastiness behind that remark that will make me fight the person to the death. But let the reader note that this statement is a fact for my old man has been gone on 23 years (MHRIP).

So comrades I don’t need to explain that Mr. Trump is an evil, ignorant bigot. And his remarks cannot be excused. Because they are way way too hurtful. Why? Because there is some truth in them. The only problem is we are not going to be able to do anything about it but write in our blogs and columns as I have just done. The very thing he also ridiculed after daring us. Why? Because we are not united. And also because we don’t want to turn that insult into a propellant for intra-African development. We forget that almost the whole world needs Africa to prosper but Africa is not prospering.

If African nations would come together for real and negotiate harmonised mineral prices and terms, there would be no exploitation and plundering of our resources which has been going on forever. By controlling our own resources, we could easily control the world. But now, we have some buffoon threatening to switch off our internet.

In terms of area, Africa is the second biggest continent on earth. For Africa to have the leverage that has been mentioned above it needs to promote trade within Africa. Because if Angola and Nigeria should switch off the oil taps to the West, they should not be worried because they can always sell to Zambia, or Uganda or any other African country. The same for Zimbabwe with all it’s minerals. But the problem is Africa does not trade with itself. Africa’s internal trade is only about 10% of all its trade. The rest is with the other regions. But look at these other regions. For the European Union it is always over 60%. That is what gives the EU power. They don’t need the rest of the world that much. But if the rest of the world buys 90% of your goods what can you do?

Another home truth (albeit racial and hurtful) from Mr. Trump is that we steal from our own governments. Well, is that a lie? How much money has Switzerland repatriated to Nigeria? How much have other African leaders and their acolytes stashed away? And how much of that is stashed away somewhere in Africa? The answer to these questions are very obvious. Do we realise how much that money is used to develop the hosting nations? Firstly, our problem is thieving. Secondly where we take our loot. It is ridiculous to say this but I will say it anyway. If you steal, please invest it in Africa. But better still, please don’t steal from the public purse.

This column is too short for another of Mr. Trump’s truthful insults. He says we are enemies of progress. How many projects are we stalling because we have not been given a backhander or stake in it? This is not only about Zimbabwe. This is about Africans. But before we look far and wider, let us look at ourselves. We are way too corrupt. If corruption is an enemy of progress, we are certainly an enemy of progress because we are an embodiment of corruption.

Yes, comrades Mr. Trump is a very ignorant man. And no, Africa should never ever be colonised again. But some of the things he said are offensive only in that he as a white man its not right for him to them. But if the same things he says had been said by another African wouldn’t we have found resonance in them? Of course we would have been celebrating his candour.

Aluta Continua.

 (First published in the People’s Voice 20-26May 2016)

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