Building vibrant and tolerant democracies
The 1960s heralded the beginning of a phenomenon of the ‘Africa President’ as seventeen countries gained their in- dependence. The citizens of these new sovereign states had a new swagger in their walk and an optimistic twinkle in their eyes. The world had opened up to them and as they explored new horizons in fashion, music and travel so images of black men and women started to reflect this new dispensation. Post-independ- ence identity was not only informed by the Struggle; it was a synthesis of both Struggle and post-independence.
Though the initial years were heralded with much fanfare and enthusiasm more sinister activities began to take hold and permeate African politics. This led to the current state of affairs of African
countries. They have been beset by tribal rivalries, coups, corruption, civil wars, ex- ploitation and the manufacture of poverty on a grand-scale, all the while suckling on aid from the developed world. Democracy is not new to Africa; various forms of it have been practised in Africa’s traditional history. Chiefs, as heads of villages, would listen while heads of families aired their views before making judgements that impacted the whole village. This form of democracy still exists today; it’s the contemporary version that has become questionable.
More often that not the African black president is looked upon as a father figure and liberator, not to be questioned, and what is good for his family is the law of the land. The Presidency is seen as a rightful position and some have overstayed their welcome by manipulating constitutions and elections. They have all soon forgot- ten the rights-based governments they formed and the ‘One Man, One Vote’ prin- ciple they fought for. They have ditched all that for lives modelled on the ideas of our former European masters: Swiss bank accounts, private jets and mansions dotted from Monte Carlo to Manhattan. A few citizens die with names but most die nameless. Their only legacy lies in becoming a statistic for aid agencies to crunch in order to get more money for our governments to suckle on.
Now there is a young buck in the waiting. Perhaps when he sobers up from his revolutionary rhetoric he might lead the country? Hola back Julius Malema.