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During the struggle for independence, many of Africa’s revolutionaries were also amongst its leading intellectuals. Their contributions towards nation formations and nation building, before and after independence, were not insignificant. Almost all of these revolutionaries tried to carve independent trajectories, preferably away from the globally dominant system that colonized them. In trying to do so however, these revolutionaries encountered formidable obstacles from the bosses of the world system. A number of them were methodically eliminated, while others were overthrown from power by reactionary military juntas, at the service of the old masters. In the past fifty years, the African continent had to undergo various experimentations in political governance, to no (tangible) avail. Peace and stability, let alone sustainable and equitable development, still eludes the continent. Reasons abound!
Africa, as the last frontier (at least to the daft system that only craves to exploit nature, regardless of consequences) is still in contention for the grabbing. Transnational capital and its subservient hominoid, who are not amenable to the logic of life, are working hard to weaken/destabilize the continent to exploit its resources. Libya, South Sudan, Niger and Mali are recent examples. In this vicious project of the powerful, our learned idiots, without much grasp about the intricacies of the world order, have become willing accomplices. Unlike those revolutionaries of the independence era, our current politicos tend to lack continental commitment, rhetoric aside. Even those once committed to the welfare of the African sheeple (human mass) have abandoned the widely shared objective of comprehensive liberation. Granted, the bipolar world, which to some extent allowed flirtations with more democratic, egalitarian and sustainable existence, is no more. But history does not and will not end with the demise of a particular world system/political economy. In fact, fast shifting present day geopolitics is a testimony to the non-ending of history, despite the wishes of establishment intellectuals!
Today, revolutionary thoughts are hardly audible, in this most subjugated continent of the planet. The very idea of entertaining new ways of handling our existential problems, in our own ways, are frowned upon, since the global masters don’t like such attitudes. On the other hand, the concrete reality, not only in Africa, but the world over, is; the global order is on the verge of collapse. Unsustainable economic policies that are predicated on the stupid idea of non-stop growth on a finite planet, is still the basis of our development trajectory! The collapse of the biosphere, even though it is visible all over the planet, is not to be seriously considered, as it affects the temporal and in/nonhuman strategies of transnational capital. At the end of the day the ultimate fate of complex societies is collapse; there is no two ways about it! On the African scene, even those who should have known better (revolutionaries/intellectuals still alive) seem to have abrogated their responsibilities. By and large, our old revolutionaries have succumbed to the manipulation of the lopsided and unsustainable world order. Pathetically and more and more, our leaders only interest seems to be the prolongation of political power (may be to help them accumulate.) Grand corruption is the new feature of once revolutionary countries. Power (amongst other things) brings wealth and more so in Africa! Thanks to lack of committed African leadership, compromised and captured states (by oligarchs) are now the rule and not the exception. But times-are-a-changing!
Considering what is currently transpiring in Africa, one cannot help but ask; ‘why do revolutionaries become so detached from their base? Why the attempt to cling to power, no matter what? And why do they want to cling to power in the first place? Only days ago, old comrade Mugabe, a revolutionary by any measure, had to be forced out of power. An otherwise competent articulator of events and trends, Mugabe, like many before him, failed to anticipate the increasing wrath of the sheeple that was brewing beneath the calm facade. Unlike many, Mugabe at least made the effort to become knowledgeable about establishment discourse. Mugabe earned around (who is counting) seven degrees in jail. ‘The brother has more degrees than a thermometer’, quipped an Afro-American activist. If anything, the old comrade cannot be accused of indolence in captivity. The sickening habit of clinging to power, whatever the consequences; still remains a perplexing issue, both to old and new activists. Here is a reflection by Issa Shivji, one of Africa’s truly dedicated intellectual revolutionary. See his article next column.
South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance welcomed the recent change in Zimbabwe, by stating; ‘Mr. Mugabe had turned from liberator to dictator.’ This holds true in many cases involving African political leadership. Unfortunately, once they secure political power, many leaders tend to distance themselves from their human base. It seems power goes to their heads and turns them into bona fide psychopaths. One disillusioned Ethiopian commented: “Africa’s intellectual revolutionaries always morph into corrupt and dumb reactionaries.” Good Day!