The past matters in shaping present-day perspective

Gitura Mwaura states, quoting a British historian whom he also asserts to be respected, that it is “not the job of the present to tick the past off”. I couldn’t disagree more.
Students pay their respects by a mass grave at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. Rwandans today begin a weeklong official commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. / File
Students pay their respects by a mass grave at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. Rwandans today begin a weeklong official commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. / File

Editor,

RE: “It is not the job of the present to tick off the past” (The New Times, March 25).

Gitura Mwaura states, quoting a British historian whom he also asserts to be respected, that it is “not the job of the present to tick the past off”.

I couldn’t disagree more.

It is always those who have inflicted that painful “past”—though it is never really past as its legacies continue to afflict the living—who are always so anxious to get those they afflicted to not tick the past; to just move on.

And they do that even as they refuse to let go of their own past but commemorate it into its centenaries.

Those whose ancestors have inflicted pain all across the world, who continue to enjoy the fruits of what their ancestors looted from other people, those other people who similarly continue to labor under the burden of their legacy of oppression and dispossession, have no business telling the descendants of the dispossessed how they should view or not view that past whose effects persist.

As for Gandhi, he may be an icon for having done more than anybody else to free India from the murderous British Raj, but that is no reason for Africans to ignore his less attractive views, especially where they relate to Africans.

I do not believe in saints; I can admire Gandhi for what he did for India while remaining critical of his anti-African racism.

Turning a blind eye to such views, which persist in Indian society and often manifest themselves in anti-African violence in India, is extremely dangerous for Indo-African relations.

It is important to be frank with each other as a better basis for improving the situation.

Mwene Kalinda

 

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