Africans against Africans: Case of survival cannibalism

President Mugabe is dead. It’s only African that we accord him the respect traditionally bestowed upon our dead, this regardless of his shortcomings as a leader for refusing to forgive even in his death would be an act of moral-extremism.

Should, by any chance Mugabe meets his counterpart Nelson Mandela, the two will possibly argue over the ongoing situation back here, a situation both men’s politics might have contributed to create.

The xenophobic attacks by South Africans against other Africans in South Africa are shameful and a mockery of efforts towards a borderless African continent with free movement of goods and humans.

What South Africa’s seasonal xenophobic attacks really tell us is that we Africans are not mentally prepared to accept each other as one and the same and that no African should be regarded as a foreigner in another African country.

It’s not just South Africans; every country on the continent has applied the term foreigner on another African and many immigration policies still hurt Africans seeking employment in other African countries. It is simply unfortunate.

I hate to hear terms such as ‘Makwere-kwere’ (South Africa), ‘Mugwira’ (Uganda), Mgeni (Kenya and Tanzania) all for the word ‘foreigner’ often applied on Africans by fellow Africans.

That attitude is often promoted in the name of ‘nationalism’ and sometimes, ‘patriotism.’ But when you check the synonyms for ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ the Englishman placed them in the same word-clan with xenophobia, jingoism, and chauvinism!

While it is noble to be regarded as a patriot or even a nationalist, in some contexts, it is deplorable to be xenophobic, jingoistic or chauvinistic, which is comparable to being racist.

I wish we could get serious about‘Pan-Africanism’ unfortunately, it is a term often used in political branding and fundraising speeches but rarely lived or practiced.

Just as it is stupid of South Africans to attack other Africans in their country; it is equally silly for Nigerians, in the name of revenge, to attack South African businesses in Nigeria. Until when shall Africa be the ‘sick continent’ of the world?

Can we blame it on political opportunism?

While I believe African leaders have the capacity to denounce dangerous attitudes of resentment among their people; unfortunately, political opportunism won’t allow them to do the right thing.

Our leaders seem to be more interested in self-preservation and maintaining political support and influence at the cost of Pan-African ideals, the unrealized dream of African integration as well as relevant ethical-political principles.

The English philosopher Jeremy Bentham whom some regard as a political radical, left us with the principle of utilitarianism which, if taken seriously could really help moderate the actions of man.

Bentham’s utilitarianism is founded on the central idea that the highest principle of morality, whether personal or political, is to maximize collective happiness (shared value/happiness) for the overall balance of pleasure over pain.

His thought process is on the belief that all humans seek pleasure over pain; so, ideally, you wouldn’t inflict pain on another human for your own happiness, that would selfishness.

As I reflected on this subject, it reminded me of the historic case of cannibalism for survival at sea in the classical English criminal case of R v Dudley and Stephens which established the precedent in common law that ‘necessity is not a defense to a charge of murder.’

So, a story is told of how Dudley and Stephens were shipwrecked along with two other men; they had completely run out of food when one of them, the cabin boy Richard Parker, fell into a coma; Dudley and Stephens then decided to kill the youngster and eat him for own survival.

Native South Africans just like other Africans, are victims of South Africa’s social, political and economic wreck characterized by injustice, joblessness, hunger, and disease.

But the necessity of native South Africans to address their welfare doesn’t grant them the right to attack non-native Africans.

In ancient Rome, Christians used to be thrown to the lions in the name of entertainment and amusement for the Romans; although morally wrong, the practice was too popular for any Roman leader to put to an end, for fear of losing favor with the people.

Politicians are obsessed with numbers, and they often turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to situations that please the majority but abuse the rights of the minority as the above cases may suggest.

Romans were the majority and they sacrificed the right to life of the Christian minority to secure their own happiness. In the shipwreck, the life of the sick boy was sacrificed and served as food to save the majority (three guys), after all, they determined that the boy was likely to die anyway.

In executive decision making, corporate institutions often apply the same rule, with a polished term cost-benefit analysis’ where happiness is replaced by profit.

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