RE: “If hawkers are embracing change, why aren’t we all?” (The New Times, September 8). Some Africans, the author wrote, believe that “there are things that are meant for ‘Africans’ and others that are meant for ‘abazungu’ (Caucasians) and god help whoever tried mixing the two. Clean streets? That’s for abazungu. Hawking? That’s for us Africans.”
In general, we Africans do have very low expectations of ourselves, and this is coupled with an almost subconscious lack of self-respect or low sense of self-worth. The most glaring manifestation of this can be observed in the difference between how we treat abazungu here in African countries, and how we treat each other as fellow Africans.
This is a problem that goes even beyond Africa. We live in a world that operates (knowingly or unknowingly) under the doctrine that all good things are for/from the global north, and all misery and savagery is for/from the global south. It is a mentality that stems from spending hundreds of years under the rule of slavery and colonialism.
Just look at colonialism, specifically. That was only yesterday, in historical terms. Many of us have elderly members of family who were born and raised under colonial rule. Born and raised into a life of subjugation based on the colour of their skin, based on their African origin.
If you look at the specifics of particularly francophone West Africa, colonialism is still ongoing in some quarters. Any western military conglomeration can launch drone strikes at will in any African country and kill as many Africans as they like. But can, say, the Nigerian Air Force, or the Tanzanian Navy launch attacks on western territory? Of course not!
This severe power imbalance, this vast chasm between the status of western countries and the status of African countries is plain for even children to observe. And it has a lasting effect on how we perceive ourselves and our place in this world.
I am quite happy so far with the results of the hard work being done at the City of Kigali, and I would like to urge them in the strongest possible terms, not to be discouraged by the resistance and “push-back” against things like the car-free zone, road constructions and regularisation of street hawkers.
Hold the line – we need you to be our vehicle into the future, a future of progress and prosperity for all. Changing deep-seated, almost instinctive flaws in our perception of ourselves and each other, changing this is painstaking, slow-moving, often thankless and arduous work. But I am hopeful we will stay the course of continuing to build a better Rwanda for ourselves and for future Rwandans.
This country is ours. And I believe into the depths of my soul that we have it in us to build for ourselves that which is even better than what is described as the mythical “only for abazungu”.
Have faith, people. Don’t allow yourselves to be distracted by those who are scared to rise up to equality, and who would rather we remain cliches of chaos, underdevelopment and misery, because that is not for us Africans. Not yesterday, not today, and not tomorrow.