Hard man of the highlands, midlands, lowlands....

Someone challenged me to say if I got anything positive from my visit to South Africa, since I didn’t even lose my anger. I got the lesson that anger is good and everyone who does not feel it and express it is an enemy of the people. Especially journalists who sit on the fence in the name of being balanced.
 Pan Butamire
Pan Butamire

Someone challenged me to say if I got anything positive from my visit to South Africa, since I didn’t even lose my anger. I got the lesson that anger is good and everyone who does not feel it and express it is an enemy of the people. Especially journalists who sit on the fence in the name of being balanced.

They’ll tell you this good thing is happening but there is also this bad thing and that’s it. They won’t express happiness for the good thing and incite the people to rise against injustice or denounce its originators. That’s why we haven’t been told that this world is in the vicious grip of mafia monsters.

Their hand is everywhere. South Africa and the bustling life on its roads, in trains, planes, shops, restaurants, tourist haunts, everywhere, and the vast sums of money flowing around, gives you that feeling that Africa is, after all, not cursed. It can be a continent that can be home to a happy people of all races.

It’s when you see the tin shacks and the poverty of the majority of South Africans that you realize the country has no lesson for Africa. It is inhabited by two peoples: a dirt-rich minority and a pauperised majority.

The only positive thing about it is that both categories constitute all colours. There are a few large conglomerates (mafia monsters) that have co-opted all sorts of elite groups in business and politics so as to generally control the lives of South Africans. The majority of South Africans, at different rungs of the down-ward ladder of poverty, are serving these conglomerate moguls and their co-opted elite groups.

At the bottom rung of this ladder are those in tin shacks, made blissful by trinkets of free electricity and piped water. Throw in a loan of a fridge, a car, and they’ll live to service that loan and nothing but. That “nothing but” may mean an extra dime for an illicit smoke or brew, thus the vacant eyes, as mentioned earlier.

Yet you hardly ever see or hear any denunciation of the calamitous conditions of these people in the politics of the country or the local and international media. You’d even be tempted to think that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have never heard of South Africa – or get the revelation that they and the monsters are in cahoots!

But it’s not only in South Africa. The monster is at work everywhere in Africa, to speak for one continent. The moment one person from that poverty-ladder speaks out, the next time you see them they’ll be wearing a watch and riding in a limousine whose total cost can build an apartment of flats that can house those tin-shack dwellers (did I hear Malema, even if he sees the problem through the narrow lenses of colour?). Those who have rejected that luxury never lived to speak up. Those who lived were hounded into silence.

Yet there are a few who have refused to be silenced and have stood to the monster, ready to ride it. We have seen them, let’s not be shy about naming them and praising them. They have woken us up to the fact that we need not espouse the mentality of the young chick whose life revolves around waiting for mother-bird to bring food home. We must reject those among us who feel that nothing is edible unless mother-hen has brought it from the West.

For there are many who believe that no truth is credible; no product of quality; no research acceptable; no behaviour exemplary. Nothing is anything unless it is from mother-hen in the West. A Ugandan cartoonist once aptly captured this shame when he showed Baroness Chalker, once British secretary for overseas development, arriving at Entebbe Airport, laden with goodies, to excited cheers from Ugandans: “Maama azze! Mother is home!”

Of course, rejecting this mentality should not amount to throwing out the baby with the basin water, the Mugabe way! Rejecting it should mean picking the values of friends in the Western World that share our mutual respect and marrying those values with our own so that together they can serve our development and well-being. We should pick development partners who’ll help us lift ourselves out of our mire.

That way, we can bend these monsters to serve us. After all, we, the downtrodden, are the majority – in the world! Speak up then, nail your colours to the mast, those who can, even if it means being damned for it! And those who do, let’s praise their names and sing their exploits!

Praise them who accept to be called “strong man” (that includes woman, remember), “hard man of the highlands”: don’t pray for Kagame to come and solve your port problems or do away with your thieving. There are many Kagames out there, “strong men” in all lands who can be incited to come out and be counted.

Wake up the South Sudanese to the fact that they can be managers of their oil and Nigerians that they have it in their power to refine theirs, rather than fight over subsidy shreds.

Edmund Burke said it for us and it is engraved in stone: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Say something, do something and be damned!

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