The celebration of twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall may not mean much to a young man or woman in Africa or Rwanda. Leaders of yore including the last leader of the Soviet Union, Michael Gorbachev, America’s George Bush Senior, Britain’s iron lady Margaret Thatcher, German hero Helmut Kohl, the late former French president François Mitterrand have momentarily returned to the limelight for good and bad reasons, as the world scrutinized the decisions and moments that led to that momentous event in the history of the free world.
As we have come to learn, the Berlin wall was more than a wall. It was the symbol of a divided Europe or the so-called iron curtain which divided the free world from the world in bondage.
It was the difference between freedom and bondage. The division of Berlin by concrete and steel, reinforced by soldiers and spies, barbed wire, dogs and guns, and much more by fear of the powerful.
Death awaited those who dared the powerful, lovers and family members spied on each other for the benefit of the state.
The much feared stasi, a secret service agency, literally tapped every phone call, was informed of every movement of citizens. The Berlin wall was a desperate attempt at defending the ideals of communism, as an ideology.
It was erected around West Berlin in 1961 to prevent East Germans from going to the west, a crude effort by humans to prevent other humans from thinking freely.
Such was or is the rawness of communism. The thing that separates humans from animals is the ability to think intelligently and perhaps to have hope.
Communism sought to remove that freedom from a common man and place it squarely with the state. Communism in itself has no ‘pure’ form. From Russia, to China, Cuba to North Korea and much watered down form like socialism in Ujamaa in Tanzania.
You could get a sense of joy as world leaders and ordinary Berliners rejoiced while a series of dominoes wee toppled to reenact the fall of the wall during the festival of German reunification on a very cold and wet night.
As much us capitalism has its own woes (look where recklessness by bankers got us) it is a far much better bet than communism. It reaffirms a human’s basic right to their freedom, has the ability to think for themselves, to strive for bettering themselves.
It gives one the right over their own existence, not to be placed in the hands of some old general who would like to be everyone’s ideological voice.
That is where a young man or woman in Rwanda comes in today. We have the right to aspire for our own good future. We would not have had that opportunity if by some luck we had fallen under communism.
Thanks to that November night in Berlin that ended the cold war plus other spontaneous acts of sheer human struggle for freedom, there is no Soviet Union trying to influence countries to go communist.
A few African countries have tested and have burnt their fingers with communism or a milder version of it. Today, North Korea is still a harsh communist country while China has maintained the ideology especially in politics but has thrown out most ideological mantras of communism in its economy in favour of the much despised capitalism. So has Cuba in many ways.
But surely communism and the various associated ideologies have failed to survive the test of time, less than a century, because a communist utopia like the one Pol Pot dreamt of for his rice fields in Cambodia is just not realistic.
No wonder, communism was always maintained by ideological brainwashing and buttressed by fear and force of arms.
Therefore communism was the psychological and physical withdrawal of a human being’s right to freedom of choice, freedom to think, freedom to be who you want to be.
For that the sacrifices of those who braved fear and threat of death to bring down the Berlin wall and the global communist agenda have done the world a lot of good.