IT may sound like a moot point to make at a time when so much else is happening on the African continent. But it is significant that over two decades after the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the country has only now elected its first woman Speaker of Parliament.
The process of liberation is never a quick one anywhere. The Black majority still faces minority experiences in several areas of life — from employment and property ownership to equality of economic opportunity. Those who felt that overthrowing the Apartheid system was an overnight affair have found out, in the past two dozen years, that the system has to be dismantled – and that too is a very slow process, bearing in mind the depth of minority ownership and control of the country’s main natural and economic resources.
Nelson Mandela is still being cursed by the likes Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters party, and others who have fallen out of grace with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) for supposedly ‘selling out’ to the white power-holders by entering into peaceful transitional agreements instead of continuing the ‘bush war’ while in office. They still insist Mandela’s undertaking to have the races embrace in national unity was and is the reason the Apartheid system’s shadows are still so clear in many areas.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is a former trade unionist turned billionaire businessman during the relatively brief period since the racist system was legally outlawed. Like Mandela, the new President is open to accommodating those in the minority white power structure willing to embrace the changes he has been introducing.
Transitions from one system to another are never brief or smooth. Not even President Barack Obama was able to achieve in office the level of equality and respect that Blacks deserve as a positive minority in the USA. Likewise, even President Trump is finding out that not even he can change the system as fast as he would like to, in the direct interest of the white majority that elected him.
Likewise in the former racist-led now-liberated states in Southern Africa: Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Namibia are also finding it difficult to construct new states in the way they would have wanted to, given the level of control by the former masters and new investors.
Corruption is also a major factor in all the liberated African nations being rebuilt after long wars of liberation.
Many African states have decided to enter into long-term relationships with China to help them gain control of their natural resources, some doing better than others in handling the debts that accrue in the arrangements. But in all cases the elected governments have assured that they undertook these financing arrangements in ways that will redound to the mutual benefit of investors and the national citizenry.
Thing is, though, what South and Southern Africa is going through in the post-independence era is not new to any other nation or region elsewhere seeking to make a fresh start after centuries of colonial rule.
Right here in the Caribbean, after over five decades of Independence, the largest CARICOM member-states are still finding it difficult to agree on regional issues that will bind them together, whether it is the CSME, the CCJ or a common approach to Decriminalization of Marijuana.
So, while it is all well and good to observe and comment negatively on events taking place in Africa, it might do us better to better mind our own business – and understand that nothing about development is ever easy, anywhere.
That’s just the way it is.