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Racial bigotry, fear are curses on Africa

By unknown | Feb 29, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

In the last few days, like the proverbial bad penny, stories of racism have been cropping up all over Africa, 50 years after we shook off the colonial yoke to assume control of our destiny.

In the last few days, like the proverbial bad penny, stories of racism have been cropping up all over Africa, 50 years after we shook off the colonial yoke to assume control of our destiny.

Two incidents occurred in South Africa, which under apartheid, saw racial strife on a scale to rival - almost - that of the Holocaust.

The irony is that this incident occurred in a sport loved by a wide section of the population: cricket.

The beef? There were not enough blacks in the national cricket team. The ratio was not logical, it was said. Hadn't we heard this before?

The second was the disgusting incident of blacks being forced to eat food on which white students had urinated.

Everyone concerned must be acutely aware of the potential for strife if such incidents are allowed to escalate, until people stop calling each other names, to start hurling relatively lethal objects at each other.

Nobody ever predicted that once all South Africans accepted that apartheid was an aberration best consigned to the dust-heap of history, everything would be transformed into one, huge super-soft bed of roses.

There would be patches of resistance, as human beings have resisted change throughout the ages. After all, it had taken the bashing of many heads to convince Afrikaners that what DF Malan, Hendrik Verwoerd and others had propounded as the ideal philosophy of development - that of separation of the races - was illogical and unmitigated horse manure.

In Zambia, a citizen of Asian origin complained that his ambition to be elected leader of a football association was being poisoned by his rivals' insidious allegations that he is not a Zambian, despite being born and raised in the country.

Those campaigning against his candidature are narrow-minded bigots and the same as those worthless whites in the then Northern Rhodesia who denied Africans the vote.

There was not as much bloodshed during the Zambian struggle for independence as there was in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique, but people died for the right to be treated as human beings.

Now that they have acquired freedom and the right to be honoured and respected as human beings, they dare to deny others that same inalienable right.

Shame on them!

African Americans celebrate February as Black History Month. They recall and glorify some of the greatest achievements of the descendants of African slaves who were forcibly shipped to the other side of the world by cruel, uncouth and pagan dealers in human flesh, masquerading shamelessly as Christians.

I have always felt that in Africa we too should celebrate our freedom as something precious. We triumphed over colonialism and should be the proud owners of our own destiny. Of course, we should not forget the ongoing carnage in Darfur, Kenya, the DRC, Somalia and the denial of basic human rights in several other countries.

In Zimbabwe, the police chief has warned that live ammunition will be used to quell any disturbances in the March 29 elections. Clearly, this is designed to strike fear in the hearts of many voters.

In addition to racism, the scourge of Africa is the fear of unarmed voters exercising the rights for which thousands died fighting colonialism.

Bill Saidi is deputy editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe.


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