Not racist to think African

JULIUS Malema sat up again, this time with his comments on the scarcity of African leaders in strategic positions. Having reflected a lot in the past on the question of Africans, I became curious and chose to listen to his subsequent radio interview.

JULIUS Malema sat up again, this time with his comments on the scarcity of African leaders in strategic positions. Having reflected a lot in the past on the question of Africans, I became curious and chose to listen to his subsequent radio interview.

My approach is to focus on what people say rather than on who is saying it, which is an educative approach. Listening critically to the interview, I concurred with his sentiments on the issue.

For far too long the feeling of low self-esteem has been the affliction of Africans, not to mention being regarded as incompetent.

A person lacking self belief cannot produce excellence. Having self-belief but prevented from exercising one's mettle and competence stultifies excellence.

The cure for lack of belief in self is having images proving one's potential; these can be derived from observing the people who share one's identity exhibiting excellence.

The images that one becomes exposed to can have a negative or a positive effect on one. Africans have for ages been bombarded by negative images about themselves as well as by positive images about the people who identify themselves as white.

True liberation is impossible in such an environment but possible only where Africans observe other Africans handling life-changing assignments with excellence; if such assignments are exclusively filled with people who do not share the African identity, signals that excellence is not for Africans will emerge, cancelling the gains of the liberation struggle.

Africans must discontinue thinking that it is racist to identify non-Africans as such.

The objective of the liberation movement was not to oppress others. Therefore even non-Africans must not see themselves as being excluded by Malema's utterances on this issue.

The logic is simple: when you focus on buying groceries for your family, this does not mean you are anti the family next door. Likewise, pursuing the interests of Africans is not an anti-others position.

Some callers tried to force Malema to include into the definition African people who call themselves white or Indian. Understandably, he found this impossible to do, simply because one cannot be Indian and African at the same time. Likewise, if you continue to call yourself white, you already have an identity at the same level as the identity of African.

There is such a thing called European values, Chinese values and African values. Hopefully a time will come in Africa when people who at present insist on calling themselves white will cease to do so and will identify themselves with African values and will, like any good African, facilitate the progress of Africans, unlike currently where the marginalisation of Africans abounds.

For African youth to have dreams of excellence, they must be exposed to African images encouraging such dreams.

Seeing more Africans in positions of veritable power has a healing effect. Only Africans require such healing because non-Africans do not suffer from low self-esteem. In this regard Julius is truly representing his generation.

lMuendane is author of I am an African

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