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Not your kind of African

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Dear Mr Mbeki

You made a famous speech at the beginning of your presidency about being an African. You also launched an ambitious and laudable project for the African Renaissance. Your place in history was guaranteed before you even started but your recent history of “No Aids, No Crime and No crisis” has only served to visit a torrent of ridicule on the man who is meant to represent the new African leadership.

From your pronouncements over the last few years, it is clear that your version of the African Renaissance meant that you were going to choose to work to banish all forms of stereotypes regarding the African man. Unfortunately, you have been so eager to do so that you have probably reinforced the very stereotypes you were working to dissolve. In fact, you have actually worsened the image of the black leader in the eyes of the world giving opportunities to newspapers like the Washington Times to label you a “Rogue Democrat.”

Instead of working to immediately acknowledge the severity of the AIDS pandemic and rape in South Africa for instance, you spent more time arguing against the perceived sexual tendencies of black people. AIDS is a world wide phenomenon! In Sudan, instead of rightly criticising the Khartoum regime for the state assisted genocide in their country, you chose to attack Winston Churchill for his adventures there ages ago! Then of course, there is “no crisis Zimbabwe.” While respected moral leaders like Desmond Tutu were loudly criticising Mugabe for being “the caricature of the African dictator” you were busy labeling him a coconut. You, as an African leader, have clearly not been “up to the task” in the Zimbabwean crisis!

Is it possible, then, Mr Mebki that you have taken your obsession for the African renaissance to such ridiculous levels that you are not willing to criticse Africans for the things you so desperately no longer want them to be guilty of in the eyes of the world? Are you going to sacrifice the children of Africa on the altar of convenience that wishes to restore the status of the African in history’s opinion? Did Idi Amin not exists much in the same way that Hitler did? Are Israeli atrocities in Palestine not comparable to Sudanese atrocities in Darfur?

Mr African, where is your sense of “I am because we are?” Where is your Ubuntu? History will not remember you for NEPAD. It will record you as the bright eyed renaissance man who was so obsessed with liberating the world of its image of Africa and Africans that he forgot the moral standards required for Africa to shed that very image. Your legacy will be that of intellectual, political and moral complicity in the deaths of AID patients, scars of crime victims and terrified citizens terrorised by their own governments in their own countries while you blamed the west and played with conspiracy theories. I, too, am proud to be an African, but not your kind of African.

One comment to “Not your kind of African”

  1. Comment by Sixpence Mushara:

    Are Israeli atrocities in Palestine not comparable to Sudanese atrocities in Darfur?

    Actually, no. In fact not at all. Unless, of course, you believe that Israel should cease to exist (which is what would happen if they acceeded to Palestinian demands).

    Otherwise I agree with every word.