When you sit on a bench at Main Mall, Gaborone, you will see many things: two girls in matching tops holding hands, their faces turned to each other to trade girlish whispers; a woman bowing down to hand her grandchild a juice-box, his face glistening under six layers of Vaseline; a stall occupied by an unoccupied woman, her wares hanging on the wires beneath her shade. If you are sitting by the embassies, you may also see a stream of hopeful young people going in and out of the British High Commision, folders filled with letters and forms and … Continue reading when you sit on a bench in main mall [Fiction]
Because today is Africa Day I let the giants speak for me. I hope these quotes from the people that were there when great change was made on the continent can remind us of the task at hand. And perhaps some of the themes in these quotes can be discussed wholeheartedly today.
KWAME NKRUMAH: Something in the nature of an economic revolution is required. Our development has been held back for too long by the colonial-type economy. We need to reorganize entirely, so that each country can specialize in producing the goods and crops for which it is best suited. (Neocolonialism The Last Stage of Imperialism)
CHINUA ACHEBE: Every generation must recognize and embrace the task it is peculiarly designed by history and by providence to perform.
PATRICE LUMUMBA: You must energetically combat tribalism, which is a poison, a social scourge that is the country’s misfortune today. You must combat all the separatist manoeuvres, which some of the preachers of the policy of division are trying to pass off to young and inexperienced people under the name of federalism, federation or confederation. In reality, young people, these names are only a new vocabulary brought by the imperialists to divide us in order the better and more conveniently to exploit us. Your entire future will be threatened if you do not oppose these manoeuvres, this new, disguised colonisation. – Address to Congolese Youth (August, 1960)
HAILE SELASSIE I: Africans are in bondage today because they approach spirituality through religion provided by foreign invaders and conquerors. We must stop confusing religion and spirituality. Religion is a set of rules, regulations and rituals created by humans, which was suppose to help people grow spiritually. Due to human imperfection religion has become corrupt, political, divisive and a tool for power struggle. Spirituality is not theology or ideology. It is simply a way of life, pure and original as was given by the Most High of Creation. Spirituality is a network linking us to the Most High, the universe, and each other…”
JULIUS NYERERE: Having come into contact with a civilization which has over-emphasized the freedom of the individual, we are in fact faced with one of the big problems of Africa in the modern world. Our problem is just this: how to get the benefits of European society — benefits that have been brought about by an organization based upon the individual — and yet retain African’s own structure of society in which the individual is a member of a kind of fellowship.“ In the New York Times Magazine on 27 March 1960.
Last week the web was filled with reports of the incident in which Ian Khama was attacked by a Cheetah at the army barracks. Many people wondered why. And today I bring to you–the cheetah’s side of the story.
It was a full moon the night I was born. At least that’s what my mother always told me. There had been two of us at the time – she used to say – a girl cub and I. But only I survived.
She always used to get quite distraught when she described the night they took her away. And even thinking about it now takes me back to the night when she told me about it.
I must have been about six or so months because I’d been working on the same piece of gazelle meat for hours. I think my teeth weren’t fully formed yet.
I remember that the planes were lit by a big orange moon. The dew on the tall grass sparkled so brightly it looked like the stars had fallen from the sky and taken permanent residence in the Kalahari.
This is the first in the series I’m calling #SiyandaTalks in which I discuss my responses to various topics raised in articles across the web. In this episode I discuss an issue close to my heart – Mathematics Education in … Continue reading [VIDEO] SiyandaTalks | Math in Africa & Education Reform
Today, during my regular Twitter stalking I came across an interesting hashtag: “#someonetellBotswana”, I believe it was called. Upon clicking on it, I found myself to have landed on a Twitter page where a group of presumably angry Kenyans were bashing the country of Botswana for a statement released by Botswana’s ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Phandu Skelemane was quoted as saying that Kenya President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta is not welcome in the country if he refuses to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC). He went on to tell the Mmegi, a Botswana daily, “If he refuses to go (to The Hague), then we have a problem. That means that they do not know the rule of law. You can’t establish a court and refuse to go when it calls you. If he refuses, he won’t set foot here.”
Apparently it was this statement that drove the Kenyans insane. It became clear to me upon following the hashtag closely that the Kenyans were not pleased by this.
Interestingly, the #someonetellBotswana tweets were an accumulation of “why should we care what you think” tweets to the Botswana nationals on Twitter. Botswana’s small population was brought up and ridiculed. The country’s GDP was also mocked in comparison to the wealth held by certain citizens of Kenya. Essentially, everything but our foreign policy was brought up.
I’m going to go ahead and say how disappointed I am in the Kenyan Nationals for not mentioning the one thing that mattered. To be honest, I spent the first few moments of viewing the Kenyan’s tweets in complete confusion. It seemed as if the tweets were an expression of some deep-rooted anti-Botswana sentiment that had been brewing in the Kenyans for what felt like quite a while.
Soon after writing my last piece the topic of classism began to occupy my mind almost full-time. I became very quickly aware that in a country like mine (almost completely homogenously “black”) there were still factors that divided us as a people. My notion that all African people are the same and should be able to relate and connect based almost solely on their African-ness was challenged and almost completely discredited for the uninformed self-righteousness it revealed within me.
Along with the realisation that the words of Biko and Muendane, as well as the musings of a teenage girl on what I term ‘theoretical politics’, had almost no weight in the minds of the “common man.” The average African living very close to the poverty-line, had very little interest in what I believed was all it took for the world to change: an understanding of one’s identity as an African as well as the prioritization of this factor.
I began to see that if such things would have an effect on people, then the state in which these people lived would have to change immediately. Before I was to step onto my soap-box (which you will find is carved from the self-righteous wood of my middle-class upbringing) it would be imperative that I begin to focus on the factors that would allow these Africans to have any dams to give about the musings of contemporary ‘pan-Africanists’ like myself.
I see now that on this continent, at this juncture, it is economics that has more of an effect on people than matters of race. That is what has more power to connect people across nations. I can no longer stand by my previous emphasis on the difference between Sudanese and Ghanaian people or Moroccan people and “Cape Coloureds”, which was based on my perceptions about the differences in their heritage.
Last month I saw the small space that Botswana occupies in the twitter-scope blow up when rumours that the government would be disallowing the sale of alcohol in the middle of the ‘Festive Season’ began circulating unabated on the internet.
There were many different reactions from various types of Botswana Internet Users varying from complete outrage to self-righteous defence of the proposed policy. I, however, found myself most amused by the reactions I got from the realm of Twitter that I consider myself to occupy—the international armchair-intellectuals’ Twitter.
Our neighbours from all around the SADC region did not shy away from openly ridiculing the proposed alcohol ban. I found myself being the Botswana representative in this little circle of Twitter as well as the butt of all the jokes that came along with this news.