I think Africans are amongst the most resilient people on earth. Our common history has taught us that in an unfair and unequal world there is no choice but to be strong and resilient. We are a people of great passion and strength, the fight for independence showed that there was no obstacle that could not be achieved as long as the peoples of Africa came together and spoke with one voice. Our Independence leaders with the support of the peoples of Africa fought bitterly and ultimately won us that independence. Strength, passion, determination and an unyielding spirit are characteristics of those who fought for such freedom.
With independence, we believed that a stronger and united Africa would soon be a reality, yet, our heroes, those filled with passion and determination turned their backs on the cause of building an inclusive Africa for all. Independent leaders turned their backs on the ideals of peace and freedom and turned their guns and fury towards their own peoples. An independent Africa became the scene for great conflict and suffering.
Today, despite changes and progress made there is still much work to be done. As Africans we are now fighting amongst ourselves, freedom fighters refuse to leave their seats of power and pave the way for a new generation of leaders and thinkers. At the same time African youths willingly flock to western European countries, escaping the difficult realities of home, some making the journey so as to better provide for their families, due to fear and oppression and others because of who they love and choose to share their lives with.
As a continent we have so much to offer not only to our people but the world. We have the potential to be more than what we are, but only if we cease to continuously look outward and focus on looking inward to our own potential. Interestingly enough there is also a bit of a lacuna with the argument of looking soley inward, many have made arguments that by looking inward we must disregard the rest of the world and everything that comes with it, some even go as far as saying that everything from the outward world is alien to our African context, our way of life and reality.
More aggressive proponents of this idea have even taken it far by putting such ideas to practice. We have seen this by many who deny human rights as being a universal project, and put arguments for its ‘un-african nature’, we have seen seen the continued denial of the rights of women and girls, despite advances made in attaining such rights legally, there are still those who deny women equal status as men, blaming such outdated and brutish thinking on culture. In regards to women, I believe that it is not necessarily a question of culture alone, but rather an attempt by men to maintain their own hierarchies within societies by perpetuating gender dominance and oppression.
I have always found it very peculiar that women must always be given rights, as though to begin with they had no rights, which by the very act seems as though they were never human to begin with and it takes, most of the time, men giving women rights. In our beloved continent unfortunately, women continue to be the targets of violence. In times of war, women and girls are seen as easy targets. In many homes women are merely seen as caregivers.
There are indeed, many difficulties, painful realities – unacceptable realities. Yet, many still refuse to question it all. There is this fear of breaking the shell and question strong held ideas and beliefs, the very act of questioning and thinking outside this conditioned reality is seen as wrong, in some parts of our continent, such questioning is received with harsh consequences, the act of questioning is seen as a challenge to those who wish to maintain the status quo, a status quo which seeks to maintain existing power structures and relations. A status quo which aims to perpetuate dominance and inequality.
Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand. ~ Guinean proverb