My fellow Africans.
Many of us are reeling, we are feeling broken and unsure of just how or where to start processing the recent month-long attacks against African citizens in South Africa. The latest spate of violence has created a continent-wide chain reaction against citizens of South Africa in an ugly tit for tat war of words which is pouring salt into the already open and gaping wounds littering our beloved continent. My body. We are all bleeding, some more than others. There is no justification. No mitigating factor or extenuating circumstance for this. This has been a flash of anger and hatred which has been hard to bear, and has sent many of us convulsing into waves of anguish, weakened by ancient sorrows.
Yes there is poverty, but poverty is not new. Unemployment is not a new phenomenon to hit South Africa, nor is a lack of resources. These are not unheard of phenomena in mineral rich Africa. The texture of these recent attacks has an other-worldly feel, something close to an out-of-body experience which has left even the most ardent supporters of (South)Africa with sand in their mouths. It is as if we’re all in a collective dream, a nightmare which our forefathers could not have dreamed or imagined possible even while they preached and advocated for African Unity. Today on the podiums of social and news media, radio, television and government there is no voice that clearly captures the nascent hopelessness which these attacks have embossed on our aching souls. There’s a kind of madness, an insanity which no reason can rationalize. It is like a wild-fire that only gains momentum, power and strength with every drop of water thrown at it. There is so much anger, bitterness, grief, agony and frustration. We have become like hungry lions and lionesses feeding off of our own offspring, digging deeper and deeper into the raw and fresh rare wounds in our hearts, leaving no space or room to heal. And we must heal.
We are drunk with grief, high with sadness, intoxicated with fatigue. We can no longer see, hear or speak clearly. Everything we say is like venom, poison, administered from a place of searing pain and unending agony and distress. We are outstretched, spread thin everywhere and any more pressure or negative energy will see us snapping, tearing each other apart or boiling over because there is no one well enough in the house to see that all is not well. Everyone is hurting.
It is not just South Africa it is Nigeria, Somalia, Namibia, Mozambique, Guinea, Kenya, Egypt, Zimbabwe; all 54 of us are in pain. We can’t eat, we can’t sleep, we can’t rest. Everything is aching, everywhere is war. Day and night have become a long and unending nightmare, a dream within a dream within a dream, with each dream becoming worse than the last.
You see I know this, Africa, because you are my body. My heart is in the east, and one rib in the west so are my lungs and breasts, my belly is in central Africa, my head is in the north, my legs and feet in the south, you are me. Whichever part of you hurts, hurts me too. I carry you in my veins, in my skin, and my sweat. You are everything to me and I am your everything too. I walk like you, talk like you, do everything as you do because we are one.
The current backlash against SA seems to me like a person whose foot has been badly hurt and instead of putting it in a cast and letting it heal, he becomes angry with himself, punishes himself and inflicts more pain on the very foot by stabbing it with a knife, exacerbating the damage to the point of amputation.
Nothing will replace that foot. Some South Africans have done wrong: so our solution is to take bread from the mouths of children and send them off to starve and be drugged into worse crazed futures, so that we can prove a point. A point that we all know is true. An undisputed fact. What has happened in South Africa is wrong. Nothing can be said to make it right or acceptable. All we can say is this:
We are sorry, from the depths of everything I am. On behalf of my country and countrymen. Unequivocally. Sorry.
We are still young and we have thought for a while that we knew everything. We have failed to consult and ask you, our elders to guide us into adulthood. We thought we had it figured out and yes for a while you too were indeed very proud of us, and the progress we were making and as a result abdicated your responsibility for leadership. The truth is we are still hurting and now that you can see just how much we still have to learn please don’t let go. Don’t abdicate your responsibilities now. We still don’t know what it means to be African, some of us don’t even know that we are African to begin with. You have seen us kill each other brutally with no reason. In your anger you have laughed and called us names instead of stepping in and giving us guidance. You have been free for decades more than we have. Help us deal with this. Lift us up from our fallen state, because you can not walk without us. And we cannot breathe without you. We are one body. We thought we could handle all the responsibility of taking Africa forward, but in reality, it is too much. Help us and lighten our load. We cannot do it on our own. I am not blaming you for what has happened, I am trying to illustrate just how much we need you now.
This is a critical, defining and historic moment for Africa, and for us all. How we choose to address this issue, this wound now, today, will determine our future. What future do we want for Africa?
The last thing we need is to be isolated and ex-communicated from each other. Because no matter where we go in the world we carry Africa in us and with us. Though we’ve tried to escape her woes many times and in boat loads from all corners of the continent, we have taken her with us. Her joys and sorrows have been permanently etched on our foreheads.
Africa. She decides our fate.
This is the time for us to join hands in unity and fight to stay alive together. From South to North, East and West. We need to hold on to each other now. We need to keep talking to each other until the words we speak become medicine to our wounds, until it stops hurting. This is the time for us to stay together anyway we can and weather the storm. I know that we are strong enough, brave enough but most of all, I know that we have enough love in our hearts to heal recent hurts. Let’s draw strength from those who’ve come before us. Let’s draw strength from what we have already overcome. I know we have enough love to build a better future for our children. I know that we can change. We have everything we need to make us work.
The answer to our current problems is an unwavering commitment to one another, to African Unity. A commitment to face our challenges head on and together. It is time to focus on us, Africa. It is time for a mutual commitment to go directly to the root cause of our problems, no matter what they are and stand together committed to solving them. We’ve tried doing things apart and “Independently” before. We’ve all gone our own separate ways at different times and it has not worked. All we have achieved is slow progress with heightened strife and more pain. It’s time to commit. Now is the moment our forefathers dreamt of. Now is the time to show unity in the face of opposition like we have never done before. Now is the time to break without exception all the boarders in our hearts and minds and occupy our land in peace. Let us free ourselves now and let love in. It is the only way. We are an amazing and beautiful people, who deserve love, peace and harmony in our daily lives. We need to remain committed to one another, remain committed to loving each other. We need to commit to peace now anyway and no matter what, because that’s the only way any of us will survive.
I commit to you wholeheartedly and without reservation. I pledge my love for you now and forever. Because you and I, are one mind, body and soul. Africa is one and indivisible. No matter what.