This Isn't A Zoo But The Promised Land
LUSAKA, Oct. 28 - We should take this opportunity, the 40th anniversary of our country's independence, to once again promote reflection on the national liberation of our people and that of our continent, chained by backwardness and balkanisation.
We Zambians have had to fight hard not only against British colonialism but we also had to confront Portuguese colonialism and Southern Rhodesian and South African apartheid. Therefore our concepts of nationalism and patriotism and our opposition to colonialism, neo-colonialism and hegemony are very strong.
Therefore, we look positively on everything that challenges domination, subjugation, arrogance and hegemony.
Therefore, these independence reflections may prove useful, to the extent that they serve to bring out the cultural and historical values that we have in common with the British and other Commonwealth nations. Everything that helps to enhance shared values forms a shield that protects us against those who threaten us. To the extent that we can reaffirm our awareness of our identity and increase our peoples' spirit of unity, we will be defending our right to have a place in the world of this century, the 21st century.
During the colonial era, a culture was imposed; now, they want to impose a certain way of life on us and control our thinking. But in spite of all the stratagems that have been designed to limit our ability to think for ourselves, there still remains a part of our memories of colonialism.
It is true that the British humiliated us, imposed their language on us and made us believe in a single God. But we can say that in one sense, they didn't conquer us. We are still ourselves, what we were. We aren't like them, but are different - neither better nor worse, but different. We are the survivors and we are determined to build our own future.
Our struggle is a very serious one which most Europeans don't take seriously. Africa is preparing for battles that aren't at all like that children's game or that eyesore that was the Berlin Wall.
It is increasingly becoming clear to our people that democracy without social justice is worth no more than our devalued currencies. Political democracy is an empty formality if not accompanied by economic democracy.
For centuries, nurtured by the colonies, the Europeans dedicated themselves to creating a luxurious solitude. They erected monuments of iron and words, mastered continents and symphonies and invented machinery and philosophical systems.
The citizens of Europe took great pains to build an enormous stage upon which the actors could be seen from far away; they have everything they need and more, but most of them don't have a chance of knowing themselves and of communicating among themselves.
However, we have known Europeans - many of them, luckily - who are sensitive to our peoples and feel genuine affection for us. They make us very grateful, and, someday, they will be in the majority in the Old Continent.
The curtain should come down so that this play we call history may be seen by the actors in it; so the dialogue and foreseeable conclusion may be changed; and, above all, so that new actors from other parts of the world may have speaking parts.
Here in Africa, initiatives are being undertaken by some of our leaders, the most progressive of them, to try and create new human beings - rescuing them from disdain and torment, giving them a crown of laurel leaves and making them a god - while over there, in Europe, they praise postmodernism.
In the Old Continent, little is said about our world, the homeland of 'natural man'. And, when people do speak of it, it is with pity and remorse, or with solidarity laced with charity - though sometimes with true solidarity.
In many cases, especially at the institutional level, self-centred solidarity prevails: concern with these distant, God-forsaken worlds in order to feel virtuous, just like giving charity to the poor at the doors of churches.
Europe is growing more unrecognisable, even for those who live there. Therefore, we suspect that we Africans will someday 'discover' Europe, though not for colonial purposes.
We will 'discover' it without the sword or the cross, without seeking gold or a fountain of eternal youth, but simply with a desire to incorporate its children in the socialisation of freedom.
Generally speaking, however, our relations with our former colonisers are still distant, formal and filled with rhetoric.
Therefore, we must see to it that the observance of the 40th anniversary of our independence doesn't simply become a whitewash. If that were to happen, we will be condoning the colonisation and the dissolution of the awareness of our identity and history. Now, when some people once again want to 'colonise' us, or rather neo-colonise us, we must have ideological weapons with which to defend ourselves against those real dangers.
All of the solemnity and enthusiasm that we may contribute to this 40th independence anniversary shouldn't lead us to ignore the negative historical processes that were associated with colonialism and haven't entirely disappeared as yet.
We cannot forget that we are being subjected to forms of neo-colonialism that are sometimes worse than the old colonial methods, that unequal terms of trade, the foreign debt, the destruction of our environment and the plunder of our resources by the developed world still continue.
For us Zambians, the best commemoration would unquestionably be a 40th independence anniversary in which there isn't any foreign debt, unequal terms of trade have been eliminated and our people have the possibility for development and hope.
We haven't sought to be cruel. At worst, we are only giving vent to colonial and neo-colonial resentment and inviting the Europeans to join us Africans in seeking mutual understanding.
These are historical events, and, as such, they can be analysed with historical objectivity. It is hardly necessary to state that none of this is inspired by any feelings of hatred towards the British people and other Europeans. Rather, this critical approach is inspired by the defence of certain key values in our spirit that are undeniable.
With equanimity, respect, justice and objectivity we will be waiting for them here - until the end of time - among the birds, the lions and elephants, for them to discover that this is not a zoo, but the promised land.
The Post / allAfrica Global Media
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