Sunday, July 03, 2016

Kwame Nkrumah Must Be Smiling
Debra Matabvu

In his 1961 publication “I speak freedom”, Kwame Nkrumah said, “It is clear that we need an African solution to our problems and this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world.” A gust of fresh wind is sweeping across Southern Africa. The sub-region, the only one on the continent to vanquish colonialism via the barrel of the gun, has been evolving since the last citadel of white supremacism was toppled in South Africa in 1994.

Nkrumah’s vision is gaining currency mainly in Sadc where steps to end hostilities in Lesotho spring up as critical illustrations of how only Africans can bring enduring resolution to African problems.

The Sadc Double Troika Summit of June 28, 2016 could have just about drawn up the end of coups and political tensions that have plagued the Mountain Kingdom for decades. Previous attempts at peace seemed to focus on getting feuding parties to resolve their differences, dust themselves up and live happily ever after.

And in the absence of deeper analysis, that fairytale has always recoiled and stung the Basotho.

But this time around, Sadc has stood solidly behind Lesotho, identifying the microcosms and locating them in the kingdom’s constitution and security institutions.

Constitutional and security sector reforms; that is what the Double Troika Summit recommended, and Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili has committed to them. The reforms will be Lesotho’s first, and might just be the first step to enduring stability.

Nkrumah must have had a reason for advocating African solutions to African problems.

His thinking was not modeled around the West’s smash-and-grab mindset where solutions evolve from destruction and suffering, including killing innocents. The world saw that happening in Libya as France, Britain and the United States ganged up on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi under the guise of “protecting civilians”.

We all know, though, that Sarkozy and his gang simply wanted to loot Libyan resources and find quick fixes to their economies in the wake of the global recession.

It’s a pity that some Africans voted with the West on the Libyan question despite a standing African Union Peace and Security Council resolution on the matter.

This is something Africa ponders, ruefully so. But hey, that only goes to show that the “smash-and grab” tug team has its own resolutions and so do Africans. In deconstructing Nkrumah’s philosophy, one comes face to face with its import.

I venture to say that that wisdom seems to have been drawn from two simplistic yet profound African customs. In typical African tradition, a family does not discuss its affairs or wash its dirty linen in public. No. Outsiders are hardly invited, save in cases where one is close to that family. Everyone congregates, with the elders directing the exchanges until resolution is found.

The second strand of Nkrumah’s vision seems to stem from how elders at such gatherings use their deep wisdom to dig up the root cause of any emerging problem. It is only after that has been done that they can safely “read the Summit resolutions”.

This is exactly how Sadc has tackled the Lesotho case, perhaps inadvertently. A Commission of Inquiry was assembled to investigate the killing of former Lesotho Defence Forces Commander, Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao, which sparked uncertainty in the Mountain Kingdom.

And that commission’s investigations dug up the root of Basotho’s problems and recommendations followed. Lesotho has a long history of political instability since its Independence in 1966. The first majority elections were largely disputed and sparked violence, and the next polls in 1970 were declared null and void by the ruling party, igniting further turmoil. The kingdom was to be under military rule for seven years following a coup against the Basotho National Party government in 1986. There were elections in 1993, but another coup was staged after Deputy Prime Minister Selometsi Baholo had been assassinated. Violence, assassinations and attempted assassinations accompanied polls between 1998 and 2015.

Now, Lesotho will benefit from an African solution proffered by Africans.

Nkrumah must be smiling.

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