The roots of violence

The roots of violence

Africans were not there when the decision to colonise their continent was made by the forces that be at that point in history (the 1880’s). They were not there when the systematic subjugation of their continent through an intricate divide-and-rule pattern was decided by the Western powers that be. Africans did not draw the current map of their continent.
They did not decide where one country began and another ended. All of the borderlines on the map are Western figments of an imagination with the intention to divide what was once united to render Africa an easy country to conquer.

The systems that had for millennia served the African well were discarded and in their place were installed structures of rule and governance the African hardly understood.
The African of the modern day still blunders on into the new form of political governance brought by the colonist as if there is something the African understands when in essence he or she does not.

Fuelled by an age-old type of ignorance that has ossified due to long use, the current African politico is a creature led by ignorance. It is the ignorance of the native that could barely sign their name that chose to give in to the ways of the westerner without question.
The native the colonist met just wanted to look smarter than the rest of his indigenous crowd gathered at the court where the colonist was given ear. It would seem that the colonist lied when it comes to the issue of the true intentions of their extended sojourn.

It was never about ‘enlightening’ the local; it was just about teaching him how to be a good servant. The main point of focus was on ensuring that the native is a compliant tool to serve the purposes of the coloniser.
For a seat at the table with the newly-found masters, the native left his indigenous ways that had served his forebears for ages without fail. It became smart to wear hand-me-down pantaloons for the sake of looking smarter than the average neighbour dressed in animal skins and chamois loincloth.

What the native did not realise was that he or she was being divided from within before this effect would express itself outwardly. The native in patched pantaloons, chafed shoes and frayed shirts began to think he was smarter than the rest of the village. He began to view the ways of his ancestors as heathen practice and disdainfully began to frown upon them.
What he did not know was the simple fact that he was being separated from the rest of the herd as a pride of lions do when hunting for an old or young buffalo. The Westerner needed only teach the African not to be himself to make it easier to control him.

The African complied, and the intended division of the colonised was thus achieved by the new colonist. Ever in search of new things to worship, the colonist found the African an already compliant tool, one that could dig the ground to get his minerals to send to the home country in the West, and one that was willing to serve the role of the labourer on the farm and in other endeavours.
The new African that came with the advent of independence could not rid himself of the colonial tendencies. This is seen in the adoption of Western systems of rule and governance that so far only underdeveloped the continent.

The continent fails to see progress because it has not rid itself of colonial tendencies that got it into the rut it is in now. It can safely be assumed that the continent was deliberately set on a chaotic path of violence to make it easy for the colonist to steal whatever it is that he wanted.
Inequality breeds chaos, for there is naturally an imbalance where one entity lists this way and the other that way. The peace that the world needs can only be attained if the mentalities of division that are used to the present day disturb the equilibrium needed to maintain a certain level of peace that is conducive to the progress of the individual, the community, and the rest of African society.

Given the hard role of being ‘better than’ or ‘less than’ the everyday African individual engaged in some pursuit to eke existence is already party to the fomenting of violence without one knowing or being aware of it.
There is no peace where the individual feels they are being short-changed or that their efforts are not acknowledged. The presence of so much violence on the continent is the direct result of anger bottled up for ages in individuals or the social groups within which they live.
A listen to the socio-political comments on the state of the African society reveals a trend where people have been wronged for such a long time that they begin to believe that the only way they can reach their heaven is through violence.

This is the reality with the liberation wars for independence, it is the reality with the various civil wars on the continent, it is the reality that brought the genocides in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and other parts of Africa.
It is the same reality that is influencing the currently trending gender violence and xenophobic attacks in South Africa (and perhaps the whole continent).
It is a fact of the matter that South Africans never actually got to taste their freedom because the country then became a haven for nationals from other countries who wanted a slice of the new-found South African democracy led by Nelson Mandela and his black majority parliament. The justification has always been that South African freedom fighters were given asylum in the dark days of apartheid.

This fact is true, but it makes little sense to the ordinary South African who never ran away from the Gestapo-style security service branches of the apartheid government.
These are the individuals that braved teargas, steel-toed boots, and apartheid police truncheons, bullets and constant harassment. These ones (largely male) were left to dry on the line after they cast their votes in favour of the new democracy.

Fed with empty promises to keep them hopeful enough to be peaceful, the current spate of attacks on foreign nationals has its origins in the fact that the South African government never actually bothered to take care of its own before welcoming nationals from other African or global countries.
Frowned upon and used as a political excuse to start debates on how hateful the South African male has become, the two issues are sadly not addressed in the frank manner they should be.

A simple question that one asks is: what has the South African government done to acknowledge the contribution of the male section of society that suffered more than anyone else in the dark days of apartheid?
This comes from an individual that has first-hand experience of how acrid the smell of teargas is, an individual that knows what bullets can do, a man who witnessed the ‘necklacing’ of enemies within and sell-outs to the cause for freedom.

It is a fact that LGBTI’s and women seem to reap more from the issue of basic human rights than men in the country.
Women enjoy the rewards of the new freedom, their fellow black brothers that used to burn the midnight oil on the lookout for black-marias (police vans) and askaris (sell-outs) languish in the depths of despair jobless, drugged, and constantly mugged for the little that they make by the system that has all of a sudden forgotten their contribution in the struggle for freedom.

Injustice by any other name is still an injustice and no matter how hard the powers that be may try to be academic about it, the truth remains that the South African male was given the short end of the stick when it came to being honoured for the effort put in the fight for liberation from apartheid.
Those that enjoy the fruits of freedom should always understand that they are mere scapegoats in the fight for instant wealth the political class has proven themselves to be a part of in the past 25 years of South Africa’s freedom.

The South African male has never been a creature known to mince words for the sake of appearance. The violence they experienced in the days of their youth has become a part of them, and they will not refrain from unleashing it whenever they feel they are being trod upon.
It is up to the government to apologise to the black South African male first before venturing out to appease partners in crime from other parts of the continent. Being smart about addressing issues affecting the violent male will never solve the problem.

What will solve it needs the current authorities to revert to the apartheid model that gave black youth jobs to keep them busy and out of the street where the burning and looting soon become a pastime if they were not preoccupied in some activity.
The proclivity for exaggeration is the mark of the African politician. It is perhaps a basic need of the most incompetent profession on the continent to be diplomatic even in cases where the need to be polite is unnecessary.

Hunger is not diplomatic, it gnaws deep in the belly of the hungry to the point that they go insane with it and are willing to do any job, even if it means they should sell their child or mother, even if it means that they should kill to keep it at bay.
It is a ‘primal’ and not a ‘basic’ need that one should feed to live and robbing anyone of the means to sustain their lives leads to their uprising.
Defending their acts as criminal and not xenophobic does not address the main issue in this case: the people are going hungrier with the increase in unemployment.

The people will go on to be more hungry if the state’s focus is on providing welfare cheques to limited sectors of society instead of providing the able-bodied with jobs that will pay them enough to put food on their table.
The Sesotho adage “Lela le lapileng ha le na tsebe (A hungry belly has no ear)” rings true if one is to be realistic about the issue of violence in society. The hungry shall never listen to any pledge for peace if the pleader does not do anything about addressing the prevailing hunger and starvation.

Political lobby and rhetoric promises pipedreams similar to what the colonist must have promised to the poor native who did not know what a mirror was.
‘I promise to do this and that…’ should be followed by actual deeds and not excuses or further promises. The Africa we live in is a land led by figures that hold the false notions that ‘yes’ means agreed, that ‘aid’ is actually free, or that there is an ‘easy loan’.
The truth is that none of the above actually exist and never will. What is real is that the increasing levels of inequality in society will lead to increased violence, unless some pacifying element in the form of support for the poor is got.

Colonialism succeeded because it was based on the Darwinian principle (and concept) of “My violence is better than yours”. The words of Mandela, Luther King Jnr, and Ghandi lose meaning where people feel threatened or that their lifeline is being rudely cut.
Survival of the fittest as a concept means that only the violent shall actually make it to see the next day. It is a fact that nothing can truly be dealt with if its source is not fully explored or if the manner in which it is dealt with is similar to the preening of feathers.
Serious issues need individuals that are willing to lance the boil and not figures that are focused more on mollycoddling issues instead of dealing with them head on. Africa needs to wake up to its realities instead of always comparing itself to other parts of the world that are not Africa.
Walter Rodney put forward the statement in his classic that:

The capitalist countries are technologically more advanced and are therefore the sector of the imperialist system which determined the direction of change. A striking example to this effect is the fact that synthetic fabrics manufactured in the capitalist metropoles have begun to replace fabrics made from raw material grown in the colonies.

In other words, (within certain limits) it is the technologically advanced metropoles who can decide when to end their dependence on the colonies in a particular sphere. When that happens, it is the colony or neo-colony which goes begging cap in hand for a reprieve and a new quota.
It is for this reason that a formerly colonised nation has no hope of developing until it breaks effectively with the vicious circle of dependence and exploitation which characterises imperialism.

We should learn to self-sustain, we should learn to get to the root of the problem before addressing the symptoms. Other than that, the violence will go on as it has through the ages.

Tsépiso Mothibi

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