What We Do Wrong

What We Do Wrong

EVERYTHING has its own form and it is what it contains that gives it its substance; the full totality of its contents and their related functions with regard to such an entity’s intended purpose. Without form and substance, an entity might as well be a nothingness, for then one cannot determine its full or partial expanse, rendering such an entity immeasurable and therefore indeterminable, meaning that it is to a large extent a waste of time and effort to the individual or group of individuals attempting to understand its full breadth, its purpose, and its functions.
We intentionally or unwittingly are confronted with the journey into nothingness in our quest for knowledge at conscious or subconscious levels of the mind and the body.

This process of acquiring knowledge does carry meaning for some because they end up understanding the full or partial expanse of the entity they in the process of acquiring knowledge encounter. Others fail to acquire knowledge because the entity they encounter reveals none of its form and they therefore cannot get to the deeper level of making sense of its substance.
It is a process similar to a child seeing the egg for the first time where the child can see the oval form of the egg but cannot understand anything of its contents that result in either a chick that will go on to produce other eggs or end up as an omelette on a breakfast platter. We need to understand (preferably fully) the true form and substance of any entity we come across to enable us to make use of it in our daily lives or to draw veritable meanings we can use in the everyday.

Failure to understand an entity in full increases the likelihood of us using it in a manner that is wrong or using it in ways that lead to it being a danger to both ourselves and those others around us at the point in time where we fumble with it trying to get to the gist of its full ramifications. A group of children fumbling around with a hand-grenade are more likely to end up blowing themselves to smithereens than a serviceman trained in the handling of such types of explosives.

I often look at the African political and other social spheres and the main error one finds is that there is actually no concerted effort on the part of the citizens and their leaders to understand in full the true form and substance of the experiences the world presents to them. Hurriedly, the salient and vital details are passed over in the chase to beat the clock, and this leads to disasters of gargantuan proportions that at the end of the day result in the maladies one finds to be rampant on the continent.

This to a large extent is due to the fact that there is no real quest for knowledge on the continent: reports are studied cursorily, historical facts are never looked into in an in-depth manner, and there is never any real effort to connect what is being read with what is lived or what is intended. This condition is worsened by the fact that there is no real effort on the part of the administrative bodies to employ experts relevant to the social phenomenon being implemented or studied. Evidence of this is found in the now prevalent culture where an accountant is allocated a social scientist’s job and the teacher is granted a political position at the expense of the future of the children he or she taught before joining the political arena.

It is promotion of incompetence at its highest, and it is an accepted culture on the mainland of Africa. It is what we do wrong without fear, never batting an eyelid despite glaring evidence with regard to its prevailing dangers that go on to send the continent on a regressive trajectory.

The African understands very little of his or her own history because the African does not bother to read and to question the facts that are found in the pages of history and to correct them where the need to make such corrections arises. This means that the African blunders on with knowledge that is unverified, content only with knowledges that upon closer inspection and in-depth investigation may reveal a scenario that is different from the common everyday one that is accepted as common knowledge.

Unverified facts carry the natural tendency to mislead, for they are in their simplest form the imagination of their formulator, and the formulator could be wrong largely due to the simple fact that he or she is foreign to the phenomenon they are writing about. It is an established fact that a large part of African history was written by Eurocentric individuals consciously or subconsciously influenced by the primal tendency to promote agendas of their respective empires.

It naturally carries that the facts they presented could have intentionally or unintentionally been biased in favour of the authorities that sponsored their research missions into the lives and the politics of the continent at the point at which the two cultures encountered each other. The Moshoeshoe I we know in history is largely a figment of western thought and imagination, of the real one as seen from the perspective of the African subject and intellectual we might never get to know, for there seems to have been no real effort to understand why he was as he is presented in historical records.

It is true that human self-interest often takes the fore in the analysis of a given character, that is, a lot of historically prominent figures are fashioned according to the needs of the individual or party that uses their story to garner in support in the form of glory or votes from the audience.

Moshoeshoe I and Mandela have been used so many times in the stilted speeches of the academic and the politician in their reconciliatory speeches, but the true substance of their sense of forgiveness is hardly seen; sort of like the preacher or priest that takes only snippets from the Bible to suit the sermon without actually bothering to read entire verses or chapters that would give a more in-depth understanding to the meanings behind the letters of the holy books.

Only the more patronising parts in the lives of historical figures are ever quoted, we hardly hear anything of their personal and private struggles despite their value in the determination of their true character and prestige for use in our own lives. We fail as a continent to get into the gist of the matter when it comes to drawing living examples from our famous figures, and so we blunder on with half-told truths and lies that lead to the continent being the backbencher in every major decision related to the advancement of the continent.

In a weekend talk with a close friend of mine over the issues of land repatriation without compensation and land reform in Southern Africa, the question of history kept popping up, and one reality was presented as a possibility that is often evaded in general discussion because it might put the speakers in question themselves: the matter of a majority that could be right or wrong. It is quite possible that the majority can be wrong especially where they are being misled by an individual whose conception of a given matter is erroneous or limited.
In an environment where stereotypical tendencies often overwhelm common-sense, that is, where the majority’s love for an individual or the party they represent clouds the sense of judgement and logic, we end up with the case of a South Africa where Zuma and company were given free rein to run a once-thriving economy into the ground on the basis of love and not justifiable quest for the welfare and well-being of everyone.

In this case, the majority was wrong, for the majority kept on voting into power individuals that were incompetent despite clear evidence that their policies for progress were clearly off the mark. And even before the dust has settled on the failures of the past regime, new dangerous talk about a delicate issue is being used in lobby speeches just before general elections.
Clear cases with regard to the danger of mishandling of the land reform matter are ignored: just north to the Republic of South Africa lies the once-thriving state of Zimbabwe, once noted as the “bread-basket of Africa” but now an economy on its knees because the love of Mugabe took precedence over common-sense.

Every piece of land needs to have a clear map to mark the territorial boundaries of either individual or group. We have not (in fact, I have not) so far seen any of the leaders of the land repatriation or reform stalwarts come forward and present a pre-colonial map presenting with clarity what the territory of a given ethnic group, tribe or clan was like.

Driven by an ad hominem type of political fervour, the political discussions and arguments into this matter are being allowed to go on unchecked despite the potential danger they present to the welfare of the entire continent and the world economy, for if Africa regresses to the status of being a welfare continent (as it already is anyway) the world economy will have to fund the humanitarian aid whilst the political dogs of war go on to incite violence in the minds of their followers.

It takes time to reach the point where this type of discussions can be brought out into the public sphere, in short, the leader has to think before they talk about issues that might endanger the relative harmony that drives the well-being of the society they are leading. First draw the map before setting out on a journey, pass it by the relevant authorities to determine whether it is good enough to use.
Blundering on without regard to simple factors such as the readiness of society to be involved in such matters as will change the status quo in a manner too abrupt carries the danger of breeding chaos as is seen in events such as the civil wars one sees dotting the African landscape.
Progress is not the result of an ad hoc decision but a carefully planned and thoroughly tested hypothesis that takes committed participation of all relevant parties before it reaches the stage where it is presented as strategy ready for implementation. Rwanda went up in flames in 1994 due to careless talk on public media and by the end of it, more than a million citizens had been hacked to death with the panga, the stone, and fire on the basis of ethic pride.

Libya is still a war-zone at this moment despite the eradication of Gadaffi, a visionary who was largely misunderstood due to his unrequited stance on the danger of adopting west-serving economic plans that did nothing to improve the development status of Africa as a continent. In these cases, the danger was not in the government, the danger was in the public being fed misconstrued facts by individuals that did not bother to question the potential dangers of their proposed acts.

Change is not a bad event, it is actually a desirable pursuit, but change can be a menace to society if it is carried out in an unsystematic manner that does not first consider the possibilities as can be found in the end result thereof. Africa does not progress because it deals with change in a cursory manner, in a pattern that skims the surface and does not bother to understand in full the machinations of the system of change proposed. This leaping without thinking pattern of doing things is what has led to the continent’s strategies never actually progressing beyond the implementation phase.

Evidence is found in the endless visions that are never seen, whether here in the Kingdom or on the mainland of the African continent where endless conferences fail to get the continent out of the clutches of strife, unemployment, poverty and disease. Half plans are carried out, and they bring with them a deluge of the full brunt of the undesirable.
The main argument here is that the reform discussions in Lesotho have not been carried out in full, there is a need to find out the other side of the story that is found in intellectuals and non-intellectuals that may have reform-related plans and opinions. As the Sesotho adage goes that, ‘Wisdom resides not in one house (Bohlale ha bo ahele ntloana ‘ngoe)’ the basic understanding should be that yes, we do have the outline of the reform process, but we still lag behind in terms of what the true and full substance of the reforms should be.

There are other minds like the multiple nests of the weaver that too carry substance to the issue of national reforms that should be consulted before we blunder on into failure as we have done with other related and unrelated visions and plans before. We will go wrong if we were to assume that the half-discussion as is presented by the current reform plan were to be adopted as the primary statute for the reform process.
We need not blunder on, but we do need to walk together on this one: after thorough consultation with all parties from all sectors of society.

Tsépiso S. Mothibi

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