How did our favourite men and women of letters die? What had they written or said about death? What words of wisdom did they leave behind when they were at death’s door?
In an essay published in 1971 in a book called A New Companion to Shakespeare Studies, scholar S. Schoenbaum indicates that the great English dramatist and poet, William Shakespeare, might have died due to excessive consumption of alcohol.
“On 23 April 1616 Shakespeare died,” Schoenbaum writes. “About his last illness we have no certain information, although half a century later the vicar of Holy Trinity, John Ward, noted in his diary a story that must then have had currency in Stratford: ‘Shakespeare, Drayton, and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting , and it seemed the drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted.”
But a little later, Schoenbaum goes on to insist that there are chances that this may not be very accurate. “But the anecdote is no more than that; medically it seems dubious, and as a gossip, Ward is not entirely reliable.”
It is said that Shakespeare died rather early at the age of 53. It is stated that through his will, Shakespeare left behind ten pounds to the poor of his home, Stratford. He also left some money to his friends, William Reynolds, Antony Nash and John Nash. His sole remaining sister, Mrs John Hart, was allowed to stay for the rest of her life in the Henley Street homestead. A daughter of the Halls received Shakespeare’s plate.
The bulk of Shakespeare’s estate went to his daughter, Susanna: After her death the entailed estate was to go to her eldest surviving son, and then to the late son’s male heirs…Susanna bore no sons and eventually the property was passed to strangers. Shakespeare left to his wife, Anne, “my linen, my second best bed” and other things.
Shakespeare was buried within the chancel of Holy Trinity in Stratford. More ordinary citizens, including his father and mother, were laid to rest in the churchyard. On the flagstone to his resting place there are written very interesting words, thought to have been written by him:
“Good friends, for Jesus’ sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here!
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.
These words are scary. They are an injunction to the living not to tamper with Shakespeare’s grave. However, they appear not to be directed to casual visitors to the church but maybe to the sextons, who sometimes had to disturb the dead in order to make room for a new grave.
In one of his key tragedies, the play Macbeth, Shakespeare has this to say about life in relation to death, through Macbeth himself, in Act 5, scene 5: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
The quote is used near the end of the play and features Macbeth’s reaction to the news that his wife, Lady Macbeth, has committed suicide. He knows his own life is near its end, as the armies of his enemies approach, and through this quote and the longer soliloquy, he expresses his new, nihilistic approach to his life.
Life comes across as a shadow or a poor actor who says a few things on the stage and disappears behind the scenes. Could it mean that life was so insignificant to Shakespeare and was he sometimes that pessimistic himself? Or, it could mean that sometimes he was given to dreary moods, like all of us?
In Julius Caesar (Act 2, Scene 2), Caesar says about death: “It seems to me most strange that men should fear (death); seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
These lines may mean that of all the wonders in the world, it is strange that man fears death. Here Caesar is trying to say that death is the ultimate end and it will come without warning, it is a necessary end and will come when it has to. One should face it bravely and not be fearful of it.
Chinua Achebe, the great African author from Nigeria who died on 21 March 2013 in Boston, US, has a literary oeuvre that is well known throughout the world. I know people who can recite chunks and chunks of his pioneering novel, Things Fall Apart. That novel is also estimated to have sold millions of copies.
It is also not possible to agree or disagree with everything Achebe uttered or wrote. However, we all remember certain key passages from the Achebe literature and thought; passages that are worth underlining with a pen in order to be re-read on a better day.
The late Chinua Achebe is often called “the father of African Literature.” Writing in The New Yorker once, Philip Gourevitch actually says “the fact that Achebe must be remembered as not only the father but the godfather of modern African literature, owed at least as much to the decades he spent as the editor of Heinemann’s African Writers Series.
In that capacity, Achebe served as the discoverer, mentor, patron, and presenter-to-the-world of so many of the now-classic African authors of the latter half of the twentieth century.
Achebe’s agent in London is quoted in the media as having said that Achebe had died “after a brief illness.” It is further narrated, “Mr Achebe had used a wheelchair since a car accident in Nigeria in 1990 left him paralyzed from the waist down. The death was announced by Brown University in Providence, R.I., where Mr Achebe had been a professor of Africana studies since 2009. No cause was reported. Mr Achebe made his home in the United
States since 1990 following injuries from a car crash in Lagos that left him paralyzed from the waist down.”
It was widely reported that Achebe was buried on May 23 in his hometown in Ogidi, Anambra state. President Goodluck Jonathan attended in the company of Ghana’s President Mahama. After the church service, Mr Achebe was buried in a mausoleum on the family compound in a private ceremony. Mr Achebe’s body had arrived back in Nigeria from the US, where he died at the age of 82.
Even though he was treated after the 1990 accident, Ike, Achebe’s son said that his father had internal injuries which kept bringing problems, coupled with the fact that he was paralyzed. This means that his family knew that since his injury, Achebe was of very delicate health.
The family, Ike said, was always with Achebe in his troubles. For many in the family, Achebe’s death was not a shock but it would be for those not close to his father, Ike pointed out. He said that one thing he admired about his father was his courage. The father, Ike said, did not allow his accident to affect his work.
However, one thing that was discussed by many after Achebe’s burial was the conspicuous absence of two of Nigeria’s literary giants, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and notable poet and playwright John Pepper Clark. They were his contemporaries and people expected them to attend. Were they jealousy towards Achebe? Were they bitter about something? Were they not invited? Speculations continue to this day.
One of the most touching moments in all Achebe literature is the death of one of his most affable characters, the boy Ikemefuna. In a settlement with a neighbouring tribe, Umuofia wins a virgin and a fifteen-year-old boy.
Okonkwo takes charge of the boy, Ikemefuna, and finds an ideal son in him. Nwoye likewise forms a strong attachment to the newcomer.
Despite his fondness for Ikemefuna and despite the fact that the boy begins to call him “father,” Okonkwo does not let himself show any affection for him.
Ogbuefi Ezeudu, a respected village elder, informs Okonkwo in a private conversation that the Oracle has said that Ikemefuna must be killed. He tells Okonkwo that because Ikemefuna calls him “father,” Okonkwo should not take part in the boy’s death. Okonkwo lies to Ikemefuna, telling him that they must return him to his home village. Nwoye bursts into tears.
As he walks with the men of Umuofia, Ikemefuna thinks about seeing his mother. To calm himself, Ikemefuna resorts to a childhood game:
“He sang (a song) in his mind, and walked to its beat. If the song ended on his right foot, his mother was alive. If it ended on his left, she was dead. No, not dead, but ill. It ended on the right. She was alive and well. He sang the song again, and it ended on the left. But the second time did not count….”
After several hours of walking, some of Okonkwo’s clansmen attack the boy with machetes. Ikemefuna runs to Okonkwo for help. But Okonkwo, who doesn’t wish to look weak in front of his fellow tribesmen, cuts the boy down despite the Oracle’s admonishment. When Okonkwo returns home, his own son, Nwoye, deduces that his friend Ikemefuna is dead.
Death in Achebe literature is definitive, a way of putting to rest the place and role of a character. You see it also in the dramatic death of Okonkwo through suicide.
Bessie Amelia Emery Head (6 July 1937 – 17 April 1986) was a South African writer who, though born in South Africa, is usually considered Botswana’s most influential writer. She wrote novels, short fiction and autobiographical works that are infused with spiritual questioning and reflection.
Head was born in 1937. Her mother was a member of a prominent family, suffered from mental illness, and was white, while her father was a black servant in her maternal family’s household. Their relationship was illegal in South Africa at the time of Head’s birth, and she was sent into foster care as a baby.
Head trained to become a teacher and taught for a few years, but her true passion was found in writing. Along with writing for various newspapers in Cape Town, Head developed an interest in South African politics, something that eventually led to her being arrested.
Head’s life was constantly in a state of flux. She suffered from a depressive personality, and she often experienced financial problems. Head married her husband Harold Head in 1961, and they had a son, also named Harold, in 1962. Soon after, her marriage was on the rocks, and when she and her son were given visas for neighbouring Botswana, Head left her marriage and South Africa for good to teach in Serowe.
There, Head taught and worked on a farm, gathering information for her books. She gained citizenship 15 years after moving to Botswana, and was considered a refugee until that point. Towards the end of her life, she began to exhibit signs of mental illness. She died in 1986 at the age of 48 as a result of hepatitis.
Biographer Gillian Eilersen describes Bessie Head’s last couple of years in a moving way. It is said that Bessie started to work on her biography. She said she needed a year to work on it. Meanwhile she would walk down to the Off Sales store on the main road and buy six cans of beer.
Then she would walk up the hill to her home. By the time she arrived, she would have drank four of them. Although she was no serious drinker her liver was seriously affected. Brandy and gin began to gain control over her.
By March 1986 she was drinking about a bottle a day. Her skin became yellowish. At the hospital the doctors diagnosed hepatitis and wished to admit her but Bessie refused. She got medication and strict orders not to touch alcohol.
On the 16th of April 1986 she became very weak and collapsed. An ambulance was called. In hospital, she went into a coma. Her liver was not functioning. There were suggestions to fly her to a Harare hospital but she died soon afterwards.
Bessie Head was buried at the Botolaote cemetery as she had requested. It is a sandy and dusty place overlooking the Serowe plain with a broad, sweeping vision. “I wonder what profound statement I’d make to God the day I die.
I mean that last despairing statement about waiting and waiting to simplify one’s life and all the time it was a tangle of evil,” Bessie Head once said.
Many of Bessie Head’s works are set in Serowe, such as the novels When Rain Clouds Gather (1968), Maru (1971), and A Question of Power (1973). The three are also autobiographical; When Rain Clouds Gather is based on her experience living on a development farm, Maru incorporates her experience of being considered racially inferior, and A Question of Power draws on her understanding of what it was like to experience acute psychological distress.
Who will speak on behalf of Basotho?
A clash was reported to have taken place a few weeks ago between police officers, on the one hand, and an MP and his bodyguards, on the other, was always inevitable. It is a direct result of arrangements where people we have lent power to represent us in Parliament now use that power to come up with schemes by which they and their bodyguards should be exempted from equal treatment, and be treated differently from the rest us.
This conduct is anti-seMohlomi, and anti-seMoshoeshoe. And so are many other behaviours we have seen perpetrated by our MPs.
We can expect that those who behave this way will not stop at violation of road traffic laws but will go on to carry contraband in ‘MP’ registered vehicles, and claim exemption from police searches when confronted by the police.
The principle of ‘equality before the law’, and the principle that we should all be treated the same, is a fundamental requirement for the maintenance of social order. MPs who ignore, or violate, it are sources of social disorder. Such MPs have to be regarded as enemies of social order in Lesotho. They should bear in mind that they are opposing society when they oppose the police’s attempts to enforce the law.
We should all obey traffic laws. And, we should all stand in long queues for poor services at the Passport and Traffic Offices. Otherwise, if those we have voted into power use that power to exempt themselves and their bodyguards from poor public services, MPs will have no incentive and interest to work for improved quality of public service.
The failure by MPs and governments to address problems of poor public services is an important reason why everyday many Basotho cross into South Africa in search of better education, better medical services, and lower prices of basic necessities. That traffic includes cars which bear red registration numbers ferrying Lesotho public officials to South Africa for better services.
As always, MPs, Ministers, and other public servants will probably be exempted, or expect to be exempted, from the torment that comes with the new customs regime agreed by Revenue Services (SARS) and Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL), and implemented at RSA-Lesotho border posts. Exemption of officials and MPs will mean that they will have no interest, nor incentive, to lessen its toll on Basotho.
The new regime started early in August 2023. To educate travellers about it, the RSL staff at the Maseru border have been giving people leaflets that explain the new procedures.
Even before this new regime, and others that came before it, many people have always been suspicious that a lot of what people who enter Lesotho go through is not in the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) Agreement. For example, it is known that the Agreement is supposed to ensure that citizens of SACU member-countries do not pay tax on a similar item in more than one SACU country. In other words, citizens of SACU member-states should not be taxed twice, or more, for the same item within the SACU area.
But because of the bureaucracy that has been imposed on customs processes at the Lesotho-South Africa borders, many people fall victim to some bureaucratic detail, or other, and end up paying tax in South Africa and Lesotho for a similar item, or service.
In the new regime agreed by RSL and SARS, RSL officials tell us that we are supposed to stamp all receipts of value of M250, and above, at SARS. They say this while distributing a leaflet that says the threshold is M10 000.
For the M250 receipt to be stamped, you need to submit to SARS copies of pages of your passport showing your address in Lesotho, and showing dates on which you travelled to and from South Africa. The implication of this is that if you carry a South African passport you cannot bring groceries into Lesotho for reasons including the fact that Lesotho government cannot claim tax from South Africa on such goods. It is unclear what will happen to a South African tourists coming to Lesotho who might be refused permission to enter with their food.
As said, the requirement that we should stamp M250 receipts at SARS is not on the leaflet RSL officials are giving to travellers. Extraordinarily, RSL officials admit this.
So, at the expense of our time, and standing in receipt-stamping queues that will inevitably grow longer and longer, we are being forced to adhere to a requirement which is nowhere in the official papers.
Has the new regime been negotiated and agreed to by RSL officials alone, or is the government aware of the unreasonable measures that we have to comply with?
It must be said that, at least, for now, the RSL staff remain very helpful, and seem to acknowledge that requirements they are expected to enforce are unreasonable.
It seems nobody thinks of us when government and officials agree to onerous customs measures at our border posts. In part this is because, again, those we have lent power to represent us use that power to exempt themselves onerous procedures that they negotiate and agree to.
We need people who think of us when they negotiate customs and other agreements. Basotho need somebody who can speak on their behalf.
Prof Motlatsi Thabane
Developing close reading skills
One of the most important skills in adeptly dealing with comprehension-related questions lies in your acquisition and refining close-reading competencies and strategies. The word comprehend means to understand, to fully grasp the essence of a text. When you comprehend a text you will take in, as it were, all the elements of a text, you nibble in, to speak using metaphors, your teeth into the heart of the text. You savour the text, immersing yourself in the texture of the text.
Close-reading involves deep observation and critical analysis of a text or comprehension passage. Close-reading strategies demands that the reader of a text pick even the salient nuances of a text, he or she must take in all the hues and details of a text which are not mentioned directly in the text. This skill takes time to hone, but with constant practice and hard work, it can be done. Let’s do that in a practical way. We are going to focus on a very small extract depicting how one aspiring ironman trained rigorously to realise his dream and the social and emotional toll the training exerted on the man and his family and how, finally he won, much to the happiness and excitement of his family. Here is the extract, as you read, please focus on the use of language to create meaning and effect. Let’s try to discern the feelings of the writer when her husband, eventually became an ironman.
“Because it’s there,’ I’d snarl to anyone who dared question why any sane mortal would tackle an Ironman. I enjoyed mercilessly shaming his less-than-supportive business partner into recognising the potentially boundless benefits of Sam’s well-publicised adventure for their newly-established, fledgling travel company. A flurry of online articles described me as ‘a runner married to a triathlete’ – it took me a few moments to recognise our family and beam with immeasurable pride.
Our son missed having Dad around at the weekends, especially if he woke up after Sam had left to train on a Saturday when sometimes there were tears. But he got used to the different dynamic. He was given an ‘Ironman’ superhero toy as a birthday gift by some relatives and immediately started making it swim, bike and run! The poor child thinks that this is how normal families operate.
Having said all that, watching Sam emerge god-like from the water, power past us on his bike and rocket down the finishing chute, head held high as our kids cheered with the crowd – utterly incredible and intoxicating, one of life’s rare pinnacles of perfection. It had been an epic journey for all of us. I’m so glad we did it. And next year? Well yes, it’s my turn.”
Have you seen how this extract is written in a very captivating way; it colourfully depicts the writer’s feelings of extreme excitement and euphoria when Sam completed the race successfully. The words, “having said all that” are colourful and conclusive. Before these words were uttered, the narrator was expressing her dissatisfaction about Sam’s involvement in sport and how demanding it was emotionally, physically and financially. But, now, the words show that the success overwhelmed even the sentiments or expressions of dissatisfaction registered earlier. One can also see that the writer is overwhelmed by pride and celebration at the success of her husband and she and the entire crowd were immersed in an “intoxicating” experience. Beer intoxicates, so the writer uses this word as a word picture to graphically show the intensity and pervasive nature of the happiness generated by Sam’s victory — it is as if they were overdrunk with the sense of success and accomplishment. Sam’s win evoked all those rare moments in life when all seems to be perfect and in its place; that is why the writer used the words, “life’s rare pinnacles of perfection” just to express that.
Have you also noticed how the writer uses a lot of word pictures to describe her reactions about people’s views regarding her husband’s involvement in the ironman race? One such word, a word picture is “flurry.” The word explains the immensity as well as the amount of excitement and frenzy of publicity generated by Sam’s attempt to be the iron man. This word is apt in describing the writer’s admiration for her husband’s feat and the publicity and excitement generated.
Let’s now focus on another text, let’s focus on how the extract reveals why people hate snakes as a result of the misconceptions they have about them. But notice how the writer arguably writes to endear us to the world of snakes and some of their very positive attributes. Let’s nibble at the text of the extract.
“In the United States, for example, public outcry based on fear and misinformation recently halted a scientifically sound conservation plan for timber rattlesnakes. Another project at the same location that involved releasing eagles was embraced by the community. Rattlesnakes are no less important than eagles. In fact, they may help reduce the incidence of Lyme disease, which affects thousands of people each year, by reducing the number of rodents that harbour this disease. But emotions override facts, it seems, where snakes are concerned. Snakes play an integral role in maintaining balance in the ecosystem – in most ecosystems on earth, snakes can be both predator and prey. When a large prey-population attracts and sustains a large snake population, those snakes become prey for birds, mammals and even other snakes! As predators, snakes keep prey-populations in balance. Snakes provide an easy, environmentally friendly, free and natural pest-control service. But snakes are worth saving not because of what they can do for us, but because of who they are. Snakes share many behaviours with us, behaviours we value. They have friends. They take care of their kids and even their friends’ kids too. Want to help us change how people view and treat snakes? Visit the World Snake Day website.”
While you were still reading, I hope you saw that this is a really captivating text. It focuses on the misconceptions and lack of information we have about snakes, which information gaps lead us into hating snakes without reason. True, snakes are predatory but they also serve an important function in balancing the ecological balance.
Snakes are not that bad, too; and like us humans, they make friends, protect their young ones and the young ones of their friends. Pretty amazing to learn that snakes, too, have friends.
So the point is that there are a lot of falsehoods and misconceptions about snakes and their true habits and functions within the ecological sphere. Often times, they are shown to be cruel, bloody predators that kill in cold-blood. But snakes are also victims from birth and other creatures. Snakes are a natural means to curb diseases which are brought about by rodents. Thus, snakes help in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. Snakes are relational and friendly.
Let’s now hone close-reading skills a little more. In the following extract, the writer beautifully describes her experiences of meeting snakes in their natural habitats in the rainforest and her excitement of seeing quite an exciting array of species. As you read, focus on the writer’s reaction to what she saw and how she is alive to the beautiful scenery around her and she captures that.
“Three hours later, returning from the trek, I felt bubbles of amazement and wonder rising. I’d seen gliding lizards fly effortlessly between trees, intricate dragonflies of infinite varieties and delicately etched, golden frogs. The overcast sky, saturated to the brim, had poured down heavily, drenching the forest, its native creatures, and the handful of humans who happened to be there. Thereafter began the frenzy of activities and sounds that engulfs the woods after a good rain – rhythmic sounds, musical, coordinated and orchestrated, and pleasantly deafening. Ah! My brimming heart and soothed soul enjoyed restful sleep in the tent that first night. Bonfires and loud music are prohibited to avoid any disturbance to animals and hygienic common bathrooms (with hot-water facilities) were appreciated. Everyone was expected to wash their own plates and glasses after every meal. We were encouraged to separate organic waste into the respective dustbins before retiring each night. All inorganic waste went back with you.”
You have picked words which convey meaning so aptly and beautifully. I liked the expression and the choice of words. The phrase, “bubbles of amazement” is so colourful and this is a word picture which shows or reflects the intensity of the writer’s excitement and frenzy at experiencing the tranquil and pleasant experience of being in a rainforest teeming with a vast array of species.
Here we are! Mastering close reading skills is a journey, but an exciting one, which allows you to immerse yourself in the text and allows you to feel all the juicy aspects of the text, as it were.
Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school. Send your comments and questions to: email@example.com.
The significance of BRICS for the African continent
In the pioneering work titled “Building Better Global Economic BRICs” (Global Economics Paper No: 66), Lord Jim O’Neill, then Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs, introduced the term BRICs, referring to the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. These nations’ economies were experiencing rapid growth, fuelling discussions about their potential to collectively shape the global economy by 2050. In the spirit of this vision, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China convened for the first time in July 2006, on the sidelines of the G8 Outreach Summit in St Petersburg, Russia. This marked a pivotal moment in cementing the idea of forming a consortium of burgeoning economies.
Subsequently, the Foreign Ministers of these countries assembled in New York City in 2006 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and embraced the term “BRIC” as originally coined by Lord Jim O’Neill. On June 16, 2009, the inaugural ‘BRIC’ Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Later, South Africa was granted full membership in September 2010 during a BRIC Foreign Ministers meeting on the fringes of the UN General Assembly. This led to the alteration of the acronym to BRICS. Building on this progress, South Africa participated in the Third BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, on April 14, 2011.
BRICS is firmly anchored in the principles of mutual respect, sovereign equality, inclusivity, consensus, and strengthened collaboration. The foundation of BRICS rests upon three pivotal pillars: political and security cooperation, financial and economic collaboration, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. These pillars serve as a robust framework for guiding the alliance’s interactions and ensuring its enduring viability. This sentiment is particularly pronounced as the 15th BRICS Summit, slated for August 22-24, 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa, convenes under the theme “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.”
Drawing from the World Bank data from 2022, the combined population of the five BRICS nations stands at 3.27 billion, constituting 41.1% of the global population. These countries’ cumulative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2022 is valued at 25.92 trillion, accounting for 25.8% of the world’s GDP. In contrast, Africa’s total population across its 55 countries is estimated at 1.4 billion, representing 17.5% of the global population. Africa’s overall GDP amounts to approximately US$3.0 trillion, contributing 2.7% to the global GDP.
The African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook for 2023, underscores Africa’s abundant natural resources — oil, gas, minerals, land, sunlight, wind, and biodiversity —whose potential remains largely untapped and undervalued. The report highlights Africa’s trillion-dollar investment potential in the climate and green growth sectors, offering a promising avenue for private sector involvement.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) BRICS Investment Report for 2023 reveals that the BRICS economies collectively account for 18% of global exports and approximately $250 billion in foreign direct investment outflows. Notably, the BRICS nations have emerged as significant investors in Africa, with a particular focus on industrial and service sectors, as confirmed by the Africa Development Bank’s Briefing Note titled “Africa and the BRICS: A Win-Win Partnership?” (2003).
Moreover, the BRICS countries have expanded their presence on the continent in terms of foreign direct investment, outpacing traditional partners such as the United States and Europe. This emphasis on harnessing natural resources and boosting agricultural production is also underscored by the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (UNECA) Report “BRICS/Africa Partnership for Development” (2014).
Leveraging their substantial economic potential, the BRICS nations are optimally positioned to support Africa’s aspirations under the AU Agenda 2063. These countries play a pivotal role in driving investments in natural resource beneficiation, manufacturing, and industrialisation across the continent. They also provide strategic impetus for enhancing productivity and competitiveness, especially within the agricultural sector, through consistent investment efforts.
The emergence of the BRICS New Development Bank offers an alternative to the Western-dominated multilateral financial institutions, which have historically contributed to Africa’s infrastructure development at a gradual pace. This bank holds the promise of financing comprehensive infrastructure projects across the continent, thereby enhancing connectivity through rail, maritime, air routes, and information and communication technology — an aspiration cherished by the African populace.
A symbiotic partnership between Africa and BRICS has the potential to elevate Africa’s status as a significant player on the global stage. This partnership extends to bolstering Africa’s role in global governance structures, including institutions like the United Nations and Multilateral Financial Institutions. The expansion of BRICS to encompass additional nations, including those from Africa, is poised to inspire African countries to assume greater responsibility for funding their sustainable development endeavours.
This approach empowers African nations to form alliances with developed countries that squarely address the continent’s priorities for sustainable growth and economic transformation. Most notably, the BRICS initiative lays the foundation for a multipolar world, contrasting the prevailing unipolar influence exerted by the US and the G7 countries (Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, UK, and the US). This envisioned multipolar world rests on principles such as mutual respect, sovereign equality, inclusiveness, consensus, and fortified collaborations. The International Monetary Fund, Economic Outlook (April, 2023) reveals that the population of the G7 countries is around 776.55 million representing 9.7% of the global population. The GDP for the G7 countries is around US$42.92 trillion representing around 30% of the world GDP.
In a recent interview with Africa Business in June 2023, Lord Jim O’Neill, the visionary behind BRICS, shared his perspective on the future of BRICS and its implications for Africa. He astutely remarked, “the notion that the group of seven ‘industrialised’ or ‘more developed’ or ‘early developed’ (G7) nations can single-handedly govern the world is disconcerting, given their diminishing share of the global GDP. Moreover, the G7 often finds itself aligned with the desires of Washington (US). How then can these select few address the world’s most pressing challenges? This predicament highlights the raison d’être behind my conception of BRICS: to advocate for a more effective global governance model than what the G7 offers.”
It is for these reasons that the enduring partnership between Africa and BRICS embodies a shared commitment to sustainable development, economic growth, and the transformation of global governance structures. The collaborative approach rooted in mutual benefit, respect, and a multi-polar perspective has the potential to reshape the global landscape, ensuring a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.
Advocate Batlokoa Makong is a seasoned diplomat currently working for the African Union. He writes in his personal capacity.
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