Mwalimu George Ngwane
A war of Independence was fought by 17 sub-Saharan African countries in 1960 ostensibly with the flagship objective of overthrowing the colonial yoke that was foisted on them during the 1884-1885 Berlinisation. It was a war that culminated in 1994 in South Africa with the symbolic erosion of the institutional structures of apartheid. Any war that goes against the grain of structural prebendalism, any war that resonates with the legitimate aspiration of the oppressed, any war that buys into the liberation theology of self-governance and people-driven ownership is positive.
Unfortunately the modest gains of positive wars have hardly been consolidated in the continent fifty years after. On the contrary, the path from positive war to positive peace has been strewn with petals of negative peace, watered in most cases by structural violence and fettered in all cases by gradualist discourses to African Unity. According to a Global Peace Index survey carried out in 2009 among 31 African countries, 10 countries fall under the high Peace value bracket, 18 under the medium peace value and 3 under the low peace value. These statistics show that since the re-emergence of electoral democracy in the late 80s more African countries have suffered from conflict constipation (latent conflict) than those which have experienced conflict diarrhoea (open conflict). Countries undergoing conflict constipation, sometimes called islands of peace, are only glued by the fragile bond of an expendable citizenry and an insensitive leadership. The ingredients of panel-beaten constitutions, electoral delinquency, horizontal and vertical inequalities in wealth, domestic elite parasitism, party clientelism and fixation on identity-based polarisation underpin the island of negative peace. Yet beneath this island of negative peace lies the shifting sand of physical violence.
To circumvent the forces of negative peace, Africans, would have to, in the next nominal Independence years, execute a paradigm shift from Governance to Good-enough Governance and from electoral democracy to Democratic development. While Governance is about how power is achieved and dispensed, good-enough Governance focuses on humanitarian interventions hence the opportunity to address basic service delivery systems that are often in contestations among citizens. Good-enough Governance is devoid of the personalisation and perenialisation of power as well as the trappings of monarchical inclinations. It is informed by the African shared community vision called ‘ubuntu’ (South Africa), ‘pitso’ (Lesotho) and ‘m’bangsuma’ (Cameroon). While electoral democracy focuses on what happens during elections, democratic development goes beyond the vicious instrumentalisation of elections whose outcome is often politician-centred to embrace the virtuous cycle of non-traditional security issues that are citizen-centred. Added to these national values of positive peace is the battle cry for continental integration whose practical visibility has eluded the African people since
The Golden Jubilee Template
Africa is not pathologically tragic. On the contrary it has shown relative resilience in some home-grown and external predation. A few countries like Botswana and Mauritius offer beacons of hope for the continent by proving against the tide of Barack Obama’s speech, that a nation can have both strong persons and strong institutions. How these strong persons derive legitimacy and whose agenda they perpetrate, how these strong institutions are modeled and in whose interest they are fashioned and how African people can fast forward the gelling of their national economies into a supra-national pool constitute the fundamental Golden Jubilee Questions. That is why the template for commemorating fifty years of Independence of some African countries should be more in a palaver hut where Africans should dispassionately and without taboo zones, patriotically and without systematised victimisation, frankly without the ululation culture, explore the golden journey covered the day after Independence and the years after the Jubilee celebrations.