The reference to Africa as a ‘country’ may perhaps be out of ignorance because we are 54 countries. But on further reflection, I think it is safe to say that we are a country because what happens in The Gambia equally happens in Ethiopia from a Political context. The characteristics are similar going from bad leadership, rigging of votes and corruption
Going through my old books and i fell on Dambudzo Marechera’s House of Hunger . I re-read a line i had underlined. It reads:
“The freedom we craved for – as one craves for dagga or beer or cigarretes or the after-life – this was so alive in our breath and in our fingers that one became intoxicated by it even before one had actually found it…”
Marechera was, of course, talking about the student movement (or rather, the mood of students) in Zimbabwe pre-1980 (the year that Zimbabwe got her independence).
Marechera wrote House of Hunger in 1978, towards the end of the Second Chimurenga. What I like about this particular passage is that it speaks to the situation in Uganda and Many African states. The freedom that our people craved for, the excitement that our people had before colonial times about freedom, intoxicated us. We had such high expectations.We thought democracy would mean a lot We thought poverty would be history. We thought we’d achieve genuine equality.
Fast forward, looking at the post independent States and how they are organized politically, it’s safe to conclude that the excitement and aspirations were lost at the altar of leadership.
Liberation Movements and Coups; Upon grant of independence,many states were divided along ethnic lines and failed to agree on a way forward as dictatorship and other vices set in. This led to the start of Liberation movements which reasoned that the post independence governments were didn’t lead the people on the democratic principles and rule of law.
The contradictions; Most of Africa’s liberation Movements turn out worse than the so called bad governments they overthrew. Just found myself re-reading the speech that comrade Joshua Nkomo made at the funeral of ZIPRA Commander, comrade Lookout Masuku, in 1986. He makes a profound point about how a liberation movement that fights for the independence of a people can transform into becoming the oppressor that it defeated, and at times even commit worse atrocities than the oppressor. This made me think on a more general level about how as human-beings we so often fight monsters only to become exactly like them. In other words, that is how ZANU had turned into the oppressor overnight. There are a plethora of examples to mention in Africa so when we say that Africa is a country, we are pointing out what went wrong.
Lastly on the Armed Forces in African states,they are used to beat up and shoot at the government opposition. Iam reminded of the poignant words,
“When you are carrying arms that can spit fire and death, and when you receive orders standing to attention in front of a flag without knowing who will benefit from this order or these arms, you become a potential criminal who is just waiting to spread terror around you. How many soldiers are going around such and such country and bringing grief and desolation without understanding that they are fighting men and women who argue for the same ideals as their own? Children of workers who see their parents going on strike against reactionary regimes, join the army and accept to fight for the reactionary leaders. So a soldier without any political or ideological training is a potential criminal…” – Thomas Sankara, The Upright Man. So looking at the Tigray region in Ethiopia and Uganda and how armed forces have shot and killed innocent people, the #ENDSARS in Nigeria, it is safe to say that Africa is a country.