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The Post
ZAMBIA'S LEADING INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER

No. 861, THURSDAY EDITION, NOVEMBER 27, 1997

Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment:

End of Kamuzu

The demise of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda marked the passing the founding president of Malawi who was consigned to history's dustbin by the democracy tide that swept through the African continent in the 90s.

Dr. Banda will undoubtedly be mourned primarily for his efforts to free his people from colonial bondage and the founding of a modern African state.

But it will be even more fitting and only fair that his passing should mark the beginning of a more realistic appraisal of the motivation, character and achievement of his generation of leaders.

Against considerable odds and during a dark era they dared stand up to advocate independence and entry of African countries into the community of nations on equal footing and triumphed only to be swept away by the democracy tide.

Very little that is reasoned, truthfully, or charitable has been said about these leaders especially those like Dr. Banda who remained at the helm until the democracy tide and yet they were men of considerable vision, in their time.

They have been universally rivaled as dictators, thieves and corrupt oppressors of the same people they led out of colonial bondage. Those who have been more extravagant in their repudiation of them are today's patriots.

The denunciation has of course in all cases been encouraged and even spearheaded by the new leaders anxious to consolidate their positions and portray themselves as representing something very new to their countries and indeed Africa.

And Africa being what it is, the new largely untested leaders have been lionized by a population eager to be on the side of winners no matter their true measure.

In these circumstances truth is among the first casualties.

But even with this degree of sycophancy one thing is clear. It is that when the final evaluation is done they will be among some of Africa's most honest and well meaning leaders ever.

They certainly were less of mimics than the new crop. There is, in perhaps all cases, practically no evidence that the new generation of African leaders are any better than the men whose record they have made a vocation of denouncing.

Up to this point, it is clear many lack any original ideas. They are strong on mimicry, particularly of Western concepts. And Africans, for their own sake, should begin to question where this is leading to.

Africa's new helmsmen are too ready to turn a blind eye to the ravages their copy-cat policies have wrought on their people arguing very doubtfully that the current suffering is to ensure future prosperity!

Their brand of democracy does not go beyond the president, ministers and the ruling elite. For the opposition, any other dissenters and the people there is only thinly veiled oppression. Their "market-driven" economies have left all but the ruling class unemployed and uncertain about the future. Poverty has become pervasive.

They are the masters of opaque transparency. Their free and fair elections feature polling that is conducted in the dark!

The generation of Kamuzu fought for colonial emancipation, achieved that, built their countries from colonial backwaters where skin colour was decisive. Their policies had, as their main thrust, the empowering of the once dispossessed African people in all areas.

But the new leaders of Africa are selling everything they built for the people to imperialism. In some ways they are effectively presiding over the recolonisation of Africa. They have replaced the corrupt traditional chiefs who sold the continent for beads, spices and other trinkets.

There is nothing to be said about some of the founding fathers of course but not all were evil men with no feelings for their people. That is fact and there is need to re-look the facts for the sake of clarity about the future direction of the African continent.

Africa should allow itself to once more be taken for a ride by these much lionized new saviours - who are in fact hyenas and jackals - and their masters. Occasions like the demise of Dr. Banda should offer an opportunity for reflection about the past compared to the present and projecting into the future.

Failure to accurately read what is happening to this continent and blindly following whatever the new smart Alecks have up their sleeve will lead to a catastrophe of major proportions.

The truth may be that despite their shortcomings, Africa's founding fathers may have been more on the right tracks than the masters of mimicry who have replaced them.


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