A wish for all comes from the most eminent Pan- Africanist, Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, the General-Secretary of the Global Pan African Movement (Kampala, Uganda) and Director of Justice Africa (London, United Kingdom):
In less than 48 hours it will be the beginning of another year, 2005. It is customary to look back at the outgoing year and also speculate about the coming one. Many habitually make New Year resolutions most of which are often broken in the first seconds of the year while others remain unfulfilled in the course of the year. The fact that they had made many in preceding years without fulfilling them never deter people from making new ones. That just shows us how old habits die hard but also how human beings remain hopeful about the future even if sometimes it is hoping against hope! Hope keeps us going. To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr, faith may not move mountains but it may give us the courage to climb it. Therefore my motto for the New Year in Africa is to continue to adhere to that hopeful line made most popular by the foremost of Dr king's political heirs, the Rev. Jesse Jackson: 'keep Hope alive'.
In Africa (and sadly much of the world) the outgoing year may not have given us much to be
hopeful about the coming year but then we are often too critical of ourselves. We concentrate too much on the half emptiness of a half filled glass. That psychological hang up on the negative side of things have made many of us vulnerable to Afro Pessimism believing the gloom and doom that surround us are there to stay whatever we do. Many Africans will even argue that 'it is our fate'.
An old friend of mine once justified this fatalism by challenging me to look around from the Tamils of Srilanka to the Aborigines of Australia, to the lot of Black peoples whether in the Americas or Europe or across Africa itself and explain to him why Africans or people of African origin or people who are black, are disproportionately represented among victims of oppression, the desperately poor, the underclass and the marginalised. My spirited attempt to convince this gentleman that there are poor (many billions of them across the world) and marginalised peoples of every colour, creed, and gender and in all countries and all continents did not persuade him. As far as he could see the darker you are anywhere in the world the worse it becomes whether in Brazil or Sudan!
The empirical, anecdotal and popular evidence support my friend's case even if they do not offer us any explanations. The most brutal of these realities must be the fact that the majority of Africans on the African continent where we are the absolute majority remain desperately poor
while inhabiting one of the richest continents on Earth. This harvest of doom from natural boom and little from plenty makes it very difficult to challenge the superficiality of many Afro pessimists. How can one explain this sad reality without becoming apologist to the status quo! If we are victims in countries where we are minorities while it is unacceptable it may be understandable. But why are we still victims in countries where we are the majority and supposedly people like us are the ones running the show? What have we done to deserve a succession of leaders who prefer to see us perpetually on bended knees and laid prostate?
Even many people who are committed reformers or revolutionaries fall victim to the negative Psychological hang over by anchoring their ideology and politics around negative definition of self. We were anti Colonialist, then became anti-imperialist, later anti-capitalist, now anti-globalisation and permanently anti-this or anti-that. We spend so much time defining ourselves in antiism that we tend to forget what we actually stand for. This extends to our interpersonal relations where we only talk in terms of what I don't like about X or Y is A-Z without looking at the few good things that we may like or potentially likeable in the person or persons. It is a debilitating alienation that alienates us from all our institutions and anything African.
This condition privileges none Africans in African affairs. It is not just ordinary citizens that suffer this affliction. Many of our governments and leaders suffer it too. And I am using the word 'Leaders' in a very broad sense rather than the narrow sense in which it is commonly used to mean the President, Ministers or their spouses! When these leaders talk of experts, consultants, investors, Development partners, etc, they often mean none Africans.
Yet whatever outsiders are doing or can do for Africa, will be miniscule and can only be complementary to whatever we can, should and must do for ourselves. We must keep our own hopes and dreams alive and work towards their realisation. If others wish to buy into them that will be good but With or without outsiders we must restore hope to ourselves, confidence in our abilities and faith in our own Peoples.
Let this be the year in which you and I restore hope in us, Africa and Africans. It should be one in which we 'light a candle' instead of always 'complaining about the darkness'.
Happy New Year