What is it with African politicians and the politics of hate and violence?

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They say a society is judged by the way its leaders behave. The same measure can also apply with the way a society treats its most vulnerable.

French 18th century philosopher, Joseph de Maistre, said "Every country has the government it deserves" and "In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve."

Today, these words still ring true, especially for African politicians and leaders who love preaching hatred, violence and falsehoods.

My dilemma, in this case, is, however, where to pin the blame for such appalling and dangerous behaviour or pointing out its source. Could it be that Africans have been successfully colonised that even decades after we are free, we still harbour the deep-seated self-hate to the point that we are now responsible for our own destruction?

A bit of context perhaps. This week political analyst and South African Corruption Watch Chairperson Mavuso Msimang, likened the country’s third largest political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters’ leadership to abusers of democracy.

 Msimang was talking at an event celebrating journalism excellence, media freedom and democracy. 

Because the event was sponsored by one of the country’s telecommunications giant Vodacom, EFF supporters went on a rampage and looted a number of Vodacom stores in the country. 

Their bone of contention was why Vodacom had sponsored an event providing a platform where Msimang spoke ill of the EFF.

 Just last month the same political party again attacked that country’s public enterprises minister and EFF president Julius Malema called the minister a “dog”.

In Namibia, a deputy leader of a new political party that is not yet in the country’s Parliament, the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) held a placard with “Voetsek Hage Geingob Voetsek” inscribed on it. Hage Geingob is the country’s president and has differed with the LPM on the method or type of land redistribution direction the country should take. 

Voetsek is an Afrikaans word used when expressing disgust towards a dog. As noble as the LPM’s cause might be, I see no justification for the language of hate and violence they preach.

African politicians often defend themselves by insisting that it was merely political utterance and that it was meant metaphorically, but this week the EFF’s troops literally looted stores and declared war on Vodacom.

For those who have short memories, can I remind you that it was just two years ago when Rwandan academic Leon Mugesera was sentenced to life in prison? That was 24 years after his incendiary 1992 speech where he called the Tutsi minorities ‘cockroaches’. 

 The result was the death of 800,000 people in the 1994 genocide.

Yet African leaders continue to stand on podiums and preach the gospel of hate and violence towards their own brothers and sisters. 

Often what they shout about when attacking their own is born from falsehoods. 

Again I take from De Maistre who said: “False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.”

My question remains, have we been so successfully colonised that even when we have achieved self-determination, the only enemy we see is ourselves, just like how the colonisers conditioned us? 

We hate each other so much that it is our own who starve and have no access to medical care, education and dignified housing, while those who lead us are too busy inciting us to burn what little is left of our countries and societies to the ground.

 

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