20 March 2017

Africa Needs to Define Its Own Postcolonial Civilisation

Photo: Fid Thompson/IRIN
Young Senegalese get to practice their skills on the worksite of a historic colonial building in Saint-Louis (file photo).

We shouldn't be surprised that we have Helen Zille types to troll us about colonial gifts to civilisation. We have done demonstrably little to define a postcolonial civilisation worthy of its characterisation.

Helen Zille, a shining star in South Africa's liberal society, and a pioneer for the chattering classes, reminded us why freedom-loving Africans, and South Africans in particular, have their work cut out for them. When she charged out into the flammable ground of African worth, Zille dragged steel machetes sure to spark a blaze and to cut deep into our collective ego.

Certainly, it really isn't that she didn't know that she would. The issue is more about that she succeeded in such a dramatic way to distract us from important conversations. More important, if her ilk is to hand us any gift, it is that she may have inadvertently reminded us of the work we must do to build a civilisation quite far from what she thinks we must hold dear.

Why are we bothered that Zille believes that Africa is better for colonisation? What is it about her view that is so significant that it is so evidently wounding? The answer is simple. It is that...


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