18 June 2017

Africa: Oblique Angle - Soweto and the Quest for Freedom

Photo: Daily Vox
File photo of the Soweto uprising protesting Bantu education in 1976.

It is June 16, 1976 in Soweto, South Africa. Over 10,000 students are marching demanding quality education and the right to be taught in their own language.

The regime is not happy about this. Police officers descend on these innocent and unarmed children. They open fire. Tens of students are shot dead in cold blood. Almost a thousand are injured. Flashback.

Oppression breeds hatred. Segregation of whatever nature degrades human dignity. Oppression anywhere is oppression everywhere. Sarafina. "Freedom is coming tomorrow. They made us hate them".

Apartheid is long gone, at least in the manner we used to 'see' it. But, and this is a big BUT, has it really disappeared?

Considering how we run our governments in Africa--oppression and segregation by most administrations is still order of the day. This is coupled with corruption in its various forms--disregard for the constitution and laws, abuse of office, poor delivery of social services, limiting press freedom and freedom of expression and you name it. Do we care about the vulnerable in our society? Just check this detail from a Mwananchi Tuesday story. Between January and May, this year, a total of 101 secondary schoolgirls were impregnated in Ukerewe District, Mwanza Region.

District executive director Frank Bahati was quoted as saying that in the past two years, over 250 girls dropped out of school due to pregnancy. Out of this figure, 30 girls were from primary school level.

The district authorities, the story says, have initiated a crackdown on all those impregnating the girls. Parents too will be taken to task.

This week we celebrated the Day of the African Child. It was initiated in commemoration of the Black school children who were massacred as they held peaceful demonstration in Soweto, Johannesburg.

What happened in Soweto over four decades ago--infringing the children's right to a better future--is more or less the same as what is happening in Ukerewe and elsewhere in the country today.

Freedom is yet to come. Corruption is everywhere, or else how do we explain the Ukerewe saga? We have lost our cultural, social and moral values. Greedy has permeated every facet of our existence.

This is such that when a man looks at a girl/woman, all he thinks of is laying her. We're no longer responsible for our actions. May be we simply don't care so long as our personal, selfish interests are guaranteed.

Where do we start in rectifying this? First, we must redeem our minds from selfishness. Secondly, we must love our families. Thirdly, we must rediscover and appreciate our traditions, culture and values.

Fourthly, our religious leaders must do their job properly. Fifth, our politicians must make laws by considering the bigger picture of the interests of our society. Sixth, we must all obey the laws, none is above them.

Freedom is coming tomorrow!


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