Category Archives: Reflections on Africa

Extending the conversation: #BringBackOurGirls

When you are black in the United States of America, the issue of race is usually lingering at the back of your mind. There are often those ‘quiet’ long periods of a false ‘post racial’ America, especially since the election of President Barack Obama, where one might be tricked into believing all is well. These are those instances where no major race issues are on our radar and we retreat, at least momentarily, into believing we are all the same. But then there are often those times where race issues seem to be ‘on steroids’ and partly because of the role played by the media. These tend to be instances where our 24 hour news cycle is reporting on ‘extreme’ and ‘caught on camera’ racial issues and there is outrage on why and how we could still be living in the times of Jim Crow and the likes.

To provide a timeline example, one might think about the Trayvon Martin case, and  the time between that and the events of these past couple of weeks. These include the Donald Sterling case which reminded us of the stereotypical stances on black talent and the discriminative housing policies, the Cliven Bundy case and how law enforcement works different for different races, racist tweets about PKSubban centered on ‘white’ sports, Fortgang’s essay on  ‘checking privilege, Melissa Harris-Perry on our collective duty to raise children,  to name just a few.  All of these cases illustrate the multifaceted nature of racism.

I would like to extend the race conversation, particularly in the wake of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign and try to place it in the African context where in most countries ‘race’ is not really considered as an issue. Many of us come from countries where we, as blacks, are the majority, and besides South Africans, with no history of any official racial policy. This gives a certain false idea that race does not matter or that the absence of non-state sanctioned discrimination means that everyone is treated the same. However, this could not be far from the truth, and I would argue that it might even be more dangerous. There is a difference in black identities and my conversations with fellow Africans over the years and especially over the last month have demonstrated this.

Looking back at the history of most African countries, we see  the North-South divide and the unequal development that has taken  and continues to take place, we know of the space and role of the colonial legacy and also of the role  played by our ‘home brewed’ discriminations. According to Amnesty International, there is evidence that there is information that the Nigerian government knew about the kidnappings hours before it happened, and we know that Boko Haram has been causing havoc for a long time. Additionally, we can intelligently speculate that one of the reasons that no real action was taken by the Nigerian government is that the case involved females, Muslims and citizens of the country’srural north. In Botswana, we have certain groups that are dehumanized by  rather than using the human pronoun of the local word ‘mo’ in front of their group name,  the word ‘le’, used to denote an animal is used instead. An example would be instead of calling someone from the Kalanga group Mokalaka, the word  Lekalaka is used.

All the ideas and discriminations do shape public policy and thus dictate how we respond, or don’t, to a group of people. When we believe some groups are inferior, are not worthy or that they do not deserve the same benefits, regardless of whether we have it in writing or not, there will be consequences and actions.

Until we can look at our fellow country mates as humans, equal to us, we will always have these frictions and I believe its time we took a second look. We need to #BringBackOurGirls and everyone that’s been left behind.

Bose Maposa is a regular Bokamoso contributor. Read her short biography and previous  articles here.

The Black male-male love and intimacy rebellion: challenging black male hyper-masculinity and remapping manhood

The Black male-male love and intimacy rebellion: challenging black male hyper-masculinity and remapping manhood

Tweet By: Gcobani Qambela* “I want people to really understand the power of love and loving” – Jean Houston on Super Soul Sunday. I followed with rather surprised interest the American story and apparent controversy surrounding the gay marriage of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity member, Nathanael Gay to his partner Robert Brown, another man.Continue Reading

Arming Youth with Skills and Work: notes from the (Youth version of the) UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report

Arming Youth with Skills and Work: notes from the (Youth version of the) UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report

Tweet By: Gcobani Qambela* I spent much of 2012 researching from home in Lady Frere, rural South Africa. In the course of the year, two young males from our community committed suicide. I could not believe it the first time my mother informed me of the first suicide early in the year. I was takenContinue Reading

Resisting working ourselves to the bone: for black girls who’ve considered politics when being strong isn’t enough

Resisting working ourselves to the bone: for black girls who’ve considered politics when being strong isn’t enough

Tweet By: Siphokazi Magadla* In the past few weeks I have been raving to several friends on email, whatsapp, BBM, facebook and even at random dinner conversations about Melissa Harris-Perry’s book “Sister Citizen: shame, stereotypes, and black women in America/for colored girls who’ve considered politics when being strong isn’t enough” (2011). In this ambitious project Harris-PerryContinue Reading

Fostering Development: African Solutions for Africa?

Fostering Development: African Solutions for Africa?

Tweet By: Gilbert Omware* A cry rings out through the pages of time and the experiences of the present day. It is a call to arms and everyone in Africa must respond to this cry. We must respond with action and not only speech. We must respond with solutions for ourselves by ourselves. It alwaysContinue Reading

Political and Economic Power are key to Transformation

Tweet By: Reuben Dlamini* The domination of an organized minority… over the unorganized majority is inevitable. The power of any minority is irresistible as against each single individual in the majority, who stands alone before the totality of the organized minority. At the same time, the minority is organized for the very reason that itContinue Reading

Telling HERstory: Nomzamo Winfreda ‘Winnie’ Madikizela-Mandela and the politics of ‘celebration’

Tweet By: Gcobani Qambela*, Bose Maposa** and Nadia Ahmadou*** Writing on “Birthdays, Legacies, Love, Leadership: Letter to Nelson Mandela” Esther Armah in the Huffington Post takes us to Philadelphia in 1996 where Winnie Madikizela Mandela was the keynote speaker at the Million Woman March. Armah notes that some White American liberal women questioned the legitimacyContinue Reading

Innocence of Muslims, Protests and All things anti-Islam

Innocence of Muslims, Protests and All things anti-Islam

Tweet Anyone not living under a rock must have come across news reports, articles and videos about the 14 minute trailer to the film: Innocence of Muslims[1]. News headlines and reports have not only covered the controversy around the film and its release, but have debated on the link between this movie and the sparkContinue Reading

Governance of Security in Post-Hegemonic World: defining a normative role for Africa

Governance of Security in Post-Hegemonic World: defining a normative role for Africa

Tweet   By: Thembani Mbadlanyana*  The demise of a bi-polar world inaugurated an astounding change in global geo-politics. Much of the post-Cold War period has been characterised by a dismissal phase of declining prosperity, increased insecurity and incomprehensible complexities and as such, considerable attention has been given to issues of global governance and security. ThisContinue Reading

Audacity of Peace: ‘Boko Haram’ and the Plight of a Nation

Tweet By: Steve Arowolo* I grew up in the North Central part of Nigeria, in an area that is predominantly populated by Muslims. This is because my father, an Anglican church elder had reason to live and work amidst people of different religious and ethnic orientation. Growing up was peaceful and I am filled withContinue Reading