Decolonisation of Africa will require more than the dismantling of statues of prominent colonial personalities. Foremost and importantly, it will require the decolonisation of the African mind.

Decolonisation of Africa will require much more than the dismantling of statues of prominent colonial personalities and embarking on the renaming campaign of African places and sites. But foremost and importantly, it will require the decolonisation of the African mind.

Those both in and outside Africa, motivated by the ongoing dismantling of statues of notorious White slave traders and/or owners like Edward Colston and notorious colonial figures such as Cecil Rhodes across Europe and North America, and as such, are agitating and calling for the decolonisation of Africa by dismantling similar statues, re-naming roads, streets, buildings, water bodies and many more things named after colonial figures across Africa; should remember and consider that African institutions, such as governments, the military, police are colonial institutions (structures) through and through. Not to forget, of course, Christianity and the education system and their impact on the African mind.

If they must, and before they knock down and dismantle statues, they must ask themselves: Which one is more (directly) harmful to them today?

The inanimate statues of White colonial figures or the[ir] colonial institutions?

What about that colonially educated African mind; the fountain of a colonised African?

One could even stretch it further and contend that an African (today) is a symbol or, without being obnoxious, a human statue of colonialism; a living reminder of colonialism in Africa and how it’s perpetuated through an African and the African mind.

It leaves one wondering and therefore, asking:

which colonial symbol or statue wreaks more havoc and poses more threat in Africa today?

Which one must be removed?

Where should the decolonisation process begin?

This is a question of form vs substance. Of reality vs hypocrisy.

Decolonisation in Africa will require much more than removing statues of colonial figures, renaming African streets, roads, buildings, water bodies and other many things named after colonial figures. Or even abandoning colonial so-called “Christian”, sometimes called “God’s” names and replacing them with “real” (whatever that means) African names.

That Africans, unquestioningly, feel the need to carry and still carry (give their children) what they call “religious” names, is proof that the African mind is a colonised mind.

I am yet to meet a White European – French, English, German et cetera – with an African (generic) name for the same or similar reason[s], especially religious ones, Africans have European (or White people’s) names for.

Removing statues of colonial figures, renaming African streets, roads, buildings, water bodies and other many things named after colonial figures will not, except perhaps for the superficial joy and victory of it, have any significant effect on the African mind. Because the colonised, i.e, colonially educated African mind is where it all lies.

The colonised, i.e, colonially educated African mind is the temple of the evil it purports to fight by attacking and with great joy, crushing the insignificant vestiges of its physical form, while with great zeal and pride, protects its cradle and maintains (perpetuates) its purpose by going through the process of formation (education) that makes it possible to easily recreate that which has been destroyed out of impulsive anger and reaction for momentary victory.

It’s akin to winning a fierce battle at the battlefield, after displaying and exhausting your tactics, strategies and weapons, weakening yourself while giving your enemy chance to know you- all you’ve got- inside and out. And the enemy goes on, thereafter, to win the war, with much ease despite having lost a fierce battle to you, for which you celebrated as if it was the final and defining battle to win the war.

Decolonisation in Africa will require, foremost- and fundamentally, the re-evaluation of (and if, possible, formatting) and, importantly, taking back the African mind. The African mind must be unchained and reclaimed from the chains of colonialism. The African mind is walking with colonial chains on but it has been thoroughly trained (educated) to accept and cherish the chains as its freedom.

Equally important, decolonisation in Africa and of the African mind will require the decolonisation of the colonisers’ mind. White people’s minds, i.e, White people’s colonial and racist attitude towards Africans must change; without which, the coloniser and his/her colonising mind will always undermine the colonised African mind and its effort and achievements to decolonise itself. Especially, and this will be made possible by the fact that, the education of the colonised African mind, is the education of the coloniser. Therefore, friction due to perceived superiority and inferiority on the basis of colonial history and particularly its continued legacy of a colonial education, will always exist.

How oppression works and the mind of the oppressed

Oppression works best, and therefore is maintained and perpetuated when the oppressed, foremost, admire and aspire to the socioeconomic and political status of the oppressor. The oppressor sets best standards and the bar to which the oppressed measure themselves and hence aspire to achieve

The oppressed are made to see and define themselves and [their] achievement in and through the eyes and according to the standards of the oppressor. At that point, the oppressed have internalised and accepted [their] oppression. The rest, is simply procedural.

The oppressed may, and will oppose and fight oppression, no doubt, but what they oppose and fight is not its principle – that of exploitation of the oppressed – but the barriers it creates around itself, primarily to protect its privileges and maintain the status-quo. The oppressed want in on both implicit and explicit privileges of oppression; but without necessarily examining the source of such privileges; which is their own oppression. They do not pause to reflect on and/or question their own role in their oppression.

This is mainly because oppression “de-powers” and/or mentally decapitates the oppressed and robs them of critical abilities. It’s a tactical and strategic operation of oppression and the oppressor, to attack and severe [the] critical and mental faculties of the oppressed. Once this is achieved, it’s then used by the oppressor to justify oppression on a false morality grounded in faux humanity and humanitarianism as that proposed by Cecil Rhodes in his speech whilst making his case for “The Glen Grey Act of 1894“; his blueprint for economic apartheid.

Cecil John Rhodes had these words of false and foxy humanitarian kindness and concern “The natives are children, and we ought to do something for the minds and the brains that the Almighty has given them. I do not believe that they are different from ourselves.”

The oppressor, therefore, ensures that he/she becomes the standard of measure of achievement and aspiration. The oppressor seeks to colonise the mind of the oppressed, to build in it, the foundation and therefore the ability to accept and relate with its own oppression, as something necessary and with a justifiable cause, for which the same mind works to defend and perpetuate.

A colonised mind, therefore, is an oppressed mind. It matters not, and is of no consequence at all, whether the oppressor is physically present or not. The colonised mind will ensure it keeps itself in oppression. It will ensure its own oppression is maintained and perpetuated through thoughts and subsequent actions guided by the thoughts such oppressed mind processes. It oppresses itself because it has been trained to do so.

An oppressed mind has the ability to act as its own police. It does not need a superintendent; it’s its own and does a good job. This is why, in any oppressed society, the education and educational standards of the oppressed, are that of the oppressor. The purpose of such education is to colonise the mind of the oppressed and mould it into oppression, accepting its oppression by admiring and aspiring to its achievements; a cycle that will perpetuate oppression by and through self-oppression.

However, and importantly, the oppressor’s educational intention to the oppressed, is not to elevate the oppressed to the oppressor’s level. The primary intention and purpose is to aid “smooth” oppression – indirect oppression, that is, consciously happy self-oppressing minds.

As such, to avoid being swamped but also to defend the status-quo of oppression, the oppressor will regulate the entry requirements and standards into his/her territory, which the oppressed has already internalised and accepted as the measure of achievement and aspiration and therefore seeks to attain. When the oppressor regulates entry requirements, it then creates tensions between the oppressor and the oppressed. The oppressed become resentful; and the smug and brass neck arrogance of the oppressor, makes the oppressor fail to address the resentment of the oppressed.

It is this smug and brass neck arrogance of the oppressor, and the persistent but indefensible failure to address the resentment of the oppressed, that inevitably raises the consciousness of the oppressed to the callous nature and magnitude of their oppression, hence pushes them to rise up against their oppression. Oppression, therefore, is its own enemy. It’s inherently unsustainable primarily because it’s predicated on a weak foundation; that of building its own strength by weakening and subjugating its victims.

That’s generally an unsustainable model and approach to anything because strength and weakness are transitory. Nothing is built on the weakness, that is, by consciously weakening another, is sustainable. Nothing is built by consciously weakening other people, whether it’s one group of people within or outside a particular population, is sustainable unless the weakness in made permanent.

This may explain why a purported civilisation and all its historic and present achievements built on (a foundation of) oppression; and to protect and maintain all that, feels compelled to maintain the process of weakening the oppressed. The means are determined by the choice of operation.

Who built the US of America? The question on the powerlessness of the African-Americans to defend themselves from the brutality of the White American power structure.

At the risk of sounding crass (which is alright) and coming across; or being [deliberately] misconceived as insensitive (highly likely given the sensitivity of the matter, and therefore a bit concerned about the reactions) and ignorant [admittedly, I’m quite ignorant on this topic]; I will, nonetheless, primarily out of curiosity and therefore happy to be enlightened, say the following: the narrative that African-Americans or Americans of African descent “built the US of America with their free labour for nearly 400 years and therefore…”, importantly, “that gives them a legitimate claim to the US of America and its prosperity“, raises some basic questions that need to be candidly examined.

Because, if candidly examined, that might help explain the precariousness of the plight of the African-American life in the US of America.

Again, if examined candidly, it, in itself, may shade some light on the [real] value of African-American life in the pecking order of the American human [life] value system; in which, undeniably, African-Americans as a subset of the American society, have little to almost no control or say at all.

This is primarily because it’s also a system of power, that is, the acquisition, distribution and subsequent use and application of socioeconomic and sociopolitical power in the American society.

It also explains, and quite possibly because of it, why African-Americans are largely powerless – socioeconomically and socio-politically.

Who built the US of America?

There’s no doubt that Africans violently stolen out of Africa, taken and sold into the American system of human slavery, built the US of America, from the ground up, for free. They were the free human capital and provided forced free labour for many years.

The Africans stolen out of Africa, and sold into the American system of human slavery who built, beyond foundational levels, the US of America; are the ancestors of the many generations of African-Americans.

So, naturally, African-Americans are justifiably right to proudly contend that their ancestors built the US of America. Whether that contention alone, without necessarily denying its merits, justifies the claim that they’ve a legitimate claim on the US of America and its prosperity, is a complex subject of deep debate that can be explored separately.

But suffice to say, and acknowledge that [the] Africans who were stolen out of Africa and sold into the American system of human slavery, who are the ancestors of the African-Americans, and who built the US of America, were propertyless slaves, owned and treated like chattel by their white American owners. They had no rights whether on[to] their own lives or anything at all. Consequently, they had nothing of value and didn’t own valued property; instead, they were indeed property themselves whose only value to their owner was their free labour.

This could possibly be the root and historical background of the civil rights movements, which demanded for civil rights, to be treated as humans and not sub-humans.

But to examine the premise of the claim by African-Americans on the US of America and its prosperity; we must ask the following questions:

1. For whom did the enslaved Africans in the US of America, who are the ancestors of the African-Americans, build the US of America?

2. Under what capacity did the enslaved Africans in the US of America build the US of America?

3. If they built the US of America, which they undeniably did by, notably providing free labour; as slaves, that is, the property of their White American owners – who were the owners of American land: what claim did the slaves have on their masters’s property – land in this case?

4. What portion of the US of American land did slaves, of African descent, own?

5. How significant was it?

6. Was it passed on to their descendants?

7. What happened with/of it?

These questions are essentially about property ownership; and property ownership in the capitalist system is about and constitutes wealth and therefore economic power; economic power determines sociopolitical power.

African-Americans are woefully socio-politically powerless because they are equally woefully socioeconomically powerless. This is partly because they are too divided within themselves as a distinct sub-group of the collective US population; and majorly because of a compendium of other factors but mainly the way the socioeconomic and political system is structurally organised to disadvantage them severely; which is historically rooted in and therefore traced back to the political economy of the plantation and slavery.

It’s a vicious cycle of powerlessness, of an acute lack of the vital and foundational pillar of power in the capitalist system; that of wealth – economic power – and, consequently, lack of sociopolitical power.

The consistent gruesome brutality African-Americans suffer at the hands of the White American power structure, represented by the police on a federal and community level, is a direct result of their powerlessness as articulated above.

They have been historically and systematically made powerless to defend themselves from the brutality and injustices of the White American power structure deeply rooted in; and built by and on the enslavement of their ancestors.

The American slave system, which is the foundation and precursor of the White American power structure, views African-Americans in the same way it looked at their ancestors – stolen and taken out of Africa and sold into slavery in Americas. Consequently, the White American power structure still prefers to treat; and indeed treats them in the same manner.

Presidential [s]election in Burundi: lessons to regional politics.

The recently concluded presidential as well as National Assembly [s]elections in Burundi in which the ruling CNDD–FDD party candidate, Evariste Ndayishimiye, was [s]elected the country’s new President in what is likely to turn into a bitterly disputed landslide presidential [s]election, offer, from an outsider’s perspective, some crucial lessons, not least in regional politics.

What has happened in Burundi, that is, the seemingly “peaceful” transfer of power, questions of its credibility notwithstanding, is a turning point in the country’s politics and notably its democratic history.

It’s worth reminding that, according to results released by the country’s national election commission, the [s]elected President, Evariste Ndayishimiye, of the ruling party CNDD–FDD, is reported to have garnered 68.72 percent of the votes to secure a majority victory; while his main challenger, Agathon Rwasa, won 24.19 percent of the total votes cast.

Some might, and indeed will convincingly argue, and for their own expediency, will want and thus attempt to project the [recent] political events in Burundi as an exemplary and inspiring historic act of a “peaceful” and “democratic” transfer of [political] power, albeit, and more important to note, within the same ruling party CNDD-FDD.

Although what has happened in Burundi’s politics looks more like and is appropriately analogous to an organisational internal promotion process; especially promoting a current and active board member to a CEO position and hence transfer of power – organisational leadership – from a retiring CEO. But of course, without the external pretence of the public participating in a time as well as national (government) resources wasting voting process, only for external formality and, more common in Africa, for external validation; usually from western political powers.

The motive for Burundi’s, or more specifically President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ruling party CNDD-FDD to conduct the [s]election is rather unclear because, given the political circumstances – having isolated themselves from the outside world; they weren’t seeking external validation. They could have easily conducted the power transfer process and settled the matter internally, that is, within the party caucus and release a press communiqué to announce the subsequent changes in the power structures and national leadership. And the wheels on the CNDD-FDD bus would continue to go round and round, sans souci.

That said, many [voices] will and some have indeed begun to boldly claim, Burundi, more precisely the outgoing President, Pierre Nkurunziza – who will be remembered more for his public appearance and demonstrated devotion on his knees praying to the Christian God and his unassuming public demeanour – has set a historic political and “democratic” precedent not only in Burundi’s political and democratic history but right across the East African region, bar Tanzania.

The veracity of such claim is a serious if not a contentiously divisive topic of intense and equally divisive debate. But that’s rather a moot point, at least for now and the sake of the focus and interest of this piece.

The focus and a matter of interest here is Burundi and its [seemingly] democratically evolving internal political dynamics and its future democratic trajectory; at least on the outset, and from an external observer’s perspective.

Admittedly, the internal realities could well and shockingly be a world apart from and a complete contrast to what has, thus far, been carefully and successfully projected by the ruling party CNDD-FDD and its government. Politics of image and external perception management.

In fact, many are doubting the claim of a “peaceful” national [s]election in which accusations of widespread intimidation, coercion and downright brutality meted on voters by government security organs in the lead up to and during the [s]election day, have been publicly and loudly made. Notably by some prominent candidates contesting, if not simply playing [a] fools game, in an orchestrated national political [s]election process in which victory and the winner have long been predetermined by the ruling party, CNDD-FDD, and subsequently legitimising the charade.

It’s hard to dismiss such strong accusations given that the only information about the [s]elections was coming largely from news channels tightly controlled by the government which took extreme measures, in its attempt to control information flow, by shutting down social media platforms across the country.

The ruling party CNDD-FDD candidate and now [s]elected as the new President, Evariste Ndayishimiye, is said to have been handpicked by the outgoing President, Pierre Nkurunziza, as his right-hand man and therefore best to succeed him.

The incoming President, Evariste Ndayishimiye, will lead the country in which President Pierre Nkurunziza will undoubtedly – assuming and hopefully, the new President honours his pledge or “secret” contract with President Pierre Nkurunziza and there’s no a “João Lourenço – José Eduardo dos Santos” sudden turn of events after he consolidates power – play an important and active role of a “supreme guide to patriotism“.

Although it remains widely unclear what “supreme guide to patriotism” really means and, more importantly, how that role will actively play out into action with, if possible, meaningfully measurable and impactful outcomes, nationally and politically. Time is the best arbiter!

The concluded [s]elections in Burundi, however, may well have marked a critical turning point in the country’s political and democratic process; and hopefully, if it can be sustained, will have set the right political and democratic tone and path for the future.

Judged purely on the basis of Burundi’s recent political and democratic performance, it’s no doubt the country has achieved a significant milestone. Consequently, Burundi’s giant political and democratic milestone offers valuable lessons, not least in[to] regional politics.

The lessons and key takeaway from Burundi’s political and democratic milestone:

1. Burundi has demonstrated that, with political will and determination, a peaceful and democratic transfer of power is indeed a possibility. It remains to be seen whether or not Burundi’s peaceful and democratic power transfer is sustainable in the long-term and in the future.

2. Burundi has demonstrated that, such political will and determination lies and rests, by and large – especially in regional political context – in the hands of the incumbent political power structure (system), that is, both the individual at the top and the entire political network (system), undoubtedly with heavily vested interests and therefore motivated by and acting in self-interest, that support and constitute the political force around the individual at the top – the apotheosis of the system – representing and henceforth the face of the ruling system.

3. It’s often the collective competing interests of the individuals that constitute the ruling system, that make peaceful transfer of power an impossible feat. Threatened by the thought and possibility of losing their vested interests, nonetheless competing individually amongst themselves and internally, they coalesce to protect and fend off what otherwise to them is more than merely perceived but serious existential external threat, that is, peaceful power transfer.

4. “It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people who count the votes.” quote attributed to Joseph Stalin. What’s equally and interestingly realistic to consider is that it’s not only, if at all, those who count the votes that count, but who has the power to decide whether or not, and when to call for national [s]elections. Such power[ful force] has, usually, decided on the outcome of the [s]elections. And that is usually whoever has the power and control over the national [s]electoral commission and from whom it gets and therefore owes its mandate and power to act.

In regional political context, it is usually and undoubtedly the political party in government; which is, more often than not, the ruling and dominant political force. Consequently, this might help explain the outcome of Burundi’s national [s]elections, although it should not be used as the basis to attempt to diminish the overall and/or underlying political and democratic significance and the notable milestone achieved.

Powerful leaders, mostly in opaque political systems, are vulnerable to lies told by their most “trusted” aides and/or those they entrust with positions of “power” and “authority”

Powerful leaders, mostly in opaque political systems where such leaders form a dominant or indeed are the powerful central authority and the individual at the top, are more likely to be betrayed by lies they are told by their most “trusted” aides and/or those they entrust with positions of “power” and “authority” largely out of fear and, obviously, to protect their positions; power in other words.

Therefore, the chink in the armor of such powerful leaders, are the lies from and told by their most trusted aides and/or those they choose to surround themselves with and entrust with positions of power and authority.

Longevity in power for most powerful leaders in such political systems, depends largely on, and therefore requires the leader to be vigilant to such power manipulation tactics and; most importantly, be[come] a human lie detector. This is because the motivation for those close to and certainly in the service of such leaders to tell [them] lies, to embellish untruths or to exaggerate little truths is rather enormous.

It begins with the analysis and assessment of their [underlying] interests, particularly economic and power ambitions. Equally, it also requires the critical assessment of their positions – proximity to the leader, the competitive power dynamics involved in gaining access to the leader – and the privileges such positions accord them; which will be a great motivation to bend truth, embellish lies, manipulate data or, worse, fabricate “facts” or boldly tell outright lies. Not to mention manipulating the leader into their own world, perspective and view point by and through their lies.

If telling uncomfortable but necessary truth to power – the powerful leader in this case – risks and therefore means loss of their positions, the power and privileges that come with it; those who otherwise are in positions to tell and should be telling the powerful leader truth, will hold [themselves] back, at best.

They will hold back from telling the powerful leader what is otherwise necessary truth because it’s uncomfortable, and the discomfort caused to the powerful leader will likely mean, and result in loss of their positions (jobs), power and privileges. It’s a power conundrum!

But they have to tell the powerful leader something. They cannot be around the powerful leader, in their positions, without telling or saying something to the powerful leader. That would raise suspicion to the powerful leader, especially that a majority of such leaders are pathologically suspicious and live in fear of everyone, moreover those they choose to surround themselves with. It would also more likely come across, to the leader, as if they aren’t doing their jobs.

It’s a sticky situation indeed that requires clever and creative interpersonal and power relations skills. It’s a psychological game that requires and involves the manipulation of the mind. Lies are effectively easy to tell and since this is a psychological operation, lies are effective tools of such psychological operations.

This dilemma, therefore, creates an environment in which those who surround and/or are in the service of the powerful leader are literally forced to lie to the powerful leader because it’s safe and protects their positions, power and privileges from such borrowed power positions.

They are forced to fabricate truths just about anything and everything that will sound good, acceptable and welcoming, heck, even sweet, to the ears of their powerful and pathologically suspicious leader who obviously might have demonstrated to his or her flunkies, a strong aversion for anything that might smell or sound like truth. In and of itself, a behaviour that encourages the advancement of lies.

They are even willing to engage, and more often than not, they do engage in smear campaigns against anyone or among themselves, as long as it sounds good to the ears of the powerful leader; or gets them the attention of and endears them to the powerful leader and protects their positions and privileges.

So, telling porkies for those around and surrounding the powerful leader becomes not only a defensive mechanism but also a means, arguably cheap nonetheless, to endear themselves to the powerful leader for more favours and privileges. It becomes a means to an end, a survival mechanism.

It also becomes a competitive race among those, particularly close to and around the powerful leader but also attractive to those outside the realms of and not part of the small clique of people around and undoubtedly deep in the pockets of the powerful leader, with ambitions to get close to or win favours from the powerful leader.

The danger with this, however, is that such powerful leaders are sustained by a regimen of lies. The more lies they unconsciously attract and encourage to be told; the more they are led down a slippery slope by lies from and told by their “trusted” aides and those they appoint to (entrust with) key positions of power, motivated by the desire to protect and further their own interests and privileges that come with such positions.

Conversely, the more truth, even the slightest portion of it, is told; the more threat it poses to such powerful leaders and becomes their greatest enemy because it shakes and threatens their power edifices built on a foundation of lies. Because they know that when truth comes out, it’s game over!

If telling lies is profitable, and if they are motivated by keeping their children in private schools, enjoy publicly funded private health care and medical trips abroad (for those where that is applicable), subsidised housing, government funded or subsidised car schemes, transportation and fuel allowances, they and their relatives having access to lucrative government contracts and a whole host of other generous benefits in kind, then by all means, they will gladly lie in broad daylight sans souci – with a straight face.