ON THE RENAMING OF A UNISA WING TO “THE ROBERT MANGALISO SOBUKWE” WING
BY
PROFESSOR HERBERT VILAKAZI

(UNISA, PRETORIA, 24 APRIL 2014)

Chairperson of Council of the University of South Africa, Honourable Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mandla Makhanya, the Deputy-Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa, Justice Moseneke, the Mahlangu Family, the Sobukwe Family and relatives…

I stand here to utter some words on behalf of the Family of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, above all on behalf of Mrs. Veronica Sobukwe and on behalf of the children and grand-children of Mr. and Mrs Sobukwe.

It is proper to expect that all of you understand that this event, today, the decision of the University Council, of the Senate, of the Administration of UNISA, to rename the Vista Building the “Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Building”, touches a wound in the body, spirit, and mind of this Nation, a wound which has never been properly attended to, a wound which is still open and festering.
It is with all the more reason, therefore, for the Sobukwe Family, beginning with Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe himself, to his wife, children and grand-children, to show appreciation of the decision of the UNISA Community to rename one of its prominent buildings after the personal embodiment of the Pan Africanist Spirit in the history of this country. Your decision, as the leadership of UNISA, is appreciated, is courageous, is significant, as the beginning of making amends to a moral, historical and psychological wrong in the life of our nation.

Herodotus in his Histories tells us of a very peculiar element in the culture of Persians. He says that Persians consider that the worst thing that can happen to anyone is to tell a lie.

The principle extends from the life of an individual to the life of a society, and to the life of a civilization. Any individual’s life, any society, any civilization, whose foundation is built out of lies, is unhealthy, has no nobility, and cannot stand long. Any nation that does not honour its genuine heroes and heroines in all walks of life is not morally satisfying.

In February 1960 the then British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan appeared before the White Parliament in Cape Town, and delivered his famous “wind of change” address. It was an epoch-making address, which set a new agenda in Western Big Power politics with respect to African politics.

Macmillan warned White rulers everywhere, particularly in Africa, that the “wind of change” which was blowing across the Continent was African Nationalism. He stated forthrightly that the time for African Nationalism had come, whether or not we liked it.

The essence of African Nationalism was, course, the irrepressible desire of masses of Africans to chart their own course in history; to control their own economies and societies; to lead themselves; to use their cultures, languages, and traditions, as assets in the construction of the new Africa and satisfaction of their needs.

African Nationalism arose against the background of racism and degradation of the African human being, of African history, and of African culture. The presumption of African Nationalism was, and continues to be, the rejection of racism in all forms, and acceptance and implementation of the ideal of UBUNTU.
African Nationalism taught, as Sobukwe stated many times, that “there is only one race, the human race.”

African Nationalists simply insisted that Africa must be ruled by Africans, as the overwhelming majority of Africa; that the material economic resources of Africa must be controlled in the majority by Africans, and must be used for the development and benefit of masses of African people; all this is a means for the empowerment and realization of UBUNTU, for the benefit of “the only one race, the human race.”

Harold Macmillan’s “wind of change” speech rang throughout the Western World as a warning. Remember that this speech was delivered during the height of the Cold War between Western capitalism and Soviet Marxism.

Many of the foremost leaders of African Nationalism were neutral, with respect to joining either NATO, led by the United States, or the WARSAW Pact, led by the Soviet Union. Like India under Nehru, they were non-aligned, even though they were, like Nehru himself, “Socialists”. Quite a number of prominent leaders of African Nationalism professed “African socialism”, on the belief and assumption that traditional African societies were “communal” or “socialist”.

In South Africa, the most significant and inspiring leader of African Nationalism, during the 1940s, whose inspiration and ideas lived beyond his death, was Mzwakhe Anton Lembede. Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe, in truth, can be said to have picked up the leadership baton of Pan Africanism from Lembede.

Lembede openly announced that the ultimate aim of Pan Africanism was the creation of a United Socialist Africa. Sobukwe also announced that the ultimate aim of the Pan Africanist Movement was the creation of socialist society.

African Nationalism in South Africa became battered left and right by World Power politics, at the heart of which was the struggle between capitalism and socialism; it was also battered left and right by forces opposed to the uncompromising African leadership of Africa; and, most important, it was battered left and right by the reaction to its militant stance on the issue of White property, particularly the land question.

As has been said over and over again, over centuries upon centuries, the first casualty of every war or conflict is the TRUTH.

The history of Southern Africa was distorted to no end: the history of socialism was distorted; the history of capitalism was distorted; the history of Africa was distorted to no end; the history of our politics was distorted; and the history of African Nationalism was distorted.

African Nationalism is an important part of the stream and soul of the African Continent.

The ANC was originally formed as a Pan-Africanist Movement to fight against the European conquest of Africa. At the initial gatherings which paved the ground for the formation of the ANC were representatives of African Kingdoms from entire Southern Africa, prominent of which was the participation of representatives from what is now called Swaziland.

A Gigantic, heroic figure in the landscape of the Liberation Struggle of this country is the figure of Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe. Inspired by Mzwakhe Anton Lembede, he led the formation of the Pan Africanist Movement. He was a prominent part of the front of the “wind of change” about which Harold Macmillan warned the Western World. He was kept in isolation from other political prisoners on Robben Island, and brutalized in isolation, which is many times more brutal than the brutality received collectively by prisoners.

After British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan warned the White Colonial Rulers of Africa about the “wind of change –African Nationalism”, from the podium of the White Parliament in Cape Town, in 1960, the White, Western Establishment initiated plans to tame and transform African Nationalism: if African Nationalism could not be destroyed physically, everything had to be done to destroy it ideologically, through misinformation, disinformation, lies, and silence.

Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe was more than a member of an individual family; he was more than a father and husband and grandparent. He was a personal embodiment of an irrepressible large stream of our national life. We are living a life of lies, which horrified the Ancient Persians, is we pretend he never existed, or if we try to diminish his historical significance. A society or civilization which fails to honour its heroes and heroines is a degenerate civilization.

It is in this light that we begin to honour the UNISA Community for the pioneering courage you have displayed in beginning to cleanse the soul of this nation of the dirt of lies, misinformation, disinformation, and silence.

My last word is addressed to my Aunt, Mrs Veronica Sobukwe, who has for decades born untold suffering and pain without shedding unusual tears.

Yintombi yakwa Mathe lena!
Yintombi yase Hlobane lena!
Yintombi yase Baqulusini lena!
Ncanana! Akafile!!
Uyaphila!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A WORK-PLAN  FOR DEVELOPING THE EASTERN CAPE

BY

PROFESSOR HERBERT VILAKAZI

 

(March 13, 2014)

 

The starting-point of the correct Development Plan for the Province of the Eastern Cape should be the tangible, intangible, and observable, reality of all the people of the Province, and all the material and cultural resources and the environment of the Province.

 

The Eastern Cape is heavily Rural, with the majority of citizens living in the countryside. The Province is heavily underdeveloped, very much similar to heavily underdeveloped nations of the world.

 

All the statistics on social life in Eastern Cape speak of severe poverty and deprivation: “The Eastern Cape tops the list of poor provinces in terms of exposure to average deprivation both in 2007 and 2011” (The Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Review and Outlook, Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, 2013)

Life expectancy for males in Eastern Cape, between 2006 and 2011, was only 50.2 years, lower than the national average of 52.1 years; for females, it was 54 years, lower than the national average of 56 years.

 

Regarding the most basic life requirement, food, the Eastern Cape “has one of the highest levels of food insecurity in South Africa” (Ibid). While in the country as a whole, 64 percent of households are considered food insecure, in the Eastern Cape, the figure of food insecurity is 78 percent of households. “Further analysis of the characteristics of food insecure households show that the majority of food insecure households in the province reside in rural areas, are Africans, are headed by females, have larger family sizes, and have higher dependency rations” (Ibid.),

 

Another significant statistic is that the Eastern Cape has not registered any growth since 2002, judging by the province’s contribution to the National GDP.

 

CRISIS IN THE MINDS OF ECONOMISTS AND PLANNERS

 

Extreme poverty and underdevelopment in the Eastern Cape reveal not only a catastrophe in the South African economy, but also a severe crisis of South African economics. Almost 20 years ago, I stated this general crisis as follows:

“A crippling weakness of established South African economics is the invisibility in it of the masses of African people. The main concern of official economic policy is the ups and downs of the white-controlled economy, which has a very narrow base within the larger society, and within which the majority of Africans do not feature. We must counter-pose to this economic policy our own view: economics from the standpoint of the downtrodden” (Vilakazi, Herbert, “Time Ripe for Economics of the Ghetto”, City Press, 21 January 1996; also see Vilakazi, Herbert, “Rural Masses Key to Sick Economy”, Business Day, 19 August 1996, p. 9).

 

We not only have a catastrophe in the economy; we also have a catastrophe in our official thinking about our economy.

 

Some years ago, the then Deputy-President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, spoke in Parliament about the TWO nations co-existing side by side within the country called South Africa, one nation poor and underdeveloped, and the other nation rich and developed.

 

The Economics taught in our educational institutions fails to capture and understand this national problem correctly; consequently, the policy advice given to our political leaders by economists and other accepted intellectuals is wrong: as has been said, `false theory leads to incorrect policies’.

 

Economists and other intellectuals advising our political leaders base their advice on a model of economics constructed out of economic activities in developed, industrial capitalist countries. Modern economics is a study of developed, industrial capitalist countries. This economics is misplaced in an underdeveloped nation, or in a heavily underdeveloped Province such as Eastern Cape.

 

If we look at the economic history of the currently developed nations, what is clear is that successful industrialization was built upon a successful Agricultural Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was preceded by an Agricultural Revolution.

 

PECULIARITY OF SOUTH AFRICA

 

The peculiarity of South Africa is that the groundwork necessary in RURAL areas for the creation of a modern industrial society occurred ONLY in the WHITE Community. The Agricultural Revolution in South Africa occurred ONLY in the White Community; and the Industrial Revolution which occurred imparted industrial skills to the White community. Capital and wealth accumulated only in the White Community.

 

Consequently, the White Community was lifted above the African Community, hence the TWO NATIONS.

 

THE AFRICAN COMMUNITY

 

The African Community was left predominantly rural, unskilled, uneducated, ill-fed, ill-housed, with an environment and agriculture which was undeveloped, and which is deteriorating. All this, of course, has immense psychological-spiritual effects, disempowering masses of African people psychologically and spiritually. I must stress, too, that this entire process of development and underdevelopment caused immense damage to the psychological-spiritual health of the White community, as well as immense damage to the spiritual-psychological health of the peculiar South African Indian and Coloured communities

 

What needs to be stressed is that the underdevelopment and misery and poverty of the African countries, of rural Africans, is now DRAGGING DOWN the economy of the entire South African nation. The misery and poverty and underdevelopment of the African countryside is now migrating to urban areas, causing immense problems in the cities and towns. The unemployment of African rural areas becomes the massive unemployment in cities and towns.

 

This entire crisis becomes a crisis of government finance, a crisis of local government, a crisis of governance, a crisis of public services and our public institutions.

 

The massive underdevelopment of rural areas in the Eastern Cape becomes the underdevelopment of the entire Eastern Cape Province.

 

The most decisive factor shaping the economic-social fate of the Eastern Cape is the collapsed rural economy, which deforms and takes the wind out of non-rural economic activities in the cities, towns, the entire region, and the country as a whole.

 

TO THE COUNTRYSIDE! EZILALINI! EMAKHAYA!

 

The development of the Eastern Cape must begin in the countryside, in African rural areas!!

 

WHAT STEPS SHOULD WE TAKE?

 

To get a better view and correct understanding of our fundamental national problem, picture Rural South Africa as a huge high-rise building with four floors. I shall start at the top:

 

FOURTH FLOOR:  

The Top Floor is occupied by the Owners/Controllers of Big Corporate Agriculture, as well as by Owners/Controllers of the Big, Independent Commercial Farmers. These employ hundreds and tens of thousands of Farm workers. All these Owners/Controllers, by and large, are White.

THIRD FLOOR:

Below the TOP floor, on the THIRD FLOOR, we find Independent, Middle-Layer Commercial Farmers, who employ, in total, hundreds and thousands of Farm workers. All these Independent, Middle-Layer Commercial Farmers are also, by and large, White. We may find, here and there, an Indian Farm owner, a Coloured Farm owner, and an African Farm owner.

SECOND FLOOR:

The SECOND FLOOR is occupied by

 by SMALL COMMERCIAL FARMERS, who live precarious lives as business people. The current Government policy of creating/promoting “Black Farmers” adds individual farmers to this Floor. We cannot emphasize enough the extreme precariousness of the economic existence of these farmers, as business people. They employ tens, perhaps hundreds, in total, some thousands, of Farm workers. The creation/promotion of Women Farmers features here.

FIRST-FLOOR

 

The First Floor is occupied by approximately 90 to 95 per cent of people in African Rural Areas and Coloured Rural Areas. These are people engaged in self-subsistence farming activities, people who just scratch the bare soil for their means of existence. These are the most “food insecure” people, who are not guaranteed a meal each and every day of their lives.  This applies to the Eastern Cape.

 

In the year 2000, the then Deputy-Minister of Trade and Industry, Lindiwe Hendricks made this announcement: “Our recent survey finds that one out of two people in rural SA do not have food to consume in a day” (Business Day, 21 November 2000, p. 2). If, as we are informed by the Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Review and Outlook, (2013), 78 percent of households in Eastern Cape are suffering from food insecurity, it means that conditions of life in `rural SA’ are actually worse than there were as reported by the Deputy-Minister in the year 2000. It means that, in the Eastern Cape, 3 out of 4 people in our times `DO NOT HAVE FOOD TO CONSUME IN A DAY’.

 

The Human Catastrophe in current South Africa is on the FIRST- FLOOR of rural South Africa! FIRST-FLOOR RURAL SOUTH AFRICA is the source of the statistics about destitution, poverty, misery, dehumanization, diseases and high death-rate. The Provincial Growth and Development Strategy document for KwaZulu/Natal (2011) informs us that “Adult life expectancy in the Province has dropped from 53 years in 1996, to 51.6 in 2000 to 43 in 2009.”

 

This high death-rate in rural South Africa, which then migrates to urban South Africa, is directly caused by the collapse of the diet system. Correct, nutritious food is the first medicine that the human body gets. When the supply of correct, nutritious food collapses, the health of masses of people collapses; then you get the high death-rate from avoidable diseases.

 

The economic collapse on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, and the consequent collapse and decay of social-cultural-political life, migrates to urban South Africa, poisoning the physical, social, moral, cultural, and political life of the entire country.

 

The foundation of the gigantic problem of Eastern Cape today is the continued existence of the FIRST-FLOOR in Rural Eastern Cape.

 

This gigantic problem of rural Eastern Cape, which becomes the gigantic problem of entire Eastern Cape, becomes the gigantic problem of Cape Town, the gigantic problem of Mthatha, of East London, of Port Elizabeth, of Germiston, Johannesburg, Tembisa, Durban, and of other cities and towns in the entire country.

 

THE VISION OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF EASTERN CAPE

 

The Vision is a Rural Eastern Cape without the FIRST FLOOR. The Plan is to put in place a Development Policy which shall eliminate the FIRST FLOOR of Rural Eastern Cape.

 

THAT IS THE CHALLENGE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION OF THE EASTERN CAPE. By eliminating the FIRST FLOOR, the Planning Commission shall have totally transformed the Eastern Cape, and raised the masses of people of the Province to a higher level of well-being. You shall have eliminated the underdevelopment of the Eastern Cape. You shall become a MODEL for all other Provinces, and for all other nations of the African Continent.

 

This is similar to, this is equal to, a WAR, which requires the mobilization, the reorientation, and re-focusing of the energies, the minds of all the people of the Eastern Cape, the imagination, the emotions and talents of the entire population for the most effective participation in the WAR, with the AIM of eliminating the enemy and winning the WAR.

 

CHINA, WHERE THIS APPROACH WORKED

 

Is there a country where this approach and model was tried, implemented, and produced the results promised by the argument in this document? YES, there is an example where the approach worked in our living memory. The country is China.

 

Fifty years ago China was dirt-poor, similar, if not worse than today’s Eastern Cape. The Government of China adopted this strategy, and began its massive transformation of the Chinese economy and society in the countryside.

 

In an official publication of Chinese scholars, we read: “Reform was first implemented in the rural areas, and then gradually carried out in cities; even when the focus of reform had shifted to cities, it was first tried in the special economic zones, then in coastal areas, and then in the interior” (Gao Shangquan, Liu Guoguang, Ma Junru, The Market Economy and China, p. 5). The important point for us is that this has been a single chain with interconnected links, and that the first link that was grasped with the full strength and determination of the Chinese government was transformation in the countryside. In the early 1990s,  economists calculated that almost half of the acceleration in China’s economic growth rate during the first phase of Reform (1978-1983) came from improved agriculture and rural development (China:The Next Decade, edited by Denis Dwyer, 1994, p. 13). The steps that were first taken in rural China were the first link in the single chain which led to China becoming in our time the second biggest economy in the world.

 

A crucially significant lesson for us is that Chinese peasants, given assistance, and freed from dictatorship of government and urban activists, not only produced sufficient food for over 1 billion people, but also, on their own initiatives, developed non-agricultural economic activities called Township Enterprises. These small peasant-controlled companies produce light industrial products needed by local people, and have become the roots of the emergence of rural industrialization and small-scale urbanization in the countryside. Even more important for us is that these companies have played the most crucial role in absorbing millions of unemployed in rural China. “The industrial output value of township enterprises accounted for 9.1 percent of the gross national industrial output value in 1978, 16.3 percent in 1984, 23.8 percent in 1989, 30.8 percent in 1991 and 36.8 percent in 1992.” “A total of 10 million surplus rural laborers were absorbed by these enterprises per year, and by 1988 employed 95.45 million people, almost equal to the figure for workers in state-owned enterprises.” (Gao Shangquan, The Reform and Development of China’s Rural Economy, Beijing, pp. 169, 173). It was productive activities of rural Chinese people, using a mixture of traditional Chinese science and technology and modern Western science and technology, which played a very significant role in launching China to being the leading economic power in today’s world.

 

The recommendation is that the Planning Commission of the Eastern Cape should make the same bold decision, adopt this strategy and transform the Eastern Cape Province root, stock, and branch, as the Chinese Government did 45 years ago.

Our War is to eliminate the FIRST FLOOR of Rural Eastern Cape, as the first step towards lifting the entire Eastern Cape out of poverty. We can transform Eastern Cape into a Switzerland. I say Switzerland because Switzerland was a nation of peasants; these peasants made Switzerland what it is today!

 

THE WORK-PLAN

 

Every TECHNICAL TEAM of the Planning Commission, every WORKING GROUP, must orient its work, must direct its work, first and foremost, to ELIMINATING THE FIRST FLOOR of Rural Eastern Cape.

 

1.     The Technical Team/Working Group on HEALTH must formulate a Programme-of-Action aimed at eliminating the backlogs and underdevelopment of Health Services and Health Infrastructure on the FIRST FLOOR of Rural Eastern Cape, aimed at eliminating the FIRST FLOOR. The issue of African culture and Health must be accommodated. The issue of HEALTH is intimately related to diet and nutrition. Food is the first medicine, or poison, which the human body gets. There must also be attention given to personality disorders/ psychiatric illnesses/depressions/traumas occasioned by poverty, misery, violence, and inhuman conditions experienced by masses of people in our modern society.

2.     The Technical Team/Working Group on EDUCATION must formulate a Programme-of-Action aimed at eliminating the backlogs and underdevelopment of Educational facilities, educational methods, and educational infrastructure on the FIRST FLOOR of Rural Eastern Cape. They must etail their contribution to the challenge of eliminating the FIRST FLOOR. The issue of African Culture and Education must be attended to and accommodated.

3.     The Technical Team/Working Group on The ECONOMY must formulate a Programme-of-Action on the backlogs and underdevelopment in the Rural African Economy of the Eastern Cape. The issue of African Culture and the Economy must be attended to and accommodated. THE AIM is to increase productivity in the rural African economy, to revive it, and to link it with industry and urban South Africa as a producer of wealth. This shall put the rural African Economy of its feet, abolish the TWO economies, and create ONE integrated South African economy/

4.     The Technical Team/Working Group on RURAL DEVELOPMENT must formulate a Programme-of-Action to eliminate backlogs and underdevelopment of Rural Communities, aimed at eliminating the FIRST FLOOR. A KEY aim and challenge should be to REVIVE and EMPOWER the Rural, VILLAGE Communities, region-by-region. The Community is a most powerful asset and resource in the life of Human Beings. When the Community degenerates and suffers the destruction of its strength, the life of the individual gets terribly impoverished and degenerate. A whole series of activities must be initiated in this regard. The issue of African culture and the Rural Community must be attended to, and accommodated. We are as strong, healthy, and creative, as our communities, and as weak, unhealthy, and degenerate as our communities are.

5.     The Technical Team/Working Group on INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, COMMUNICATIONS, and IT, must formulate a Program-of-Action aimed at eliminating the FIRST FLOOR. They must detail plans to eliminate backlogs and underdevelopment in the Infrastructure, Transport, Means of Communication, and IT in the life of masses of people on the FIRST FLOOR. These issue are directly relevant to schools, education, clinics, hospitals, markets, village-to-village communication, and to intellectual and personality development.

6.     The Technical Team/Working Group on Governance must formulate a Programme-of-Action aimed at identifying and eliminating problems of governance on the FIRST FLOOR. They must identify problems of lack of harmony, dissonance, between Government and people on the FIRST FLOOR, between different departments of government, between Traditional Structures of Governance and Modern structures of Governance. The must bring out, report on, the problems felt by masses of people in their relationship with Government. The Team/Group must concern itself with problems of the lack of capacity on the FIRST FLOOR, the unresponsiveness of Government to the needs of masses of people. The issue of Financial irregularities must be attended to, and the issue identified by Lord Acton: power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

7.     The FIRST FLOOR is the important starting-point of the Development Plan; it is from the FIRST FLOOR that we shall move to urban areas, tracing the interaction between urban and rural. The main thesis here is that the problems of cities and towns in our time are largely a consequence of the collapse of the rural economy and rural communities.

8.     Restoring the HEALTH and DYNAMISM and DEVELOPMENT of Rural Communities of the Eastern Cape shall largely restore the health, dynamism, spiritual soundness and creativeness of the towns and cities of the Eastern Cape.

 

WHAT METHODOLOGY SHALL BE FOLLOWED?

 

A number of sources of information shall be utilized:

1.     Existing researched documents, e. g., Stats SA, Results of research done by various government departments/agencies/ NGOs. This is largely desk-top research.

2.     Discussions, Interviews with officials in various municipalities and Government Departments.

3.     Field-work done by Interns in representative areas of the Province, Rural and Urban. Representatives of Political Parties shall also be interviewed. This field-work shall be structured, with well selected and formulated questions, themes, and topics.

4.     Interviews with leaders and representative members/groups of Civil Society, e. g., Women, the Aged, Youth, Men,, Students, Journalists, Teachers, Lecturers, Religious leaders and Groups, Traditional Leaders.

 

This work should not last more than 3 weeks.

 

The rest of the time shall be devoted to assessing the information gathered, and Writing of the Document. This should be completed by the 3rd week of May 2014.

 

 

 

 

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A STRATEGY FOR DEVELOPING THE EASTERN CAPE

BY

PROFESSOR HERBERT VILAKAZI

 

 

(Mhlontlo Municipality SAGRIPP Seminar: March 4-5, 2014; vilakazi@icon.co.za; www.professorvilakazi.wordpress.com)

[This document has been published world-wide by WordPress. Copy-Right

  Regulations apply.]

 

 

Mhlontlo Municipality is almost totally rural: indeed, from the standpoint of a correct strategy for development, Mhlontlo Municipality must be considered 100 percent rural. That is to say that the most decisive factor shaping the economic-social fate of that region of Eastern Cape is the collapsed rural economy, which deforms and takes the wind out of non-rural economic activities in the region and country as a whole.

 

All the statistics on social life in Eastern Cape speak of severe poverty and deprivation: “The Eastern Cape tops the list of poor provinces in terms of exposure to average deprivation both in 2007 and 2011” (The Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Review and Outlook, Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, 2013)

Life expectancy for males in Eastern Cape, between 2006 and 2011, was only 50.2 years, lower than the national average of 52.1 years; for females, it was 54 years, lower than the national average of 56 years.

 

Regarding the most basic life requirement, food, the Eastern Cape “has one of the highest levels of food insecurity in South Africa” (Ibid). While in the country as a whole, 64 percent of households are considered food insecure, in the Eastern Cape, the figure of food insecurity is 78 percent of households. “Further analysis of the characteristics of food insecure households show that the majority of food insecure households in the province reside in rural areas, are Africans, are headed by females, have larger family sizes, and have higher dependency rations” (Ibid.),

 

Another significant statistic is that the Eastern Cape has not registered any growth since 2002, judging by the province’s contribution to the National GDP.

 

Extreme poverty and underdevelopment in the Eastern Cape reveal not only a catastrophe in the South African economy, but also a severe crisis of South African economics. Almost 20 years ago, I stated this general crisis as follows:

“A crippling weakness of established South African economics is the invisibility in it of the masses of African people. The main concern of official economic policy is the ups and downs of the white-controlled economy, which has a very narrow base within the larger society, and within which the majority of Africans do not feature. We must counter-pose to this economic policy our own view: economics from the standpoint of the downtrodden” (Vilakazi, Herbert, “Time Ripe for Economics of the Ghetto”, City Press, 21 January 1996; also see Vilakazi, Herbert, “Rural Masses Key to Sick Economy”, Business Day, 19 August 1996, p. 9).

 

We not only have a catastrophe in the economy; we also have a catastrophe in our official thinking about our economy.

 

This catastrophe is national. Look at the neighbouring province, KwaZulu/Natal.

The diet system of the majority of people in KwaZulu/Natal has collapsed, as a result of deep poverty. This constitutes a horrendous human catastrophe. As a consequence, KwaZulu/Natal now has a high mortality rates (death rates). The Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (2011) document informs us that “Adult life expectancy in the Province has dropped from 53 years in 1996, to 51.6 in 2000 to 43 in 2009.”

 

The document further tells us that KwaZulu/Natal “has the highest disease burden associated with underdevelopment and poverty”.  “Despite high levels of government spending in health and welfare high levels of infant mortality and decreasing life expectancy are still the norm.”  Further, employment in agriculture has declined by 64% since 2000, and employment in manufacturing has declined by 20% since 2000.

 

This is the scale and depth of the human catastrophe in our country; this cannot help but bring about hopelessness of spirit, an enormous sense of personal insecurity in this world, which makes many people to hold on to religion with their last spiritual thread. This is the sum and substance of the human catastrophe which brings degradation and dehumanization to intellectual life, to community life, to political life, to government life, to social life, and to sexual life.

 

 

 Through the migrant labour system of the past, millions of rural people were forcibly brought to work in mines and urban areas. A large bulk of the African rural population has migrated together with their poverty and misery to urban areas, forming shanty-towns attached to the original townships.

 

These millions of Africans constitute the Colony inside South African society: Africans constitute the colonial economic component inside the South African economy. The South African economy has the shape of a Colonial Economy. The White-owned and controlled Industry, Commerce, Banking, and Commercial Agriculture constitutes the Metropolitan Power of the South African economy.

 

African rural communities and Coloured rural communities constitute the Colony, which extends to the Townships and Shanty-towns of urban South Africa. Figures indicate that most of working-age urban Africans are not workers in modern industry and commerce, but are in what is called the “informal economy” – in our terms, are in the colonial economy.

 

Eastern Cape is a massive component of the Colony in the South African economy, and in South African society.

 

 This is the fundamental problem of South Africa.

 

The underdevelopment of African rural communities, and of their off-springs in urban areas, are now the heavy drag that is pulling down the entire South African economy. The national economy cannot develop any further as long as it contains this colony. In accounting terms, when conducting an audit of the national economy, the colony, comprising the vast majority of society, is simply entered in the loss column. The cost of the colony to the national economy is many times the value of the Gross National Product of the country.

 

The colony is now sapping and negating the vitality and growth potential of the national economy and society. South African economists and statisticians often calculate and bewail the cost of a holiday to the national economy. The cost of the colony to the South African economy, the cost of unused capacity of tens of millions of African and Coloured people should  run into trillions of Rand: that is how big the South African economy can be if the colony were eliminated.

 

The economy of KwaZulu/Natal can be 3 or 4 times larger than what it is, if the millions of African people become vigorous and creative participants in the economy. Likewise, the economy of the Eastern Cape can be many times what it is, if the Colony were eliminated and the millions of Africans in the Province were to become vigorous and creative participants in the economy, as producers, as entrepreneurs, as Bankers, industrialists, scientists, engineers and technicians.

 

The measures that must kick-start the economic process leading to the elimination of the colony within the South African economy must occur within the colony itself, not outside the colony. The initial, main measures must be in the home-base of the colony, African rural areas, and from there move to the off-springs of rural areas, the shanty-towns and townships, leading to the growth and rejuvenation of the national economy.

 

The present massive underdevelopment of the majority of society, Africans, is rooted in the fact that the Agricultural Revolution, which was the basis of the Industrial Revolution, did not occur within the African community –the Agricultural Revolution did not occur within the Colony. It occurred only in the White community.

 

It is a major error among economists guiding our government to assume that the Agricultural Revolution which occurred in the White rural community renders the Agricultural Revolution in the African community unnecessary. This error follows from the wrong assumption that the White-dominated industrial economy of the nation is the major actor, the Big Brother, of the other twin, the Colonial economy; that the White economy shapes the national economy. That was the case in the Colonial era; in the post-Colonial era of our time, it is the Colonial economy, the Colonial population, which, in the deficit sense, shapes the national economy.

 

The National Development Plan tells us that 60 percent of the people are now in urban areas. That has led some industry-centered economists to think that African rural areas are of minor significance in the national economy, which they identify with the modern White economic sector. It is one thing for the majority of rural people to disappear because they have been absorbed by national industrialization, as happened in England; it is something else for the majority of rural people in the Colony to disappear because underdevelopment and misery in the Colony’s rural areas have forced them to flood the cities, where there is no prospect of their being absorbed by developing industry in the White economy.

 

The millions of Africans who have been forced by underdevelopment and misery to migrate to urban areas, who actually constitute the larger bulk of the unemployment problem, have moved to urban areas because of the big default in the nation’s economic history: the fact that South Africa’s Agricultural Revolution took place only in White rural areas. African rural areas, the site of the overwhelming majority of society, remained pre-industrial. In the Western Cape, the Coloured rural community also remained pre-industrial.

 

To get a better view and correct understanding of our fundamental national problem, picture Rural South Africa as a huge high-rise building with four floors. I shall start at the top:

 

FOURTH FLOOR:  

The Top Floor is occupied by the Owners/Controllers of Big Corporate Agriculture, as well as by Owners/Controllers of the Big, Independent Commercial Farmers. These employ hundreds and tens of thousands of Farm workers. All these Owners/Controllers, by and large, are White.

THIRD FLOOR:

Below the TOP floor, on the THIRD FLOOR, we find Independent, Middle-Layer Commercial Farmers, who employ, in total, hundreds and thousands of Farm workers. All these Independent, Middle-Layer Commercial Farmers are also, by and large, White. We may find, here and there, an Indian Farm owner, a Coloured Farm owner, and an African Farm owner.

SECOND FLOOR:

The SECOND FLOOR is occupied by

 by SMALL COMMERCIAL FARMERS, who live precarious lives as business people. The current Government policy of creating/promoting “Black Farmers” adds individual farmers to this Floor. We cannot emphasize enough the extreme precariousness of the economic existence of these farmers, as business people. They employ tens, perhaps hundreds, in total, some thousands, of Farm workers. The creation/promotion of Women Farmers features here.

FIRST-FLOOR

The First Floor is occupied by approximately 90 to 95 per cent of people in African Rural Areas and Coloured Rural Areas. These are people engaged in self-subsistence farming activities, people who just scratch the bare soil for their means of existence. These are the most “food insecure” people, who are not guaranteed a meal each and every day of their lives.

 

In the year 2000, the then Deputy-Minister of Trade and Industry, Lindiwe Hendricks made this announcement: “Our recent survey finds that one out of two people in rural SA do not have food to consume in a day” (Business Day, 21 November 2000, p. 2). If, as we are informed by the Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Review and Outlook, (2013), 78 percent of households in Eastern Cape are suffering from food insecurity, it means that conditions of life in `rural SA’ are actually worse than there were as reported by the Deputy-Minister in the year 2000. It means that, in the Eastern Cape, 3 out of 4 people in our times `DO NOT HAVE FOOD TO CONSUME IN A DAY’.

 

The Human Catastrophe in current South Africa is on the FIRST- FLOOR of rural South Africa! FIRST-FLOOR RURAL SOUTH AFRICA is the source of the statistics about destitution, poverty, misery, dehumanization, diseases and high death-rate. The Provincial Growth and Development Strategy document for KwaZulu/Natal (2011) informs us that “Adult life expectancy in the Province has dropped from 53 years in 1996, to 51.6 in 2000 to 43 in 2009.”

 

This high death-rate in rural South Africa, which then migrates to urban South Africa, is directly caused by the collapse of the diet system. Correct, nutritious food is the first medicine that the human body gets. When the supply of correct, nutritious food collapses, the health of masses of people collapses; then you get the high death-rate from avoidable diseases.

 

The economic collapse on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, and the consequent collapse and decay of social-cultural-political life, migrates to urban South Africa, poisoning the physical, social, moral, cultural, and political life of the entire country.

 

The foundation of the gigantic problem of South Africa today is the continued existence of the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa.

 

The Crisis we are facing in this country is exactly similar to the crisis of a National War situation, comparable to the National War situation that confronted the people of England in 1940, when Nazi Germany was concentrating its powers for conquering England. The challenge that faced the people of England in 1940 was to gather and mobilize the economic, spiritual, political, military, scientific, manpower and womanpower of England, to save themselves and the Nation from destruction, and to defeat Nazi Germany. Everything in England was reshaped so as to point to the main and immediate aim, to fight and win the War.

 

There was total re-priotization of National Life. The new starting point of National and Local Policy, in all departments of Governments, and in all institutions of society, was mobilizing the power of the people to fight and win the War, to save England and preserve human decency.

 

I am saying to you that we in South Africa are facing a similar challenge. There is an enemy that is destroying our Nation, our Society, and our Community as Human Beings: THE ENEMY IS LOCATED ON THE FIRST-FLOOR OF RURAL SOUTH AFRICA!

 

It is the collapse of the economy on the First-Floor of Rural South Africa; the collapse of morality; the collapse of the Spiritual Power of people on the First-Floor; the injury to the cerebral-mental development, and psychology, of children born and growing up in extreme poverty; and the injury and collapse of the African philosophy of life; and deep injury to the African Soul –this all takes place on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa.

 

As this deep injury and collapse of life on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa migrates to urban South Africa, it poisons the life-stream of the nation, of society, and of the Human Community of South Africa, as we are now.

 

It is important to stress that the construction of this new structure of Rural South Africa, with this deep injury and collapse on the FIRST-FLOOR, did not begin with the Presidency of Jacob Zuma; nor did it begin with the Presidency of Thabo Mbeki; nor did it begin with the Presidency of Nelson Mandela.

 

This new structure of Rural South Africa, with this deep injury to the indigenous people of South Africa, and the collapse of the indigenous economy, was the result of the incorporation of Southern Africa within the new European-centered world capitalist economy; when the African people became a Colony of European Powers; when the indigenous African economy was reshaped to meet the needs of the European world capitalist economy (Wallerstein, Immanuel, The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World Economy in the Sixteenth Century, New York, Academic Press, 1974; Wolf, Eric R., Europe and the People Without History, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1982).

 

The great fault and shortcoming of our leadership and Government has been to vow to the major Western Capitalist Powers, and to implement the vow, NOT to bring about fundamental changes in the  South African economy. This vow, and its implementation, means, of course, the continuation of the present FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, and the maintenance of the Colonial Economy. Development policies to be implemented within the existing World Capitalist Economy, and shaped by this world economy, are unreal, are worse than a “pipe dream”, to use Alan Paton’s phrase. The `vow’, and its implementation, have been discussed by the retired University of Stellenbosch economist, Professor Terreblanche (Terreblanche, Sampie, “Whites Must Make Sacrifices to Uplift South Africa’s Poor”, Business Report, August 14, 2013).

 

 

 

 

WHAT MUST BE DONE?

 

The starting point in solving South Africa’s gigantic problem is to initiate real development within the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa.

 

Since the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa is the site of the most desperate and extreme food insecurity for the masses of people on that floor, the first and most immediate necessary task is to assure these masses of people food security.

 

The first act needed to eliminate poverty, unemployment, and inequality in South Africa is to initiate an Agricultural Revolution in African and Coloured rural areas. This is to cut the roots of massive poverty, unemployment, diseases, and abnormally high death rate in rural areas and in the nation as a whole.

 

The immediate aim of this policy should be to increase and improve the capacity of every rural household in the Colony to produce needed food for sustenance. The immediate target are the millions of African and Coloured people on the FIRST FLOOR of Rural South Africa. Rural Africans should also be encouraged to grow, again, traditional African crops, using traditional non-chemical methods, which kept Africans with few of modern diseases for thousands of years, and kept life-expectancy much higher than what it is in our times.

 

When it comes to Agriculture and Rural Development, the logic of the World Capitalist Economy has over four or five decades now advised and led our Government to focus on the SECOND, THIRD, and FOURTH floors of Rural South Africa. The FOURTH Floor, occupied by owners/controllers of the largest Corporate Agricultural Producers, and by the largest Independent Commercial Farmers, and the THIRD Floor, occupied by Middle-Layer Commercial Farmers, have over many decades received the largest bulk of Government assistance to the Agricultural sector.

 

The Department of Agriculture, the Development Bank, the Development of Land Affairs, and the Land Bank, can tell more than a tale on assistance from the Public Purse given, almost free of charge, to occupants of the THIRD and FOURTH Floors.  

 

When the “Winds of Change” reached our shores, as British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan put it in his historical speech in the South African White Parliament, in Cape Town, in 1960, warning White rulers in Southern Africa of the inevitable power of African Nationalism, a new theme was introduced in  Development Policy: this has been the policy of giving State assistance to promising individuals in African rural communities to join the Agricultural Capitalist Class: these promising individuals were not given the large, almost automatic, assistance given to White farmers on the THIRD and FOURTH Floors.

 

The intention and hope was to have these promising individuals in the African Rural Community to join the Small White Framers on the SECOND FLOOR. This has been the policy of breeding the so-called “Black  Farmers”. These farmers live a precarious existence as capitalist farmers, for they do not have sufficient money, reliable markets, and guaranteed high prices, for their produce.

 

The boosting of promising individual African agriculturalists to the SECOND Floor has been part of the strategy to create a “Black” capitalist class in African rural areas, just as the BEE strategy in urban areas is an effort to create a “Black” capitalist class.

 

What should be noted in this strategy, which was conceived, and is supported, by the World Bank and IMF in Washington D. C., is that it aims to uplift individuals. In a community of 100 households, you can empower and uplift 15 individuals and their families, and promote them to the SECOND FLOOR; but you have not solved the problem of rural poverty on the FIRST-FLOOR, because you have left 85 households and their families still in poverty, food insecurity, diseases, and high death rate.

 

The rural African community is collectivist in orientation. This collectivism has its roots in collectively-owned land, Communal Land, which goes back to the beginning of human history. Communal ownership of land has survived longest in Africa.

 

In our own country, South Africa, Communal Land is still a living fact in the African rural community:

 

“The department of land affairs estimates more than 21m people –almost half our population- live in communal areas. These are areas that were part of the homeland system under the apartheid government. All are plagued by intense poverty.” (Financial Mail, November 24, 2006)

 

When capitalism emerged in Western Europe, it waged a ruthless, uncompromising, and deadly war against the institution of Communal Land in West European society. Rulers of this society successfully uprooted Collectivism and Communalism in West European rural communities. Collectivism, Communalism, known as Communism, had to be born anew in the cities as the idea and movement of Socialism by thinkers of the industrial working class.

 

In Africa, and in Tsarist Russia, Collectivism and Communalism remained alive, based on the widespread existence of Communal ownership of land. In both cases, we have seen capitalist interests, national and international, with their hirelings, mobilizing their powers in their attempt to destroy the Collectivism and Communalism of rural people founded on Communal Land. Communal Land, and the Trustee of Communal Land, African Traditional Leadership, became `Enemy No. 1’ to the so-called `modernization’ movement.

 

The aim of this war is to kill and bury Communal Land, Traditional Leadership, the Collectivism and Communalism of rural African people, and to implant above that grave Individualism, Private Property, and an economy shaped by the World Capitalist Economy.

 

All this, of course, is destined to fail. Just as rural Russia, before the Bolshevik Revolution, never became capitalist, so rural African communities have not, and shall not, become capitalist.

 

The question then remains: What Must be Done?

 

We have to build a new economy using as the starting-point and foundation the rural African community. First and foremost, our task is to bring about genuine development on the FIRST FLOOR of Rural South Africa, thereby eliminating all the indices of misery and underdevelopment concentrated on that Floor.

 

We must not abide by the logic and philosophy of capitalist development, which focuses upon the single individual, and empowers the single individual and his/her family.

 

Our logic and philosophy is to focus upon the Community on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, and to empower the entire community to a better and higher economic status and well-being.

 

Our approach is Collectivist and Communal, after the fashion of the rural African Village as it came to us from the beginning of time.

 

You must understand the vicious War that was waged by capitalist civilization against the Collectivism and Communalism of rural people in the home of capitalism in Western Europe, in India, in Africa and other regions now called the Third World. In Western Europe itself, Communal Land and the Collectivist life of the European peasantry was totally destroyed, and replaced by the supreme reign of Private Property, Individualism, and focus on the single person and individual wealth.

 

In Africa, Communal Land and the Collectivist life of rural Africans could not be uprooted as capitalism had uprooted Communal Land and Collectivism of the European peasantry. Capitalist structures existed as islands in Africa, confined to areas settled by Europeans.

 

Rural African areas were simply vandalized of manpower, natural resources, and minerals.

 

The rest of rural Africa was left to stagnate and rot and eventually became, in our case, the FIRST FLOOR of Rural South Africa.

 

This is where we must start, on the FIRST FLOOR of Rural South Africa, where the overwhelming majority of rural Africans and rural Coloureds are; almost all the Africans in the Shacks and Shanty towns come from there; indeed, Townships in urban South Africa are the off-springs of the FIRST FLOOR of Rural South Africa.

 

 

 

PROGRAM-OF-ACTION ON THE FIRST-FLOOR OF RURAL SA

 

1.            Our first task is to make sure there is Food Security for all on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa: hunger deforms not only the physical human body, making it underdeveloped and not well-developed; hunger also deforms and under-develops the Spiritual body and Intellectual-Mental capacity of children born and raised amidst hunger; hunger weakens and destroys the Immune System of the human body, opening the body to attacks by a host of vicious diseases; hunger reduces life-expectancy, or vastly increases the death-rate in the community; hunger not only produces physiological diseases, but also produces diseases and deformations of the Human Spirit, of the Human mind; hunger tends to create distrust or untrustworthiness among people; hunger tends to make human beings dangerous: all sorts of psycho-pathologies emerge –violence in the community, violence of the State and law, violence within the family, violence against women, violence against children, sexual violence and sexual pathologies; violence against oneself, alcoholism and addiction to drugs; hunger tends to force people to migrate; hunger tends to dehumanize human beings. Therefore, assuring Food Security on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa should be our No. 1 Task.

2.            Our approach differs from the approach of capitalism: the logic and philosophy of capitalism focuses on the single individual; the approach of capitalism is to empower and enrich the single individual, who then takes care of his/her own family. Individualism is the logic and philosophy of capitalism. We, on the contrary, want to use, as a valuable resource, as capital, the ages-old African philosophy of UBUNTU. Our approach is Collectivist, Communal. WE WANT TO EMPOWER AND ENRICH THE ENTIRE VILLAGE.

        

         The organizational structure, or organizational vehicle we want      

         to create, promote and empower is the combination and

cooperation of the Households of the Village. THIS is the organizational framework that came with African history itself. This is the organizational framework whose foundation was Communal Land (Toulmin, Camilla and Quan, Julian, editors, Evolving Land Rights, Policy and Tenure in Africa, London, DFID, 2000).

                 

WE must be clear about the ruthless, uncompromising, deadly 

war waged by capitalist civilization against Communal Land

and Traditional Leadership. I pointed out that Communal Land was completely uprooted in West European society. It remained a massive fact in Colonial Africa. The ruling Whites only entered into war with African Communal Land and Traditional Leadership when this African heritage was sitting on minerals and other resources wanted by capitalists and the Colonial State. As long as masses of African people were not active participants in World Politics, the Capitalist Powers saw no need to wage a war against Communal Land and Traditional Leadership.

 

With the emergence of African Nationalism, seeking to play an active role in World politics, in the midst of the Cold War existing between forces of Socialism/Communism, on one hand, and forces of Capitalism, on the other hand, the forces of capitalism, national and international, mobilized all their strength, including their well-paid ideologues, in order to wage was against African Communal Land and Traditional Leadership. 

 

 The World Bank and IMF, until relatively recently, stigmatized Communal Land as an obstacle to development, and advised African governments to take steps to destroy the system of Communal Land with its twin, Traditional Leadership. Individual ownership of land, and `democracy’ were advocated as substitutes. As we know, in all wars the first casualty is the Truth. All sorts of lies and half-truth have been broadcast about African Communal Land and the system of African Traditional Leadership. Western advisors, journalists, NGO leaders, and academicians then day-in and day-out repeat what in fact is the Gospel of capitalism with regard to Communal Land. “The evolution of the World Bank’s land policy is of interest because it reflects wider historical changes in understanding amongst researchers and policy makers, and because the World Bank and other Western donors have tended to dominate debate on land tenure, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa” (Evolving Land Rights, Policy and Tenure in Africa, op. cit., p. 36 –emphasis mine HWV)

 

African Communal Land also became a victim of the Cold War between Capitalist Powers and the Soviet Union. Because the Capitalist West was waging war against what they termed the “evil of Communism”, the Communal ownership of land in Africa was thrown into the bag as an evil to be fought against. No argument was permitted, then, in favour of the preservation of Communal Land in Southern Africa. African Traditional Leaders, and other African intellectuals, who did not repeat the Gospel of Capitalist civilization with respect to Communal Land and Traditional Leadership, were sprayed with the terrible odor of feudalists, reactionaries, and opponents of `progress’.

 

This emphatically does not mean that we should not correct the errors or injustices which are identified within the inherited system of Communal Land ownership and in the system of African Traditional Leadership. One issue, in particular, that needs to be attended to, and inequalities removed, is that of Gender power, both in the ownership/control of land, and in the institution of Traditional Leadership. This is all the more important and urgent, in our case, as the majority of adults on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa are women! Note that the British Parliament just recently equalized the eligibility of a girl-child to occupy the Throne of England similar to that of a boy-child.

 

The thesis that African Communal Land is an obstacle to rural development is just capitalist ideology, which demands only capitalist institutions to prevail to enable capitalism to thrive. One Civil Servant answered this capitalist gospel with this classic statement: “All I know is that crops will grow on the soil with or without a title deed”. When people raise the issue of rural people not able to raise capital/loans from banks or government because there is no “individual title deed”, we are talking about prejudice in the minds and hearts of funders who have made up their minds not to give financial assistance to anyone who does not produce a particular document giving him/her individual ownership of a piece of land. We are talking about a regulation and requirement coming out of capitalist business culture.   

 

Almost all African Nationalist elites, from Ghana’s independence to our time, were prejudiced against African Traditional Political Authority structures. Western advisors, assisted by African Nationalist leaders who were well-educated by the West, implanted, parachuted, on to African soil, Western political institutions and structure from Europe and the West. I am talking about systems of government, and Constitutions, similar to the Westminister model, to the German model, to the French model, to the American model, to the Canadian model.

 

This is the reason that the modern, post-Colonial State in Africa is misfiring so much; this is the reason that it is in crisis, because it is a misfit within existing African culture. It is not the individuals who are at fault; the problem is the parachuted, implanted, Western system, which is being rejected by the African body. We did not want to bring about a synthesis of African tradition, on the one hand, and European-Western tradition, on the other hand. The first generation of African Nationalist leaders who took over the new State in Africa simply wanted a total victory for the Western/European model. That is our present gigantic problem, which we must attend to and resolve, sooner or later.

 

The remarkable African scholar, resident in the USA, Ali Mazrui, has commented on this massive problem: “Who killed African democracy? The cultural half caste who came in from Western schools and did not adequately respect African ancestors. Institutions were inaugurated without reference to cultural compatibilities, and new processes were introduced without respect for continuities. Ancestral standards of property and legitimacy were ignored. When writing up a new constitution for Africa these elites would ask themselves `How does the House of Representatives in the United States structure its agenda? How do the Swiss cantons handle their referendum? I wonder how the Canadian federation would handle such an issue?’ On the other hand, these African elites almost never ask how did the Bunyoro, the Wolof, the Igbo or the Kikutu govern themselves before colonization?” [Ali A. Mazrui, “Who Killed Democracy in Africa? Clues of the Past, Concerns of the Future", Key Note Address, Conference on Democracy, Sustainable Development and Poverty: Are They Compatible?, Development Policy Management Forum, United Nations Conference Center, Addis Ababa, 4-6 December 2001, p. 7]

 

 

In line with that prejudice, our modern urban elites find it difficult to imagine engaging with the Traditional Communal/Community/Village structures which came with African history and tradition, in preparing the path for development.

 

In line with the capitalist spirit and ideology, modern elites will rather attempt to create individual entrepreneurs/capitalists within the rural communes, and focus resources towards developing those individual entrepreneurs.

 

In line with their prejudice mentioned above, just as they parachuted political/state institutions from Europe and the West, so modern urban African political activists have parachuted on to African rural soil urban-conceived and urban designed “Cooperative” structures. They would rather deal with “cooperative” structures from the cities, conceived and designed by Consultants and Advisors with a Western orientation, than deal with Indigenous African rural cooperative structures!  

 

3.            We are then proposing that the “Cooperative” structure we form,

promote and strengthen should be in line with Indigenous African tradition, with the Collectivism and Communalism of Indigenous Africa: it should be in line with the Indigenous logic and philosophy of UBUNTU. The Ancestral Cooperative Structure of Indigenous Africa, the framework of which still exists within the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, is the COMBINATION OF HOUSEHOLDS WITHIN THE VILLAGE –Imindeni yeSigodi, or Imindeni yeLali. We are talking here about the same Households who, traditionally, would be part and parcel of ILIMO, the same people from the Village Households who congregate at a home where there has been a death. We are not talking here about Individuals who have come together with other individuals and formed a company; we are talking about the Households of a Village who have become a Legal Person, who can, on that basis, interact with the Municipality and other Government structures.  This type of Cooperative of the Village Households shall have the additional strength of Spiritual and Mental BONDING of neighbours bestowed by Indigenous African culture. 

 

4.            The aim behind the mobilization of these Households of each

Village into Cooperatives, members of which work together as neighbours, Cooperatives which are also Legal entities which interact with the Municipality, with other economic institutions and other Government departments, is, first and foremost, to assure Food Security to each and every Village on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa.        

 

Note that the aim of assuring Food Security to each and every Village on the FIRST-FLOOR Rural South Africa is to reverse or undo the maladies and deformations in the physical beings of individuals, in family life, in Spiritual illnesses and deformations, in social relations in general, as listed above in Section 1.  

 

4.1  We are talking, here, about making available material resources and Community Education to the members of Village Cooperatives with regard, first and foremost, to food production. We must realize that this is not a one-way street, all the education coming from urban, mainly young, graduates  with tertiary education to rural Africans. We must realize and publicly admit that

a lot of scientifically sound agricultural knowledge is possessed by rural people, especially by rural agricultural adults, who have not received any certificates from modern educational institutions.

 

There is no country in world history, particularly in modern history, which succeeded in taking gigantic revolutionary steps in economic, technological, and scientific development without a synthesis of, without mixing, the abstract scientific knowledge from cities and higher education, on one hand, and the practical scientific knowledge of ordinary people in rural communities, on the other hand. Here is an amazing instance, relating to the astonishing role of peasants in reviving industrial production in the Soviet Russia in 1921. After World War 1, the 1917 Revolution, and the Civil War, Russian large-scale industry was utterly destroyed: “You know that one of our principal industrial centres is the Donets Basin. You know that there we have some of the largest of the former capitalist enterprises, which are in no way inferior to the capitalist enterprises in Western Europe. You know also that our first task there was to restore the big industrial enterprises; it was easier for us to start the restoration of the Donets industry because we had a relatively small number of workers there. But what do we see there now…? We see the very opposite, viz., that the development of production is particularly successful in the small mines which we have leased to peasants…The peasant mines are working well and are delivering to the state, by way of rent, about thirty per cent of their coal output. The development of production in the Donets Basin shows a considerable general improvement over last summer’s catastrophic position…” (Lenin, V. I., Collected Works, Volume 33, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1966, pp. 94-95)    

 

All the countries which took gigantic, revolutionary steps in economic, technological, and scientific development, over literally 3 to 4 decades, went through CULTURAL REVOLUTIONS, consisting of the participation of millions upon millions of ordinary rural people in cultural, scientific, technological, and economic production aimed at creating a new society. We are talking about millions upon millions of peasants and ordinary men and women in the countryside and cities being allowed and being free to exercise their imagination, minds, and personalities in solving the problems of society. The Soviet Union experienced a Cultural Revolution from 1928 and during the 1930s (Fitzpatrick, Sheila, editor, Cultural Revolution in Russia 1928-1931,, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1978).

 

Perhaps the greatest Cultural Revolution in all history was the Great Cultural Revolution, which took place in China in the late 1960s, led by Mao Zedong. Mao insisted that millions of city people must go to rural areas “to learn from the peasants”. The result was an astonishing cross-fertilization of city knowledge and peasant knowledge, whose impact on economic development, on science, medicine, and technology was more than remarkable (Macciocchi, Maria Antonietta, Daily Life in Revolutionary China, New York Monthly Review, 1972).

 

Another remarkable historical instance of a Cultural Revolution took place in Cuba, a small country, only 90 miles from the US mainland, which survived a total blockade imposed by the most powerful economy and military power in history. Cuba could only survive and make remarkable strides in scientific, cultural, and military development because of the participation of millions upon millions of ordinary Cuban people, above all the peasantry, in the economic, cultural, technological, and scientific development of the country (Castro, Fidel, Can Cuba Survive, Melbourne, Ocean Press, 1992; Castro, Fidel, War, Racism and Economic Injustice, Melbourne, Ocean Press, 2002).   

 

With regard to South Africa, specifically with regard to Eastern Cape, with regard to Mhlontlo Municipality, where we are, in these days of fashionable Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), which is Government policy, one should not really meet any resistance in suggesting that the knowledge and science of rural people in the Mhlontlo Municipality should be mixed with city and university knowledge in developing this region of the Eastern Cape.

 

5.            We want, of course, to eliminate the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa. We want to lift, not a few individuals, not a few entrepreneurs, to a higher and better economic status; we want to create wealth, not for a few lucky or crafty individuals; NO, we want to lift entire Villages currently on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, to a higher and better economic status; we want to create wealth, not for a few or crafty individuals, but for entire Villages on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa. We want to abolish the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa altogether. We want to push and promote the masses of FIRST-FLOOR people to the higher floors of economic and social well-being.

6.            There is a tremendous lot which can be done to eliminate Food Insecurity on the existing land available to rural Africans, even before we attend to the issue of Land Re-Distribution, and Re-Distribution of economic power in the nation at-large, which is very necessary to bring about economic justice in the country.

7.            Assuring Food Security to the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, to the Villages of Mhlontlo Municipality, means systematically mobilizing the Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge present within the culture of Mhlontlo Municipality, AND mixing it, or synthesizing it, with Agricultural-Scientific knowledge developed in Agricultural Research Institutions and other Tertiary institutions. What is very striking is that the supposedly new knowledge in Agricultural Science, based on the REJECTION of the use of chemicals and Pesticides in Agriculture seems,  in outline, to be going back to the Agricultural Science, and Ecological sensitivity, of Pre-industrial people around the world (Faiez, Shahridan, “Indigenous Water Management Systems and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa”, Resurgence, No. 52, December 1994, pp. 36-38; Davis, Mike, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World, London, Verso, 2001; Bittman, Mark, “Now This is Food”, New York Times, October 22, 2013).

8.            We are, then, talking about a synthesis of Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge existing on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, specifically of Mhlontlo Municipality, AND Agricultural Science developed in Research Institutes and Tertiary institutions.

9.            The size of investment needed to assure Food Security (in Rand/Dollar sense) is very small relative to the size of investment needed for Industrial Development. We are talking here about a manageable size of monies from National, Provincial, and Local Municipal Government. Indeed, some of the Funding can come from Local and International Donors.

10.       Another important component of the assistance needed is Training and Educational. We shall need Agricultural Trainers and Educators from the Departments of Agriculture and Land Affairs; from the Land Bank; from Universities and Technikons, and from International organizations specializing in agriculture and Food Security matters.

11.       Another important principle is to investigate possibilities of Mhlontlo Municipality specializing in Organic Farming (Some 2 decades ago, the Kara Heritage Institute, working together with Batho-Batho Cultural Association of Afrika, issued a publication urging Africans to move in the direction of Organic Farming and Medicinal Plants: see Nutritional Agriculture and Medicinal Plant Farming, issued by Kara Heritage Institute, Pretoria). A new and fast developing need in World food consumption is Organically-grown food! A sizable and increasing market for organically-grown food is emerging in the developed countries, especially among educated, professional, middle and upper classes. We are, therefore, not talking ONLY about assuring Food Security for the millions of people on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, specifically the Villages of Mhlontlo Municipality; WE ARE TALKING ALSO ABOUT FOOD PRODUCTION AS A BUSINESS!

12.       Ordinary people in the Villages of Mhlontlo Municipality shall be assisted not only to produce HEALTHY food for themselves to eat, but ALSO to produce a surplus for sale in the local, national, even international, food market. This, of course, requires expertise and specialized planning.

13.       Another policy activity shall be to increase the capacity, and to boost the imagination of those individuals, households, groups, or villages, or companies, that want to develop rural industries or agribusiness. Here we are talking about initiating Rural Industrialization. Another policy activity should be aimed at developing the infrastructure of transportation; boosting the imagination of rural people in designing and constructing culture-friendly and appropriate housing (not duplicating township houses in African rural areas); developing proper health care facilities, and boosting and empowering the imagination of rural people in fostering health care; developing the infrastructure for education, and mobilizing local cultures to facilitate education in rural areas, not just the education of the young, but also the education of adults; supporting and empowering the development and production of the arts; the development of communication technology and science; and research and development of traditional African crops, as well as of African traditional medicine . We are talking here about the totality of rural development.

 

The greatest anomaly in Africa is the total discontinuity between the African village, the basic cell of African society, on one hand, and the African City, the new Western education, the modern African State and modern African politics, on the other hand.

 

We must aim at designing and producing a synthesis of the precious gifts of the African villages, on one hand, and the gifts of the modern city and of other civilizations in our midst, on the other hand.

 

The important point is that this shall have an enormous, positive psychological effect on society as a whole; it shall give rise to hopeful activity within the Province and the country-at-large. It shall inject hope, inspiration, and purpose, into the minds and spirit of the masses of society members in our country, and shall create a sense of purpose to millions of people in society.

 

Mhlontlo Municipality shall be a pioneer in this new type of development.

 

Focus on rural people, and on rural areas, benefits the urban economy, simply because the monies that go into the pockets of rural people are used by rural people to buy goods and services produced in urban areas. Therefore, such developments in rural areas, among rural people, become stimulants to the urban economy, and add dynamism to the entire economy. This contributes towards increasing the purchasing, or buying power, or consumer demand, of the masses of African people.

 

Developing the 60 to 70 percent of our population currently in rural and semi-rural areas means, in effect, creating a wider and bigger market for goods and services than currently exist.

 

This shall have enormous spin-off effects in the entire economy, both provincially and nationally. It is the development of the buying power of the masses of African people, and the creation of a bigger and wider market than currently exist, which shall stimulate the development and growth of the entire economy of Eastern Cape, as well as the entire economy of the entire nation; it is the development of the buying power of the millions of African people on the FIRST-FLOOR of Rural South Africa, which shall then become an attraction for foreign investment. An axiom in US economics is that the buying power and consumer demand of the majority of American people is the driving engine of the US economy. The World Bank and IMF have always said that the Achilles’ heel of the South African economy is the smallness of the domestic economy. That is the decisive bottle-neck, throttling our economy as a nation, and throttling the economy of Eatern Cape.

 

Our development strategy is aimed precisely at developing and creating that large domestic market. We must first free our economy from the restriction of that bottle-neck: the economists advising our government leaders are wasting time, misleading our leadership, and diverting us from the most urgent task before us, by stressing the importance of “producing for export.” That wrong recommendation is, itself, an admission that there is a serious bottle-neck in our economy, but then a running away from the problem! We must attend to the problem identified by the World Bank; we must focus on increasing the buying power and consumer demand of our economy –that is, enlarging and developing the domestic market; let us develop our people, from the base up, so that ordinary African people in the Province, and in the country, become the driving engine of the economy of Eastern Cape and of the country.

 

Our slogan should be: TO THE COUNTRYSIDE! EMAKHAYA! EZILALINI!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ABENGUNI: SOUTHERN AFRICA AND THE DESCENDANTS OF “MNGUNI”

 

BY

 

PROFESSOR HERBERT VILAKAZI

 

(Lecture at Midrand Fire Station, 13 May 2010)

 

I very much hope that this shall be the first of many lectures, workshops, seminars, or symposia, in this country, aimed at correcting and reorienting the mind of Africans throughout the Continent of Africa, and, indeed, throughout the world.

 

We must begin, of course, at home, as with everything else; that is, we must begin with Africans in our own country. Going way back, Africans took it for granted that `no person, and no region of the world, is an island, and complete, by itself.’ Africans took the universality of the human being for granted. Indeed, Africans took it for granted that there is only one race, the human race, in Robert Sobukwe’s words. We also know, now, that human beings first emerged in this world here in the Continent of Africa. Africa is, indeed, the Mother of Humankind. Humankind first learned language, music, dance, philosophy, religion, art and the rest of culture, from Mother Africa.

 

It is from there, less than 100,000 years ago, that some of the children of Mother Africa began to leave her, to move to other regions of the world; as they moved, over thousands years, they changed skin colour, shapes of noses and lips, and texture of hair –and also developed variations of culture, and of language, and of rhythm to music. Underneath our skin colours, as some scientists have written, `we are all Africans.’  

 

Tens of thousands of years later, some of Mother Africa’s children, from some regions of the world, having forgotten their original relationship with Mother Africa, came back and abused their own fellow brothers and sisters in Africa, and carried millions to be slaves in other regions of the world. Africans, Arabs, Indians, Asians, Europeans, Jews, the peoples of the Americas, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean, are all brothers and sisters long lost to one another emotionally and mentally. Is there any drama and pathos in the world, in literature and art, which surpasses this drama and pathos, the drama and pathos in the Story of Africa? I assert there is absolutely none..

 

The Story of Africa is yet untold. It requires the depth, breadth, and height of genius and pathos far surpassing the genius and pathos of the greatest poets, artists, and dramatists known to the world so far. This is the greatest challenge facing us as African artists, dramatists, poets, historians and students of culture –to tell The Story of Africa. The greatest challenge facing all of us in the world, as human beings, is to restore the original relationship which existed between Africans and all the peoples of the world. That is the greatest challenge of Humanism in our time.

 

Let us begin at home, in our region of Africa. Here is my argument, which is a tiny, tiny part of the yet untold Story of Africa.

 

A large segment of the peoples of Southern Africa are descendants of the Primeval Father called “Mnguni”, much as most people in the Old Testament are descendants of the Primeval Father called “Abraham”. The argument in this address is that most of these peoples of Southern Africa, definitely those of South Africa, are actually close brothers and sisters, related by blood and culture. One of the most powerful evidence of original blood, or family, relationship, in the history of villages, nations, and civilizations, is language and culture. Here is a crucially important law in human history: “If genetic relationship among a number of languages can be demonstrated, it constitutes prima facie evidence that the ancestors of the speakers of those languages shared a common location at some time in the past.” (Reconstructing African Culture History, edited by C. Gabel and N. R. Bennett, 1967, p. 31)

 

The languages of the peoples of South Africa are genetically related, pointing to a distant common ancestry and home. AmaZulu, AmaXhosa, AmaSwazi, AmaNdebele, AbeSuthu, AbaTswana, AmaPedi, AmaVenda, AmaShangane, AmaTsonga, are all close brothers and sisters, with a common historical father, the Primeval Father “Mnguni”. What must be stressed is that this close “family” relationship of the African people of South Africa extends to the entire SADDC region, indeed, to most of Africa. 

 

Let me stress that our Primeval Father also had brothers and sisters, and the elders of the family, and ancestors, some of whom moved and migrated to different parts of the Continent, West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa; Mnguni also had wives from certain families: all this provides a network of close blood ties with all of us. (a part of Nigeria, and DNA studies).

 

Here is an important point: when we speak of the Primeval Father, or Primeval Mother, we are sure of only one thing: that person did live; the actual details of his or her life are vague; myth and legend surround that person: but there are grains of truth in every historical myth or legend. ABRAHAM did live; HOMER did live; MNGUNI did live; however, the details of their life, i. e., year of birth, address, body size, etc., are vague. However, history is not guesswork: facts are needed to reach the conclusion that such and such a person lived, and such an event occurred. The test for the truth is this: there must be corroborative evidence around that person or that event, which leads us to the conclusion that such a person lived, or that event occurred. What corroborative evidence do we have in mind? Witnesses, near or far; the evidence of language/s and culture; skeletal, or bone remains; botanical, archeological, photographic evidence, etc.  

 

Let me begin with the so-called “Nguni” people in South Africa –i. e., with AmaXhosa, AmaZulu, AmaSwazi, AmaNdebele. If you listen to the languages spoken by these people, and you think over the matter carefully, it becomes clear that these languages have a common parentage. I shall repeat the principle from linguistics I quoted above: “If genetic relationship among a number of languages can be demonstrated, it constitutes prima facie evidence that the ancestors of the speakers of those languages shared a common location at some time in the past.” (Reconstructing African Culture History, edited by C. Gabel and N. R. Bennett, 1967, p. 31)

 

 

Since the African Slave Trade and Colonialism, it has been taken for granted that Africa and Africans have no history, except the history of Europeans in Africa; except the history of interaction between Europeans and Africans at the start of modern history, and during Colonialism; except the interaction between Arabs and Africans; but very importantly, except the history of Africa as written by Europeans. The evidence used by Europeans in writing this history has largely been evidence they got from Archives, i. e., written memoirs, articles, and books written by Europeans who encountered Africans at the particular time. This is the evidence African history students, taught by Europeans, in universities using the European method, used as they studied for their history degrees.

 

A highly acclaimed European historian, the Oxford University Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, wrote just before he died:

“Perhaps, in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at present, there is none, or very little; there is only the history of the Europeans in Africa. The rest is largely darkness, like the history of pre-European, pre-Columbian America. And darkness is not a subject for history.” (Trevor-Roper, Hugh, The Rise of Christian Europe, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, London, 1965, p. 9)

 

We can dismiss this view as racist rubbish, astonishing that it is expressed in such a stark, uncompromising manner by one of the leading princes of European historical scholarship, housed at the leading European university, the pride of Western civilization, Oxford University. This is a measure of how far removed this scholarship, and practitioners, are from Humanism and from the truth.

 

There are no societies, no communities, and no families, without history. Writing is simply one of the means of communication, and of preserving knowledge. Societies, communities, and families without writing used other means, primarily what is called Oral History. History is stored in poetry, in drama, in music, in art, in memory, and in narration told from generation to generation. There were specialist historians who preserved historical knowledge.

 

AmaZulu, AmaXhosa, AmaSwazi, and AmaNdebele have a common parentage. The oral history still told by our historians up to our time, informs us that these people are historically close relatives. Professor Masilo Lamla, of Walter Sisulu University, in his Ph. D. thesis, confirms that “the original known name of the Xhosa people was Abe-Nguni…The name of chief Xhosa, a descendant of Mnguni, became the tribal name.” (Lamla, Masilo, Present Day Manifestations of Ancestor Worship Among the Southern Nguni, Department of Anthropology, University of Fort Hare, 1999, p. 36) Queen Mkabi, wife to King Shaka’s father, King Senzangakhona, who lived until 1879, recalls her family history thus: “…they continued to call themselves by their name of origin `Base Nguni’…I think most of the people of Zululand also came from the country of the Nguni people long ago, but they have formed new nations” (KwaZulu).

 

Oral history tells us that Mnguni and his people came down the river from Upper Africa (Behla ngesilulu).

 

Our preserved historical knowledge informs us that our Primeval Father, Mnguni, had 4 (four) descendants: UXhosa, USwazi, UNdebele, and Luzumane. Xhosa became the founder of AmaXhosa; Swazi became the founder of AmaSwazi; Ndebele became the founder of AmaNdebele; and Luzumane, the direct ancestor of King Zulu, became the founder of AmaZulu.

 

It is important to mention that Luzumane, who bore Zulu-1, came from UNDLUNKULU, i. e., the wife who bears the successor to the King. Therefore, it was known that the reigning King or Queen comes from that line. It is from this historical and cultural knowledge that the Zulu King sometimes wonders when there is the assertion that there are many Kings in the country; from this history and tradition the Zulu King considers himself to be the only culturally legitimate King.

 

I must stress, of course, that I am speaking here about the original historical fact; subsequent historical movements and politics have produced new facts. Let me make this clearer through this example: centuries ago, the King or Queen of England was the Ruler of England. That is a historical fact.

 

However, today, the King or Queen of England is not the Ruler of England. That is also an historical fact.

 

Each of these descendants of Mnguni moved, migrated, and established the respective communities of AmaXhosa, AmaSwazi, AmaNdebele, and AmaZulu, each one having its own leader. Hence Professor Lamla’s statement: “the original known name of the Xhosa people was Abe-Nguni…The name of chief Xhosa, a descendant of Mnguni, became the tribal name.” 

 

We must stress, too, that linguistic evidence seems to suggest that Southern Sotho- and Northern Sotho-speaking people are most likely descendants of Mnguni. My Lecturer in Sesotho One introduced the course with this significant statement: “The skeleton of Sesotho is Zulu.” The living body, of course, is made up of both bones and flesh. In the history of languages, the flesh consists of similarities and differences that have persisted, changed, and developed in the course of migrations, time, and contact with differing environments and communities. Linguists must follow this line of research. Some of you present here, or reading this document, are enough linguists to follow this line of research; and I urge you to do this work for the sake of our proper self-knowledge as Africans.

 

The noted American anthropologist, George Peter Murdock wrote: “The nation known as the Nguni represents the southernmost extension of the Bantu.” (Murdock, George Peter, Africa: Its Peoples and their Culture History, New York, McGraw-Hill, 1972, p. 380) He then goes on to list communities throughout Southern Africa, Tanzania, and the Congo, that he considers branches of the Nguni tree. We must note that European and American scholars, in line with the political interests of European and American governments, were, and are still, keen to deny the unity of African people; they then started a scholarly process of differentiating Africans.

 

In line with the new concept of “Negro”, they then identified what they call “Negro Africa”, distinct from the part of Africa conquered and ruled by Arabs in northern regions of the continent. Above all, Egypt was intellectually detached from Africa, to suite the false and racist thesis that ancient Egyptian civilization was not created by Africans. The next urgent need was to say that Ethiopia was not quite African, because of the decisive significance of ancient Ethiopia in world culture, particularly in the history of `Western religion.’ The remainder consisted of indigenous Africans, those who were below the Sahara, hence the term “Sub-Sahara Africa.” 

 

The indigenous Africans, those who created the yet unsurpassed civilization of Ancient Egypt, are the core population of Africa, who created African civilization. It is this stock of Africans which gave birth to all Humankind: 

 

“Africa was the birthplace of all the various human species to walk this planet.” (Oppenheimer, Stephen, Out of Africa’s Eden: The Peopling of the World, Cape Town, Jonathan Ball, 2003, p. 51)

 

This was a relatively small group of people who are the ancestors of a population now exceeding 4 billion people:

“In fact, the genetic heritage of modern humans may be derived from a core of 2,000 -10,000 Africans who lived around 190,000 years ago.” (Ibid., p. 46)

 

Nguni people are a large part of this core African population, a large part of the indigenous Africans, which Western segregationists in scholarship call “Bantu”. This classification arose out of the classification of languages in Africa by Western linguists. Most of the languages spoken by the core African population were said to belong to the `family’ of “Bantu languages”; and these languages are related, i. e., they are genetically related. Remember, again: “If genetic relationship among a number of languages can be demonstrated, it constitutes prima facie evidence that the ancestors of the speakers of those languages shared a common location at some time in the past.” (Reconstructing African Culture History, edited by C. Gabel and N. R. Bennett, 1967, p. 31)

 

Abenguni are, therefore, genetically related to the South and North Sotho people, and to the indigenous African population at large. They have close relatives throughout the continent.

 

In spite of the enormous varieties found in Traditional societies and cultures of Africa, there is still a remarkable similarity cutting across this variety of African cultures. (Maquet, Jacques, Africanity: The Cultural Unity of Black Africa, London, Oxford University Press, 1972; Diop, Cheikh Anta) 

 

Africans before the irruption of capitalism on the continent took their Pan-Africanism for granted. A philosophical and psychological premise for Africans was: “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”, and “Induku enhle igawulwa ezizweni.” King Shaka instructed one of the Englishmen who had come to his palace as follows: “Go back to you King, and inform him that I say he should unite all the White nations; I shall unite all the Black nations; then we shall unite”.    

 

The last point, all testifying to the original Pan-Africanism of Africans, is the following: What today is the ANC, the African national Congress, was originally not founded as a South African political organization. It was founded as a Pan-African movement, to work for the liberation of the entire continent, and of all African people, from European conquest and European rule. It was founded largely by Kings and Queens of Africa, who sent delegates to Bloemfontein in 1912 –all the African Kings and Queens within South Africa sent delegates; together with the Kings and Queens of Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Congo, Malawi, Uganda, and others. The Anthem “Nkosi Sikelela i Africa” became an Anthem for all the peoples of Southern Africa. The ANC originally was, as it were, founded as the AU, the African Union, at the beginning of the 20th century. King Sobhuza’s Grandmother, UNdlunkulu Gwamile, made, perhaps, the greatest contribution in supporting the ANC. Her Royal Highness even had Dr. Pixley ka Seme, and Vilakazi from Ladysmith, to come and work from Swaziland! They became the tutors to the young prince, Sobhuza; and also assisted UNdlunkulu and the young King Sobhuza in working out a strategy for fighting against European colonialism.

 

This consciousness and feeling should be reawakened and strengthened among all Africans. This, of course, should have immense emotional, behavioral implications, as well as political, economic implications.

 

The conflicts and massacres occurring in Africa in our time seem to invalidate any talk of African Humanism and Pan Africanism, any talk of Ubuntu.

 

The present greatest problem in Africa is the absence of a correct strategy for economic and social development. African leaders, including South African leaders, are still not pursuing a correct development strategy. Poverty, unemployment, social decay, and emotional pathologies are on the increase, as a direct result of the failure of development, as a direct result of wrong development policies being followed by African leaders, including our own leaders. Conflicts, xenophobia, sexual abuse, the shocking scale and types of diseases afflicting African people, and all sorts of pathologies, are a direct result of wrong economic and social policies. We need to allocate time and sessions to discuss this issue in depth.

 

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                                       AFRICA’S PROBLEM OF THE STATE AND DEMOCRACY

BY

HERBERT W. VILAKAZI

 

(Cambridge University: Malaysian Commonwealth Studies, 3-4          

  July 2003)

 

 

The prevailing African State, in all African countries, is an implant from the European countries whose colony each African country was. The present post-colonial State in Africa did not grow organically out of the body of Africa: it is an implant on the African body, hence the grotesque features of some, or many, of the elements of the contemporary African State, and of contemporary Political Parties in Africa, which are also implants on the African body: the African body is rejecting many of these elements of the Western State.

 

The other point to stress, which also explains subsequent history and events in Africa, is that the African Slave Trade, and the conquest of Africa by Europe, brought about, throughout the world, deep contempt and degradation of African civilization and culture, compared to other civilizations and cultures. This deep contempt for African civilization penetrated deep into Western civilization and into the psychology and education of the West; it was also absorbed in large measure by African intellectuals and the African elite.

 

The remarkable African scholar, resident in the USA, Ali Mazrui, has commented on this massive problem: “Who killed African democracy? The cultural half caste who came in from Western schools and did not adequately respect African ancestors. Institutions were inaugurated without reference to cultural compatibilities, and new processes were introduced without respect for continuities. Ancestral standards of property and legitimacy were ignored. When writing up a new constitution for Africa these elites would ask themselves `How does the House of Representatives in the United States structure its agenda? How do the Swiss cantons handle their referendum? I wonder how the Canadian federation would handle such an issue?’ On the other hand, these African elites almost never ask how did the Bunyoro, the Wolof, the Igbo or the Kikutu govern themselves before colonization?” [Ali A. Mazrui, “Who Killed Democracy in Africa? Clues of the Past, Concerns of the Future", Key Note Address, Conference on Democracy, Sustainable Development and Poverty: Are They Compatible?, Development Policy Management Forum, United Nations Conference Center, Addis Ababa, 4-6 December 2001, p. 7]

 

This is the fundamental problem of the State and of Democracy in modern Africa. African political leaders and elites, upon gaining independence from Colonial masters, up to now, refused to accept and implement, in their own countries, that principle that seems to be observable throughout the process of historical evolution, the principle of continuity and discontinuity which reveals itself even in great revolutionary transformations in history. The historical past in the life of communities, in the form of traditions, culture, memories, language, etc, cannot simply be wiped out of existence, in favour of the new, or of something different. Real history is full of compromises.

 

The stubborn refusal to accept the principle of continuity and discontinuity in historical evolution, or of compromises, more often than not, leads in practice to massacres and genocide, to dehumanization and to tragedy. I would like to discuss and analyze the tragedy of Africa, played out in the refusal of African leaders and elites to accept and implement a compromise between African traditional authority, on one hand, and the form of State they inherited from their Colonial masters, on the other hand. African political leaders and elites exhibit an inclination to accept compromise and the principle of continuity and discontinuity on all major issues except that which relates to fundamental aspects of African tradition and culture. Let us focus on the issue of the form of State in South Africa, and on the issue of African traditional authority.

 

The question, of course, is whether African traditions of political leadership and political rule can be reconciled with modern democracy.

 

This issue is at the heart of the tension and disagreement presently existing between the National Government, led by the ANC, and traditional leaders. The first issue of serious disagreement was over the role of His Majesty, King Zwelithini, in the CODESA Negotiations forum, and the whole question of the status of the King, Traditional Leaders, and the of the Zulu Kingdom, in the “form of State” which was being contemplated and designed for the new South Africa.

 

In assessing and praising the so-called “miracle of South Africa”, consisting of the new democratic State, elected through universal franchise, the protection of minorities in the electoral system, through the adoption of the PR system, or Proportional Representation, and the new South African Constitution, which enshrines what has been called “the classic liberal State” enriched by concern for Human Rights, most people seem to forget that this so-called “miracle” was a compromise solution in the confrontation of two historical blocks/communities and interests.

 

I would like to present to you this whole process as a scholar, sociologist, and historian, not as a Commissioner of the Independent Electoral Commission. I am someone who is particularly concerned about the prospects for Africa’s development as a democracy and as a humane society. What does modern history, and the dynamics of society, tell us about our own presently peculiar compromise? How does this compromise relate to the challenges faced by the entire continent of Africa? How does this compromise, and gigantic challenge, relate to the issue of reconciling African tradition and modern democracy? I want to underline to the audience before me that I am addressing, not a South African audience, but the audience of the entire continent of Africa.

 

Let us start, then, with our “miracle”. The “miracle”, of course, was the avoidance of a horrendous blood-bath between Whites and Africans in the country; a race war which would have inevitably involved and polarized all the nations and peoples of the world; a blood-bath which would have left us all, the entire world, seriously scarred, mentally and emotionally, and spiritually poorer.

 

The entire world wanted Whites and Africans in South Africa to avoid that tragedy.

 

Let me remind you that the German philosopher, Hegel, defined tragedy as conflict, not between right and wrong, but as conflict between right and right. The tragedy arises when, as a result of this conflict, either both “right” are annihilated; or one “right” defeats, subdues, destroys the other “right”.

 

In the Negotiations of 1993-94, two historic blocks/communities and interests were in confrontation: the African people, who are the overwhelming majority of society, on one hand, and the White community, which is a minority.

 

What is crucial to understand is that both these historic blocks, the Africans, on one hand, and the Whites, on the other hand, were powerful, but not one had enough power to annihilate, destroy, and subdue the other.

 

The result of this stalemate, in which no one side could prevail, were Negotiations; and the result of that stalemate in power, and the Negotiations, was the Compromise which was reached between the leading negotiator of the African community, the ANC, and the leading negotiator of the White community, the Government of the National Party.

 

The essence of this Compromise was that both rights must prevail, the right of the African people to rule the land, to be liberated politically, on one hand, and the right of the White community, as a minority, and all other minorities, to participate in the rule of the land.

 

This is how Proportional Representation emerged as a principle in the Electoral System, along with the principle of the Government of National Unity, the particular form of State agreed upon, and a Constitution of `classic liberalism’ which protected equally the human person, Human Rights, the right to hold private property, the right of cultures and languages to exist side by side, the rule of law, and Multi-Party democracy.

 

I repeat, the right of both rights to exist was agreed upon, the right of the African people, and the right of the White community. In Hegel’s terms, a tragedy was avoided.

 

Let us step back in history, and look at what happened in England. From the 17th century, to the 19th century, two historic blocks/communities and interests were in conflict in England: the Aristocracy, or traditional land-owning class, at the head of which was the Royal House, on one hand, and the bourgeoisie, small urban property-owners, and urban intellectuals, who revolved around the bourgeoisie, on the other hand.

 

Again, both historic blocks were powerful, but not one had the power to annihilate, destroy, and subdue the other.

 

Again, there was a stalemate, and both sides together reached a Compromise: there was a new form of State, which accommodated both rights: on the one hand, the right of the Aristocracy and the Royal House to exist, and, on the other hand, the right of the Bourgeoisie and its allies to exist.

 

This took the form of the right of Parliament to exist and to be an important arm of government –but a Parliament with two chambers: a) the House of Commons, recognizing the principle and right of existence of modern electoral democracy, and b) the House of Lords, which is non-elected, recognizing the principle and right of existence of traditional political leadership; what is important also is the principle and right of existence of the Royal House: the Government was “His or Her Majesty’s Government”!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, such was the Compromise between the Aristocracy and the Bourgeoisie in England, which recognized, in Hegelian terms, the right of both historic blocks and interests to exist: the right of modern electoral democracy to exist, and the right of English traditional authority to exist within the same new English form of State! In Hegelian terms, a tragedy was avoided.

 

(The fact that the English have recently demoted, almost abolished, the House of Lords as an effective organ of State, is merely a recognition that the society and people of Great Britain have changed sufficiently to the point where this institution no longer meets the needs of the time. This does not invalidate the historic justification and timeliness of the Compromise between Tradition and Modernity at the time that this Compromise was achieved. As the Book says, “There is a time for everything…”

 

Let us now turn to the manner in which most, in fact, all, African countries have dealt with African traditional political systems, in particular with African Traditional leaders.

 

Here, indeed, we have a tragedy in Hegelian terms. Remember Hegel’s conception of tragedy: a conflict, not between right and wrong, but a conflict between right and right: in the ensuing conflict, either both rights annihilate each other, or one “right” annihilates, destroys, or subdues, the other “right.”

 

Again, there has been a confrontation, here, between two historic blocks/communities and interests. In the conflict between Western electoral democracy, on one hand, and African traditional authority, on the other hand, is a confrontation between two historic blocks/communities and interests: on the one hand, the interests of the Western liberal State (Western society) and the power of Western concepts in the minds of African intellectuals, who are, intellectually, children of the West; on the other hand, the African Rural Community, where the overwhelming majority of African people live, and principles and patterns of African civilization, of which African tradition is part, grounded in African Rural Communities.

The defeat of the unorganized and weak African Rural Community,  and of principles and patterns of African civilization grounded in African rural communities, and our failure as Africans to bring about a Compromise between the Western form of State in Africa, and African traditional authority, means that we can never formulate a development strategy which is suitable to Africa. The Western form of State prevailing in Africa, and the power of Western concepts in the minds of African intellectuals and the African elite, shall not be able to move Africa forward, shall not be able to solve the fundamental problem of Africa.

 

The fundamental problem of Africa, including our own part of Africa, is the underdevelopment of the Rural African Community. The fundamental problem of Africa is the collapse of the African Village economy. The collapse and degradation of the African Rural Community is forcing millions of people to move to African cities and towns, which do not have the infrastructure and economic power to absorb these millions of people.

 

The collapse and degradation of the African Village therefore brings collapse and degradation and social pathology to African cities and towns. How can we end the collapse and degradation of rural Africa without using as building blocks for reconstructing Africa the principles and patterns of African civilization –including agreeing on a great Compromise between tradition and modernity in the form of State, as the historic blocks in England did from the 17th to the 19th century?

 

I am hoping that this detour of historic error, which has not taken Africa forward, shall soon come to pass; I am hoping that African intellectuals and the African elite, having been cleansed and purged of the poisonous attitude towards African civilization, which came with the African Slave Trade and Colonialism, shall

See the necessity for a Compromise between Western electoral democracy, on one hand, and African political tradition and principles of African civilization, on the other hand.

 

The current defeat of the African Rural Community, the bearer and source of African tradition, is due to the very peculiar larger historical context of Africa. To make this point clear in our minds, let us look at the Rural Community in England, in centuries leading to the compromise, and during the period of the compromise itself. The English countryside had been the scene of the emergence, development, and maturity, of a powerful social class, or estate, the Nobility or Aristocracy, which ended up being the ruling class of English society. This rural-based ruling class was based on the ownership of land, and the ownership or control of the mass of  labouring people in rural England, the peasantry, and the ability to acquire, control, and accumulate material wealth produced by the peasantry. In addition, the Aristocracy was effectively organized for warfare.

 

Even when the new class of the Bourgeoisie emerged and developed in the towns, it had to reckon with the organized, sizeable power of the Aristocracy. Over a period of centuries, the Aristocracy had won the respect and envy of the Bourgeoisie and of other urban classes. As the Bourgeoisie and other urban classes accumulated power, and stood as a historic block, they were not acting within a vacuum. There was an existing, opposing historic block with its own formidable power. Hence the need for a compromise. I must stress, too, that there was also a mutual interpenetration of the Bourgeois mindset and the mindset of the Aristocracy, so that there emerged a certain core of interests common to a certain section of the Bourgeoisie and to a certain section of the Aristocracy. [see Brian Manning, “The Nobles, The People, and The Constitution”, in Crisis in Europe: 1560-1660, edited by Trevor Aston, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965]

 

The English countryside was a sharply stratified community, with a well-developed ruling class which had the capacity and determination to fight for its material interests, as well as for its interest as a ruling class of society as a whole, including control over the power of the State. This picture and reality are in sharp contrast to the situation in the African countryside.

 

With rare exceptions, African societies were not as sharply stratified as English society was in the Middle and High Middle Ages. Until the conquest of Africa by Europe, there was neither a sharply developed concept of private property in land, nor a sharply developed land-owning class holding the rest of society in subjection. While Western Europe passed through the age of Feudalism, indigenous Africa never had feudalism, as we know it from Europe. African traditional leaders have never formed a class of feudal lords, or a land-owning class, exploiting the rest of the community through ownership and control of land. Professor Archie Mafeje warns: “In our view, it is a serious misconception to talk of land as property in any sense of the word in African communal social formations south of the Sahara.” (Archie Mafeje, The Theory and Ethnography of African Social Formations, London, Codestria Book Series, 1991, p. 97). What Professor Mafeje is stressing is the absence of the phenomenon of land as private property. Another scholar of African land tenure systems has written: “Most land tenure systems in Africa are `communal’ in character…`Communal’ means, in the great majority of cases, a degree of community control over who is allowed into the group, thereby qualifying for an allocation of land for residence and cropping, as well as rights of access to and use of the shared, common pool resources used by the group (i. e. the commons).” [Ben Cousins, “Tenure and Common Property Resources in Africa”, in Evolving Land Rights, Policy and Tenure in Africa, edited Camilla Toulmin and Julian Quan, London, DFID/IIED/NRI, 2000,  p. 152]

 

The property relationship between members of society and the most important productive force in traditional African society, land, had an impact on social stratification. The stress on equality and humaneness, Ubuntu, weighed more than the stress on the rights of sharply drawn social class lines. “In most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, unlike much of Asia and Latin America, land is relatively evenly distributed. The exceptions are parts of Southern Africa, where colonial settlers concentrated productive land into large private estates and where, as a result, land-related poverty is marked. Most rural Africans households have access to a plot of land, plus a wider area of common land for grazing, gathering and hunting.” [Julian Quan, “Land Tenure, Economic Growth and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa”, in Toulmin and Quan, op. cit., 32] 

 

We must stress, though, that the subjugation of Africa by Europe, the migrant labour system, and the virulent Anti-African racism in the distribution of development resources, robbed land distribution among Africans of the power to shape the pattern of stratification. White supremacy brought about the neglect of the countryside inhabited by Africans, and unequal development between the African community and the White community. The collapse of the African village economy is actually the hidden foundation of the crisis of the African economy in the entire continent. This has resulted in millions of people leaving rural areas for cities and towns, thereby transporting the rural crisis to African cities and towns, to constitute the urban crisis in Africa. We must also comment on the gender issue. The question to ask and investigate is this: were women an oppressed group/class/ estate in traditional African societies? We know that Engels linked the emergence of female oppression inextricably with the emergence of class oppression. “Thus, monogamy does not by any means make its appearance in history as the reconciliation of man and woman, still less as the highest  form of such a reconciliation. On the contrary, it appears as the subjection of one sex by the other, as the proclamation of a conflict, between the sexes entirely unknown hitherto in prehistoric times…The first class antagonism which appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamian marriage, and the first class oppression with that of the female sex by the male.” (Frederick Engels, Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State). What does historical and anthropological research on African society tell us on this issue? According to Engels’ formula, we would expect to see distinct female oppression as class oppression takes form and crystallizes in Africa. How far had African societies traveled on this road before the conquest of North Africa by Arabs, and before the conquest of Sub-Saharan Africa by Europe? Let me stress that conquest, by itself, is an imposition or implantation of class/caste oppression in the conquered society; and this class/caste oppression alters and deforms personality and character in certain, if not all, sections of the population. Sexual and gender relations are usually the first to suffer in this alteration and deformation caused by class/caste oppression occasioned by conquest. I must also stress that Europeans imposed upon the colonized Africans the oppressive, European, order of gender relations founded upon feudalism and the violence of early capitalist society (see Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England: 1500-1800, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977). This order of gender relations, which was implanted upon Africa by the conquering Europeans, was a most oppressive order, in which a female’s identity and rights were subsets of male identity and rights. There was nothing comparable to that order in most African societies before Arab or European conquest. (see, for example, the life of the senior wife to King Senzangakhona, Shaka’s father: Cecil Cowley, Kwa-Zulu: Queen Mkabi’s Story, Cape Town, C. Struik & Co., 1966) We must be careful about making historical generalizations, especially retro-active historical generalizations, from human behaviour that is occurring in modern historical conditions of advanced commodity production and capitalism, which are conditions already characterized by high levels of anomie, degeneration or degradation. Slavery, colonial domination, the migrant labour system, the ubiquitous violence which was the foundation of white supremacy, began at once to warp, distort, degrade, and to destroy the humanistic basis of pre-class societies in Africa. The violence inflicted upon African females by oppressed, brutalized, and harassed African males in urban ghettos and poor rural areas should not be conceptualized as a pattern which characterized gender relations in African societies at all historical periods before colonial conquest. (for a discussion of the link between the brutalization of males by society, and the brutalization of females by males, see Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, New York, Basic Books, 1992; William H. Grier and Price M. Cobbs, Black Rage, New York, Basic Books, 1968. One should also study Franz Fanon’s work on the psychiatry of colonialism, in the following publications by Franz Fanon: Black Skin, White Masks;  A Dying Colonialism;  The Wretched of the Earth)

 

This is the overall context within which the rural African community has been in existence since the conquest of Africa by European countries. The coming of Islam into large parts of Africa, and conquest by Arabs, also affected the African rural community, and the functioning of systems of African Traditional Authority.

 

The existing crisis in Africa is multi-facetted, manifesting itself as the crisis of the State, the crisis of the Economic, the crisis of Education, the crisis of the Family, the crisis of Gender Relations, the Urban crisis, the crisis of African Civilization, etc. We are focusing in this discussion on the crisis of the State in contemporary Africa. The failure of Africans, so far, to produce a synthesis, a compromise, between African Traditional Authority and the Western Liberal State, has been, and continues to be, the seminal cause of the overall crisis of Africa.

This is the outline of the direction which the resolution of this seminal problem should take.

 

I propose, for all levels of government, a legislative assembly with two chambers, one elected through universal franchise, and the second non-elected.

 

The first chamber, the elected one, would satisfy the needs of modernity for democratic representation through elections.

 

The second chamber, the non-elected chamber, would satisfy the need of tradition for representation, and would also be an attempt to improve the quality of modern democracy.

 

The second, non-elected chamber would consist, in part, of Traditional Leaders, and also, in part, of other members of society deemed worthy through wisdom, experience, or education, by an independent commission, of participating for a specified term in the legislative body in the interest of society.

 

The elected chamber would have the same number of members as the non-elected chamber.

 

Both chambers would have equal powers: the responsibility of both chambers making up the Legislative Assembly should be to debate government policy and affairs of State in general; to propose, debate, amend, approve, or reject, legislation. I emphasize: the non-elected chamber should be an equal partner of the elected chamber.

 

The coexistence of the elective and non-elective principle seems wise as an attempt to synthesize tradition and modernity.

 

Along with the positive, modern elections have a negative aspect.

The essence of modern democracy is political parties addressing and manipulating masses of people in efforts to win votes.

 

The problem is that issues besetting modern societies are complex, and individual members of society no longer have the space and correct spiritual atmosphere conducive to thinking properly. The crowds addressed by politicians consist of people at varying levels of education and sophistication.

 

The inevitable tendency, then, is for extreme simplification of these complex issues.

 

A psychological factor also enters to complicate the matter. Given inequality, poverty, unemployment, misery, and the fears and anxieties rooted in modern social life, any mass audience consists of people suffering from varying levels of anxiety and anguish.

 

Again, the largest layer of any typical mass audience in a typical large election is beset with very high levels of anxiety and anguish, which must be addressed by the politician. The average politician often turns to demagogy, playing to the emotions of the audience, taking the shortest route from simple ideas to the anxieties and emotions of the audience. (Max Weber, “Politics as a Vocation”)

 

The other problem is that elections are expensive. This has often placed parties and politicians under the power of money, giving the wealthy, and business companies/corporations enormous power over politicians, therefore over government policies.

 

Thus, the influence of money, corruption, and the ups and downs of public emotion often make it very difficult for the average politician to be guided by the strength of his or her own convictions and independence of mind on any important issue. A certain sickness then falls upon most politicians, namely, the fear or hesitation to speak one’s mind honestly on certain major issues, the fear of the truth, the tendency to want to conform to the particular emotions of the particular moment on a particular issue.

 

These factors considerably lower the quality of democratic politics, or of modern democracy.

 

This, in my view, is the advantage of having a non-elected chamber within Parliament. The entrance to this chamber shall not depend on shaping one’s views and personality to suit the emotions and desires of voters and wealthy financial donors.

 

This should allow a sizeable proportion of these members to express views and propose policies uninfluenced to a large extent by temporary fashions of public opinion.

 

It should also free these members from the tendency of politicians to simplify issues for easy mass consumption and approval. In other words, a significant number of members of the non-elected chamber should be able to belong to what I call the “Party of Truth”. We are told, for example, that very valuable changes in Bills passed by the House of Commons in England, are made by members of the House of Lords, precisely because members of this non-elected chamber are generally not restrained in their public utterances by fears of the electorate.

 

I suggest that we seriously consider and debate the merit of having a Legislature with two chambers, one elected, the other non-elected, with equal powers, at all levels or tiers of government. That, I think, shall meet the needs of modernity, as well as the wisdom of retaining the precious elements of African tradition, as well as vastly raise and improve the quality of modern democracy. We, as Africans, should move beyond the boundaries of the Western form of State, without abandoning the valuable, progressive elements of Western liberalism. We should agree on a great Compromise between the historic block of African civilization and African political tradition, on one hand, and the Western form of State, on the other hand. This shall entrench democracy more firmly, and contribute towards bringing about genuine development to the entire continent of Africa.  

 

 

 

 

 

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AFRICAN TRADITIONAL MEDICINE

BY

HERBERT W. VILAKAZI*

 

(*Director: Vilakazi Development Strategies, P. O. Box 70357; Die Wilgers; Pretoria; 0041; Telephone/Fax: 012 807-4265; Cell: 0725609752; Email: vilakazi@icon.co.za)

 

 

[MMed Week; Medunsa: 2 February 2005)

 

 

Any discussion of medicine must begin with the statement that just about all diseases have social causes, rather than biological courses.

 

It is to conditions and tendencies in society and culture that we must look for the causes and roots of almost all diseases. This is true of water-related diseases that kill millions of children and adults every year; this is also true of diabetes, heart attacks, hypertension, and cancers related to what is referred to as `life style’. Likewise, it is also conditions and tendencies in society and culture which are responsible for existing capacities and abilities to cure diseases; it is also the same conditions and tendencies in society and culture which are responsible for absent capacities and absent abilities to cure diseases.

 

Medicine, then, is not a pure science: indeed, no science is a pure science. There are many, many errors, blind-sports, untruths, ignorance, omissions, prejudices, and crimes against masses of human beings, which are forced into, or incorporated within, medicine, by the conditions and tendencies of a particular society and culture. The blessings and powers of medicine, and the light of science shining within medicine, are all bestowed upon medicine by the conditions and tendencies of a particular society and particular culture.

 

However, I must be fast to add that the blessings and powers of medicine in modern society are distributed to members of society in a very selective and discriminatory manner; this discrimination and selective distribution, within medicine, is forced upon the system of medicine by social class inequality, by the enduring power of racism in society, by the caste system, by the profit-motive driving health care, by the evil of bureaucracy, by city people’s prejudices against rural people, by gender differences, and by budget considerations.

 

Sometimes this discrimination and selective criteria within medicine rise, willy-nilly, almost to the level of genocide and crimes against humankind; when certain diseases target mainly the poor, or children of poor mothers; when certain diseases target mainly the people of Third World countries; when Aids, for example, targets mainly Africans.

 

Therefore, issues of medicine are, first and foremost, not issues of science, but issues of tendencies in society and culture, issues of politics, issues of prejudice and racism, issues of ignorance bred by prejudice, racism, politics, and a particular society and culture.

 

This is particularly the case when we encounter the issue of African Traditional Medicine. We are dealing here, first and foremost, not with medicine, but with prejudice in modern Western culture against African people, with prejudice against African culture, with the prejudice of city people against rural people, and with the prejudice of educated professional people against peasants. All this prejudice creates a gigantic cloud, fog, and sphere of ignorance, which harms us all, and hampers our way towards creating a humane society.

 

We then, unthinkingly, choose to live within that sphere of ignorance and prejudice against African traditional medicine, and then proceed to tell and to believe all sorts of lies about African traditional medicine.

African traditional medicine arose out of the experience of Africans in African traditional society, a society which is the oldest society in all human history. We know that human beings first emerged in Africa: Africa is the Mother of Humankind. It was only approximately 60,000 years ago that some of the Africans walked out of Africa, to other regions of the world, and there, after some time, changed skin colour, hair texture, and shape of nose and lips.

 

Africans, Whites, Indians, Asians, Arabs, Jews, Native Americans, Amerindians, Eskimos, are all cousin brothers and cousin sisters long lost to one another psychologically, mentally, and spiritually. Tens of centuries later, some of these cousin brothers and cousin sisters came back to Africa and abused, killed, enslaved, and poured deep contempt upon their first cousin brothers and first cousin sisters: The abuse of Africans, and contempt for Africans, from the cousin brothers and cousin sisters of Africans, is the biggest tragedy of entire human history; this is the cause of the deepest psychiatric disorder in the personalities of men, women, and youth the world-over. The contempt for African traditional medicine must be seen in this larger context.

 

One of the greatest gifts Africa bestowed upon Humankind is the science of African medicine. Because of racism, the contempt for Africa, Africans, and African culture which was introduced into the world by the African Slave Trade, the science of African medicine was demoted to the status of rubbish and superstition. The Slave Trade, itself, the attack upon Africa, the rampant destruction and vandalism meted to African society, first by Arabs, then by Europeans, destroyed a lot of this science.

 

Impoverishment and underdevelopment, and displacement of people, have resulted in the corruption and distortion of considerable portions of this knowledge: some men and women, thrown into desperation by such impoverishment, underdevelopment, and displacements, have emerged as imposters and fake traditional doctors, thereby casting an additional bad light on the science of African medicine. However, not all was destroyed and corrupted. Continuity of the original science, and its development, are embodied in the work of many African men and women still practicing African traditional medicine.

 

The great challenge we face is that of separating the chaff from the real stuff, to identify the genuine practitioners who are embodiments of the real science of African medicine. That red thread is still visible in our history: we should trace it and follow it to the living geniuses and talents of African traditional medicine.

 

The great challenge facing modern Western medical doctors, and modern Western medical researchers, and Public Health officials, is to study carefully the work of these living geniuses and talents of African traditional medicine; establish the scientific validity of traditional medicine; and then to start a process of improving Public Health and medical practice through incorporating the science of African traditional medicine into modern Public Health policy and medical practice.

 

The outstanding, recorded history of the science of African traditional medicine begins thousands of years ago, in Ancient Egypt –and I am talking about Egypt when it was still ruled by Africans similar to Africans in Swaziland or South Africa, before that land was conquered by Arabs, when Egypt was still part of African civilization, and was the fountain of African civilization, not part of Islamic civilization. Herodotus, who traveled to Egypt in the 400s B. C., described the Egyptians as having “black skins and wooly hair”. (Herodotus, The Histories, London, Penguin, 1972, p. 167)

 

The important point to stress is that African traditional medicine was part and parcel of what today we would call Public Health policy, whose principles were practiced and implemented in every household, village, and community. That was part and parcel of African traditional culture. I must stress that I am not talking about African culture practiced within the desperate, cruel, cramped conditions of conquest by the West. Culture, in conditions of underdevelopment, poverty, starvation, and oppression, gets warped, broken, and distorted.

 

In a proper society, culture and medicine work together towards maintaining the good health of everyone in society. African traditional medicine was intimately tied to African culture.

 

Let us begin with the simple matter of cleanliness, the washing of hands, and the washing of the human body, all a crucial pre-requisite for the prevention and control of diseases. We are told that at the foundation of prevention and control of diseases is what medical people call “the germ theory of disease.”  Writing about Europe, the historian Peter Gay states: “For decades after 1800, the causes of most diseases were embarrassing enigmas…” (Gay, Peter, The Cultivation of Hatred, London, HarperCollins, 1994, p. 453) Writing about mid-19th century life in US Southern States, Clement Eaton stated: “Ignorance of the germ theory of disease was universal.” (Eaton, Clement, The Growth of Southern Civilization:1790-1860, New York, Harper, 1961, p. 253) In the absence of the germ theory of diseases, the most outrageous explanations for diseases were given. Professor Gay tells us: “The germ theory of disease, that historic discovery, was adumbrated only in the late 1840s, by Semmelweis, and then established two decades later by Pasteur. And until a few rebels in the mid-1820s demonstrated that bleeding was really a licensed form of murder, most physicians commended it as the therapy of choice” (Gay, op. cit., p. 454).

 

The story of how the theory of germs, as the cause of diseases, was discovered is worth re-telling, as a prelude to the discussion of the situation in traditional African society. Let us follow the story, from Peter Gay:

Semmelweis…took his medical degree at the University of Vienna, and remained to specialize in obstetrics at the Vienna General Hospital. It was a disheartening assignment; he had too many opportunities to perform autopsies on mothers who had succumbed to childbed fever. They were dying in numbers that made the most callous bureaucrats take notice…the official figures revealed that in 1844…some 260 mothers out of 3,157, or 8.2 percent, had died in the First Maternity Division, where he worked; two years later, the figure had risen to 11.4 percent. The actual number of casualties was much higher, probably one in five of the mothers in the First Division, perhaps as many as one on four, did not leave the hospital alive…What made this plague even more mysterious was that the figures for the Second Maternity Division, located next to the First, were dramatically lower…Compounding the mystery was the fact that these appalling rates of death from childbed fever occurred nowhere but in the First Division; women delivered at home or in the streets survived with virtually no risk of falling victim to the fever…the mothers in the First Division were attended by obstetricians and medical students; those in the Second, next door, by midwives…

What could explain such an event? Everyone was puzzled, and offered many guesses as probable causes. Semmelweis came to a probable explanation by accident.

…one of his cherished teachers… died of an infection after puncturing his finger during an autopsy. As Semmelweis mourned this loss, his reflections gave him the decisive clue; Kolletscha had died of …-blood poisoning- that was killing mothers in the First Division every day…The medical students assigned to his ward usually came to work after dissecting cadavers –a task that midwives did not perform- the foul odors of the autopsy room still clinging to them. At best they might casually splash their hands with water. Semmelweis ordered his staff to wash their hands in a solution of chlorinated lime. The results surpassed his wildest fantasies: in 1848, the figures for death caused by childbed fever in the First Division dropped to 1.27 percent, even below the 1.33 percent in the Second Division.” (Gay, op. cit., pp455-456)

This is how “the germ theory of disease” was discovered in Europe: the theory that small, invisible moving bodies, which can transfer from place to person, from person to person, are the causes of infections and diseases. From this insight flowed the basic rule or injunction for the prevention of infections: cleanliness, the washing of hands, of surfaces, and keeping the human body clean. This was a discovery made in Europe, and in European medicine, only in the 1840s, by Semmelweis, and finally pronounced authoritatively by Pasteur in the 1860s.

 

Western medical doctors and medical researchers are free to say that this theory was discovered, for the first time, for the West, in the 1840s and 1860s; but they cannot say this is true for the whole world.

 

I shall argue now that the germ theory was known in African society before Colonialism; evidence for that is found in the teachings and principles for behavior in African society, teachings and principles of behavior which were aimed at prevention of infections.

 

These teachings and principles for behavior were found in just about all African societies and communities, from Ancient Egypt to the our time. Opportunities for implementing these principles have been heavily undermined by poverty, slave conditions of existence, by oppression, by starvation, famine, and underdevelopment.

 

I was brought up in Zulu culture, so I shall speak of teachings and principles of behavior in Zulu culture.

In traditional African society, the greatest stress was put on cleanliness, on washing of hands, and on the washing of the body. Keeping the body clean and protected, obviously from germs and harmful elements, is very important in African culture. Let us begin in Ancient Egypt: Herodotus tells us that the Egyptians “wear linen clothes which they make a special point of continually washing. They circumcise themselves for cleanliness’ sake, preferring to be clean rather than comely. The priests shave their bodies all over every other day to guard against the presence of lice…” (Herodotus, op. cit., p. 143)

 

African culture put a lot of stress on preventing food from being infected by germs carried by human beings.

1.     Upon waking up, every person was expected to wash the face and hands before touching food.

2.     One had to wash one’s hands, and the udder of the cow, before starting to milk the cow, to prevent milk from becoming infected by germs.

3.     Our culture did not allow anyone to sweep the floor next to where people were eating. Even when people were not eating, it was taught that one had to sprinkle water on the floor, before beginning to sweep, to keep the germs imprisoned on the floor, preventing them from flying all over.

4.     Zulus, most of the time, did not lift food from the containers to their mouths with spoons and folks. They used hands. But the hands had to washed, first. To prevent germs coming from the mouths of the people eating from one bowl, the hand that lifts food to the mouth does not pick the food from the bowl. The right hand picks the food from the bowl, and delivers the food to the left hand; and it is the left hand which lifts the food to the mouth. This was for hygienic reasons!

 

THE DEAD BODY (CADAVER) AND PREVENTION OF INFECTIONS

 

In the light of the connection between contact with dead human bodies and the discovery of the germ theory of diseases by Semmelweis, in Vienna, in 1848, it is very interesting to learn about the hygienic concerns of Africans regarding dead bodies.

 

Lecturers in medical schools stress to their students how dangerous a dead body is, from the point of view of possible infections which can be derived from the hosts of germs in and around a dead body. The medical students who had been working with cadavers in the First Maternity Division, in the Vienna of the 1840s, infected the mothers who had just given birth, resulting in the death of many of them.

 

If there is anything in African culture which shows that Africans had a germ theory of disease, it is the precautionary customs intended by Africans to keep the germs in and around a dead body in check.

 

In most African cultures, there is an important ritual that must be performed by everyone coming from the grave to the homestead, but before entering the home of the deceased: that is to wash hands. C. T. Msimang has written as follows regarding this ritual:

“Emva komngcwabo, sebezokhukhula bonke baqonde emfuleni. Isifazane kwelaso izibuko siyogeza, nesilisa sigeze sodwa. Abanye bathi kugezwa ngomsuzwane wonke umzimba, nokho-ke iningi ligeza ngamanzi ewodwa. Abanye njalo bageza ngesiqunga. Bazothi bangageza bese bechitheka abantu, babuyele emizini yabo, abomndeni babuyele kwamufi.” (Msimang, C. T., Kusadliwa Ngoludala, Pietermaritzburg, Shuter and Shooter, 1975, p. 144)

What is very interesting is that, not infrequently, a herb with strong disinfectant and antibiotic powers (such as inhlaba) is put in the water that is used for washing hands and the body after a funeral.

 

What also happens is the thorough, disinfectant cleaning of the house, particularly of the room in which the body was placed: (Lapha kwamufi sekuzosindwa zonke izindlu.” (Ibid., p. 145) Even the clothing and blankets used by the deceased were thoroughly cleansed.

 

If you take time to think seriously about the meaning and implication of all these teachings and principles of behaviour, discussed above, which are contained in African culture, and were contained in African cultures for centuries before conquest by European nations, you should see clearly that all these teachings and principles of behavior presupposed the possession of a germ theory of disease by Africans, for centuries before this theory was discovered in Europe in the 19th century. This was the germ theory of diseases in action, contained in African culture.

 

What I have been discussing has been health policy, what today we would call Public Health Policy, ingrained, contained, and implemented in day-to-day behavior and customs of Africans in traditional African society.

 

Let me also stress the importance of correct, nutritious food in African cultures, before the destruction and abandonment of many traditional African crops and foods, as a result of the collapse of the African village economy, due to land dispossession, impoverishment of both the people and of the soil, and the imposition of the Western market economy at the expense of the traditional African economy. The principle held in Ancient Egypt was more or less contained in most African cultures. Herodotus tells us the following:

“The Egyptians who live in the cultivated parts of the country…have made themselves much the most learned of any nation of which I have had experience…every month for three successive days they purge themselves, for their health’s sake, with emetics and clysters, in the belief that all diseases come from the food a man eats; and it is a fact…that next to the Libyans they are the healthiest people in the world.” (Herodotus, op. cit., p. 158)

Zulus also purged the body periodically (ukuchatha, ukuphalaza, ukugquma).

 

The attitude towards eating taught in many African cultures, e. g., in Zulu culture, was very different from the attitude towards eating in modern culture. Eating was revered as a ceremony, and there was a strong perception that the method of eating, the attitude towards food and the eating process, the spiritual context of eating, were related to health. The manner of eating, and respect for the process of eating, the spiritual context of eating, were in traditional African culture meant to harmonize with the rhythm, pace, and pulse, of the human body, as a physical, mental, and spiritual body alive and linked to the rhythm, pace, pulse, and electro-magnetic unity and interrelationship of the entire universe. The theory was that the body, as a complex system, had to be given a chance to absorb food in its own pace and proper rhythm.

 

In Zulu culture, we were taught and instructed not to eat in a hurried pace. We were scolded, threatened with punishment, for eating out of rhythm, i. e. eating fast. Mus’ukuphanga!

 

The culture forbad everyone from eating standing up, or kneeling upright. You had to respect the rhythm of the body, and of the universe, by eating seated respectfully.

 

You were also taught not to think other complex, distant thoughts, while eating. When the food went down the wrong pipe, and you started coughing helplessly, you were scolded: Mus’ukucabanga. Your soul and mind had to take leave of the bothersome matters of the world, while at meal.

 

These teachings and principles are diametrically opposed to many of the practices of today: eating while standing; a business breakfast, or a business lunch, or a business dinner; and a quick meal during a heavy day of work at the office or at the shop, or giving workers 30 minutes for lunch.

 

In African culture, all this is conducive to ill-health, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

 

In ending, let me stress that African traditional medicine is based on research. It is research not conducted in an artificial laboratory, as in modern scientific research; the geniuses and talents of African traditional medicine conduct their research in the real world. The real world is their laboratory.

The Traditional healer knows that nature and the entire universe is a totality of interrelated millions upon millions of processes, all held together in a relationship of conflict and accommodation, of harmony and disharmony, of equilibrium and disequilibrium. True healing is a result of the mutual action of all these processes, never of one chemical compound, but of many, many interrelated chemical compounds and actions, which are in harmony and disharmony, of conflict and accommodation, of equilibrium and disequilibrium.

 

The modern Western medical scientist’s desire to isolate and identify only one chemical compound as the cause of healing is a violation of the truth of nature and the universe as a unity of millions upon millions of processes interacting upon one another and with the human body, millions upon millions of processes which are a unity of conflict and accommodation, of equilibrium and disequilibrium, of harmony and disharmony. One chemical compound can never be the proper cure of a bodily disorder, the same body made up of billions of cells. African traditional medicine uses the whole leaf, or the whole root, or stem. Isolating and extracting only one chemical compound, or two, or three, and preparing that as a cure, is most likely to disorient the inner-processes of the human body, and this disorientation is what we call “side effects.”

 

The modern scientific mind, guided by the methodological and philosophical prescriptions of modern science, is very unaccommodating, skeptical, even contemptuous, of the methods of diagnosis followed by traditional healers.

To traditional healers, nature is both matter and spirit; nature is a material fact, but it also possesses spirituality and personality –to be more specific, certain aspects of nature, especially certain aspects of organic nature, have spirituality and personality. The science of traditional society

 

 

Modern science is uncompromisingly based on concrete, quantifiable, mathematically logical facts, derived mainly from experiments in laboratories. To modern scientists, nature has no immanent spirituality, no mind of its own, and no personality. To modern science, there can be no two-way communication between nature, on one hand, and human beings, on the other. even though human beings evolved from nature, and are the children of nature, and should bear some features derived from the parent, nature.

 

 

 

I cannot help ending by mentioning a gigantic triumph of the science of African medicine.

 

The hand and mind of the practitioner of African traditional medicine were guided by prior study and search for knowledge. How could a Caesarean section operation have been performed, in 1879, by an African traditional healer surgeon, without intensive prior study and research? Let us follow this event carefully:

 

“It is pertinent now to consider one of the most remarkable examples of African surgery ever documented. This is an eye-witness account by a missionary doctor named Felkin of a Caesarean section performed by a Banyoro surgeon in Uganda in 1879:

The patient was a healthy-looking primipara (first pregnancy) of about twenty years of age and she lay on an inclined bed, the head of which rested against the side of the hut. She was half-intoxicated with banana wine, was quite naked and was tied down on the bed by bands of bark cloth over the thorax and thighs. Her ankles were held by a man…while another man stood on her right steadying her abdomen…the surgeon was standing on her left side holding the knife aloft and muttering an incantation. He then washed his hands and the patient’s abdomen first with banana wine and then water. The surgeon made a quick cut upwards from just above the pubis to just below the umbilicus severing the whole abdominal wall and uterus so that amniotic fluid escaped. Some bleeding points in the abdominal wall were touched with red hot irons. The surgeon completed the uterine incision, the assistant helping by holding up the sides of the abdominal wall with his hand and hooking two fingers into the uterus. The child was removed, the cord cut, and the child was handed to an assistant.

 

The report goes on to say that the surgeon squeezed the uterus until it contracted, dilated the cervix from inside with his fingers (to allow post-partum blood to escape), remove clots and the placenta from the uterus, and then sparingly used red hot irons to seal the bleeding points. A porous mat was tightly secured over the wound and the patient turned over to the edge of the bed to permit drainage of any remaining fluid. The peritoneum, the abdominal wall, and the skin were approximated back together and secured with seven sharp spikes. A root paste was applied over the wound and a bandage of cloth was tightly wrapped around it. Within six days, all the spikes were removed. Felkin observed the patient for 11 days and when he left, mother and child were alive and well. In Scotland, Lister had pioneered antiseptic surgery just two years prior to this event but universal application of his methods in the operating rooms of Europe was still years away. Caesarean sections were performed only under the most desperate circumstances and only to save the life of the infant. A Caesarean section to save the lives of both mother and child was unheard of in Europe nor are there records of such a procedure among the great civilizations of antiquity.” (Finch, Charles S., The African Background To Medical Science,  London, Karnak House, 1990, pp. 135-136)    

 

Yes, I repeat: one of the greatest gifts that Africa gave to Humankind was the science of African medicine, which is African traditional medicine.

    

 

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ON THE ECONOMIC CRISIS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

BY

HERBERT W. VILAKAZI*

 

(*Special Advisor to the Premier of KwaZulu/Natal; Johannesburg, 18/8/05)

 

It is important to stress that the historical factors which produced and shaped South Africa are the same factors which shaped other countries of Africa. There are differences between England, France, Germany, Italy, the USA and Canada, but they remain industrial capitalist societies; similarities are more striking than the differences among them. It is the same with African countries. The impact upon African societies, and upon the minds of Africans, of capitalism, of the African Slave Trade, imperialism, colonialism, racism, the Russian Revolution, the dominant role of the USA in the world, and of the Bretton Woods institutions, has left African societies largely similar, in spite of their differences. There is no South African exceptionalism.

 

The largest part of Africa, including South Africa, is the site of growing impoverishment and failure of development policies. What is the cause of this Africa-wide phenomenon?

 

The economists advising our leaders have ignored a basic principle of elementary economics. A market economy needs commodities and buyers of commodities.  There must be consumer demand for commodities, and buying power possessed by those demanding the commodities. The dynamism of a market is determined by the size or scope of demand for commodities, and the size and extent of buying power possessed by the majority members of society.

 

An axiom of US economics is that the consumer demand and buying power of the majority members of US society is the driving engine of the US economy. The World Bank and IMF long ago said that the weakness of the South African economy is the smallness of its domestic market. Why is it small? There are historical reasons for that: racism, which only developed a small sector of the population of the country –Whites, resulting in what Guy Mhone called “enclave” economies; job reservation; migrant labour system; colonialism; the impact of capitalism and imperialism on colonized and semi-colonial societies. This resulted in the development of Whites (tiny section of society), on one hand, and the underdevelopment of the overwhelming majority of society, the African population. This resulted, among other things, in the economic ruin of African rural communities. This is the nub of the problem of the capitalist economy in Africa: the overwhelming majority of society are poor, starving African people in underdeveloped rural areas. This majority section of society is not an able participant in the country’s market economy. This is what constitutes the smallness of the domestic market, which the World Bank and IMF call the weakness of our economy. This applies to the entire African continent. The biggest challenge to government and elites is to adopt policies which shall result in increasing the size of the domestic market, by incorporating within that market the majority members of society who live in rural areas, the majority members of society currently not fully active within the market economy. We need to create a truly national domestic market. Then we shall have a truly growing and developing economy. Eliminating hunger and developing rural African and Coloured communities shall create an extended market for products from cities and towns, adding dynamism to the entire national economy.

 

Our failure to eliminate the underdevelopment and poverty of African rural communities is now the heavy drag that is pulling down the entire economy of the nation. Our failure to eliminate underdevelopment in rural areas of Africa is the roadblock to economic development in the country and in the continent. This is the primary cause of stagnation in our economy. The problem is wrong economic policies inside the country and continent, not international economic competition.

 

The failure of African governments to encourage and spear-heard the initiation of the African Agricultural Revolution has resulted in a food crisis in Africa, which has produced Africa’s health crisis. Domestic food production for domestic needs has declined in most African countries; these countries find themselves dependent upon food imports; and food prices have risen steeply. Traditional African diet systems have been disrupted, and gross imbalances and insufficiencies in food intake have occurred. This has had terrible results in the traditional health system.

 

THE IMMUNE SYSTEM OF AFRICAN BODIES, WHICH WAS BUILT UP OVER CENTURIES UPON CENTURIES, HAS BEEN DISRUPTED OR ADVERSELY AFFECTED, IN MOST CASES, OPENING CHANELS FOR THE INFECTION OF THESE BODIES BY A HOST OF NEW AND TERRIBLE DISEASES, including HIV/AIDS. We are talking here about a dire threat to the lives of tens and hundreds of millions of human beings.

 

The crisis of poverty in rural areas is forcing millions of Africans to move to towns and cities. The problem, however, is that this is urbanization without industrialization. The average person of working age in current African towns and cities is not employed in industry or manufacture. These masses of urban people are neither the industrial working-class, nor workers in the service sector of the economy. More and more, these people would fall under the category of the lumpen-proletariat. The small formal industrial and commercial economy that exists has no space for these millions of African people. These millions of African people in current African cities and towns simply hustle for existence. A sense of insecurity penetrates deep inside the minds and hearts of these millions of men, women, and youth.

 

These cities and towns do not have the appropriate infrastructure of housing, schools, hospitals, and employment, to absorb these millions of people.  The so-called informal housing emerges, and crime, and diseases, and all sorts of social pathologies. There emerges the syndrome of poverty, unemployment, and crime in the inner cities. The tax-base of municipal councils and city governments shrinks or virtually disappears. A fiscal crisis of government emerges, which results in diminished funding for social services, and for the construction and maintenance of roads, houses, schools, universities. Libraries, health facilities, police services, etc. This is the impact of the current economic crisis upon the capacity of local government to deliver services to masses of society people.

 

In the history of the West, the Industrial Revolution was preceded by the Agricultural Revolution; Africa has not had her Agricultural Revolution. The prelude to the successful emergence of capitalism in the West was a major transformation of the European countryside. The development process in the African countryside has not occurred.

 

The economists advising our leaders have, in general, turned the gaze of our leaders away from these facts. Since Africa began her modern history as independent countries, her leaders, governments, and elites, have failed to bring about rural development, at the centre of which should have been the initiation of the African Agricultural Revolution. This is the only sound foundation for the proper development of Africa. Even in the process of pleading for international support and funds for Nepad, there is no prioritization of plans for the initiation of the African Agricultural Revolution. We should not be talking about piece-meal, ad hoc projects in rural areas: we should be talking about comprehensive, integral plans and activities for initiating an Agricultural Revolution encompassing the entire continent.

 

At the recent meeting of Heads of States in Abuja (June 2005), our leaders made a call for billions of dollars for the construction or development of “infrastructure”.

 

Developed Western economies are a unity of developed agriculture, developed industry, commerce and banking and a developed labour force. Of course, this unity has not been without conflicts. The important point is this: when we learn that less than 10 per cent of the labour force in the US or England is in agriculture, we should not jump to the wrong conclusion that agriculture loses its importance as the economy develops. Samir Amin has remarked that the development of Western economies rested upon a permanent agricultural revolution: “…large-scale mechanized industry was supported by a permanent agricultural revolution…” (Amin, Samir, Capitalism in the Age of Globalization, London, Zed Books, 1997, p. ix)

 

The food industry is one of the largest industries in the developed economies of Europe and North America. (Mandel, Ernest, Late Capitalism, London, Verso, 1978, pp. 378-383) Agriculture is the only sector of the economy of industrialized Western countries which receives outright grants (subsidies) of billions of dollars every month. That is how important agriculture is to the US government, as well as to the governments of the EU. They take as much care of the agricultural sector of their economies the way one takes care of the apple of one’s eye.

 

In our case, infrastructure development (highways, harbors, airports, electricity, etc) must go hand in hand with the initiation and development of the African Agricultural Revolution and rural development in general. The stress on the former, without the latter, shall result in “white elephant” infrastructures, which cannot be sustained and maintained. If you construct a modern highway from one end of the country to the other end, the assumption is that there are enough cars to use that highway, and, above all, that the people using that highway have enough money to pay the taxes and tolls for the maintenance of that highway. “Infrastructures” must have a mass base for sustenance, consisting of a developed population.

 

Our leaders are not advised correctly by their economists, whose mindsets are firmly rooted in the industrialized Western economies. What seems uppermost in the minds of these advisors is to link Africa with the “world economy”. The point lost in the minds of these advisors is that the development of the hundreds of millions of African people takes first priority; or that linking Africa up with the world economy should go hand in hand with the development of the entirety of African people. There is linking and linking. Under imperialism and colonialism, Africa was linked to the world economy, but that linkage produced the underdevelopment and malnutrition of African people. Linking with the masses of our people, and linking with the “world economy” must go hand-in-hand; but what comes first is linking up with our own people, which shall give more strength to the domestic economy for linking up with the world economy.

 

Lenin and Trotsky formulated this issue very clearly in the 1921-1922 period of the Russian Revolution, when they were seeking solution to the problem of the underdevelopment of Russia. Listen to Lenin: “…the problem of the New Economic Policy, the fundamental, decisive and overriding problem, is to establish a link between the new economy that we have begun to create…and the peasant economy, by which millions and millions of peasants obtain their livelihood. This link has been lacking, and we must create it before anything else. Everything else must be subordinated to this.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 33, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1966, pp. 269-270)

This insight led to the formulation of a new principle in class relations necessary for moving the Russian Revolution forward. This was the principle of what was called the “smychka” the “bond” between the proletariat and the peasantry. Again, Lenin: “Link up with the peasant masses, with the rank-and-file working peasants, and begin to move forward immeasurably, infinitely more slowly than we expected, bit in such a way that the entire mass will actually move forward with us. If we do that, we shall in time progress much more quickly than we even dream of today.” (Ibid., pp. 271-272)

 

Lenin warned that if the “bond” between the proletariat and the peasantry cannot be maintained, the Russian Revolution would face disaster and collapse. After Lenin’s death, and the removal of Trotsky from power, Stalin severed the “bond”, through forced collectivization; upon that policy emerged the Stalinist State, and the crisis of Soviet agriculture: this, actually, was the foundation of the process which led to the collapse of the Soviet Regime.

 

The “bond” between urban Africa and rural Africa, between the urban economy and the African village economy, between the African State and African rural communities and traditions of rural Africans –that bond is a dire necessity for the healthy development of Africa –and for South Africa. If we continue to fail to establish and sustain that bond between urban Africa and rural Africa, I see greater disasters and collapse for large areas of Africa, including disasters for our own country.

 

The underdevelopment and poverty of African rural communities are migrating to African cities and towns, resulting in increased poverty, diseases, social pathology, and underdevelopment in our cities and towns.

The result has been largely a breakdown and deterioration of urban infrastructure and facilities, a lowering of the quality of life in urban and rural areas, and increasing rates of social pathologies and mental imbalance. The latest issues of the Quality of Life Survey, published by the Durban Metropolitan Council (Urban Strategy Website), argue that the quality of life for the masses of people in the Durban Metro has actually deteriorated, in spite of increases in investments in infrastructure which have been put in place by the Metropolitan Council.

 

This has enormous consequences, not only for social life, but also for cultural life and politics, as well as for the economics of government. The deep underdevelopment of African rural communities, in which the majority of the national population resides, generating an economic crisis in the entire nation, produces rising levels of unemployment in urban and rural areas; and rising numbers of displaced and ill-housed people in towns and cities; it also produces rising levels of crime, social and sexual pathologies –what the French scholar called “anomie”. This results in the lowering of the quality of life in both urban and rural areas; and in the flight of middle and upper-classes from inner-city areas and townships to the formerly all-white residential and business areas: the crucial consequence of all this on government is the `financial crisis of the State’, which manifests itself in diminished funding for social and welfare services for the masses of society members. Life becomes expensive, especially the basic needs of life like food, clothing, housing, education, health care, and money. A creeping sense of crisis begins to infect ordinary people, as well as a de-motivation for engaging in ordinary social tasks and for high ideals; and a loss of morale overtakes society: all this manifests itself in a much diminished work ethic, and in all sorts of corruption.

 

The crisis of local government, manifested above all by the failure to deliver necessary services to masses of people in our society, particularly in rural areas and small towns, is a direct result of our failure to develop rural areas. It is rooted largely in the collapse of the rural village economy. It is a product of underdevelopment.

 

The increasing and disturbing instances in our society of social pathology, violence against women and children, unemployment, hunger and poverty, including the so-called growing gap between the `black elite’ and the `black’ masses, is the bill presented to our nation for the wrong advice of economists to our leaders, and for our failure to eliminate underdevelopment and poverty in the African countryside; it is the bill presented to our nation and continent for our failure to bring about a “bond” between urban Africa and rural Africa.

 

I shall paraphrase W.E.B. Du Bois: the problem of the 21st century in Africa is the problem of the relationship between the African city, on one hand, and the African countryside, on the other hand; another way of expressing it is to say that the problem of the 21st century in Africa is the problem of the relationship between African governments, on one hand, and the African countryside, on the other hand.

 

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