Ian Smith , rebel leader of then Rhodesia, was reported to take great delight in telling all and sundry about the fact that many Zimbabwean ‘Africans’ he met told him that life was better under his regime than under the new independent Zimbabwe. In a mirror sentiment, BBC correspondent, Hugh Sykes discovers that some in post apartheid South Africa (BBC News - 'Some things were better under apartheid') hold a similar view.
I paraphrase somewhat here, but the great Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe, in his book entitled ‘A Man of the People’, some say with great foresight describes the thoughts of one of those who filled the ‘house’ left by the colonialists and how the doors had to be closed to the vast majority lest there be inadequate room for all.
In seeking the support, and sometimes, the lives, of the populace against the Rhodesian and Apartheid regimes, many African leaders made promises, promises of land and education and health and even wealth,. These leaders may have truly believed in the values of fair share but were blinded by the seemingly endless wealth of the small ‘white’ elite, failing to understand that the total riches available, the value of which they did not know, would not stretch to the millions expecting a sizeable slice.
On taking office though, it becomes very apparent that not everyone can ‘come into the house’. Some would have to stay outside in the rain, in fact, many would have to stand outside in the rain. Adding to that, they also felt that as leaders they should enjoy the same lifestyles and luxuries of their disposed predecessors.
The clever African man should now have realised and I do include South Africans in this, that in order to get ahead in their lives, they are going to have to rely on themselves and their communities. Relying on the Government is surely a recipe for disappointment. Does that remind you of something? Of course it does, it’s just like it was in the Rhodesian or Apartheid days. Harking back to those old days is mistaken, for who is to say that had those regimes had to face the same issues that independent Zimbabwe and South Africa face and continue to face, that your situation, the man in the street, would have been any better? I am willing to bet it would have been worse.
Be thankful when crumbs fall for the high tables but don’t rely on it, many ‘men in the street’ all over the world will tell you, it would be folly to do so, the cake is never big enough.
[First published on my NotTheNews blog on specified date]