Shut up! Do as you’re told, boy

Breonna Taylor. No-knock search warrant. No defense. her own home. Louisville, Kentucky. 26 yrs old.

Ahmaud Arbery. Jogging. Near Brunswick, Georgia.  25 years old.

George Floyd. Alleged counterfeit $20 bill. I can’t breathe. 8.46 mins on Minneapolis tarmac. 46 years old.

Credit: Internet

Young and black. Their deaths have sparked very many protests and conversations across the world on racism and prejudice.

The silencing of their voices is the echo of our very own. I write this to mourn that no matter how loud our voices have been, they have not been loud enough. Centuries after chicken George, we still hear ‘shut up boy and dribble!’

I got to school, late. The parade was in session. I rushed to greet the headmaster, curtsied, and run to join the line. One of my friends created a gap for me and my big, heavy bag. Such a kind girl. We were singing hymns, everyone had their hymn book. The prefects were walking through the line to pull out those without theirs. I thrust my hand into the front pocket of my bag, it wasn’t there! A more frantic check, still not there. Maybe the main bag, nope. I was pulled out of the line.

I was placed in another line, in front of the main gate to await the Deputy. After parade, we trudged off to her office. Heavy bags, heavy hearts. We had to wait outside her office. By this time, the first period of class was midway. She came and we shuffled in one by one. I was the last, she called me in. She asked me to apologize for forgetting the hymn book. She did not want to hear any explanation. The problem was I wanted to explain. I believed that if she heard my explanation, she would understand that it was not my intention to leave it behind but I forgot. To err is human. Not quite. She quickly changed her tone and told me to hold out my hands for a beating. Well…that is it. I put them out and she whacked them with her stick. And whacked them some more. Then she asked me to thank her. I was so angry, I could not even imagine that she would think I should be grateful. Angry tears stung my eyes. I kept blinking them away, she was unrelenting. I kept quiet. My sullen face did not go down well with her, she insisted I stay outside her office as a lesson in gratefulness.

And so it was, that towards break time, my class teacher finds me standing there. Having cried my heart out, tear soaked hankie and red swollen eyes. He asked me what I was doing out there. She answered. He managed to convince her to release me. I was free to go to class. But never free to be. She hunted me down. When I was late to school, I was sent back home. It didn’t matter that I had to walk back. One PTA, she made me the topic of the meeting to the angst of my mother. Calling me out. Yelling at me. For the rest of my life in school, she made my life a living hell.

At eleven years, minuscule. I live. I got life. For Breonna, Philando, George and Ahmaud, a lifetime. quickly snuffed out. Only a memory.

Cry, my beloved Africa. Weep for the lost sons and daughters who thought it not freedom till the motherland was free. Whose voices grow fainter while ours grow stronger.

Don’t forget that we are your beloved ones. Wrap us back into your heart again, for you chose us. You brought us out of our slavery and bondage and made us your favored ones, your Zion-people, your home on earth.

A Psalm of Asaph. Psalm 74: 1-2 TPT

Rabbit holes of multinationalism

Alice discovers Wonderland after chasing a rabbit down a rabbit hole. The character, Alice, is based on a young girl, Alice Liddell. I found Lewis Carroll’s answers to her very many questions, I imagine, very intriguing. The curiosity built up in young children requires the kind of imagination in his book. His ability to blend the real with the imaginary makes a very good read.

The World Economic Forum on Africa (wef) ended on September 6th 2019. The theme led me down a rabbit hole, but unlike Alice, to a different kind of Wonderland.

#AF19 whose theme this year is “Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. The agenda will cover four key areas: innovation, sustainable development, digitalization and governance.

Inclusive. shared. sustainable. digitalization.

These words like Alice’s characters sounded fascinating. There are so many fascinating scenes in the cartoon, I shall restrict my musings to the caterpillar scene.

Data from the African Development Bank (AFD) shows Africa’s GDP growth reached roughly 3.5% last year, about the same as a year earlier, and up 1.4 percentage points from the 2.1% in 2016.The continent’s growth this year is projected to accelerate to 4% and 4.1% in 2020. While higher than other emerging and developing countries, Africa’s growth remains insufficient to make a dent on unemployment and poverty. These challenges manifest amid an imperative for Africa’s growth to be shared by everyone, particularly by providing our growing populations with good jobs and social protection. What can be done to address these challenges? Let me underscore three priorities for South Africans, and for the continent as a whole: greater cooperation, policy injection and human capital development.

The caterpillar asks Alice who she is and she does not know. She has changed so many times.

Photo credit: Pinterest

It seems like Alice that we shall show up only three inches tall rather than what we were earlier. The caterpillar on the other hand, is three inches tall and happy about it! He has the ability to metamorphose. This he does right before Alice’s own eyes. His parting remarks as a butterfly are instructions on eating a mushroom.

Shall we eat the mushroom?

In March, the African Union launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This landmark agreement aims to create a single market expected to generate a combined GDP of more than $3.4 trillion and benefit over 1 billion people. Alex Liu

The free trade area creates a single market and and has similar laws governing goods and services and dispute settlement. The AfCFTA was signed by 54 out of 55 countries. By the time, it was operationalized in July 2019, only 27 countries had ratified it. The requirement was 22 countries. We are not the same as we were this morning.

While we may not metamorphose, there is a mushroom that we can eat, one side will make us taller. Another side will make us shorter.

4IR is going to be the fastest revolution because it builds on existing technologies and enhances their capabilities. Like transformers, the ability to change in seconds will be achieved for most of our technologies. Take the duration from 4G to 5G, some of us are still migrating from 3G to 4G.

The speed at which we adapt to change in Africa has to increase. The speed at which we or our governments adopt changes to laws and to policies needs to increase.

Overcoming the ‘xenophobic’ attacks and never ending wars requires a mindset change. It is one thing to open our countries for exchange of goods. Services come with people. Different people. Their cultures are different. Their language is different. They do not find your jokes funny.

The notion of open borders shall indeed shift in our metrics of success and growth. Our little and sometimes shallow thinking shall be stretched. Our imagination needs to grow beyond our little safety nets. Our identity will not be based on how strong our affiliation for our nation is but how agile we are at navigating the free trade area. Diversify or die.

If our collective growth is not sufficient to overcome poverty, the gap between the rich and the poor will widen. Will the rich barricade themselves in their wealth or will the poor in true Marxist style lead a revolution?Or shall we really begin to love our neighbor?

One side will make us taller and another side will make us shorter. Tradeoffs have to be made, big ones for certain nations and smaller ones for others.

One African sky. A single African passport. Border less continent. Shift from extractive to value addition.

We shall not be the same as we were this morning.

It is my hope that like Alice at the Hatter’s party we also celebrate, with the rest of the world, our happy unbirthday!

Xenophobia

It means the fear of foreign or strange.

I found myself wondering how the attacks in South Africa are being categorized as xenophobic and yet there was nothing strange or foreign. The attackers and those attacked were all African.

A further search on the meaning in South Africa yielded this definition.

Xenophobia is generally defined as ‘the deep dislike of non-nationals by nationals of a recipient state.’ This definition is also used by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). Xenophobia is also a manifestation of racism. Racism and xenophobia support each other and they share prejudiced discourses. They both operate on the same basis of profiling people and making negative assumptions. The profiling in the case of racism is on the basis of race, in the case of xenophobia on the basis of nationality.

This description was similar to the News images and video clips on social media.

A deeper look at this definition reveals that this is not only a South African phenomenon. The entire world has xenophobia- from building a wall along the Mexican border to Italy refusing to grant migrant ships docking privileges.

It is in Idi Amin evicting Asians from Uganda. It is in Hitler pursuing and annihilating Jews. It is in Japan’s war crimes against China in World War II.

It is Darfur, Myanmar, Rwanda, Syria.

It is Boko Haram, Taliban, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab.

It is Nigeria retaliating. It is Hong Kong deporting. It is Brexit. It is the WindRush fiasco.

It is Sierra Leone. It is Biafra. It is Caledonia.

We live in a fractured society rather than a collaborative one. We deliberately choose ‘us’ against ‘them.’

James writing to Jews scattered all over the Roman Empire teaches them not to pander to these whims.

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
James 4:1 NKJV

He shows them the source of all conflict, ‘I’. The rifts, schisms, fractures are crafted by a lens that only allows you to see as you see.

Take this lens off for a moment. Put on the other person’s lens, walk a mile in their shoes. Do you see their colors? Do you see their hopes? Do you see their dashed dreams? Do you see their children?

Take off their lens. Where do we go from here? Will your lens work? Maybe. Will their lens work? Maybe.

If you both see ‘together’, through one lens, what would you see? The challenge of the 21st century.

To be more inclusive. To love more, to give more, to share more, to open up more.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 NKJV