hen the Pharaohs ruled Egypt, they built the pyramids, the Sphinx and the Nefertiti, major historical sights along the river Nile, in Cairo and Alexandria. Those serve as monuments of greatness, of power, of belonging. When they were built, they created historic employment and eventually, a national pride. Today they contribute to the tourism industry of Egypt.
When the Romans conquered Europe up to the Mid-East, they too made their mark throughout the continent. The Coliseum, the many historic fountains, buildings, monuments as well as the Vatican are proof thereof. To this day, the Italians take huge pride in their heritage, which includes colossal monuments built by the fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini. The tourist industry profits hugely from that rich history.
The North Africans under Hannibal, the Greeks, the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the Germans, the French, even the Belgians and the Dutch as well as the British have a history of conquest and dictatorships, of war and peace, all part of their history. Tourists from all over the world, including from Africa visit those monuments.
To this day, the British, the Europeans and the new coloniser, the US, do not only conquer and dictate a new world order, they are hands-on represented also in Africa. Why would the media in the respective African countries not research and publish a resume on the US’s AfriCom (African Command)? Their soldiers, their Breton Woods Institutes, their intelligence agencies, their foundations and NGO industry and those of their proxies have set up representations everywhere.
Wikipedia documents the British foreign affairs department in London as the ‘UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)’. It is responsible for protecting and promoting UK interests worldwide. It was created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office. The Commonwealth of Nations is an international (British) association, consisting of the UK together with states that were previously part of the British Empire, and dependencies (conquered colonies, the writer). The British Monarch is the ‘symbolic’ head of the Commonwealth. The head is the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly abbreviated as ‘Foreign Secretary’.
What they forget to explain is that the wealth is actually not common.
Taking Africa’s colonial-apartheid-UDI history into account, its immediate and continuous sufferings from foreign instigated so-called ‘rebel and tribal wars’, ‘ xenophobia’, ‘North African-style Arab Spring’, ‘taxi wars’, undermined education and structured poverty, it would be vital that Africans would take their positions of power most seriously. This includes setting up reminders of the bloody past. This is indeed part of their responsibilities. Why would they deny their offspring those reminders in the future? Should the so-called ‘born frees’ be surrendered to a bling-bling status of unmitigated avarice, uncontrollable amorality without any education about their history and background?
To this day, the international Jewry and Israel keep on reminding the world about the mass killings of six million European Jews originating from Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia, in former Nazi Germany under Hitler’s rule. WW2 ended in 1945. Monuments to remind the international community have been set up all over the world, including in Cape Town, South Africa. Films about the holocaust are produced to this day as a reminder of Germany’s ugly past. The term of ‘anti-Semitism’ has grown from that time in history.
Namibia is no exception. The ruling party, SWAPO, has demonstrated its reconciliatory and humane side from the time it took power on 21 March 2013. Many street names have been indigenised and one large monument outside the capital, Windhoek, has been erected. SWAPO Party has a proud and humane history. It is in power in Windhoek today. Despite its historic landslide victory over the occupying forces, it has accommodated its former colonisers and their ownership of land and the economy. Colonial monuments remain in place and are maintained.
Neo-colonial mindsets, particularly among former beneficiaries of the colonial past seem to be engrained and raise their voices every now and again. Twenty-three years later, Namibia’s private sector has not made any contribution to Namibia’s generous, democratic and peaceful administration.
In the case of South Africa, some members of the private sector set up statues of Mandela, the Sisulus and a few other respected leaders for their contribution to a democratic country. Today, those monuments grace Johannesburg, Pretoria with its ‘Freedom Park’, Cape Town, Franschhoek, Durban and Port Elizabeth, officially known as Nelson Mandela Bay.
The indigenous African people of Namibia and South Africa have shown tremendous patience, forgiveness and reconciliation, despite a hostile and exclusive economy and marginal access to land. This too, despite the continuous harassment from those refusing to leave the belly of colonial-apartheid, yet enjoying the fruits of economic growth under SWAPO Party- and ANC led governments in there respective countries.
Real ownership of land and economy are an integral part of real freedom and democracy. To deny that through undermining indigenous African leadership and hidden discrimination based on a colonial-apartheid past, using the platforms of corporate media, academia, economic and civil society, would frustrate those, who remain on the sides of the playing fields watching the haves enjoying their gains.
• Udo Froese is a non-institutionalised, independent political and socio-economic analyst and columnist, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Windhoek, Namibia.