Biden's statesmanship worth replicating in Africa
22 January 2021 | Opinion
One sits with and experiences an eerie feeling of both excitement and sadness after watching the inauguration of the president of the United States. Sadness because just two weeks ago the US became a giant laughing stock of the international community when thousands of Americans chose to destroy the very narrative which earned them the accolade as the beacon of democracy, the champion of liberties and freedom and indeed the leader of the free world.
Excitement because the new president pronounced with high sincerity and eloquence the values that democracy is about. Equality for all.
Dignity for all. Commitment and service from all. No harm for any and harmony for all.
The sadness for us in Africa generally and Namibia specifically is that we have to turn to America and others to feel good about democracy.
We do not hear our leaders inspiring us to belong together and give our best to our nations. Our political leaders preach to us to serve them as our new gods. When they speak they divide. Their words shoot fear in the listeners' hearts.
In President Biden's speech there was no gloating about his own glory after serving for more than 40 years. There was neither recrimination nor vengeful warnings towards those who think, speak or worship differently.
There was no self-praise of himself or his party. He spoke about his country and his nation. Not political parties.
He implored his fellow Americans to imagine life from the perspective of others. To stand in the shoes of others.
That is empathy which African leaders lack chronically. That is the imagination of how the other person feels, especially the least and the most vulnerable. Our leaders rejoice when they see suffering of others, especially those they hurt with their power.
How sad that we have to be reminded of our humanity by America when we as Africans have been humans the longest. How sad that we now have something to quote from but not from our leaders or those who look like us? How sad that our hope must come from outside.
How sad that a country so industrialised can still count on and call upon all its citizens to contribute according to their abilities whereas we in Africa do not cherish what contributions citizens can make.
How sad that where we need skills more urgently our leaders chase away those who can make our development better? How sad that in our so-called states people are denied the opportunity to serve because they are not hand clappers? Who cursed us Africans to believe that hand clapping can bring about development and progress? Who cursed or bewitched us Africans to believe that only a handful of us know the solution and the rest are second class citizens?? Who cursed or bewitched us to continue with the silliness of building political party structures at the expense of the nations??
Thank you, President Biden, for showing us what we too can do to unite and build ourselves such that we cease to be Shithole countries where the wretched of the earth must live with such lack of dignity and self-respect.
Surely, we can find our own strength if we turn to one another instead of using the little influence and power we might have to undo even the little we have been able to build. Just pray for us to have leaders with hearts to feel the pain of their people and the vision to see and identify where we can and must go.