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Colonial hangovers and underdevelopment

 

YOTAM Mtayachalo says time has come for Zambia to achieve real political, economic and social emancipation. He called for getting rid of colonial hangovers, among them restriction of freedoms such as freedom of speech, assembly and that of the media so that “we are in tune with democratic political dispensation.”

In a statement commemorating Africa Freedom Day, Mtayachalo who is FDD labour chairperson said although Africa attained independence it still had a long way to achieve real political, social and economic independence.

“First and foremost I want to salute the African continent on the commemoration of Africa Freedom Day which bears a reflection of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which transformed itself into present-day African Union,” he said.

Mtayachalo said apart from political freedom, the day symbolised the liberation movement progress and determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from colonial domination and exploitation.

“Undoubtedly between 1953 and 1963 the struggle for self-determination grew bigger in Africa and around the world because of exploitative tendencies by our colonial masters in several African states,” he said. “However, although Africa has gained political independence we still have a long way to go to achieve real political, economic and social independence because the majority of people still live in perpetual jaws of poverty, disease, hunger, underdevelopment and unemployment while corruption has continued to hinder economic progress.”

Mtayachalo said Africa needs to undergo a radical political, economic and social revolution which should see the establishment of democratic autonomous institutions of good governance if the continent was to achieve the dreams of independence heroes such as Nkrumah, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Jomo Kenyatta, Patrice Lumumba, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Ahmed Ben Bella, Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela.

He said Africa Freedom Day would be meaningless if such leaders could not be recognised and appreciated for their great works.

“In the nutshell, time is now that we need to achieve real political, economic and social emancipation we all desire and get rid of colonial hangovers such as restriction of freedoms like freedom of speech, assembly and that of the media so that we are in tune with democratic political dispensation where all citizens enjoy their freedoms without any restrictive tendencies which are laying its ugly face in many independent African states,” said Mtayachalo.

We agree.

Between the 1870s and 1900, Africa faced European imperialist aggression, diplomatic pressures, military invasions, and eventual conquest and colonisation. At the same time, African societies put up various forms of resistance against the attempt to colonise their countries and impose foreign domination. By the early 19th century, however, much of Africa except Ethiopia and Liberia, had been colonized by European powers.

According to Ehiedu G Iweriebor, the European imperialist push into Africa was motivated by three main factors: economic, political, and social. In short, imperatives of capitalist industrialization, including the demand for assured sources of raw materials, the search for guaranteed markets and profitable investment outlets – spurred the European scramble and partition and eventual conquest of Africa. Thus, the primary motivation for European intrusion was economic.

By 1900 much of Africa had been colonised by several European powers – Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. The colonial state was the machinery of administrative domination established to facilitate effective control and exploitation of the colonised societies.

We further learn that colonialism impacted the African continent socially, politically and economically both positively and negatively. It’s said some of the negative effects are that Africans were taken as slaves to the New World and forced to work on the plantations without pay. On the African continent, the Europeans seized land from the Africans to establish plantations for the growing of cash crops and forced the people to work on these plantations for meagre pay. The African culture was diluted, traditions were taken away and their ways of life were destroyed. The African traditional religion was also destroyed due to the introduction of Christianity. They forced the people to learn their language, taught them how to eat European food and dress like Europeans – abandoning their own traditional way of eating and dressing habits – and introduced the spread of virulent diseases. Families were torn apart due to the partition of Africa which created new boundaries leading to present conflicts and the slave trade which took millions of people away from their families and homelands. The Europeans took away most of their resources especially gold, diamonds, ivory and agricultural primary products. This never gave the Africans the opportunity to learn how to use their own resources for development. Lastly, the Africans occupied only the inferior positions of the colonial administration and never had a say in the government of their own countries. Those employed by the colonial administration felt proud and more superior to the others and it eventually led to social inequality in the colonies. And as can be seen in most African nations, with Zambia in particular, the new African elite have premised their rule on colonial pillars. The powerful minority are getting richer through theft of public resources – the plunder of the treasury – and abuse of institutions of the state. Those who yesterday pretended to be humble are today the all-powerful, the alpha and omega. They live a life of luxury and control the society because they are on top. The African elite has fallen in love with colonial instruments of power, those laws the imperialist relied on to keep Africans in check. How else can the African dictator keep hold of power without usage of laws such as the public order Act or without abusing state security forces?

How can Zambia attain economic emancipation if the ruling elite keeps on enriching itself at the expenses of the majority citizens who languish in perpetual poverty? We urgently need to get rid of colonial hangovers and address underdevelopment which has been plaguing African countries for a very long time. The underdevelopment, in the midst of plenty natural resources, has so many negative effects on our people. This underdevelopment is a result of many contributing factors including poverty, illiteracy, corruption and lack of accountability.

More than anything else, our failure to achieve socio-economic emancipation is man-made. To move beyond political independence is possible.

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