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The African story, my African story

By Farai Chisvo

The African story, my African story, without a beginning nor an end, of tenacity amid adversities. Where would I begin the story of Africa? I could begin with a cosmogonic myth of how the Creator made the first people who came out of reeds to fill the earth, or an Africa that built pyramids in Egypt, the Great Dzimbadzemahwe in Zimbabwe, the rock paintings and all the beautiful things that our caves and other hidden places tell us. Wherever I begin, the story of Africa is older than mankind and words are not able to tell this story. But, I can tell a story of an Africa that has been battered and bruised, raped and thrashed, whipped and tossed about. An Africa that has known no rest since the invasion by the white man, destroying societies, cultures, politics, languages, religions and everything that we knew. We had to pray a certain way, ‘Christianity’ they called it, dress a certain way ‘civilisation’ they called it and even being ruled in a different way, ‘democracy’ they called it.

They called it “the scramble for Africa” as if they were scrambling for a pie, with everyone wanting a piece, a virgin than needed to be deflowered. All the riches in Africa were for the taking. ‘The ‘stupid’ Africans were wasting all these, they are uncivilized,
living on a dark continent’. They came, taught us about God, that beating drums were evil and that we worshipped ancestors, we needed to accept Jesus, be baptized and be saved from the fires of hell. Who would not accept baptism if it meant that they will not be burnt even without fully understanding everything?

Christianity, where there is God who knows everything and punishes those who do bad.
Follow the Ten Commandments, when you die you will go to heaven, if not then you will go to hell. Africans were baptized, educated and became the best Christians, that today. Africa has more Christians than Europe where the teachers who taught us came from. We had grasped Christianity with both hands that we let go of our land and everything. We became Christians and not Africans. We discarded our ancestors and prayed through foreign ancestors, demonising our traditional healers and opting for Western medicine and yet these were made from our own trees and herbs. We have more diseases than before the time of the white man and many are dependant on medicines for their whole lives. We have turned to prophets, the ‘Men of God’ who promise cures for every affliction including riches for the poor and if the prophets are rich from our money then the money I give to the church will be returned to me doubled by God. We claim to be Christians by day, African religion followers by night, hiding visits to a traditional healer, denying the dead the rituals that have to be done for them. Africans should be free to practice both the Western and African religion if they want because who is to say that the Western God and the African God are not the same or that the Western God is the real God or that there is only one God?

Civilisation? The Westerners developed the African through education and refined them to be what they are today, that is why Africa has a high literacy rate but the lowest standards of living. High unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, hunger and crime are the order of the day. Women have to walk kilometres to fetch water and firewood, their children walk kilometres to school, thousands of women die in childbirth, thousands die of malaria, malnutrition and hunger. And we are civilised? What were we civilised from? Is wearing clothes and eating with a fork and knife, speaking English, going to their universities the civilisation that they talked about? Where would Africa be without this ‘civilisation’?

Democracy? A capitalist system of governance, where people choose their leaders by voting. Africa had been ruled by leaders who did not need votes, blood and lineage would choose the ruler. The white man came and conquered through the pen the rights to govern the majority, a majority who could not read or write. We fought and defeated the white man but continued their way of governance. Wars and conflicts will never end, to the gleeful cheering of the white man because he finances the wars and supplies guns and ammunition while making his pockets fatter by taking everything while we fight, never getting tired of taking from Africa until there’s nothing else to give. Has Christianity done us good or it was the source of colonisation? Has civilisation brought what we need or it has taught us to hate our skin, our hair, ourselves and each other? Has democracy worked for Africa, or it has brought dictatorship and wars? Maybe we need Africracy, an African system that is made by Africans for Africans.

With all the great African minds we see ourselves as inferior, only the white man has answers and we will work for them and our generation after us, begging for money from their institutions and yet for them to be where they are today it is because of Africa. How their countries were built by slaves, Africans fought in their wars, shiploads of our minerals built their nations and today they give us ‘debt relief’, scholarships and other donations because we have corrupt leaders who loot and yet the white man and now the Chinese have been looting and looting. So the debt relief is actually African money from all that they have taken from us. Africa needs to rise up so that we can have a real African story, a story that does not have the coming of the white man. How will that Africa be? An Africa without colonialism, Africa without slaves being shipped off, an Africa that may be behind in advancement but an Africa that is and should be AFRIKA.This Africa is only but a dream.