Racism against Africans will persist as long as we have no self-dignity
By Mark Bichachi
| April 22nd 2020
Rights are never given, they are taken. If you allow anyone to give you your rights you simultaneously give them the power to take them back. The idea that somehow racism against the black race will stop because we politely ask the other races to do so is laughable. If today Kenya mistreated white nationals, you would see how swift and devastating a response we would get from the West.
When Mugabe touched white Zimbabwean farmers, he faced sanctions so steep that they gave new meaning and dimension to inflation. For as long as Africans do not have dignity, rest assured we will continue to be the victims of racism.
When white people come to Africa, they are tourists. When they settle in Africa they are called aliens and given alien identity cards. If Africans go to the West, legally or illegally, they are immigrants. When white people visit Africa, they are treated like royalty. The red carpet is rolled out for them and they can expect prompt service at our cafés and hotels. I remember how, while queuing to pay for a ticket some years back, the attendant allowed a white person to jump the queue on account of his whiteness. But I protested and as a result was served first.
When we travel to the West, no carpet is rolled out for us. At their immigration desks they look at you with suspicion and hate and at the club they sneer when they see you talking to one of their own.
The reality is, we have allowed ourselves to be undignified for too long. Africa sends her children to the West and other places to flip burgers, wash toilets, change diapers and do all the work that is too undignified for the locals.
Africa is also home to leaders who rob their countries dry and stash the money in the West to grow Western economies at the expense of their own. The West, therefore, finds it hard to find success in Africa without the attendant corruption and largesse at the expense of the larger population.
Further, we are always in their corridors, cup in hand, begging for a grant, a loan, a gift, anything they can give us. Our NGOs spend half their time begging for money.
When we need experts, we hire people of fairer skin and ignore locals. We listen more to western music, watch more western movies and consider everything western better than our own. We have abandoned our traditions and decided that the western traditions are holier. It is the reason a black couple will hold a white wedding and are convinced that this is pleasing to God.
We export raw materials, we refuse to process things locally and do not like locally manufactured goods. We like the western brands and ignore local brands, yet some of the western brands are manufactured in our local EPZ.
We Africans lack self-respect. We have no unity and our greed has exposed us to plunder from the West and East. I cringe every time I hear people claim that we won independence; no we did not. It was simply cheaper to colonise us by our greed and myopia than it was to colonise us by the gun. Like any good business model, the coloniser simply outsourced colonisation. For as long as Africa keeps waiting for a white messiah, we will continue to be mistreated all over the world.
The way out? We must ensure our people live in dignity. It does not make sense when we send our sons and daughters to change nappies in Arabia. Have we no nappies to change in Africa? We must begin to make it better to be poor and free at home than a slave to a master abroad. To achieve this, we must ensure that no Kenyan is dirt poor. The government should, therefore, make cash transfers to the poor permanent. This will ensure that no Kenyan will ever lack a coin in their pockets.
Yes, I know naysayers will argue that this will make Kenyans lazy. That is not true. Those who argue that free money makes people lazy should visit a country like Sweden where, as a result of Covid-19, those who choose to stay at home are given over 50 per cent of their salary.
We need to stop relying on the West and East. We need to stop being their dumping ground for used clothes and electronics. Covid-19 forced us to ban mitumba; it should stay that way. Why can't we manufacture a shirt locally at Sh400? Why do we have to wear, at a fee, what someone else used and rejected?
Finally, we must get the courage to stand up to anyone who mistreats us. They must know that we will retaliate; that we will take our rights back and defend them. Other nations will not need to be asked to respect us. If they think we are desperate, let them roll up their roads and take them back to their countries. We would rather die on our feet than live on our knees!
Mr Bichachi is a communications consultant
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