Time ripe for One-Africa clarion call

Foreign nationals watch after their shacks were set on fire by alleged looters at Marabastad, near the Pretoria city centre, South Africa, on September 2 during the latest xenophobic attacks. PHOTO | AFP

After the xenophobic attacks in South Africa (SA) last week, several questions popped up in my mind.

When does the struggle for freedom end? Did Africa fail to educate citizens about the responsibilities that come with self-rule?

Aluta continua (Portuguese for “the struggle continues”) was the rallying cry of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo).

Samora Moisés Machel, the leader of the movement and later the first President of an independent Mozambique, liked the phraseology so much that he made it an unofficial national motto. So entrenched was this saying that even today, there are posters with the slogan in Maputo.

In SA, the phrase Amandla! (Nguni language for "power") was a common phrase during anti-apartheid struggle. The leaders would call “Amandla” and the audiences would respond, "AwethuI" or "Ngawethu!” (meaning, “to us”).

In effect, and in hindsight, the leaders were promising “power to the people” without explaining the meaning.

Since the mid-1800, America described itself as a melting pot (a fusion of many nationalities) coming together to exploit opportunities through the clarion call to immigrants to come to “the Land of Opportunity.”

The phrase has served the Americans for centuries, attracting many to a place where they could achieve whatever they wanted to do no matter their background. Studies have shown that America’s greatness is partly a consequence of its diversity.

Rallying cries or clarion calls are powerful emotional tools and are often as good as a strong brand whose sole purpose is to ingrain the product or idea in people’s minds to create a positive association.

In theory, and in practice, the phrases are short and memorable. However, in virtually all cases, the operational definition of such terminologies is never given. A single phrase could have different interpretations by different people.

If a phrase was meant to achieve short-term objectives, then as they say ‘Dawa ya moto ni moto’ (Kiswahili for medicine for fire is fire), you will need another equally powerful phrase to erase the one that needs to be erased.

Mozambique should have devised another phrase to erase aluta continua, which indeed has no place since the country had attained self-rule to reverse most of the injustices the colonists had imposed on the people.

Instead some of the people went back into the forest to continue with the war that cost the country many lives.

In recent times, Americans seem to be replacing the phrase ‘Land of Opportunity’ with that of ‘America First,’ a foreign policy orientation that focuses on United States of America’s unilateralism.

According to Ruth Sarles, in her book, A Story of America First: The Men and Women who Opposed US Intervention in World War II, the idea dates back to second world war. The policy has, however, been revived by President Donald Trump and seems to resonate with a huge population so much that he could be re-elected in 2020.

The pre-Independence crying calls need to be erased from the people’s memories by creating new sustainable ones. The clarion call that is imperative is the one calling on the people to unite as a continent for prosperity or seek skills and work hard to better our lives.

Prior to the White man coming to Africa, there were no distinctive boundaries to distinguish Azania from Zimbabwe. It makes sense therefore developing a One Africa phraseology.

There must be an end date for promises independence leaders made. In Kenya, for example, the promise of “Matunda ya Uhuru” (the fruits of independence) sometimes take the connotation of free fruits of independence

The phrase has in some cases created conflict. The phrase is sometimes the basis for asking the government to provide everything, causing woes instead.

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