JUST recently Tanzania was the centre of attraction for the six Southern African countries whose ruling parties took part in laying foundation stone for the construction of the Mwalimu Nyerere Leadership School at Kibaha.
To those old enough could feel that nostalgia of Dar es Salaam when it used to be the hub of the OAU Liberation fighters where their leaders used to meet, as Comrade Sam Nujoma, retired President of Namibia puts it, “Dar es Salaam was the Mecca of the freedom fighters.”
This time is not the question of political liberation of those countries but something else, perhaps reviving that political solidarity which slowly seems to fade away. As can be seen, there are already drop outs of leaders such as the Zambia’s Kaunda UNIP and doubtful case of Robert Mugabe whose ZANU PF is still in the map.
There have been some efforts of nurturing this Solidarity of the Frontline countries hence the creation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that has been enlarged to include more countries. However, that was done in the interest of regional cooperation as a way forward to the Africa’s unification.
This construction of leadership school funded by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could be a practical monument acknowledging the work-done by founding fathers of these nations in liberating those countries from the obnoxious apartheid regimes of the Boers and Portuguese hegemony.
The efforts to put the correct history of the liberation struggle started long time but it was not clear what it was all about. Perhaps, by virtue of what is happening now it has become clear that something needs to be done.
Several meetings of the ruling parties have been going on. It is in this spirit of solidarity when these former liberation movements met at Windhoek in Namibia on August 2012 to discuss on regional unity, stability and possible documenting the liberation struggle of these countries using their liberation movements, CCM, FRELIMO, SWAPO, ANC, ZANU PF and MPLA.
The last Secretary-General of the Liberation Committee, Brigadier-General Hashim Mbita led what was known as Hashim Mbita Research Project that was initiated in August 2005 with the objective to document the history of the liberation struggle of the Southern African region through collection, cataloguing and compiling of oral texts and data in SADC Member States, as well as outside the region.
The publication profiled the history of seven countries in southern Africa – Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The nine volumes cover the period between 1964 when the committee offices were opened in Dar es Salaam.
The publication is a critical reference source as it provides very useful information on the history of the region providing vital and useful information to students and academic institutions of high learning on Southern African history, politics and humanities.
How is this move received in those six countries? Unfortunately, it is not well received in some of the countries particularly those which had experienced the crunch of the liberation wars.
They accuse these liberation movements of branding and framing themselves as cathedrals of morality, and developed a self-righteous life of their own to remain in power.
There are two groups opposed to the ruling parties; naturally the opposition parties but more seriously the youths who call themselves born free. These are those who were born after 1990 as the question of liberation or imperialism to them is irrelevant.
Just recently the former Namibian Prime Minister Nahas Angula at the funeral of the once powerful Minister of Foreign Affairs and later Speaker of the Namibian National Assembly, Theo- Ben Gurirab blamed some members of the Swapo Youth League who frustrated this once powerful veteran in the Electoral College to vote him out, leading to his death without writing his memoirs.
It is worse with the South Africa’s political landscape. The youths are lamenting, “Our country is not at war, or at least not the conventional blood war. Its democracy has been put to test on several occasions and it has ducked every jab. The war has transitioned from guerrilla warfare to what seems like the inevitable struggle for economic emancipation.”
The South Africa’s much talked “Affirmative Reposition”, an attempt at an uprising which seemed focused at first, but later lost its agenda and now has no sustained vision. The landless remain landless, the unskilled remain economically oppressed and more sadly, the educated are still unemployed. Some are saying “We can no longer blame the apartheid regime; it has been almost three decades in a democratic nation, we have to blame our leaders.”
This reminds me of the celebrated Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, writing in 1958, in his “The Man of the People” warned poignantly: The trouble with our new nation … was that none of us have been indoors long enough … we had all been in the rain together until yesterday. The handful of us, the smart and the lucky and hardly ever the best … had scrambled for the one shelter our former rulers had left, and had taken it over and barricaded themselves …. And from within they sought to persuade the rest through numerous loudspeakers … that all argument should cease and the whole people speak with one voice …
With the coming of Mwalimu Nyerere Leadership School could infuse some ideological propensity of patriotism and Pan Africanism to those countries in south of the Sahara. The College to be supervised by the Party Secretary-Generals would bring back that zeal of those old days of liberation.
Sophia Shaningwa, the Namibia’s Swapo Party Secretary confirmed that “We are here to cement our liberation history and also enhance the sustainability of our liberation for the transformation of our African countries.” while the Mozambican Frelimo’s Party Secretary, Rock Silver asserted that the laying of the foundation stone heralds a new beginning of our countries.