On the 8th of May 1996, the former president Thabo Mbeki who was a vice president at the time stood behind the podium in Parliament and delivered a speech titled “I am an African”. He delivered the speech on behalf of the African National congress on the occasion by the adoption of the Constitutional Assembly of The Republic of South Africa Constitution Bill 1996.
Those who have read, or heard the speech before would harmonize with me that it is a very poignant piece. The speech begins with the appreciation of African continent on the basis of landmarks, weather, and animals etc. However, on the antagonistic annotation, one would ask; who’s African? How do we identify an African? Do we use race as an identifying factor? Do we use the class? Whom does Africa belong to? Who has the right to be called African and who does not?
If you have been following the news recently, you have noticed that the issue of land was trendy. Some politicians who have some sort of influence to certain people have used that advantage to make an impact on who`s land it is specifically Africa. In Zimbabwe after independence; most white people were procured off their farms and some land because it was said that it is being taken back to the owners. Who is the owner? Who gave the owner the ownership of the land? I sense some culture of entitlement here. Perhaps, that’s a debate for another day.
Who does Africa Belong to? That`s the question that has been pondering me. Does is belong to the black people because they were colonized? What about the white people then? Should they leave Africa because they were not colonized? Keeping in mind that their ancestors are the colonizers not them, do we blame them? If we take this to be a battle against black and white, what about the coloreds? Do we forget about them and pretend as if they don`t exist? Who has the say in this thing?
Well, it is certainly difficult to answer these questions. However, what we don`t realize is that this questions have been answered already. If you read clearly on the Thabo Mbeki Speech you will realise what he emphasized. He said “It is a firm assertion made by ourselves that South Africa belongs to all who live in it”. I have a question for you…Do you live in Africa? If the answer is yes then you know that Africa belongs to you. I know Thabo Mbeki was talking about South Africa but I think we can apply the same spirit to the entire Continent. I don`t care what color you are, you were oppressed or not. You live in Africa now; make a different because Africa belongs to you. No one has to leave Africa because of his race or class. Africa belongs to those who live in it!