October cannot be a good month for African leaders, they seem to die a lot during this month. Just a few days ago Africans, home and abroad, celebrated the death of Thomas Sankara, today is the anniversary of Gaddafi’s death and, more relevant to this post, yesterday was the anniversary of Samora Machel’s death.
So yesterday I attended the third Samora Machel memorial lecture at the New Ambassador hotel in Harare where the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Cde Nelson Chamisa gave quite a passionate speech on the life of the great Mozambican statesman.
The Minister spoke at length about Africa’s unfinished revolution and how the same systems of repression, exploitation, corruption and looting that Samora Machel fought against still exist on the African continent.
Samora Machel is especially important to Zimbabwe because, being an internationalist, he provided a base for our liberation fighters to train and launch military operations.
More importantly, Samora Machel believed in the same ideas that our liberators believed in. Like them, he believed in land redistribution- in a fair and non-partisan manner, empowerment of blacks, equality, freedom, the unhindered pursuit of happiness, respect of human dignity and a peaceful society among other things.
Which brought the question: To what degree have these aspirations been realised on the African continent, what would Machel do or say were he to rise from the dead?
The rather sad answer is that decades after attaining independence, the majority of African countries struggle to meaningfully provide for their citizens. All over the continent people are living in dire poverty, repression and unhealthy conditions. Where the are no wars there is disease, where there is no disease there is no personal freedom, where freedom exists- in the ‘democracies’- the common man is hopelessly poor.
As someone in the audience said, perhaps it is better that Machel died, he could have failed like his comrades. Or he could have become a ruthless dictator.
So yesterday, as we remembered Machel, we realised too, that Africa’s revolution is not yet done. Our resources are still to be owned by the people, we are still chasing the dream of a people’s government- one for the people, by the people, responsible to the people and representing the people’s will.
Years after independence, the African remains chained albeit differently. The system that Samora fought against, the system of a few group exploiting the rest of us, that system still exists.
Yesterday, as we remembered Samora Machel and his great ideals, his dedicated and resolute leadership, and his unwavering determination we also mourned our dream deferred.
Now, 26 years on, the most important thing that we learn as we reflect on Samora Machel’s life is that Africa’s Renaissance has not truly begun.