Africa needs to focus on the lives of Africans

Kenneth Mokgatlhe | Supplied.

Kenneth Mokgatlhe | Supplied.

Published Jun 24, 2024


Kenneth Mokgatlhe

It has become clearer over the years that African governments do not have respect for the lives of fellow black people in their countries.

In many of these African countries, governed by black governments, black people are murdered like chickens, plunged into underdevelopment, and treated without any sense of dignity.

However, it has struck me as particularly strange how some of the incompetent governments would go and meddle in the Israel-Palestine impasse while neglecting their people.

South Africa, which dragged the State of Israel, into the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the most unequal country in the world. Around 75 to 85 people are violently murdered daily, and most victims are black.

South Africa has the highest unemployment rate of 33% in the world, and most of those young people are black. According to the World Bank in 2020, 50.5% of the population lived in poverty, while more than 13 million people lived with food shortages or at extreme poverty levels in South Africa.

South Africa has more domestic problems which pose internal national security threats, a bomb that is waiting or expected to explode at any time. It should be given that the incoming government should prioritise the plight of its destitute black people in South Africa before interfering in affairs that are of no strategic benefit to the larger population of the country.

A country’s foreign policy should be an assertion of its national self-interest to the benefit of its domestic situation. A sober person should ask how many millions of rand the ICJ case cost the South African government, how it served the nation domestically, and what effect the exercise had on bringing an end to a war between Israel and Hamas.

To make matters worse, we have a continental body, the AU, headquartered in Ethiopia, which has no regard for Africa and its people. We have a bloody war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which according to the Council on Foreign Relations has claimed the lives of more than six million black people since 1996. Daily, black people continue to kill each other in the eastern DRC, but the AU appears unwilling to make a clarion call to end the bloodshed.

Likewise, the 2020-23 war between Eritrea and Ethiopia claimed more than 700 000 lives, and has resulted in continued war crimes in the north of Ethiopia. Here again, the AU (and the UN) has not taken action. Maybe this is because this war did not trend in the mainstream media.

The AU should be the voice of the powerless in the continent and seek to speak on their behalf. However, it is becoming irrelevant to many Africans because it does not advance their interests.

I am dragging the toothless AU into this discussion because its chairperson of the Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, constantly uses all available platforms to condemn Israel. When is he going to prioritise black people on his own continent?

If you are so passionate about international human rights, are you not seeing black people (who share our ancestors and heritage) fighting each other in Haiti? Why is he so obsessed about Israel when many black people are dying in their thousands? What is more special about Israel than confronting all those who are responsible for treating African lives as cheap?

According to media reports, about 15 000 Sudanese who are also African have been killed while more than 30 000 have been badly injured since the start of the civil war in 2023, but there is absolutely nothing that the AU has done to arrest the volatile situation in Sudan.

The World Food Programme has recently alerted the world that Sudan is now facing unprecedented levels of starvation. We should be asking if starvation has been used as a means of war (famine).

Africa needs to defend and protect the lives of Africans in the continent as well as in the diaspora. We have enough problems in the mother continent that should be preoccupying our minds rather than finding ourselves trapped in the wars in Asia, Europe, or the Americas.

Africa needs to co-operate in combating wars, violent murders, terrorism, poverty, inequalities, water crisis, human and drug trafficking, and unemployment among the youth and women.

There is a strong need for African governments to pursue beneficial national self-interest which will translate into the economic and political fortunes of their countries.

Mokgatlhe is a political writer, analyst, and researcher.

The Star