Two Weeks Later…
Day of relative rest – relative because Jane is working at the food bank, and I am dealing with loads of overdue administration. Many thanks to donors for their sponsorship and kind wishes. And to the excellent ZANE team for their background support. We were fortunate in our driver, Richard, who has all the gifts we required, crucially patience and a sense of humour.
Two weeks is a long time: it went like a flash, yet the start days seem an eternity ago.
The African Way
A doctor friend, who has spent much of his life in southern Africa, tells me that years ago when Cherie Blair was apprehended on the Underground without a tube ticket, a senior African friend was astounded.
“How did the ticket collector dare to stop the wife of the British prime minister for dodging a fare? Why isn’t the man in jail? That could never happen in a southern African country. No one would dare to say anything!”
So, what can be done about gross corruption and mismanagement in Southern Africa? Sadly, the answer is nothing.
Most African countries – including South Africa – are either in ruins or heading that way. The misrule and corruption will never come to an end, for an “end” doesn’t exist, not in relation to a country.
The ordinary people in African countries do not expect much from their politicians because they are used to tired and empty slogans. Few, apart from cock-eyed optimists, harbour any illusions about the alien concepts of morality and governance.
The idea that the “state should be an instrument for people’s development” is a Western concept. The notion that leaders are there to serve the people is as real as the tooth fairy. African leaders don’t follow the ideas of Socrates, Kant, and Hegel, for these figures are from a different world. They are content to remain African and do things “the African way”.
The “African way” is to rule through kings and tribal chiefs – they adopt unwritten rules, made up as they go. Has anyone seen a book of African customary laws?
The very idea that a commoner could raise issues about the abuse of public money spent for example, on the house of a president is simply risible: it’s not the African way. To ask a ruler to be accountable is a Western idea. It never happens.
In most African countries, anti-corruption campaigners are an oddity.
No African leader likes an educated populace – educated people are difficult to govern.
People used to wonder if South Africa, under Mandela and Mbeki, might be an exception to this bleak analysis. I fear not. That country will end up broke like Zimbabwe. Just give it a bit more time.
Some have questioned me about next year’s walk. I remind them, “Do you know what makes God laugh?”
“People making plans!”