YOUR TAKE - I weep for Mama Africa. Photo by

By Thami Banda

If, like me, you grew up in the 90s, you most likely know something about Dr Alban. If age has, by some tricky hand, deleted some of your memories of the 90s and you do not remember the name, you have, without doubt, danced to Hello Africa.
This song was Dr Alban’s debut single, which reached Top 10 in a number of European countries.
He followed it up with It’s my life and Sing Hallelujah. The beats were so contagious and the melodic lines just stuck to your head, moving you from you were standing, to the centre of the dancefloor.
Dr Alban, who was born on 26 August, 1957 as Alban Nwapa, moved from Nigeria to Sweden, leaving behind a country that was ravaged by corruption and destabilised by war.
In Sweden, he found himself in a country where people could openly be critical and speak their minds. In the 80s when he got to Sweden, there were fewer black people than is the case today.
This inescapably drew bizarre stares and racist remarks and conduct from local white folks. Dr Alban refused to stay silent. He justly spoke a lot about the treatment in his adoptive country and his motherland Africa.
I was reminded of Dr Alban’s Hello Afrika last month as we celebrated Africa Day.
Hello Afrika is a persuasive and exultant ancestral ode including a natty guest appearance by Leila. It’s bewildering pounding, indigenous drums dominate this hypnotic rap for African unity.
A combination of African rhythms, Jamaican samples and a smattering of Swedish house technology made Hello Afrika a tugging and rocking ragga rap.
Dr Alban’s music is uncompromisingly about freedom, peace, respect, equality, unity, justice, and love. Amid the captivating choruses, buoyed by strong beats, Dr Alban tells the story of political and social problems.
In Hello Afrika he raps: Martin Luther King, Mandela, they had a dream / Self-evidence and equality for men / Africa for me and Africa for you/ Hello Afrika, tell me how you’re doing…
In this song he asked an appropriate question that became my inspiration for this piece.
Africa Day, was just another annual day to celebrate mother Africa. Some did it in song and dance. In the chaos of grand speeches and pie-crumbs promises, I want to know how Mother Africa feels when the socio-economic and political promises made in the beginning of the 1960s, as the sons and daughters begun to unshackle themselves from the chains of colonialism, remain an illusion.
How come the children who you birthed Mama Africa stare at each other with hatred and rage? The children for whom deep in your belly you carry untold wealth have been divided by greedy men from the other side of the ocean. We have allowed strangers to drive us into some madness that makes us punctuate our differences with guns and machetes.
We do not see each other as brothers and sisters – we see enemies when we look at each other. We dig up some prehistoric cavemen and club any person who looks like us to death. We blame each other for lack of progress and are not ashamed to kill for crumbs. Flames of self-hate have devoured the lives of those who look like me.
Tell me Mama Africa, how are you feeling?
European nations saw you, Mama Africa, as ripe for plunder and pillaging. They argued among themselves that by colonising you and your children, they were transferring civilisation to a continent they regarded as untransformed, backward and undeveloped.
They appointed themselves as trustees for your progress, Mama, because as your children we were too immature to govern and grow on our own. The truth though, Mama, is that colonisation had nothing to do with our progress, it was motivated by commercial interests of Europe. That continent, Mama, benefitted enormously from exploiting your riches and your children.
The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 regulated European exploration and exploitation of the resources residing in your belly, Mama.
This conference called by Otto von Bismarck, the first chancellor of Germany, produced the General Act of the Berlin Conference, which enabled European powers to apportion pieces of you between themselves.
This produced rather hollow states that were without any genuine cultural, linguistic or national unity.
Today, we are trapped in a terrible act of self-mutilation as a result of some conference that took place 138 years ago. As your children, we have come to represent the erosion of the human spirit.
There are now these deadly fractured fragments of our inner beings that have inculcated within us a scorching desire to self-destruct. We lack the will to act in rebellion against that which has inflicted without mercy unrelenting onslaughts of hostility that has turned us into hateful and murderous creatures.
I ask, just like Dr Alban asked in 1990, knowing that you are not doing well, Mama.
Those whom we chose as leaders seem to have been suckled by hyenas.
We have given power to jackals of hypocrisy who have pimped your broken heart.
We are at fault, Mama. We have forgotten that diversity is an aspect of human existence that must be auctioned to greed, deceit and self-consuming hatred.
It is up to us now, Mama, to mend your broken heart by conquering these demons that have turned into self-loathing murderers. No politician has the desire of reclaiming the wealth of values that our diversity represents for Africa.
To all my African brothers and sisters, it is high time we embraced our values, talents and strengths. It will neutralise those who think less of us, and will obliterate the self-hate.
The beasts that feed on our division must be defeated.
We must no longer allow them to drive wedges between us and make us fight and kill each other.
Ghanaian author, Lailah Gifty Akita sums it correctly: “Africans must change their mind and actions. The keys to building your continent depends on your will-power, persistent effort and action towards self-liberation.”
We must live together as African brothers and sisters or perish together as beasts.

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