Someone once said that to be well adjusted to a sick or abnormal society is not a sign of sanity. Arthur Koestler in his book Ghost In The Machine writes: “Poets have always said that man is mad; and their audiences always nodded delightedly because they thought it was a cute metaphor. But if the statement were taken literally, there would seem to be little hope : for how can a madman diagnose his own madness? The answer is that he can, because he is not entirely mad the entire time.“
One of Afrika’s greatest and most inspirational leaders, Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara once said that socio-political change in Afrika will require a certain amount of ‘madness’. Did we fully grasp the meaning of this statement, after his untimely demise at the hands of betrayers, can we still find mad-ones today who can dare to invent a better future for Afrika? given the amount of problems that are mostly made worst by the non-abating grip of corporate and political corruption, it seems highly unlikely that a large movement of the mad-ones may arise anytime soon. But then again in Southern Afrika, there are organisations such as Black First Land First and to a certain rather dubious extent, there is also the Economic Freedom Fighters. One of them seems cut from Sankara’s cloth, while the other appears to be larger, but appears similar to an ordinary populist political party – nevertheless, the conversations that these two parties evoke is similar and it leads young Afrikans to boldly seek solutions that appear crazy to most liberal and mainstream observers.
In the daily course of living and aiming to have a purpose driven life, where conscious choices lead to relatively high levels of success in our endeavors, there is the challenge of knowing exactly when and when not to get involved in social causes. As an Afrikan living in an increasingly crisis prone and economically struggling country/region, one seeks to have a healthy balance between personal ambitions and social responsibility.
We are not well as Black people globally. We each have different battles to fight on personal levels, and there are many success stories and inspirational instances where people beat seemingly impossible odds to emerge victorious or successful in relative terms, but how do we measure that success in the midst of severe social degeneration, poverty and corruption? Can one truly be considered successful when that success exists next-door to squalor, violence and social chaos? Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah’s maddening eye opening book The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born was premised on such questions.
While we are striving to better ourselves we are also striving to transform our society’s, to instill the self confidence and cooperative economic ethos that many social activists have striven to establish in our communities.
Surely there are ways for Black Consciousness, the ideals of Kwanzaa and Pan Afrikanism to animate the peoples of the ghettos and the struggling masses of our people. Having many activists and various movements all pontificating and agitating for political powers is not enough – we have to find more ways to create sustainable changes in our communities.
Perhaps we are also overstimulated, there is too much information flowing in and out of our lives, the current affairs and crises in the world are a real distraction from the revolutionary mission that many of us believe must take place. We know that revolution and social change is not an event …there are processes that have to take place gradually but we need leadership at different levels, from the legislation/policies to the implementation stages to see to it that what we envision actually transpires.
Here in Zimbabwe, I am currently challenging traditional healers to become more involved in social revolution. I am urging them to create real solutions to the problems of hunger, ignorance and find alternative economies where more can benefit rather than the few elites. To identify the healers among a plethora of hopefuls is not an easy task, and one has to deal with a lot of deeply set attitudes, egos and preconceptions of what it means to be Spiritually gifted or being ‘possessed’ by Ancestral beings. There are risks and dangers at every side, but there are also infinite possibilities for fruitful collaborations. Perhaps this is where Afrika’s new breed of warrior-priests and priestesses will emerge.