What Should Have Been: celebrating the revolution that continues to eat its children

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of Zimbabwe’s
Independence- a remarkable break from oppressive colonial power, an opportunity
for majority rule that is certainly worthy of celebration.

In fact, the Lancaster House
Agreement did not only sign significant freedom over to Zimbabwean people, it
marked the drawing-to-a-close of colonization in the African continent. April
18, 1980 was a date that was only matched in significance for African liberty
with April 27, 1994, where the raising of the new rainbow flag symbolized the
end of Apartheid in South Africa.

But,
independence has not brought with it the liberty that Africa expected.

 778 A moment of hope: Zimbabweans celebrate independence in 1980

In his
article, After Revolutions, Beware of
Crocodiles (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/06/opinion/after-revolutions-beware-of-cr...)
,
George B. N. Ayittey argues that “Defining democracies as nations
with deeply entrenched democratic institutions, the number in sub-Saharan
Africa grew from 4 in 1990 to 12 in 2004 but remains stuck at 15 today.”
Clearly, the eradication of colonial power has not given the average African substantially more freedom, more voice, more agency. Rather, continuous coups,
like that we see in Mali, “immortal” dictators, and corrupt governments
continue to bleed from the nations the very freedom they claim to be upholding.

The
opportunity provided by independence for the development of economic and civil
rights in Africa has been consumed by the very figures who represent the
“revolution”. Far from “ensuring ‘post-independence’ sustainable development,
good governance and human rights on the continent” (which Hesphina Rukato
claims was necessary in her book, Future
Africa
), politicians have failed in poverty reduction and human rights
protection, undermining the potential “Future Africa” that could have existed.

In
Zimbabwe, celebrations of 32 years outside of colonial oppression are tainted
by deep political turmoil, rigged elections, politically-motivated violence,
corrosion of the rule of law, an unemployment rate of 95%, the failure of the
important agricultural sector due to corrupt and poorly executed land
re-distribution, and an 88-year-old dictator whose promises that “oppression and racism are inequities that
must never again find scope in our political and social system” are an almighty
disappointment.

779 Robert G. Mugabe at the 2012 celebrations of independence- a far cry from the liberation leader Zimbabwe expected

How distressing, that a nation that
struggled for freedom now lives under that torment of its own freedom-fighters.
This is not what Marianne Williamson meant when she said “Our deepest fear is
not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond
measure”, but we cannot help but weep that the greatest threat to African
liberty did not come from the “them” but the “we”. After 32 years, children of
the revolution continue to be gobbled by that which fought for their liberty,
and corrupt governments, composed of former heroes of the people, continue to
eat. 

Ultimately, decolonization has simultaneously been Africa's most profound victory, and most devastating disappointment.