By Cedric G. Wembe
Here am I, sitting on my bed and looking through the window while I sip of my cup of tea. The weather is giving signals to my body that I should be in my blankets now, chatting or watching a video on YouTube. But, my reason is telling me that I need to write, that I need to write about today. It is fascinating, the dialectic between what I would want at the moment and that which am somehow forced to do or to have. Am I allowing reason to colonize me, my feelings, and an existential need to keep warm? Am I too rational for my own liking? Am I just too excited about the 9th Drama for Life Annual conference? As I put this piece of writing together I am not even convinced as yet, as to what is going on. Maybe there was just more than enough thoughts, ideas, knowledge, and probe going on today in the reflexive space the conference allowed. I was still battling with the concept of decolonization, and today I got challenged beyond my expectations. I am still like a baby learning to walk in this decolonization discourse. And one thing which is hunting my conscience as I write this line is the question of value. Value of the Arts, Humanity, growth, life, future, progress, emancipation, social resources, culture, heritage.
As an African from the central part of the continent, I battled to grasp the notion of decolonization as it applies to what is generally referred to by South Africans as West Africa. There were fights for a liberation movement, resistance by the Africans who had went to study in the Western schools, and who had returned with a greater understanding of the value the west put in humanity. They surely asked themselves one of the questions I asked today about who counts as a human. They had probably came to the same conclusion as we did today in my group which is that any living soul, who has the faculty of reasoning is a human. And finally they had surely felt the need to address an injustice which had become part of their system. An injustice which had been accepted by the many, either by fear of reprisals or by pure conformity to an established pattern: A pattern which promoted assimilation to the ‘higher race’; the higher human! I just smiled alone upon writing this!
I smiled because I realized how far we have been as a then considered ‘lesser human’ to what we are able to articulate today without fear of reprisals, without desire to assimilate or shame to express our original and true humanity. I smiled because I pictured that tomorrow would be better and that we will not even feel the need to have to affirm that we are humans and that there should not be anything reminding, nor prompting us into thinking about such. I smile because I realise that the whole conversation which had recently been activated and revived around decolonization, has open a new door to the thinking patterns of Africans and of south Africans regardless of races, religions and gender.
However I have a fear when I open my window at any given moment of the day and can smell the tension, the bitterness, and the anger with which many amateurs and experts of the decolonization discourses articulate their thoughts and views of the matter. It seems like we are now trying to cry the funerals of our ancestors again and punish our fellows for the crimes of their ancestors. If after 20 years we are still not willing to heal or believe in healing, when will we ever achieve that? We cannot fight for something new if we are still wounded and convalescent, we need to recover and be willing to completely heal. This will seem like a very apologetic idea and a promotion of ‘white privilege and monopoles’ but I think until we heal properly we are not fit to engage in another war. This is probably why the many discourses on decolonization have yielded no consequent action which can foster change in a progressive and peaceful approach.
It is surely important that we take action and that we do the ‘right’ thing to liberate any sphere of the society which is still under a western colonialist hand. It is important that the decolonization ‘thing’ becomes embodied and not only theoretical. However it is more than useful to primarily diagnose, investigate, examine and agree among the various discourses what is it that we are aiming to achieve when we speak of decolonization.
Are we trying to reject anything western or are we simply promoting a nationalization movement? Who does the decolonization as it is conceptualized at the present stage benefit? How do we make its implementation effective? These are some of the questions I personally ask myself, as I take the last sip of my almost empty cup of tea.