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Africa: Joao de Pina-Cabral

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Joo de Pina-Cabral, a social anthropologist, is Research Coordinator at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon (Portugal). He has published extensively on northern Portugal, Macao, Mozambique and Brazil. When he was sent a copy of the Open Letter to Africas leaders, signed by the current Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellows (see below, left), he was moved to respond in kind and query each of their five recommendations of change.

The Tribes, the Leaders, the Millionaires:

RACIALISED Joo
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AFRICA

an open letter by

de

Pina-Cabral
Joo de Pina-Cabral:

Each year, twenty high potential individuals from across sub-Saharan Africa are awarded the prestigious Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship, following a rigorous competitive selection process. The Awards are aimed at the cream of the continents future leaders, specifically targeting the next generation of Africas leaders in all sectors of society, between the ages of 25 and 39. The fellowship programme is coordinated by the African Leadership Institute, and it includes a training programme coordinated by the SAID Business School at Oxford University.
See www.alinstitute.org _________________________ Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellows February 10, 2008

Thank you for sending me the recent Open Letter of the 2007 Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellows, which I read with a shared sense of urgency. Many of us feel daily deeply distressed about what is going on in Africa. So, my African-self shares these peoples sense that if Kenya goes, what will remain? It would seem that everyone in the world right now is scared with what might happen there. Unfortunately, over the years, my ideas about the whole thing have evolved and, frankly, I can no longer agree with the proposed solutions of the people who write this manifesto. I think that new thought is needed because the old grooves have been proven wrong. The courage to have that new thought does not seem to be about, however. In any case, let me dialogue with their five points. (a) Concerning the need to fight tribalism and inequality, I get really worried to see them tying up together two things that do not belong together. That only increases the confusion. Tribalism is not going to go away, in Africa or anywhere else in the world just wishing wont help, as we have seen. Throughout the twentieth century, we watched the beast growing on every continent and much as we fight against it, it seems to be staying alive. No one in their right mind can believe that the problem of tribalism will just dissolve into thin air. One might as well work at trying to transform it into a force for good. Tribalism in Africa needs to become a form of African regionalism and, that way, it might be harnessed. In any case, there is no such thing as one tribalism there are as many tribalisms as there are tribalized contexts in Africa. If the genuine historical meaning of collective identities is taken away from them by means of rhetorical tricks like this one, they will continue to surprise us in the unreason of their repeated explosions. If tribalism does not get transformed into a kind of benevolent parochialism, it will continue to be murderous. What makes it monstrous is that it was never taken into account to start off with. (b) Political leaders are people in Africa, as in Europe, as anywhere the problem is not with the lack of moral force of the individual politicians, the problem is with the constitutional nature of the post-colonial regimes. Politicians must feel that they are part of the people in an organic way, an historically constructed way collectives should only be politically represented by persons who feel that they are integrally and organically part of the

AN OPEN LETTER TO AFRICAS PRESENT AND FUTURE LEADERS


This continent has suffered too much. We need the assistance and commitment of young leaders to continue to speak up on behalf of the poor and the marginalized, and seek a better life for all. --- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, April 2007

From Angola to Zimbabwe, questions abound about Africas present state. All capitals listed between Abidjan to Zanzibar, are not new to the rising voices of Africas sons and daughters who wish to know the fate of their land. Some express this concern through silent hope, others through evident fear, and many others look in no other direction than that of their leaders those we have come to know as the captains of the ship of the state. Others even argue that Africas answers remain with future leaders, and not todays. But there has been a crisis of leadership in Africa. The hopes and dreams of the citizens of this continent have been dashed by our post colonial leaders from the heroes of the liberation struggles through to the leaders of opposition parties that subsequently emerged. The citizens of Africa deserve a brighter future, and that begins with visionary leaders who can answer the challenges that Africa faces as part of a global community in the 21st century. Recent events across the continent are cause for serious concern: from the crisis of corruption in Nigeria, the political tensions in South Africa leading to the 2009 election, or the political crisis in Kenya which is turning a once prosperous country into one that is marred by bloodshed and ethnic tensions. The ongoing conflict in Sudan, the current crisis in Chad, or the socio-political and economic meltdown obtaining in Zimbabwe have all caused great instability in the lives of millions of Africans across the continent. We do not seek to play the usual game of just listing the problems but join our voices to that of over 920 million Africans to demand fair play in political processes. Though all of our democracies are young we expect our leaders to be men and women of excellence who respect the electoral process and as such the wishes of the people. As young people in Africa who are leaders in politics, business, health and information technology, we stand together and recommit ourselves to the ideals of true leadership, and we make the following recommendations: (a)The establishment of a high-level African Union led campaign to fight tribalism and inequality in all its forms across the continent. Each country should establish a Commission Against Tribalism and Inequality (CATI) to fight the scourges, and to protect vulnerable minority groups. CATI should bring politicians using ethnic manipulations to perpetrate violence to justice and stop them from participating in future political contests; (b)Political leaders must be servant leaders and use their power and influence as a tool for socioeconomic change rather than oppression and fuelling personal greed;

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07-12-2010 07:58