Reimagining African Leadership: A Clarion Call to Young African Leaders


Amid a global pandemic that has challenged the world in the most unimaginable and devastating ways I find myself forced by these horrendous circumstances to reflect on African Leadership. This reflection is necessitated by the state of affairs on the African continent and the adverse socioeconomic impact the silent enemy called Covid-19, notoriously known as the Coronavirus, is effecting on the continent and the entire global village. The world at large is seeking resilient and effective leadership that is capable and competent enough to deal with this invisible enemy that is Covid-19. This disease has also brought to the surface, the necessity for African leaders who have a global perspective but are also aware of the unique situation and distinct challenges that Africans find themselves facing. A decisive leadership that will provide unique solutions to these distinct challenges.

There is no given doubt, that this deadly virus is a global health crisis that continues to drastically challenge the global health system, more particularly the global public health system. This is true even in the most developed countries such as the Peoples’ Republic of China – where it emerged towards the end of 2019 – and the United States of America. Obviously, Africa, as a developing continent is not spared, not even a single bit. Moreover, this global pandemic poses even greater threats on the global economy which are characterized by massive job losses, companies forced out of business, markets dipping and global trade being significantly disrupted. All this comes as a result of the subsequent lockdown regulations that were rightfully imposed by many countries following the recommendations by the World Heal Organization (WHO).

In summary, the impact that this global pandemic continues to effect on us, has put our entire social engineering and construct to the test – what we deem as important, our economic imperatives, our social relations, how we govern, how we work and almost all that we accepted and regarded as normal has been put to the test quite extensively.

In this article however, I seek not to speak about the Coronavirus, rather I seek to take this opportunity to reflect on African Leadership. More importantly, I implore us as Africans, more particularly the African youth, to reimagine and redefine what African leadership means to us. We have a duty to effectively respond to this global threat and reposition ourselves accordingly to take full advantage of the opportunities it offers, as we conquer the severe challenges it poses.

You see, I had a very distasteful experience back in 2018 when I took my then 4 year old nephew to a hospital in South Africa. He was collapsing every 5 minutes and we didn’t know what to do. Frantic with worry his mum and I rushed him to the hospital, upon arrival; they took the child in and told us to go open a file at the administration desk. The mother’s dark complexion was enough for the administrator to demand a passport and permit for both her and her child. When it was noted that she did not have one on her person, we were advised to kindly take him to a hospital in Zimbabwe as they don’t have time to deal with amakwerekwere ( a derogative term for foreigners). With a sneer and attitude, we were told that their resources are for their people only and whatever happens to the child is not their problem. The doctors then notified us that without a file they cannot touch him and they proceeded with other patients, we pleaded and begged to no avail and ended up taking the child home. This is story is one amongst thousands of similar stories of black foreigners in the Republic of South Africa.

African Leadership

In defining African Leadership, I will borrow from a paper that was published in the African Journal of Public Affairs (Volume 6) in 2013 titled:  Perspectives on African Leadership in the spirit of Ubuntu, written by P. Pillay, M. Subban and V. Govender. In its abstract it states that:-

“African leadership is about African solutions to local problems, and to re-conscientize and rejuvenate the hearts and minds of people, regarding the richness of collectiveness with an emphasis on Ubuntu (humanness and moral regeneration) and “Umoja” (togetherness).”

This prolific definition emphasizes three of the four important principles that will be the heart and breathe of my case:

  1. African solutions to African problems;
  2. Rekindling the spirit of Ubuntu,
  3. The spirit of shared responsibility and prosperity – collectivism; “Umoja”

The fourth principle is also defined in the very same paper when it describes the kind of African Leadership that is needed as follows:

“Hence, the need for African leadership that has the competence to comprehend and respond to global threats, challenges and opportunities, and the ability to counterbalance them against domestic challenges, needs and aspirations, is absolutely crucial.”

This is the principle of capable and competent leadership with a global perspective and awareness. This global pandemic has proven to us in unequivocal and unambiguous terms that indeed we need the kind of leadership that is described in the extract above. Leadership that is capable and competent with a global perspective but does not lose sight of our uniqueness and the distinct challenges we face, and therefore the unique solutions we must provide to those distinct challenges. Finally, leadership that is driven by the philosophy and spirit of Ubuntu and “Umoja”.

The state of leadership in Africa

Now, analyzing the state of most African countries pre-Covid19 and during this global pandemic, I dare to err and say that we lack the kind of leadership described above. We are rather infested with old, worn out, incapable, incompetent and corrupt leaders that lack foresight and progressive imagination. 

These are individuals who continue to loot, squander and embezzle state resources meant to improve the lives of the African masses. Most of them, due to greed and their untamed power mongering propensities, continue to plunder their countries into poverty, unemployment, disease, famine and war.

 A report titled Foresight Africa – Top priorities for the continent 2020-2030 compiled and published by the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative, notes that the world’s highest concentration of the poor is in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 41.3% of the people in this region live below the poverty line as of 2015; and approximately 600 million people do not have access to electricity. Furthermore, millions more die every year from preventable diseases.

These statistics were recorded 55 years after Ghana, the first country on the continent to gain its independence from colonial rule and the evil shackles of imperialism, was officially declared a Republic. One cannot help but ask the question: ‘What has gone wrong?’ The answer is simple and straight forward – Africa is cursed with poor leadership!

At the dawn of Ghana’s independence and that of many other African countries, we were blessed with an incredible and formidable caliber of leadership. The likes of Kwame Nkrumah – the founding father of the Republic of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanganyika, Samora Machel of Mozambique, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, Amilcar Cabral of Guinea Bissau, Patrice Lumumba of the DRC of Congo and OR Tambo of South Africa, amongst others. 

These were freedom fighters and inspirational leaders who fought tooth and nail to conquer and overthrow colonial rule. They fought to suspend the imperialist exploitation that Africa suffered and was subjected to for centuries and centuries of decades. These inspirational, courageous and visionary leaders were truly committed, not only to the liberation of their countries, but more significantly, to the realization of a united, independent and prosperous Africa – the ultimate Pan-Africanist ideal.

During this era, Africa must have been proud of her brave and truly committed sons and daughters who used whatever was at their disposal to conquer her enemies and usher in new hope in the masses of Africa. Little did she (Africa) know that her rejoice and jubilation will be short lived as these historic victories were soon to be trumped, tarnished and defiled by the successors of this crop of leaders, in collaboration with her oppressors and enemies.

Given the state of affairs on the continent, she surely must be weeping and mourning in shame and disgust at the betrayal and embarrassment that the current crop of leaders continue to shamelessly subject her and her people to! It is worth noting and emphasizing at this particular point, that as result of the sacrifices and the war waged and conquered by the inspirational freedom fighters and leaders I have eluded to, African Leadership is broad today. African Leadership includes and is not limited to politicians, statesmen, public servants and administrators, business leaders and captains of industries and civil society.

Reimagining and Redefining African Leadership

The emphasis above is imperative for us, as African youth, to bear in mind, as we reimagine and redefine African Leadership so that we are far reaching and inclusive in our analysis and prescription. The most imperative question at this point is: what is the best imagination and definition of African Leadership?

To answer this question, I will start where I began and rehash those four principles I outlined which are:

  1. African solutions to African problems;
  2. rekindling the spirit of Ubuntu,
  3. and the spirit of share responsibility and prosperity – collectivism; “Umoja”
  4. Capable and competent leadership with a global perspective and awareness. 

I believe the best imagination and definition of African Leadership, is the kind of leadership that I described above. This I borrow from the Perspectives on African leadership in the spirit of Ubuntu, which embodies and is driven by the four principles and qualities above.

Let me be more direct and vivid in describing this much needed African Leadership. This leadership must:-

  1. Value education and be intellectually and technically capacitated to understand the unique challenges we are facing as a continent and how to effectively and distinctly respond to them.
  2. Be well informed about global affairs – the rapid changes taking place globally and how take full advantage of them in order to effectively position Africa as a significant and equal role player in global affairs.
  3. Be visionary and understand Africa’s interests in global affairs and be well-equipped and capacitated to negotiate in securing these interests without compromising much.
  4. Understand the Pan-Africanist imperative for Africa to unite, be independent and prosperous.
  5. Have integrity that values transparency, honesty and values of good governance which include being self-critical and correcting at all material times. 
  6. Lastly, this leadership must be fairly young and innovative because Africa is a youthful continent that deserves to be led and represented by young capable Africans.

The importance of a strong African Leadership

The African Leadership described above is extremely important to develop and realize if we are truly serious about repositioning Africa as a star amongst the constellation of continents, countries and nations. It is through its leadership that Africa can reclaim her glory and worth. This obligation falls more on us as young Africans and we need to rise to the occasion and accomplish that mission without fail. For should we fail to do so we will be judged harshly by history along with those who continue to shame and embarrass Africa, her sons and daughters. So we dare not fail! African Leadership as described in this article, is the key to resolving the many persistent and stubborn challenges facing this beautiful continent of ours. It is only when this leadership is realized and rises to the occasion, that Africa will rise to shine bright as a star amongst the constellations!  

Attacks on Christians in Africa

There is a disturbing trend regarding persecution of Christians in Africa, and the continent is seeing an increasing in the number of violent attacks.

In West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, North Africa and a few cases in Southern Africa, the Christian community is feeling the weight of living in consistent fear of attacks from different sources. Be that as it may, the Christian faith rises against all odds. 

In West Africa, each day fresh reports surface, bringing news of attacks by Islamic extremist groups and how governments are becoming increasingly hostile toward believers. Dictators and authoritarian regimes treat Jesus like competition, trying to stamp out those with an allegiance to anyone besides the government. Christians are being threatened by their families, cast out by their communities and killed by their leaders.

In Burkina Faso, there has been a noted rise in attacks targeting Christians, as a result, Christians are in hiding, and schools and churches are closed with thousands of believers fleeing to the south.

In some parts of Nigeria, Fulani activist herders present what some have called a significantly more noteworthy danger than the Islamic radical gathering Boko Haram. Islamic extremists continuously target Christian communities with abductions of young girls, rape and assault of old ladies and killing innocent men.

Boko Haram is not defeated and is still a very powerful source, using both armed assault and suicide bombers targeting Christians. Whilst their presence is certainly known in Nigeria, the group that was founded in 2002 has also expanded into neighbouring countries. They have conducted terrorist attacks in Niger, Chad and Cameroon, which have resulted in dramatic refugee and humanitarian crises.

They are even regarded as “slave raiders” who target women in raids for “wives” in the areas around Lake Chad, which borders Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria. Furthermore, in places like Mauritania where Sharia law is implemented, the state is the fundamental driver. Here, citizenship is constrained to Muslims, and changing over from Islam is deserving of death. Anti-blasphemy laws are enforced and dominant. West Africa records the highest number of attacks on Christians in Africa. 

In the Eastern part of Africa, al-Shabaab, a known terrorist group is attacking Christians, and dictatorships continue to make moves to intentionally destroy religious freedom. In Eritrea, which is the Horn of Africa, the dictatorship targets Christians for imprisonment and detention. According to one religious liberty report, Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki was said to “fear Christian evangelism because it could destabilize and disunify the country.” In East African countries with tribal societies, like Somalia and Ethiopia, abuse against Christians originates from relatives and the community. 

The majority of Somalis are Muslims, and minority religions are heavily persecuted since the Christian community is tiny and under constant threat of attack. As a result, there is a patchwork of competing clans, containing factions and religious groups that pursue a strong Islamic identity against a background of a strong tribal identity. Sharia law and Islam are cherished in the nation’s constitution, and Christian mistreatment quite often includes violence. Moreover, in most villages, al-Shabab are true rulers advocating for Sharia law as the basis for regulating all aspects of life in Somalia.

In Ethiopia, churches are increasingly targeted. There is a recorded string of attacks on churches that injured Christians. A mob carrying sticks, stones and fuel moved from church to church in the Southern Ethiopia town of Alaba, destroying buildings and belongings.  Witnesses to the attacks said they could hear the crowd shouting things like, “Alahu Akubar (“Alah is greater”) and “Alaba belongs to Islam.”

In Kenya, al-Shabaab recently claimed responsibility for the Jan. 17, 2019 attack in Nairobi, in which men armed with guns and explosives, killed at least 21 people in an attack that lasted hours on end. These and other attacks seem to be a new tactic to instil fear in the Christian community and get them to flee en masse. Clearly in the Eastern Part of Africa there is no freedom of religion.  

In Central Africa, terrorist organisations are expanding their capacity and using it to violently oppress Christians. In Rwanda, the country has closed thousands of churches and has arrested some pastors citing noise pollution and failing to comply with building regulations. In the Central African Republic (CAR), the situation has worsened for Christians who face intensifying pressure from Muslim extremists and are also threatened by jihadists and criminal groups whose actions often overlap.

Christian civilians are still caught in the violent conflict between the mainly Muslim Seleka militia, that has divided into several factions and self-defense militant groups called anti-Balaka. Both groups regularly attack churches and believers’ homes. The attacks and targeting of Christians often result in the displacement of thousands of Christians who have lost their homes and livelihood—often forced to live in internal displacement camps.

In North Africa, Islamic oppression continues to pressure Christian converts. In Algeria, for instance, Islam is the state religion, thus blasphemy laws, discrimination and the closing of churches put believers at risk. For believers in this part of the world, nearly everyone around them is Muslim. Christians with Muslim backgrounds often face enormous pressure from immediate and extended families to renounce their faith and return to Islam.

There are severe restrictions on building or securing places for worship, which often prevents Christians from congregating. In addition to the hostility and violence faced by believers who do gather, Christians, especially women, face discrimination in their workplaces and public spaces.

 In recent years, Islamic extremist groups have targeted Christians and churches both individually and in numerous violent and deadly acts of persecution. In Egypt, the Islamic State has publicly vowed to wage war on Christians. In early November 2018, Islamic State militants attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians from a monastery in Minya, killing eight and injuring more than 13 people. And churches are consistently targeting of both Islamic State and Muslim extremists.

Southern Africa is not exempt from these attacks as four monks who lived in the North of Mozambique were forced to flee across the border to Tanzania when their monastery was attacked by Islamist insurgents. The attack took place in the village of Auasse, district of Cabo Delgado, an area that has seen repeated attacks over the past two years. More than 50 people were massacred in an attack in Xitaxi in Muidumbe district after locals refused to be recruited to its rank. Most were either shot dead or beheaded.

Christians continue to suffer from severe attacks from the media, religious intolerance and persecution. The trend noted from different regions of Africa depicts a clear picture that there is a certain religion against the thriving of Christianity in Africa. There must recognition of human rights and the freedom to practice one’s own religion, and attacks against Christians should not only be condemned but also acted against. 

Slavery in the Sahel

Slavery across Africa, has always donned two faces, one of imperialism and theft and the other of the hierarchical caste system of time immemorial, which was exploited and strengthened by imperialists, both from the Arab world and the West.

The Sahel region which stretches across North Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea is known well for its modern-day slavery and seldom contested caste system.

The deafening silence from governments across the world, international organisations and even our very own African Union regarding these matters, leaves much to be desired. African unity and peace across the continent cannot be realised whilst some are still in shackles and forced labour, stuck in outdated practices that are continuously justified through the excuse of tradition.

The conditions of the continent can no longer remain foreign to us whilst our own are sold for forced labour and continuously reminded that they are and will remain at the bottom rung of society and humanity for years to come.  

Popular narrative is always focused on the Trans-Atlantic slave routes, preferring to rather ignore the continued slavery that exists on the African continent to this day. Despite slavery being outlawed across the world, many countries in the Sahel still experience slavery to this day and freedom to many Africans is but a word.

Granted we all have much to worry about in our respective home countries, where troubles seem to be never ending and the continent in continuous turmoil, however our voices should not be shackled like those who cannot defend themselves today. This article will focus solely on the problems faced by Malian and Nigerien slaves who are held captive by a caste system that does not seem to have an ending in sight. 

In Mali, groups such as the Soninké, Malinké, and Fulani have employed the caste system amongst them for centuries on end. Those born into the lowest castes have no chance of upward mobility, cannot marry outside of their caste, belong to those in higher castes and can be sold to the highest bidder. The Malian Rally for Fraternity and Progress (RMFP), better known as ‘Gambana’, is an organisation that seeks to eradicate slavery within the Soninké and they estimate that within this group alone there are over 200 000 slaves. 

Slaves amongst the Soninké live in segregated slave quarters, have no access to identity documents and are forced to toil for free in their masters fields, they are seldom allowed to own any means of production of their own and have to depend on their masters for food.

The Gambana also state that slave owners hide behind the notion of it being ‘tradition’ and once challenged, their response is to marginalize them even more. Many have lost their homes and belongings, been subjected to public floggings with their limbs bound together and have even faced expulsion from their communities for fighting back or speaking out against slavery.  

Another group that is well known for owning slaves across the Sahel and not just in Mali, is the Tuareg. This group has been in control of the slave trade in the Sahel, since the 7th century with the Arab invasion of North and East Africa, capturing and selling people off to the East and the West. Given their nomadic status, they are hard to govern over and are even known to always be muddled up in insurgent wars along with other Islamic groups across the entire Sahel region, most recently in Mali and Niger. Much like the Soninké, Fulani and Malinké, the Tuareg have a caste system in which people in the lowest caste are set to be slaves and so do the children born to them. 

However the Tuareg are also known to enslave people whom they capture during war whilst some inherit slaves and some slaves are given as gifts. To this day, they own slaves in Mali and Niger, despite legislation that prohibits the ownership and sale of human beings and in Niger, they are known to snatch little girls from their parents to work as slaves.

Slaves in both Niger and Mali are often victims of rape and other forms of sexual abuse and are often told that their paradise is bound to their master, should they wish to see heaven, they must remain subservient to their masters. Slaves of the Tuareg are forced to work on farms, mine salt, herd their livestock and perform household duties, being forced to sleep outside their masters tents when they are on the move through the Sahara.

Although it is legally outlawed, the practice of owning and selling slaves across the Sahel is still quite prominent today. Lack of legislative enforcement, rife poverty and lack of opportunity across the area deter many from even trying to free themselves and it is common that many who are freed, will go back to their masters.

In some countries such as Mauritania, the government works with other groups to try and enforce the anti-slavery laws and ensure people’s freedom, whilst in Mali and other countries, governments are known to ignore the problem or side with the slave owners. There are groups in different countries trying to bring about its abolition. Groups such as the Gambana, Association de Juristes Maliennes (AJM), Association Regard aux Couches Vulnerables (ARCV), Coalition Malienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (COMADDH) and Temedt are continuously working towards freeing people, helping them rebuild their lives and become self-sufficient and uproot slavery in Mali.

Slavery exists in different forms and manners in the Sahel and the fight to end it is only as big as the voices that speak about it. It’s a lucrative business that also empowers the human trafficking pandemic that is rife across the continent. Whilst our continent is being looted of precious minerals, its most precious resource, being its own children, are suffering immensely at the hands of their own.

Insurgency adds much to this great ordeal and one way or the other, we have to join hands in fighting it and ensuring that it does not continue to spread. It may be in the Sahel today but could easily spread into sub-Saharan Africa in no time and maybe only then will the world and the rest of the continent open their eyes to it.

If we are to realize true peace and unity, from Cape to Cairo anytime in the near future, then we must be willing to have uncomfortable conversations and decide on actionable measures to ending the terror that plagues our beautiful continent. Slavery, imperialism and terrorism have never left the continent, since the 7th century we have been reeling and its about time we set measures as to how we are going to free ourselves of these insidious crises.    

We are human and we matter too: The story of an immigrant in South Africa.

Over the past few months there has been a noticeable focus on the rise of movements such as Black Lives Matter. The impact of this movement has been felt more in America, more so after the horrific death of George Floyd. His death was not necessary but was inspired by hate; which got me thinking about this hatred of the black skin. Do black lives really matter?

I would like to believe that black lives matter, regardless of where one is from or may be. As black people we seek to be recognised as humans by all but I believe we have to start treating each other as such, in order to enforce others to recognise us as such. Charity begins at home, the wise say, and in this instance home is black on black recognition, love and value of black human life. 

I write this short piece to show the life of a black immigrant in South Africa in the African context of black lives matter. Many black Africans came to South Africa looking for better lives and opportunities and to live under better laws as promised by the South African constitution. They seek this better life because it is lacking where they come from. We all seek to give our families the best lives possible, far from fear, danger and most of all prejudice. The story of humans moving from one place to another in search of greener pastures is as old as time itself. I found myself looking at these questions in relation to black foreigners in the land of dreams, South Africa:  Do black lives matter in South Africa; or rather do foreign black lives matter?

You see, I had a very distasteful experience back in 2018 when I took my then 4 year old nephew to a hospital in South Africa. He was collapsing every 5 minutes and we didn’t know what to do. Frantic with worry his mum and I rushed him to the hospital, upon arrival; they took the child in and told us to go open a file at the administration desk. The mother’s dark complexion was enough for the administrator to demand a passport and permit for both her and her child. When it was noted that she did not have one on her person, we were advised to kindly take him to a hospital in Zimbabwe as they don’t have time to deal with amakwerekwere ( a derogative term for foreigners). With a sneer and attitude, we were told that their resources are for their people only and whatever happens to the child is not their problem. The doctors then notified us that without a file they cannot touch him and they proceeded with other patients, we pleaded and begged to no avail and ended up taking the child home. This is story is one amongst thousands of similar stories of black foreigners in the Republic of South Africa.

Granted the mother needed papers to be in South Africa but what do we say of the child? The child’s health should have been given first priority; should he die simply because his folks are undocumented? Are doctors and nurses not supposed to solely focus on healing as per their oath and leave immigration issues to immigration officials? According to South African law, undocumented children are entitled to have access to health care and education without discrimination. In order to fight the injustice faced by my nephew, we would have to go to court, which in itself is a costly process that we could not afford. This left me with a bad taste in my mouth as I realised that my nephew could die and they wouldn’t be bothered simply because he was foreign, black, and undocumented. It is important to emphasize on his blackness because when a white child was brought in, he was quickly attended to and the mother was told that she could attend to administration issues after he had been treated. We had to do it before treatment whilst she was privileged enough to it after her child had been attended to. The people doing all this, the doctor and nurses as well as the administration officers were all black people. I would have thought that human life would have been prioritised in our case as it had been with the white child and his mother, however there was clearly a difference between us and the manner in which we were treated.

An injustice is an injustice and must be treated as such and not swept under the carpet because its termed afro phobia. Afro phobia is black on black hatred and is exclusive to black people where as xenophobia is inclusive of all races. Black foreigners are treated worse than second class citizens in South Africa as seen through the unforgettable burning of Ernesto Nhamuave in the 2008 xenophobic attacks. Subsequent xenophobic attacks named afro phobia throughout the years have not proven to be any less violent. Some blame it on the colonial era, which saw black people being dehumanised and thus set a precedence that all awful atrocities can be done on the black body without fear of punishment. Colonial conditioning may still affect us to this day, which is why we have no problem doing the same to our own. If we do not look out for each other or look at each other as humans  and respect the black human life how do we expect others to?

The recourse which many may suggest, is to approach the courts, but sadly, access to the courts is restricted due to lack of funds and as a result many stories like mine just get swept away with time. Black foreign nationals are human too, we have families, we bleed when we’re stoned and hurt when we are attacked. We ask to be looked as humans too and afforded the protection and dignity afforded to humans. Such hate should be stopped from senior level and the rest shall yield. South Africa is a signatory to international treaties that ask it to observe human rights as well as immigrant’s rights. We ask that it observes them more in practice not just in writing.

In conclusion, we take a knee for black lives matter and a moment of silence for all those who have passed on because of this hate against black people whilst asking for dignity and recognition as humans from everyone else. It is time we as black people also start looking at and treating each other as humans and with dignity and uphold human life in the context of the black person.

Nkosiyabo Gasela

Gender Based Violence Remains an excruciating Predicament in South Africa.

South Africa is over 25 years into democracy yet gender-based violence (GBV) continues to thrive and women continue to suffer violence at the hands of men. The statistics show rising levels of femicide, rape, assault and many forms of gender-based violence with men being the culprits. GBV does not only put women and children in a vulnerable position but creates a dilemma for the entire society. This is no longer about what men should and should not do, it has become another pandemic that the authorities and societies have turned a blind eye to.

Over the last few months, it has become common for South Africans to hear of the murder and abuse of pregnant women, elderly women, infants and children and even women being found killed with their children. There is also a steady rise in the number of cases of missing women and children who are later found dead. South African women continue to live in fear, not knowing what to anticipate and forever wondering whether they or their children are the next victims. Yet we say there is freedom in South Africa.

Patriarchy is, amongst other reasons, a major cause of GBV. Gender inequality which is propagated by patriarchy is one the major detriments that trigger gender based violence. A new case of GBV is filed in police stations across South Africa on a daily basis. According to Bongani Shumba, GBV is amongst other things, a combination of violence amongst men and toxic masculinity. In essence, patriarchy subsequently leads to gender inequality due to the fact that it puts men in a dominant position in society and supresses women. Women still earn less than men for the same occupation, they are rarely considered for top management positions and are still expected to be housewives. Women also have minimal representation in politics and are still viewed as not being fit enough to lead the country, take Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for instance.

Much has been said, however little has been done to stop GBV and gender inequality. A number of discourses and social movements have emerged as a result of this plight, such as #AmINext, #JusticeforUyinene and many more campaigns that sparked panel discussions across the entire continent. Our political cadres continuously pay lip service to the issue by “strongly condemning GBV”, however no visible action is being taken. The extent to which they go to resolve GBV cases is not conducive to the victims of GBV and does not send out an effective message to society.

Many South African women have alluded to the fact that their voices are overshadowed by the Justice system. Whilst laws exist on paper, there is no execution in reality as those with money are able to evade justice and the justice system is evidently flawed given the prevalence of corruption and maladministration in the law enforcement agency. Perpetrators are either arrested and released on bail or they get to serve a suspended sentence however in most cases, not even a single arrest is made. The least the justice system can do is to make their laws firm and set standards to other men who might think of victimizing women. In addition to that, the law enforcement system must intensify its involvement in dealing with Gender Based Violence.

In a patriarchal household a man is likely to abuse a woman and children, due to the fact that patriarchy gives men a dominant position in society and affords men more privileges than women. Men feel entitled to do anything they can and want to women, knowing that there will be no recourse for their actions. This article purports the importance for social change and advocates for the society to do away with patriarchal norms and institutions. Eradication of Patriarchy will subsequently lead to a society characterized with gender equality. Moreover, it will stop the subordination and subjugation of women.

Eradicate the notion that men are supposed to protect women but rather play a part in eradicating GBV by unlearning the norms associated with patriarchy. Establish more institutions that advocate for a GBV free society. Introduce GBV as part of the educational syllabus at schools, beyond the Life Orientation programme, in order to deter GBV from a tender age. “I’m not saying matriarchy should rule but I want equality” Palesa Botha (UCT Student). Moreover, until there is gender equality in South Africa we might as well acknowledge gender based violence as another pandemic in the country. This plight remains an excruciating predicament not only to South Africa and Africa but to the whole world.

In a nutshell, having discussed major causes and suggesting plausible solutions, we cannot dismantle the fact that unless we have a society characterised by gender equality despite the presence of campaigns, gender based violence remains an excruciating predicament. Organisations that fight to deter gender based violence such as NGOs like Sonke Gender Justice, Anti Violent Buddies and others, need support and recognition in our communities. Women are the most important people in our society therefore patriarchy must fall and gender equality must prevail. Last but not least, GBV is not only an African challenge but the whole world is facing this conundrum.

A SADC Crisis: ISIS in Mozambique

Mozambique is no stranger to militia attacks and the stench of gunpowder. It has a past of RENAMO and FRELIMO tensions, from which the guns have since been silenced. However, the recent spate of attacks by the ISIS-aligned terrorist group Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah, have raised concerns.

While this ISIS-backed terrorist group made itself known recently through various methods of terrorism, it is not at newcomer at all. There have been reports of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah being linked to the Somalian terrorist group, Al Shabaab, which have been proven to be untrue.

In the early hours of 5 October 2017, a group of young men armed with machetes and machine guns launched an attached on police and government offices in Moćimboa de Praia, in the Cabo Delgado province, north of the country. In the reports that followed two days later, the death toll was at 17 and 14 of those being the terrorists, two police officers and one civilian. Whether or not there is a direct link to the geographical location of the Cab Delgado province and the insurgency, is a question that unanswered. The Cabo Delgado region is very rich in minerals and there are reports of offshore gas fields, which rank as one of the biggest in the world.

The recent attacks have led to major displacements in the province. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there is an estimated 210 000 people who have been displaced from their homes and villages. It is undeniable that women and children become soft targets for extremist groups, especially in an attempt to force more men to join their organisation. People have been tortured, killed, threatened and their homes burnt. This is evidence enough that this group is making a statement and the government has shown no interest in coming forward with a solution, despite people dying in large numbers. This further burdens a country that is already struggling with the most basic of services for its citizens.

The elephant in the room is the fact that Mozambique is not only part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), but it also borders South Africa. Whether this is a blessing or a curse is yet to be discovered, however, the hope is that this ISIS-backed terrorist group is stopped before that. It is no assumption that the Jihadists are very much aware of the capabilities of South Africa; therefore, it may cause so much damage to the Mozambican coast that it sends a strong signal to the South African government. This is in addition to the presence of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in Mozambique as part of Operation Copper, a maritime operation that has seen piracy drop drastically in that part of the country.

Mozambique being part of SADC also raises a question as to whether there will be an intervention from other countries as it is faced with this series of terrorist attacks. SADC is the most stable region in the African continent, therefore much is expected of it, specifically South Africa. A Member of Parliament of the official opposition party in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance (DA), Kobus Marais posed questions at the Department of Defence Minister, Nosiviwe-Mapisa Nqakula regarding the operational mandate of the SANDF. It was then clarified that such operations are classified and parliament will be notified in due course. 

The SANDF and other SADC member states’ armed forces may find themselves in a very unfamiliar form of asymmetrical operations, which, if unprepared for, will definitely lead to many casualties. Counterinsurgency operations require enough preparation and all the necessary support needed, the SANDF must be very much equipped to conduct such complex operations successfully.

One thing that constantly lingers in the minds of many people around the world is the reason people decide to join these extremist groups. Terrorist extremist groups are very opportunistic in their recruitment techniques, and they are rarely unsuccessful. The main target is always young people who feel that they have been sidelined by their government, who want to be part of something bigger. The Institute for Security Studies has reported that a large number of young people have been radicalised since 2014. The modus operandi has always been the use of religion and exploiting the socioeconomic disparities of the target groups, like the youth.

Young people are introduced into a world of extreme indoctrination, where they willingly choose death rather than to turn their backs on their newly found family and set of values. Africa has in the past decade been a good place to harbour ISIS ideologies and advance its agenda. This is based on the severe corruption of government officials, which leads to extreme poverty and a very disgruntled citizenry. When young people burn with the desire to make a change but are denied the platform, they easily fall prey to extremist (terrorist) groups.

Despite the Mozambican government’s claim that these are isolated incidents, and that this terrorist extremist group is a way of inciting fear to capture the minds of the people, it cannot be ignored. Should it get out of hand, it is not only Mozambique that will pay the price. The world’s eyes continue to be fixed at SADC to find a solution to the Mozambican problem, before it is rather too late.