This Africa Day, many will write eloquent speeches reciting what has been said. Many more will write erudite articles recounting what we have come to know. Still more will sing songs. I choose to say a prayer for Africa.
I say a prayer for mother Africa as a bruised body that continues to languish in pain, wounded in soul and in flesh, too deranged from its predicament of centuries to imagine its resurrection as a free body fully in charge of its destiny. I say a prayer to an Africa with a deep void in her, a hole in her very essence produced by years of her questioned legitimacy. I say a prayer for body Africa whose hands are tied to begging its abusers for acceptance and whose feet are strapped to keep her from walking to destiny.
It is to Africa that was insulted before it was assaulted that I pray for Africa because this produced docile mind before the body was dominated. It is body Africa that is emaciated from hunger though her garden has the richest land, the most precious plans, the most exquisite mineral resources, the cleanest air and the greatest variety of living organisms.
It is the body Africa that has been disfigured by tears that have rolled down for centuries leaving marks of visible anguish, masking the beauty of having produced every human being we know to exist on earth. I say a prayer to Africa of dreams that have been shattered by permanence of poverty, ubiquity of shame, omnipresence of external gaze, prevalent failure of postcolonial projects.
I say a prayer to mother Africa whose essence is nourishment of all her people, but with nourishing breasts having been captured to feed only the abusers, she watches many die of hunger. I say a prayer to body Africa whose soul is deemed unable to shine light on her history of accomplishment because of the history of scandalisation.
I say a prayer for Africa whose eyes are too dim from the smokes of fires others burned and smog her own sons and daughters spread over face in utter self-hate. I say a prayer to Africa whose offspring continues to suffer the scourge of anti-black racism in the Atlantic World, across the Mediterranean Sea and everywhere black faces of her children appear.
I say a prayer for Africa that continues to languish in pain over Baltimoore, Marikana and Bujumbura. A body Africa that has known the scourges of malaria, yellow fever and meningitis; diabetes and hypertension; stress and distress due to internal neglect and infestation of her environment with the ills of global progress.
I say a prayer to Africa waiting to exhale, waiting to find a moment to breath out of suffocation by external forces working with internal collaborators against her very existence as a living body.
I say a prayer for Africa of dreams and vision; of poetry and drama, of literature and orature, materiality and spirituality, of grandeur in humility, of abantu of ubuntu.
I pray for a running Africa, full in charge of her destination; an Africa that prances about like a deer in the midst of plenty. I say a prayer for Africa of possibilities, of openings and of sparkling horizons of the possible.
I say a prayer for a smiling body Africa, finally at peace with herself, after reparations and apologies, and recommitment by her peoples all over the world, vowing never again to curse her and humanity that she birthed.
I say a loud prayer for Africa pregnant with a new humanity, a people fully committed to do unto others only that which they would want done to them: blessings of peace, joy, happiness, well being, living fully.
I say a prayer because I am emboweled in body Africa of pain, shame and disillusionment. I need the prayer for my own renaissance, rebirth in word and spirit.
I say: Let her hands be trained again to build successful economies and societies. Let her head be clear again to think about the future we need well into the next 1000 years.
Let her throat clear of curses and insults thrown down her esophagus so she can speak herself clearly about whither from here. Let her heart heal from the bruises caused by enemies and her own people who have disappointed her many times.
Let her feet be trained to walk into a destiny that places her in the centre of futures of a truly diverse world of equals in place of current invented universe of others, that require her to beg for mere existence in it. Let her tummy be filled with the good of her garden long plundered by others in cahoots with the lost among her own people out of sheer greed. Let her ears hearken to the voice inside so she can be a new civilisation Prixley Ka Seme proclaimed in 1906.
Let her arms embrace again all her children including those who colonised, demonised and scandalized her after forgetting that she is the mother of all peoples, helping to re-humanise the monsters who brutalised her black child, the lost that misgoverned independence and the victims of all this.
Let her be a cradle again for the new human that the birth of a new, better and livable world needs. Let those who were forcibly moved across oceans, those who today brave the rough Mediterranean Sea in search of greener pastures rise together with mother Africa as she shakes the shackles, brushes off the ashes, caresses her scars in order to rebecome.
God bless Africa, its sons and daughters. Let Africa rebecome, rebirth its purpose, recover its potential, rejuvenate its energy, retool her hands for work, rearm for her defence and re-member the membered mangles of her pierced body. Africa will rise again!
© Siphamandla Zondi, Executive Director, Institute for Global Dialogue associated with Unisa. Lecturer at Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute.