Friday, May 23, 2008

Bwana Come Back syndrome

Bwana Come Back syndrome
By Gabriel Banda
Friday May 23, 2008 [04:00]

Recently, I bumped into a colleague of ours. We shared some interesting expression. Our colleague and I were concerned about some aspects of current human relations. Our colleague expressed one aspect as the “Bwana Come Back” attitude or syndrome. Of course, besides the male European bwanas of colonial times, the expression includes female “Donnas,” thus can also be known as “Donna Come Back” syndrome. And for black Africans, “Bwana” and “Donna” were terms of subservience.

I had not heard the issue coined in such expressive words, so I asked if I could credit our colleague with the expression “Bwana Come Back” attitude. Sadly, our colleague, for now, has declined to be credited with that creative expression but has been keen for me to use it. Our colleague, when ready, will later openly mention it.

Years after many an African state's political independence, the “Bwana Come Back” syndrome expresses dissatisfaction with the idea of local, black, leadership of Africa's governments. Instead, those acting for “Bwana Come Back” wish the colonial rulers were openly back in office. Worse still, they wish political independence had not been declared.

Our colleague says that one of the worst parts of the attitude is the hostility against those who fought for independence. Those who fought for, and gained, independence are considered to have disturbed progress. The “Bwana Come Back” attitude believes Africans were not ready, or should not be given authority, to rule.

ho are associated with former colonial masters. They want the colonial master to come back and replace rule by black Africans. “Bwana Come Back” is both attitude and lifestyle. It is attitude and behaviour towards others and self. It affects many aspects of life. It is about values and beliefs. It is a culture.

As was expressed by colonialists, they believe the station of the African is “hewer of wood” and “drawer of water.” They believe those from the colonial rulers are always ahead and must be referred to as masters and rulers over Africa. They believe that, by birth or other reasons, the dark-skinned African is inherently unable to perform effectively and advance.

They believe that the white skinned person is, by birth, inherently superior. So they will create or support conditions for their own enslavement and serfdom. In many fields, they will give the steering wheel to those of other skin colours.

I am of the belief that no person is born inherently inferior or superior by virtue of their skin colour, language, culture, and other factors. I believe each point of the round earth is the centre of the world. Each person is a legitimate and important part of life.

I believe a person born in communities of the deserts of the Kalahari can learn to fly a Boeing 747 Jumbo jet. I believe a person born in the skyscrapers of New York can learn to survive in the Kalahari. People are foremost human before they are nationalities and “races.” Every one has talent and ability to achieve what they set out to do.

During the struggle for independence, those Africans who looked down upon fellow Africans and set out to be integrated into colonial rulers’ culture and system were known as “Capricorns.” “Capricorn” is named after the projected geographical line on the earth.

The other day, an elderly colleague explained that actually the “Capricorns” had been designed by some persons from the colonial rulers. The colonial persons wanted to establish some cadre of persons who could ape the culture and ways of the colonialists. Truly, those who identified with it bowed to the colonialist as a superior race. But the black Africans fighting for independence considered Capricorns poorly. They saw the Capricorn as a collaborator with the colonial rulers. They were considered “sellouts” and, sometimes, informers.

In USA slave times, Capricorns were versions of “Uncle Toms” and “house niggers.” In Africa's struggle for independence, graceful songs were sung against the Capricorn.

Many years later, Capricorns are still around in many situations. Besides waiting for orders from those from former colonial masters, those with the “Bwana Come Back” syndrome are actively preparing the way for the come back of the colonial masters.

They will also make policies and advantages that enhance the position of those from colonial masters. They will do things against their own fair interest. They will raise the colonial master and lower themselves.

Worse, they try to get the whole society to be enslaved back to the colonial masters. This enslavement happens in public institutions, business, industry, religious organisations, and even civil society and Non Governmental Organisations.

In civil society, those with “Bwana Come Back” attitudes turn into mere instruments for their funders.

The “Bwana Come Back” prepares for those from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to take over control of governments and economies of Africa.

The “Bwana Come Back” is in a state of apology to the colonial master for the actions of the black-skinned persons who sought, and achieved, political independence. They may even be “capitaos,” who are the harsh supervising muscles of the slave master.

The “Bwana Come Back” gives prominence to another and demeans their own inherent worthiness and dignity. It locates advancement to an outside controller and reduces and stalls utilisation of one's inherent potential. We forget we have talent. We forget we have ability and choice to act. We forget we are strong.

This reduces and limits participation in life. The world misses out on potential contribution. Each person has potential to give greatly to humanity and life spread across the world. There is no stranger. The contributions from various points of the earth make the whole. Each is vital in the progress and balance of the whole. The “Bwana Come Back” attitude disturbs the world and robs talent and contribution.
It idles and stagnates persons who otherwise are talented. It misdirects individual purpose. It makes the slave master and controller participate in injustice.

I have no difficulties with people living and working in any part of the world. True relations are spread across the world. Through such links, the world strengthens and balances. What we find unfair is raising and lowering persons, against others, by reason of colour and factors like nationality and citizenship, language, and religion.

There is no need for members of some groups to live through conquest, injustice, oppression, and suppression over other persons. Therefore, those in Africa must be respected as fellow brothers and sisters. They must not be considered lesser than others. To advance, we need to put aside “Bwana Come Back” and instead realise mastery is not outside us but inside and within us.



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