South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale says we are incapable of making even scooters in Africa; he is wrong. We are actually making cars from scratch. Why are we so keen to do ourselves down?
I et me remind readers of some of the points that Tokyo Sexwale (a member of South Africa's Black Consciousness Movement in the 1960s before he joined the ANC in the 1970s and served 13 years on Robben Island for his political activities; who after 1994, became the first Premier of Gauteng province and was later the Minister of Human Settlements) wrote in his contribution to the Nelson Mandela Centenary report published by New African in our last issue.
As human beings, we tend to forget or ignore gems when they are mixed with so many stones on the plate.
Sexwale, who has become one of the richest Africans to emerge from South Africa's Black Economic Empowerment programme, wrote the following:
"The lack of our own technological development should be Africa's greatest fear right now because this new threat is affecting Africa and all that Madiba stood for at a very frightening speed. We have become the technological have-nots. Let's look at it this way as an example --which African country has ever produced its own aircraft since the Wright brothers first invented the first successful aircraft in 1903?
"Which African car is out there in the world, being driven on global roads? Why is Africa mainly known for just assembling cars made in other parts of the world? We do that here in South Africa, but there is not a single 'Made in South Africa' car. Not even a scooter is made in Africa, before I even talk about the large machinery that drives power stations, or that you find at African airports or harbours.
"... So what can we do about it? It boils down to the policies that have been implemented by our African governments, side by side with the policies of the new AU. The answers lie there. And as we take stock, we need to pay attention and be serious about joint efforts targeting Africa's development, to achieve the Africa that would make Nelson Mandela proud. Nobody else is going to do it for us."
But first, a correction. Tokyo was wrong to say: "Not even a scooter is made in Africa". That is not correct. He doesn't know because he has not bothered to know, but more than a scooter has been made, and are still being made, in Africa. As Africans, sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and see no good coming out of Africa. All that we see are negatives, negatives...