If anyone on this continent has a right to complain they are the victim of colonialism, then it is a citizen of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the vast, mineral-rich country was run as a private piggy bank by Belgian King Leopold and then by the ruling elite in that country. Indigenous Africans were the means by which profit was extracted from the soils of the country.
Millions of Congolese died under Belgian rule and the rest were left deprived of basic needs like health and education. What happened in the Congo is, to this day, a blot on the history of humankind.
Yet, DRC presidential candidate Alain Daniel Shekomba believes that blaming colonialism for the current ills in DRC ignores the reality that the colonial elite have been replaced, across the continent since independence in the 1960s, with a new, indigenous elite, who are just as ruthless in their exploitation of their people and the resources of Africa.
Standing fourth in public opinion polls, Shekomba is part of a movement driven by youth and technology which seeks to take the DRC back from those who have been looting for generations. His biggest challenge, he admits, is the 80% of Congolese who are uneducated and, therefore, vulnerable to the lies of the politicians who want to continue to enrich themselves and their clique.
Shekomba’s ideas have resonance in South Africa, too, where, just less than 25 years since the end of apartheid, the majority of our people have yet to see a big difference in the way they live – or a way out of grinding poverty.
Yet, at the same time, a new elite has been gorging on public money, all the while preaching radical change. We need to listen to other Africans, like Alain Shekomba.