In a park near Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala City, is a wooden sculpture. The towering figure of a woman on the roundabout is tied from the sole of her feet to the waist. In her raised hands she holds a baby whose hands are in turn raised to the sky crying for help. At the foot of the sculpture are inscribed the words “Don’t Piss Here!”
One can’t help sympathizing with the woman’s plight. How can she tend her child with her feet tied? How can she scavenge for food with her mobility impaired? Worse still, why piss on a woman in such a deplorable condition?
In this sculpture, Africa’s state is embodied. Africa yearns for development but she frustrates the very mechanisms that would propel her to development. She yearns for freedom but stifles instruments of freedom. African citizens remain hoisted in the air like a flag because the very systems that should rid them of disease, poverty and illiteracy are themselves chained. Instead of extricating Africa from this dolorific predicament, what many have done is to soil the continent the more.
This issue explores such chains, with various authors advancing “pliers” that will break the chains. As a character in Bhabbani Bhattacharya’s book So Many Hungers observes, the more they tighten the chains: the more the chains loosen. This is Africa’s hope.
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