Africa: Put your house in order
Africa is rich in mineral resources. Today, the African continent consists of countries whose political leaders mostly want to cling to power perpetually. Most African countries have weak opposition parties, disregard for the rule of law, while corruption and greed on the part of political leaders have wrecked most economies. As a result of greed and baseless ambitions of most African leaders, almost the entire continent is ceaselessly preoccupied with religious and tribal wars that are of no strategic importance to the survival of the black race within the international community in the 21st century.
In spite of these negative narratives, one should not forget that Africa has been blessed with some leaders too numerous to acknowledge in this article, whose contributions to African unity and regional development are noteworthy and commendable. For instance, the history of Africa is incomplete without mentioning Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah’s unrequited love for black emancipation and unity with a dream for a United States of Africa. The emergence of the African Union (AU) remains outstanding as one of his remarkable political ideals.
On the eastern shores of the African continent, Julius “Mwalimu” Nyerere remains another of Africa’s visionary leader and founder of modern Tanzania. As a brilliant leader and philosopher, he was a people’s hero and a champion for the African continent. He laid the foundation of African socialism popularly known in Kiswahili as the only political doctrine that could sufficiently lift the country out of the shackles of imperial doldrums and stagnation.
While in South Africa, Nelson Mandela remains one of the great moral and political leaders of our time. His life, character and leadership stand him out as one of the great figures of contemporary Africa.
The journeys of these great African leaders’ are without shortcomings, but today Africa faces numerous challenges. These challenges create a burden on the continent such that Africa’s existing stage of civilization is far below its real potentialities for progress. Most African leaders by their greed have marginalized their people and indeed the continent, in global economic, socio-political and cultural affairs. So, we have a situation where havoc has been wrecked on Africans by African leaders over time. Thus, there is an exodus of Africans out of the continent of Africa through the Mediterranean in search of greener pastures in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Our sisters and brothers in the Northern hemisphere are concerned about Africa’s underdevelopment. Leaders from these regions of the world are back in Africa to use economic, political, cultural and other processes to influence African countries. Is this a spectre of re-colonialism? This question begs for an answer because representatives of Africa’s former colonial masters are now visiting Africa in different styles with almost similar objectives.
First, it was President of France, Emmanuel Macron’s visit to strengthen economic and cultural ties with Nigeria. This was followed by Theresa May, British Prime Minister who visited three countries in Africa- South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. The visit of May to Africa was to forge business ties for a post-Brexit Britain, according to reports. After May’s official visit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also in Africa for three days and visited Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria. Her visit to Africa was amongst others to seek economic benefit. While China recently hosted African leaders for a Third Summit tagged Focus on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC 2018). The Summit is aimed at promoting vision for development in the African continent. This is so because Africa currently lacks many visionary leaders. So, the development of Africa has to be under the tutelage of China and other global powers.
While China has played the role of Africa’s largest trading partner for the past ten years, Britain and Germany has a lot of “catching up” to do. The Chinese leader Xi Jinping and leaders from Africa met at the two-day forum with a focus on Xi’s cherished “Belt and Road” infrastructure programme. The massive scheme is aimed at improving Chinese access to foreign markets and resources, and ultimately boosting its influence in Africa. This has made China to give loans worth US$ 60 billion to African countries for roads, ports, railways, and other major infrastructure projects, not “vanity projects”. The total loans to African countries from China now stand at US$ 136 billion, according to a source. Africans should be prepared in all respects to pay their debt. There is no free lunch in Beijing. If loans cannot be paid by African countries, strategic assets of debtor nations in Africa may be taken over by China. That is why Xi Jinping warned that loans given are not for “vanity projects”- projects that will fail to achieve economic goals.
Markel and May are motivated in part by a desire to stop the exodus of Africans to Europe. Markel was very blunt about African migrants: ‘We want to create jobs in Africa so you all don’t come to Europe.” With respect to Nigeria, Markel wants to work with the country in order to find ways of tackling the problem of Boko Haram and widespread unemployment. So, the German Chancellor has promised to reactivate Volkswagen in Nigeria and establish a plant in Ghana. The United States of America under the leadership of Donald Trump looms in the background, contributing only military support. Donald Trump has barely shown any significant interest of strategic importance in the African continent. He has angered many Africans with offensive remarks about Africa and her leaders.
The level of underdevelopment calls for urgent steps by Africa to put its house in order. Above all, African politicians, business gurus and civil society members need to prove that Africans are capable of progressive development without the tutelage of other people, especially the “colonizing powers”. African leaders owe their people the prime function of developing and establishing favorable conditions for its over one billion people to realize their potentialities for progress.
(Johnson is an eclectic researcher, writer and columnist whose articles cover maritime, defence, technology and public policy issues and other areas of human interests. He is a member of the BusinessDay Editorial Advisory Board)
Big Read |