31.08.2003 Feature Article

When One African Nation Starves, We All Hurt

When One African Nation Starves, We All Hurt
31.08.2003 LISTEN

...Solutions to the Never-Ending Problem. Many people feel ashamed to associate with nations where every few years the people are killing themselves or children are shown on Western televisions starving to death! One African-American journalist who went to South Africa on a job mission came back disillusioned, and wrote a book denying his heritage. Africa claims, and justifiable so, to be the most endowed in terms of natural resources, and yet every few years from the 1970s to now, some nation is losing hundreds of thousands of people through starvation or through extermination of it's people in useless and barbaric human conflicts and wars. Does Africa have enough human competencies to solve our problems? What moral and ethical responsibilities does the rest of Africa have to help stop this circle of disgrace and shame?

A friend on the Internet discussion forums recently posted a note instigating us to act, but the question is how do we act and what do we do?

In a recent posting on the Internet discussion forum, a writer posted the following: From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2003 8:32 PM Folks, Ethiopia is back in the news again. As one of the oldest countries in the world, why must Ethiopia continue to suffer endlessly? Some of you may recall that that I urged, as part of a comprehensive solution, a water management system while some of our wicked traditionalist friends argued for more donkeys and donkey farms. Now even the donkeys have no water to drink and are therefore are dying in droves. The very basis of life, which is water, is in acute supply. Food is also is short supply.

Let us be very honest. It is our enslaving traditions that continue to kill us and also reduce us to beggars. Most of the people in Ethiopia are uneducated and heavily engaged in the traditional ways of doing things. Why can't our people question how others are able to feed them? I am sick and tired of the begging. We have to change our destiny by overthrowing the current traditional arrangement and therefore our warped mindset. What can we do to help with the famine in Ethiopia? We are all either cursed or just not using our African heads. Either way, we are in serious trouble. We have to change the destiny of Africa. Nii Bannerman

Here's my answer to Nii which I will share with all for the records.

You can’t change the destiny of any nation or people these days without either 1. Taking the nation over and teaching and /or forcing the people to do things in certain ways, your way. As the US is finding out in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s not that easy.

2. Using a Democratic system to change the nation and the systems of old. You need a good competent leader for that.

In the case of places like Ethiopia, where at least they claim to have a government, the only way you can help such people is by the international community acting as monitors of the way their government is running the country and they do things – which will obviously bring the condemnation of all other Africans that we are abridging the sovereignty of another nation. The UN and the other world bodies would be against such a thing. They have always hidden behind this sovereignty phrase and looked on whiles African nations killed each other in the millions. President Bill Clinton was the only US President in history to send US troops to intervene in the affairs of a nation in need of new leadership, as in the Bosnia, Haiti and Somalia. It is my strong belief and analysis that this kind of intervention can be done legally and to satisfy the ethical considerations of the moral world we all live in as humans. This can be done easily as part of the conditions for the LOANS and AID these nations get from the international community. Many Africans complain about such conditions, but for God’s sake, if you can’t manage your country, and somebody is giving you money, what the heck are you complaining about? All we can do as educated Africans are perhaps negotiate with the World Bank to get a seat in the Board that distributes AID money for such nations. The AU or groups like ECOWAS can act in some kind of FIDUCIARY relationship to help our brothers who may be in need. So what do you do?

Can the AU bring any such action as POSITIVE ENFORCEMENT OF DUTIES of any sovereign nation?

It’s a catch 22.

My answer may not be favorable to many, but we have to think out of the box sometimes.

1. If I were to be in a position to solve these problems for Africa at large, all members of AU would pledge to have the AU intervene in the affairs of any nation, if 2/3rds of the membership find that the nation is not managing it’s affairs properly to serve their people, or if a legitimate government is overthrown by coups. In other words, it will be of the dictum: An attack against one nation is an attack against all members of the Union. After a reasonable amount of time and warning, force should be used to change the system. 2. Also, all members will pledge to contribute towards the building or leasing of satellites and communication systems between our countries in Africa, as well as highway systems. Permanent collection system should be in place in every nation to send the money directly, monthly to the AU or Economic Community body.

Honestly, if the members of the AU, ECOWAS, etc, cannot do anything concrete, my view is that we should not waste any time on it. I hope the staff will prove me wrong and show what they can do. Most people want something they can see. Right now, the ports and customs in Ghana are taxing all importers of cars a 0.5% for the ECOWAS. People want to see what their money is doing. Period.

All these African nations appoint members to attend AU or OAU meetings, and the rest of the nationals who are paying for them are not privy to the agenda and deliberations of the AU. I personally have not seen in the public a clear agenda to accomplish to show why they are being paid. As much as this may appear to be an attack on them, some of the people appointed to these bodies are people we know, we attended school with, and we all need to give them inputs. We all have the opportunity as educated people, those of you on the net, men and women who have had such opportunity in the world today from our ancestral African past, to change the destiny of our continent!

That is my short contribution. We cannot keep borrowing and begging for the Western nations to come and help us. However a look at the West will show many Africans employed in many professions, as part of the staff that find daily solutions for their nations industries, hospitals, educations institutions and even government. Some of us get tired of bleeding heart solicitations to send money to any more starving people! Especially if their leaders and politicians are not using their native brains but prefer to be riding in the most expensive imported vehicles with the taxpayers' money. Let us use our brains like anybody else to craft strategies for our survival. Let us try and solve Africa’s problems NOW!! Small nations like Singapore have been able to move out of third world status to first world status, followed by the other South East Asian nations like Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia. It is true that the population density of these areas make it more attractive to investors. However let us remember that most African countries have similar histories of being former British colonies. We cannot continue giving excuses. When one African nation is starving it hurts the pride and image of the whole of Africa. We must help each other find solutions, just as Ghana’s independence in 1957 was a major source of pride and inspiration for others to follow. If anybody or Western nation sincerely wants to help and wants to send money, they should give the money to a group of African professionals, Lawyers, Engineers, and Businesspersons, and let them figure out how to solve these problems of starvation for their nations. It is time the Western benefactors trusted in the competencies of the people they trained from Africa to solve their own problems, and not waste the money on adventures in nations they don’t even know. Such should be the debates in the corridors of power in Washington, DC, and not how much can be dumped into projects with poor groundwork preparation involving natives themselves. Centuries of colonialism cannot be wiped out in a decade. However, in four decades, African has developed adequate competencies since political independence. The West has to recognize that, stop supporting dictators and stooges, and seek strategic partnerships with those trained to manage affairs for their nations.

Kwaku A. Danso (August 25, 2003) Fremont, California Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.