18.02.2024 Feature Article

Emperors of Mole Hills

Emperors of Mole Hills
18.02.2024 LISTEN

African and Caribbean political leaders seem to have a proclivity for pursuing small, parochial, myopic, self-serving agendas that only benefit themselves and their cronies while simultaneously robbing future generations of Africans and Caribbean islanders of a comfortable existence. Many, after looting the national treasury, retire to some safe haven to enjoy their ill-gotten gains while their nations wallow in misery and debt.

It cannot be argued that Africa and the Caribbean has not been blessed with some notable men and women who have swam against the tide of mediocrity and have implemented some much-needed reforms that have advance the economic cause of the masses. Names like Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lamumba, Robert Mugabe, Muammar Gaddafi, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Eric Williams, Toussaint Louverture, Errol Barrow, and Mia Motley fall into this category.

Regrettably many of the political contemporaries of these notable African and Caribbean statesmen and women were not captivated by the vision of progress that inspired the great ones who emerged among us. The pettiness of power politics inherited from our colonial past very often led to the cannibalization of the visionary leaders who were given to the Caribbean and Africa as a mercy by the ancestors and the great spirits.

President Nkrumah of Ghana was overthrown and sent into exile in neighboring Guinea. Toussaint Louverture was betrayed, kidnapped, and transported to France where he died cold and alone in a French dungeon. Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, Muammar Gaddafi were assassinated with the connivance of Caucasian imperialist nations. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Eric Williams, Errol Barrow and Mia Motley were all chewed up by a hypercritical, power obsessed opposition that only served to hijack and derail the visionary agenda of these gifted leaders.

Currently, there is a paucity of genuine visionary statesmanship in African and Caribbean politics. Contemporary African and Caribbean politicians often say many of the right things but only as a way of being voted into office. Once they achieve their political ambition and don the mantle of political power, most incumbent politicians simply conform to the status quo and start building their own little financial empires. It is not uncommon to hear of African and Caribbean politicians who achieve multimillionaire status by the time they leave office.

While our leaders are gorging themselves with the fat of the land, many African and Caribbean nations are languishing in a state of abject poverty and squalor. Africa, notwithstanding the boast of being one of the mineral richest land masses on the globe, trails many lesser endowed regions of the world in gross domestic product, quality of life, length of life, income of its citizens, technological application, and infrastructure. While many of our leaders are enjoying the luxuries of life, the masses of people under their political jurisdiction are literally catching hell.

President Nkrumah wisely warned the leaders of his day that the trapping of power needed to be surrendered in the interest of creating an African state that would be strong enough to challenge the US, Europe, and Asia. President Nkrumah understood that the proliferation of independent but weak African states was a recipe for the disaster of neo-colonization. President Nkrumah asked Africans leaders to choose between being princes on a mountain or emperors of molehills.

Sadly, the majority of African leaders chose the latter course of action and scurried back to their molehills to enjoy the trapping of power while their pusillanimous, anemic nations eked out a disheveled existence. The Caribbean, much to its credit, did try to create a West Indies Federation. The lure of the trappings of power coupled with competing insular nationalism however proved to be way more powerful than the Pan-Caribbean ideal resulting in the collapse of the West Indies Federation in 1962.

The refusal of African and Caribbean leaders to relinquish the scepter of national power in the interest of creating a viable African and Caribbean state has birthed what can only be described as a legacy of lunacy. Small European nations like Italy and France organize summits in which they extend invitations to all fifty-four African heads of states. African leaders are packed on board buses like school children and driven to these summits.

Presidents and prime ministers of mole hill nations in Africa and the Caribbean find it tough sailing in their negotiations with more powerful nations. African and Caribbean leaders are often forced into accepting less than ideal conditionalities as pre-requisites for deals that often are more beneficial to the powerful nations. The size of some Caribbean states also neutralizes any attempt by their leaders to gain concessions in the international market place.

Demographically, the future of the world is African and Asian. It makes sense for the African continent to develop close ties with China. Hopefully, African leaders will use Chinese financing and technology to created better infrastructural linkages across the continent. An Intercontinental railway service would be a great boon for tourism on the African continent. Each region in Africa should also be exploring ways to strengthen the military capacity of the entire continent.

Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso are well positioned to set a new trend in political union on the African continent. It will be interesting to see how far the military rulers of these three African states are willing to push the federation concept. The collapsing of borders and a political union in the Sahel region would be a useful experiment to test how viable smaller federation of states would work on the African continent. If the gods favor the bold at heart, then now may be the opportune time for small, weak, molehill nations in Africa and the Caribbean to do the needful and be sublimated into a grander political and economic entity.

Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center and the author of The Rebirth of Black Civilization: Making Africa and the Caribbean Great Again.