Africa On A Perpetual Misconception Of Poverty
When I look at Africa many questions come to mind, many times I have asked myself what would happen if Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba were to rise up and see what is happening, many times I have asked myself what would happen if Nelson Madiba Mandela were to rise up and see what is happening, because what they will be confronted with is an Africa where the Democratic Republic of Congo is unsettled, there is a war going on there, but it's not on the front pages of our newspapers because we don't even control our newspapers and the media.
As I write this paper the Central African Republic is at war, but we talked of it only mutantly, As I write this paper in South Sudan, the youngest nation in Africa, the Lou Nuer have risen against the Murle tribe, As I write this paper Eritrea is unsettled, as I write this paper there is unease in Egypt and there is unease in Libya, in Niger it is not better, In Senegal in the Casamance it is not better, In Somalia it is not better, in Nigeria where they are terrorized by Bokum Haram day in and day out it is not better, in South Africa where xenophobic attacks is being undertaken on other African nationals it is no better, Africa is at war with ourselves.
This is what they will be confronted with, they will be confronted with an Africa were statisticians and romantic economist say is growing but which in truth is stagnating. That is the Africa with which they will be confronted with. They will be confronted with an Africa which as Professor Lumumba once intimated in his presentation as an African which is suffering from schizophrenia, Africa does not know herself; they will be confronted with an Africa whose young men and women have no interest and no love for their continent.
An Africa where young men and young women are constantly humiliate at the embassies of European countries and the United States of America as they seek the almighty green card. They will be confronted with an Africa where young men and women from Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, and Mauritania drowned in the Mediterranean as they seek to be enslaved in Europe and America, this time round Africans are not wailing and kicking as they are been taken away to be enslaved, but this time round they are been seen wailing and kicking as they seek to be enslaved in Europe and America, this is the tragedy of Africa.
They will be confronted with an Africa where people have lost their self-pride, an Africa where Africans are not proud of their things, an Africa where in the hotels of Accra even food have foreign names. When we fry potatoes we call them French fries even when they are fried on the streets of Accra. They would be confronted with another Africa, an Africa which does not tell her story, an Africa whose story is told by the Europe and America, the CNN, BBC and radio France.
They will be confronted with young men and women who have no pride in Africa, when they want to enjoy themselves they sing the praises of football teams from Europe and America. It is Manchester united, it is Arsenals, it is Real Madrid and Barcelona, not Kotoko, not Hearts of oak not Real Tamale United, that is the Africa they will be confronted with. They will be confronted with an Africa which does not enjoy its theatre and drama.
Now Africa celebrates Leonardo Dicaprio, it celebrates Angelina Jolie; Africa does not celebrate Rita Dominic or Olu Jacobs of Nigeria or Nadia Buari of Ghana. It does not celebrate Bongo wood or Riverwood or Ghallywood or kumawood it celebrates Hollywood. They will be confronted with African women whose greatest source of joy is cheap grade B Mexican soap opera, its La-Patrona and Passion Morena.
Why must we constantly remind ourselves of these realities, because throughout the ages the battle has always been the battle of the mind, and if your mind is conquered then you are going nowhere, and that is why in the ages of enlightenment in Europe the great Rene Descartes said ‘Cogito ergo sum’ which means I think therefore I am, and therefore if Africans are to begin to make a contribution in their affairs then Africans must begin to think. But the question is, are we thinking?
We have universities in their numbers, Ghana has universities including Legon, UDS, Knust, Nairobi has university us indeed South Africa as indeed Tanzania, we have all these universities, we have engineers, but our roads are not been made by Ghanaian civil engineers, it is a Chinese who are present in this country who are making our roads. So we have engineer who cannot even make roads. We have doctors whom we have trained, but when we are sick particularly if you are of the political class depending on who colonized you.
If you were colonized by the United Kingdom your rush to London, if you were colonized by the French you rush to Paris, if you were colonized by the Portuguese you rush Lisbon, and if you were colonized by the Spaniards your rash to Madrid Spain, and recently because the Asians are beginning to get ups together we ran to India, and very lately because the Arabs are also beginning to get their ups together we ran to Dubai. Notwithstanding that we have the Tamale teaching hospital of this country, the 37 military hospital of this country, the Kolebu teaching hospital of Ghana, but we have no faith in our doctors.
In the area of our education we also don't have faith; our political class introduced something that they call free education, but its free indeed free of knowledge, because they are so suspicious of those institutions that the typical African politician would not dare take their children to those schools. Their children will be educated in the British system in the American system, so that when they graduate they go to the United Kingdom the United States of America, not that there is anything wrong with those institutions but their agenda is wrong, because our leaders long lost the script and ought to be described for who they are ‘Our Misleaders’.
Notwithstanding we are coauthors of our own misfortune, and I like to borrow the words of Prof Lumumba who said ‘whenever we are given an opportunity to elect our leaders we are given a blank cheque, and if you permit me a little altitude and if you give me a blank cheque and you allow me to analogize and you say that I am given a blank cheque to buy a Mercedes's Benz, what we do is that when are called upon having been so empowered, we buy what one calls the tuk tuk from India and expect it to behave like a Mercedes Benz. How does that happen because what we do is to elect thieves, we elect hyenas to take care of goats and when the goats are consumed we wonder why?
I am of the conviction that the solution to the dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty in Africa does not lie in the hands of the IMF, World Bank and other International bodies, but our development lies in our very own hands. When I see a continent like Africa blessed with an overabundance of natural resources, endowed with gold, timber, bauxite ,oil among others and yet considered a 3rd world Continent it simply amazes me. And so I ask myself if there were a 4th or 5th or perhaps a 6th world would Africa belong to them? Are we cursed by our natural resources? Why are we the most blessed and endowed continent on earth in terms of resources and yet the poorest? I believe the answer can be found in the book of proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart so is he… we have no confidence in anything African, our leaders loot our money and save them in Swiss Banks and other foreign countries, the last time I checked the parliament of the Republic of Ghana imported all its chairs from China, is it because we have no furniture company in Ghana that can make chairs? Our very own Kantanka manufactures very durable luxury vehicles but our government officials prefer to import their cars from Europe, this is the tragedy of Africa.
Also the high level of tolerance for corruption in Africa is simply amazing, however the tragedy and irony at once is that those who engage in corruption love it, the tragedy at once is that those who do not engage in corruption accommodate it, the tragedy at once is that corruption is something that even the corrupt acknowledges it is a bad thing. The impudence with which our police officials take bribes is simply amazing, because they do it with no iota of shame.
We live in a country where our young ladies who have recently attained the age of puberty cannot afford sanitary pads, but our men and women in public offices have ipads which they do not even know how to use.
I believe that we have reached a stage in life in the economic development of Africa where moving forward is perilous, moving backwards is cowardice and standing still is suicidal but we must persevere because winners do not quit and quitter never win.
Africans must realize and understand that the development of our very own countries does not lie in the hands of the IMF or the Word Bank but the development of our countries lies in our very own hands, and until there is a paradigm shift in our mindsets and our attitudes am sorry to say that Africa is going nowhere.
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