Africa is rising. This is now common knowledge and the signs are overwhelming. Not so long ago, in fact about 15 years ago, most of Africa was seen by the West as a scrawny malnourished child with bowl in hand. Their ignorance about our continent is testament to this.
A story is told of some directors of a Christian youth ministry in Kenya who went to the U.S.A. to rally for support from their various partners. They went to a certain church to fix an appointment with the lead pastor there.
Unfortunately, the lead pastor was said to be too busy to see them. However, when the pastor was informed that his visitors were from Africa, he promptly wrote a handsome cheque for them but had no desire to meet with them.
This cheque, he assumed, was what was important to them. When the directors were informed that the pastor was too busy to meet them but had a generous cheque for them, they declined it and left.
This is just a small picture of the dominant Western view of Africa. We are partly responsible for this image. It is partial responsibility because we had attained ‘independence’ but were dangerously confused. It was a confusion born out of a severe identity crisis.
We fought for independence and inherited a system of governance that brought together huge regions and different communities that previously had their own systems of governance.
Yes, we were sure we wanted independence, but to many of the Africans then, independence meant the freedom to own and till your own land and to move freely, but not much else.
The greatest population wasn’t thinking of democracy, central governments, budgets, infrastructural development and the general macro and microeconomics of running the sort of governments the colonialists left us with.
What I am simply saying is that Africa bungled this whole independence thing because immediately the white man had left there was no one who seemed to know who Africa was before colonisation and who she was after colonisation.
At this critical time we needed intensive counselling just as one who is fresh from an abusive relationship. If such a person is not properly counselled they are likely to fall into another abusive relationship.
Fortunately, Africa now seems to be coming round. It’s been long overdue, however, as they say, “better late than never”
Jakaya Kikwete President of the United Republic of Tanzania once remarked that the establishment of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the regions own blueprint for development, was a clear signal of Africa’s intention to tackle its problems.
It is evidence enough that even the so called G8 Club summits are never quite complete without the presence of the emerging economic giants in the names of China, Japan, Brazil, India, South Africa and Nigeria.
This compelling evidence shows that Africa is rousing from her drunken stupor. She is now studying her values, her strengths and tailoring her governments to meet the needs of her people.
We are witnessing an African populace that is very aware of her constitutions and leaders now have to align themselves accordingly through elections that, by and large, are increasingly reflecting the people’s voice. (Even the recent coup in Guinea was interestingly popular with its citizenry).
We are also witnessing a fourth-estate that is far from shy in critiquing our journeys towards the formation of republics that are responsive to its people.
I believe that in the coming two decades, most of Africa will lose the term ‘third World’ permanently! To do this, it is my proposition that we look at the successes and the mistakes of the developed world.
Africa is in a position to do a much better job as the sharing of information and technologies has highly increased unlike the time of Europe’s industrial revolution.
Numerous case studies such as how America responded to the depression in the 1930s, how Western Europe lifted herself from the ashes of the first and second world wars and closer in history, how the Asian tigers began to roar, are at our disposal.
Not learning from those gone before us is criminal to say the least. I term it criminal because we don’t have to go through the serious erosion of our moral legacy which often means capitalism in the developed world.
We need to redefine capitalism for ourselves. Otherwise, an untamed desire for profits will have us trade our cooperative endeavour towards the things that fulfil us as families and nations, in favour of the commercialisation of every aspect of our lives.
It will also cause us to pursue an autonomous and irresponsible individualism that has beleaguered the West, instead of perfecting our social support structures. Whoever said that the more modern we become the less altruistic we become was quite right.
In conclusion, I believe that African states can still develop right by achieving low unemployment and meeting the basics needs of the majority of its population without accompanying it with numerous cases of mother’s refusing to breast feed their babies in the name of ‘upward mobility’.