What the heck is this? Faraway north-eastern countries catch a warring-cold and we in our resource-cure-rich south sneeze our brains out? And here we are, whining, totally lost for a soothing balm? It’s a crying shame! Africa, full to the brim with natural resources should not be yearning for morsels from near-to-all-year frozen northern lands for sustenance. Why should we be weeping ayo kwarika (shedding bucketful-s of tears) because prices of oil, gas, wheat and all that accompany them are going through the roof, all due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with NATO stocking the embers? We should not be drawn in by the vagaries of northern countries’ quarrels when we are actually more resourced and should be feeding them on everything. After all, we know that the countries to the west of those warring ones would probably today be impoverished, if it weren’t for the resources of Africa. Of course, we in Africa crave cooperation with all. Our conviction is that our aim on this earth as humans should be to help one another up the prosperity ladder. Not like us, Apartheid-hoarding northern myopic, egocentric Shylocks, like we saw with the Covid-19 vaccines discovery. We are born generous, being sociable beings, but shouldn’t depend on other continents for what we’ve got in abundance. Our soils have enough resources to feed us, nay, to feed the world. And, come to think of it, it isn’t as if our soils haven’t tried, even supplying them with human ‘goods’. Be that as it may, though, it’s a shame that we should open our beaks like chicks – much as, unlike chicks, we have to cough up some dough in exchange – because we cannot eat bread, cook food or get oil to move our coughing jalopies till the north sells us some. Especially having seen, as we have oftentimes without drawing lessons from it, which they have always remembered to throw crumbs to us after having had their fill. We can name a few countries that can grow enough wheat to feed the continent and, in fact, spare some for other continents. Ethiopia, South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia. There are many others with vast lands, but haven’t ‘bothered’ to exploit it. As for oil, it’s being discovered by the month by a variety of countries (hoping they’ll get some other use for it when green energy sends it back to the cave-wells!) Even then, we have it in abundance, already being drilled in a number of countries like Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, Angola. As for natural gas, to this day more is being discovered. So, what is the missing link that these African countries should fail to share these resources that they have in abundance? Interestingly, what is missing is exactly that “link”. The “link” African countries, to their credit, have woken up to putting into effect, much as they continue to drag their lumbering feet. The link is simply the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It’ll be the world’s largest free trade area and will connect over a 1.3billion people across 55 countries. The combined gross domestic product is estimated to be upwards of US $3.4 trillion. Beat that for wealth! Problem is, from 2018, why isn’t AfCFTA up and running? The fear of za baringa, phantom fears, that’s why! Countries’ individual fears of revenue losses; uneven distribution of costs and losses; diversified export markets; greater competition due to removal of tariffs and a flooding of cheap goods; degradation of natural resources; loss of traditional livelihoods; local employment issues. All bunk! How did other integrated regions find ways of being functional and make it (forgetting about one imperialist-‘hangovered’ Brexit!)? Za baringa are many. Wasn’t it one time thought that the African Union Commission (AUC) as it existed could not be reformed and function better? When one of our presidents was given the task, he put bright heads together and within no time they’d turned it into a purposeful, functional machine. However, even then the elephant in the room loomed large: how could the AUC stop dangling a begging bowl to foreign funders? When some countries could hardly feed themselves, how could they finance their continental commission? The team went to work again. African Union Member States should implement a 0.2% levy on eligible imports to finance it, suggested the bright heads. All made so simple that everyone wondered why it’d never occurred to them! The fund would be enough for financing continental peace and security; managing the Union Commission; implementing continental development; easing countries’ assessed contributions to the Union. All commencing by January 2017. Has anything come to fruition? Unfortunately, the lumbering feet! And so here we are, grieving that the prices of everything are skyrocketing, all because NATO countries and Russia are scuffling it out over who controls which tuff, with Ukraine being beaten by the rain of their quarrel. Thus, no oil, no wheat, no whatever, from Russia or Ukraine. May this be a wake-up call for Africa to be self-reliant? Time to maybe call on the wits of the bright head to again devise ways of heaving the AfCFTA into action?