Why Africa should define own democracy

Prof Anastase Shyaka, the Minister for Local Government, speaks at the symposium as Prof Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba looks on yesterday. Courtesy.

Salvation of the African continent lies in the hands of African leaders who should redefine their own democracy other than being blindfolded by the western world which defined democracy that is in their interest.

The call was made by Prof. Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba on the last day of the National Security Symposium held at Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College in Musanze

Lumumba is a staunch pan-Africanist and former Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya School of Law.

The symposium was organised by the college in partnership with the University of Rwanda under the Theme: “Contemporary Security Challenges: The African Perspective”.

Lumumba, who was part of the panellists who discussed the topic dubbed: “Consensual versus Adversarial Politics in the Pursuit of Sustainable Peace, Stability, and Development in Africa,” said Africa should wake up and think out of the box if it is to be independent.

 “African salvation demands that we define for ourselves what democracy means, what people want is to participate, to have a government that is accountable,” he said.

“Many people in many African countries simply want food, access to health care, a good education. Young men and women simply want opportunities for innovation and invention and want a government that can help them achieve all this,” he added.

He said that Africans still have beliefs that the west and other powerful countries have divine duty to dictate to them what to do and that the former has a duty to do so, something he said should stop.

Lumumba gave an example that after every election in Africa, many observers are deployed from African and European countries, but people wait for what the European Union will say, whether they were free or rigged.

 “Until when we liberate ourselves and decolonise our minds, we will practice politics that only cause us conflict,” Lumumba noted

He added that despite the declaration that guns will be silenced on the continent by 2020, conflicts rage on.

“Going forward, we need to have peace but peace will not just rain until we produce hygiene in our politics, we are going nowhere,” he said.

He challenged academia to improve ways education is imparted to the young generation by accepting that there is a problem and start dealing with it.

 “We have a crisis in our universities and we have to re-examine ourselves, to design courses that match with the needs of our nations other than depending on western education,” he said.

Andrew Mitchell, a member of the British House of Commons, said there was need for the African continent to look for solutions to the problems of the continent.

 “It’s a good time to assess. The international system is broken, it has no protection on the way we live,” he said.

 “The African continent’s next generation has five principal problems, namely; climate change, migration, terrorism, pandemics, protectionism and narrow nationalism. There is need for more international cooperation and solidarity,” he said.

According to Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the Minister for Local Government, there is need for African leaders to redefine democracy, which is about people.

 “Any democratic system should be about people. But if people fight, you have already failed,” he said.

The minister said Rwanda had chosen to promote sustainable development built on the foundation of good leadership, and committed to moving forward in pursuing peace.

“Politics is seen as the art of managing society, societies need to have appropriate politics which is consensual politics,” he said.

The symposium discussed various topics, including global power dynamics, the need to expand Africa’s defence capabilities, youth unemployment, among others.

It also discussed cyber terrorism, enhancing continental self-reliance through intra-continental trade and the importance of good governance in achieving socio-economic transformation.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com