“Survival of the fittest and natural selection” are things that I believe should apply more in our daily lives, just as they do in the animal and plant world. I understand that this opinion is probably going to be frowned upon but humour me as I attempt to paraphrase Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin
The different political systems in the world were a result of natural selection. Among many of the systems of government that didn’t work I will take a look at the socialist model, as per Lenin and Marx.
The idea itself wasn’t that bad; everything was to belong to the state and the citizens were to enjoy the collective fruits of their labour. However, in reality, the state wasn’t able to run the economy and, as could be seen in the mid to late 80’s in Mikhail Gorbachev’s USSR, basic food commodities were in short supply.
His policy of Perestroika was a way in which he sought to move away from a state-controlled economy and tap into man’s inherent selfishness and competitiveness. Unhappily for him, this policy wasn’t able to halt the winds of change and the USSR ceased to exist by 1992.
There is something about not letting people naturally progress that rubs me the wrong way. We in sub-Saharan Africa are continuously put to task by the West and urged forcibly to become liberal democracies in the manner of the United States of America, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Well, guess what? I don’t think that will be possible.
I’ve gotten into arguments with both Rwandans and foreigners about this. I believe that liberal democracy, or simply any kind of democracy, is a process that takes centuries, and not merely decades.
As any student of European and North American history will tell you, less than 200 years ago, these nations were often absolute monarchies, feudal in nature and the rights of the lower classes were simply non-existent.
Look at the facts: liberal Switzerland did not give women the right to vote until just after the Second World War, although Blacks were ‘emancipated’ by Lincoln in the 19th century, they only got the ‘absolute’ right to vote (without the need for all types of tests) under Lyndon Johnson.
General Franco was unleashing a reign of terror in Spain for the better part of last century and the less said about Adolph Hitler the better.
What am I attempting to get at? Rwanda, less than 120 years ago, was a hermitic kingdom that didn’t have a written language. The king, Umwami, was perceived as a demi-God and yet, when the first Europeans came to Rwanda they marvelled at the complexity of Rwandan society.
I will be the first to admit that things weren’t necessarily hunky-dory for Rwandans. Certainly there were inequalities and injustices that existed as a result of the political and social system of the day. However, as I attempted to show in the previous paragraph, these same problems existed in the same nations that now act like they’ve always been ‘perfect’.
One cannot jump from illiterate feudalism to liberal democracy in a century. Show me a nation that has been able to do that and I will eat my hat.
If you still doubt my train of thought, then look at the aid that Africa has received since 1960. It probably runs into the billions and what do we have to show for it? Nothing really.
Let me become somewhat controversial and say that if there was no aid given to us at all, we’d be doing a lot better and we’d have reached the Millennium Development Goals by 1970, and not 2015 as is the goal now.
The West threatens African governments that supposedly displease it by saying that it will cut aid. While in the short term it will hamper development, I believe that it will make the citizenry more involved in governance and governments will be forced reach compromises with its people.
When people say “enough is enough” and then take the reins of their own destinies great things happen. Just look at what happened in America when some chaps in Boston said “to hell with the English, no taxes without representation”.