Listening to the news the other day, I was delighted to hear that Ghana had hit the jackpot of sorts. You see, almost one billion barrels of oil have been discovered in Ghanaian waters.
Although the oil will be hard to access because of its depth, at the current prices it will be a tidy amount of revenue flowing into their national coffers.
Just when I was starting to get revelries about all those petro-dollars, my mood was soured by a comment made by one of the ‘learned minds’ on the programme.
With an air of ‘been-there-seen-it-all’, he dismissed the chances that the oil would be anything other than a curse to the people of Ghana.
With a simple mention of the bogey word ‘Nigeria’, the commentator negated all the progress that Ghanaian people had made in the fight against corruption, the march towards democracy and accountability.
Yes, the commentator was right to point out that the oil wealth of Nigeria had, instead of catapulting the Nigerian economy into the 21st century, become the bane of the normal citizens, in marked contrast to the moneyed class.
However, this argument is quite null and void when one looks at the logic that he used. His logic was thus; since Nigeria is an African country as is Ghana, therefore since Nigeria wasted its oil wealth so will Ghana.
I wondered why he didn’t just say that “all black faces look the same to him”. Not only was he condescending, he also sounded racist.
I don’t want to make it sound like any kind of criticism that comes from a white mouth is motivated by racism. I’ve been a critic of many African governments and I’ve not agreed with everything that our own governments do.
However, the goal of the criticism I’ve made is to galvanize the actors to do the right thing for their people. His tone was that of an exasperated schoolteacher talking about the ‘problem child’ of the class.
This attitude is a throwback of the old colonial mentality that was totally paternalistic. It’s as if the guy was suggesting that the only way that the oil wealth could ever be put to good use was if the ‘black’ element was removed from the equation.
To be replaced by a lighter tint, if you catch my drift. It’s as if countries like South Africa and Botswana, both blessed with huge mineral resources and a black government, haven’t done anything right.
It’s as if some colonisers didn’t leave some countries in even direr straits than they found them in the first place. It’s as if the French didn’t leave Burkinabe with barely a paved road to call their own; it’s as if Portuguese didn’t leave Africa kicking and screaming because they understood that they’d become a little, poor European nation without their colonies.
And I won’t even bother talking about the dastardly Belgians. All this unhelpful criticism that Africa takes all the time is unwarranted. Look, here is a simple fact. These so-called ‘first world nations’ have taken centuries to get to where they are. It simply isn’t fair that we, Africans, should be bombarded with criticism, yet none, save Ethiopia, are even one century old.
They talk about human rights abuses, wars, famines, coups and the like, as if they haven’t gone through the same. In fact, I’d like anyone to disagree with the fact that Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, despite his truly horrendous acts, doesn’t hold a candle to the world ‘policeman’ where human rights violations are concerned.
The United States has the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki [acts that no one can possibly justify] in its past and Guantanamo Bay, along with all sorts of secret prisons all over the world. But do you see the world discounting all the good things that respective American governments have done?
No; because they see the bigger picture. It’s not as if Africa is moving backwards. Almost to a tee, African nations are improving and moving forward both socially and economically. Even the former ‘no-hopers’ like the DRC are slowly getting out of the hole history threw them in.
So, give us a break; history hasn’t been kind to us. If you can’t be of help then don’t stand on the sidelines and snipe away with your unhelpful talk.