The Wounds Of Africa
Africa is the second largest continent on earth, with a population of over one billion people, and the wealthiest continent in terms of natural resources. There is no African country without natural resources. Despite the enormous treasures and raw materials in Africa, Africa is the poorest continent in the world. It seems we are irredeemable.
Why do most of the redemptive steps taken to rescue and remedy the continent unproductive? With the wealth and beauty of Africa, and about five decades of self-rule, we still remain a consumer continent, instead of a producing society. Though Africa is the mother of civilization, how ‘civilized’ is the contemporary Africa? Greeks, like Pythagoras, came to Africa to study, the reverse is now the case. What happened to Africa?
According Wikipedia, “Slavery is a legal or economic system under which people are treated as property.” About 300 years of black African slavery employed brainwashing to make Africans feel less humans. Quoting Mungo Park, “all these unfortunate beings are considered strangers and foreigners, who have no right to the protection of the law, and may be treated with severity, or sold to a stranger, according to the pleasure of their owners”.
Blacks despised the colour of their skin, and saw themselves as unfortunate. White skins were dignified, while black skins were made to look inferior, and perhaps, it was a curse to be Black. Slavery dented the self-image of Blacks, it stole our identity. More than 400 years after the abolishment of slavery, the black Africans are not yet free from this brainwashing. In the words of Mathew Ashimolowo, “the reverberations of the trauma of slavery meant that a people have had to develop a culture within a culture; however, this time, a culture was being built out of the fragments of the slave master’s leftovers.” In the modern-day Africa, everything African is stigmatized, and thought not good enough, unless it has some European finishing. This indoctrination gave birth to colonialism and racism.
Colonialism according oxford dictionary, “is the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically”. During colonialism, Africa, its people, and natural resources were divided among European countries. The colonist defined Africa; they named the countries and determined their landmasses, and in some cases, they decided the tribe to rule and lead at the end of colonialism. Five decades after the end of colonialism, we, Africans, still have a sell-out image of ourselves. 50 years after colonialism, we still live with the ideologies, and run the political, economic, social systems and structures handed to us by the colonist. The few Pan-Africanists, like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who championed the emancipation of Africa from the colonists, wanted to introduce a new former of leadership different from the colonist, but their efforts were sabotaged, and thus unsuccessful. “The colonial masters left a legacy of exporting raw natural resources and importing finished products”. The natural resources in Africa are exported to Europe, at a price fixed by the Europeans. They determine when and how to buy. Worse still, they reserve the rights to sanction any nation whose legislations are in-congruent to theirs. For instance, last year, Nigeria received threats from US and Britain for same sex marriage laws, while Uganda got sanctions.
Colonialism did not afford the black Africans the opportunity to be educated, except where education was prerequisite for undertaking certain jobs for the colonists. This manifested in the number of graduates produced by the African states during independence.
In DR Congo; “there were no African army officers, only three African mangers in the entire civil service, and only 30 university graduates”. Zambia had 109 graduates during their independence. With a population of about 45.2 million, Nigeria had two universities before independence.
The colonist also deprived the black Africans the opportunity of mastering the act of harnessing the natural resources within its shores. “The colonialists controlled the planting of the coffee seed and forbade everyone else from planting or possessing it. In Kenya, the coffee plantation registration ordinance of 1918 forbade the growing of coffee- the country’s most profitable commodity, by Africans”….Claude Ake. Though the physical domination of colonialism has ended, their impacts and legacies, systems and structures are still running in Africa.
After the epoch of colonialism, lack of professionalism is the most tragic problem that is confronting Black Africans. No African nation is able to transform its natural resources into finished products with its citizens alone. In my opinion, lack of professionalism, and unsteady social amenities like electricity are the greatest problems confronting Africa. Until we begin to produce, and believe in indigenous professionals to captain the wheels of change, we will continue in this economic slavery. Africa cannot be free of victimization and exploitation until we have indigenous solutions to our many problems. The technology is lacking. Lest wonder a country like Nigeria continues to export its sweet crude to Europe in exchange of the refined products. If Nigeria is rich exporting crude oil, Nigeria would be one of the wealthiest nations, if all its products are refined internally and exported as finished consumer products. Africa will continue to suffer economic strangulation until we move from a consumer economy to a producing economy.
If Nigeria, endowed with excess sweet crude, can shut down economically because of scarcity of refined petroleum products, there must be something fundamentally wrong. Africa have been fooled too long by visionless and purposeless leaders. Most of the post-colonial African leaders like Gen. Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Mobutu Sese Seko of DR Congo, Omar Bongo of Gabon, etc, used the national wealth for self-enrichment.
Politicians, and political parties vie for offices not out of a national vision or purpose, but because of foreseeable personal gain. When the said party seems not to deliver the bargain, there is a mass exodus of politicians from a party to another. This is because there is no collective agenda, no party convictions or objectives, just self-interest. According to John Hayford, “African leaders are driven by self-interest, so excessive that their people’s interests are forgotten-hardly different from the colonial masters”. We have scripted leaders, who most times lacks initiatives and real ideas to the problems facing us. Our leaders need to go back to the table and decide where we are headed to as a people. We need leaders with the will power to dismantle the shackles of colonialism, neo-colonialism, slavery, racism, and support indigenous solutions to the continental maladies.
It is shameful that when power is handled over from one administration to another, the new leaders are found guilty of the same problems they promised and preached to diagnose. The majority of black Africans need to create civil societies that will hold leadership accountable. Our leadership is based on tribalism, nepotism, characteristic corruption and cronyism. As long as we continue to sacrifice competence for tribalism, as long as we continue to elect men and women whose only qualification is their clan or village, our wounds will not heal. Our healing must come from us.
As Glen Laurie puts it, “No people can be genuinely free, so long as they look to others for their deliverance”. The leaders Africa need are leaders that will disassemble the generic exploitative relationship between Africans and the western world. Water Rodney said “historically, the world has not seen a well-developed economy without a corresponding strong government”.
Now is the time to overcome our history, to break the manacles of the past, to improve and redefine ourselves, our people, our nation and our world. To continue to pinch the wounds of slavery, racism, colonialism, poor leadership and lack of professionalism, without any action, is to be eternally bound to these wounds. History is not a chain or thraldom, it can be broken.