A contemporary philosopher, Karl Jasper says of Africa
‘….just being brought into the mainstream of history; thanks to European colonialism! All signs of higher culture are lacking and Africa is inhabited by primitive peoples who may choose between extinction or what…probably to become instrument of exploitation and source of raw materials’
In a related underrated estimation and stereotyped impression, Frederick Hegel says of Africa as a ‘land untouched by civilisation but merely receiving the echoes of the march of world history’’. One in the face of this stereotype or better still prejudiced western impression of Africa questions the veracity and the raison d’etre for such sarcastic and highly defamatory statements that have robbed Africa and indeed Africans of their many rightful places in the International plane. Regrettable enough it is such derogatory statements that have robbed Africans of foreign investors in a world that has not only been digitalized but indeed globalised, thus the continuous languishment of her children in grinding poverty or what Economist rather would call poverty cycle.
The question, which more or else has remained a perennial question, is the fundamental problem of Africa and the way out. Prof Chinua Achebe in response to this question attributed it to bad leadership, some others placed it on the prevailing harsh economic climate occasioned by insensitive leadership and policies that have no human face, for some others, it is a passing phase, a problem associated with developing countries which with time will be outgrown. Some others have a religious if not philosophical answer which bothers on the assertion that Africa is cursed because of the ancestral abominations and bloodshed committed in the ancient past, which include slavery and slave trade, killing of twins and ostracizing of persons with terminal illnesses which consummates in their abandonment in the evil forests, labeling and consequent treatment of their members as outcasts, Osu, human rituals and sacrifices at the death of their monarchs etc. It is the belief of persons in this school of thought that only divine intervention can set Africa loose of this curse.
A critical look at the situation on ground will convince one that the greatest problem of the African continent bothers more on paucity if not scarcity of sensitive and indeed conscionable leaders. The other day, a governor to bury his mother spent almost half of a state’s budget for the carnival. The other minister and even first lady of a state spent close to that figure to celebrate their birthday. A governor of a state was once captured in London for Money laundering. Many others even in the face of embarrassing poverty, starvation and unemployment in their country still embezzle, loot and starch millions of dollars in Europe and The United States of America with the aid of their western cohorts. Was it not until the death of General Sani Abacha that Nigerians came to know of the horrendous and bizarre looting that men at the top engaged in? Only God knows the total figure stolen not just by Abacha, his aides and officials but also the past Military Warlords that have ruled this pitiful continent of contradictions. Perhaps We have to await their death to hear the full gist of their lootings. No wonder it is said that the heart of man is desperately wicked. Why should a man who has not more than 100years life span loot so much even when his people and relations are dying in squalor and penury! The other day a state Governor, supposedly selected or rather elected and sworn in to uphold the law was arrested and detained in Britain for alleged money laundering, barely some few months his brother in crime or rather in governance from the middle belt of Nigeria was arrested and detained for money laundering in the same Britain. One begins to ask why this massive looting of the nation’s and indeed continent’s scarce resources when millions of youths live unemployed and millions of families go to bed each day with no hope of neither their breakfast nor lunch the next day.
Africa is faced with payment of debts owed the same banks that safe keep billions of dollars looted by her leaders. As a result of this, the banks are calling shots on policies of the continent and other development projects not caring how they affect the poor masses that unfortunately form the majority. Workers cannot enjoy their full salary as and at when due, children can no longer enjoy basic education because their parents cannot afford the financial requirements, basic health care is now a luxury at the enjoyment of the average families as the mortality rate of both pregnant women and children grow in gigantic strides. People die of illnesses as minor as malaria because of self-medication, which people have resorted to in a bid to survive. Many others, who cannot find job, have taken to crimes, which include mass production and sale, of adulterated and substandard products and drugs. These are bought, consumed by the poor majority who also bore the brunt of their traumatic after-effects. No sensitive leader in the face of these anomalies can sleep peacefully much less think of extravagant and flamboyant lifestyle. This is not only obtainable in Africa, but commonplace too.
A lot of ink has flowed trying to assess the level of poverty and corruption in this continent; it is time now for action, this is the time to act. The people must rise to consciousness and take their destiny in their hands. The battle is now or never. No more life of insincerity and double standard knowing too well that the end results are borne by the poor masses. Efforts should be engineered towards self-reliance and indeed agriculture should be revitalized. No man should submit himself as a political thug again and worse still accepting of bribes during elections should be discarded as those that gain victory by corruption tends to rule by corruption and neglect. We must note that there is no easy way to success, we must pay the price and the time to do that is now. Africa is one of the most beautiful continents in this world with over 100 mineral resources awaiting full exploitation buried deep inside her womb. The journey definitely will be painful but the end result will bear fruits that are not only positive but beneficial.
Let us join hands to help ourselves or else we will be swallowed up in this economic conflagration and imbecility occasioned by the greedy elements in our midst. No more excuses, no more complaints and definitely no more procrastination. We were once the citadel of civilization; we can still be that If only we can all join hands together like one united family and fight the one common enemy – complacency and imbecility in the face of destructive governance.
Barr. Akumuo Afam [MCL].