Questions for Africa

I am tempted to ask my first ques­tion in this Nigerian parlance: Afri­ca, how market? This is Nigerians’ way of asking how things are. So, how are things with Africa? Saying Africans are a pathetic lot is the bot­tom line, not an understatement.

African patriots who spearhead­ed their countries’ independence from colonial rule were all educated in the West. They saw and witnessed the strengths and weaknesses of those colonialists and their systems. This gave them a solid grounding for their fight for independence.

Those who come readily to mind are Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, Mwalimu Nyerere of then Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Seretse Khama of Botswana, Milton Obote of Uganda and Ghana’s own Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Tafawa Balewa of Nigeria cannot be left out aside of those from franco­phone Africa that I mentioned in my last episode.

Let me remind readers that Tanganyika merged with the island of Zanzibar under Sheikh Aboud Jumbe to become one nation now known as Tanzania.

These were selfless leaders who did not amass wealth for themselves, yet dedicated their entire lives to the service of their compatriots and bequeathed free, inde­pendent nations to us. These were patriots who foresaw the greatness of this continent and strived to direct Africa towards that goal. Those who opposed them were mostly those from affluent homes and went through no hassles in their upbringing. They were ready to dine with the colonialists.

For some warped logic and reasoning, the West thought Africa was heading in the direction of communism. To be honest, I still don’t know or understand what communism is no matter how hard I try to. Is it a word from the devil’s lexicon only the West understands and fears so much?

Their first target was the Osagye­fo Dr Kwame Nkrumah. That he even dared to send Ghanaian soldiers to the Congo infuriated them the more and the plot thickened for him to be taken out. So was it for other progressives.

Indeed, the West, spearheaded by America, cultivated and brainwashed the docile political elite on the Afri­can continent to undermine their own leaders and get them assassinated. In some cases they got our own national security apparatus involved. Paradoxi­cally, these same Western leaders will condemn military takeovers today. Double standards, if you asked me.

My question: what is so wrong with us Africans that we are ready to turn on our own in order to satisfy imperi­alist forces and interests? Does it mean Africans have proved to the rest of the world that we have no mind of our own? Have we noticed that corruption is rife in every African country that overthrew its independence leaders?

Since then the cycle of corruption continues from one elected administra­tion to the other. Some revolutionaries who spring up to change this and put Africa back on track are either con­spired against and eliminated through coun­ter overtakes or turn around to become corrupt them­selves and, at times, entrench themselves in power till that kingdom come. Francophone Africa is notorious for this.

Even elected leaders overthrow their own consti­tutions to remain entrenched in power. I was sorely embar­rassed as an African to see Paul Biya of Came­roon at a forum in Europe unaware of his surround­ings, farting into the microphone, perhaps after eating too much cheese and cabbages the previous evening. A leader who is clearly not of a sound mind should have been replaced. Or we cannot identify incapacitation?

Museveni is another. The man falls asleep as soon as he sits down, but is still in charge of Uganda. There is yet one Nguema Mbassogo in Equatorial Guinea (formerly Rio Muni) who has so plundered that country’s wealth that only his family and lackeys are able to have three square meals each day. Meanwhile, this country has the highest per Capita income on the con­tinent. Denis Sassou Nguesso is also firmly entrenched in Brazaville.

Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal seem to be on the horizon to follow the trend. Now, there are those who hand power over to their children as have been done in Gabon, Togo where the current leaders succeeded their fathers. Nguema hopes his son will take over when he dies, just as Mu­seveni wants for Uganda.

But these people hardly know what is going on around them. There are political hyenas that prop these old gee­zers in power because they ben­efit from their continued stay in office. Oth­erwise, how did a drooling Paul Biya get on a flight to that summit in Europe in the first place?

Another phenomenon is that these leaders have their national se­curity apparatus under their thumbs and unleash them to brutalise their own citizens for any attempt to demonstrate their abhorrence to their governance. Why do these leaders think they have a divine right to die in office?

The African’s penchant for electing old people as president baffles me a lot. If civil and public servants are deemed unproductive after they attain the age of 60 and must retire, what sense does it make to elect people above that age to lead their countries? In this technological age, many countries especially in Europe, are electing very young leaders. But what is the African situation like?

Nigeria elected Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu only a couple of months ago. He was a candidate who could barely walk, yet was declared elect­ed as president of that country. As I write, the man has been flown out of the country for medical attention, ac­cording to media reports. I don’t want to ask if we are a cursed continent.

The African Union (AU), a well thought out organisation to foster Africa’s development, has become a talk-shop of grandiose proportions and photo-ops. Members hardly agree on anything with one accord. Who among this AU betrayed the likes of Nkrumah, Gaddafi and Sankara? I need answers.

These leaders must blame them­selves when the youth of Africa rise up with one voice and ask, “How long shall they kill our progressives while we stand aside and look?” That day of reckoning is already nearing the horizon.

The imperialists have taken undue advantage of the African continent and its people for far too long, thanks to our own greedy, dishonest and palpably myopic leaders we elect who are quick to sell us out. I am looking for just one African country that dealt with the World Bank and the IMF and had a success story to tell. I am yet to find one.

Theirs is to fleece us of the little we have while their politicians come to preach democracy to us.

It is sad that Africa cannot fashion out what governance suits our own peculiar circumstances. Rather, we import systems that work and are best suited to other people.

If Africa speaks with one voice, one goal and focus on unity and harnessing its natural and human resource for the good of all Africans, no America, no Europe, no Russia, no China or any other entity can target a whole continent for elimination.

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By Dr. Akofa K. Segbefia

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