Originally Published in May, 2013
Africa has spent half a century mismanaging itself through the rule of neo political despots and dictators, some of whom transitioned from the Organization of African Unity (OAU), political intolerance and corruption weft in every segment of our society which has brought wrenching negative alteration on our outlook.
Whereas it took a single century to give the world television, computer, the Internet, satellite communication, organ transplants, exploration of the galaxies and the decoding of the biological structure of life itself, Africa, celebrating half-century of “nationhood” is struggling to find its way out of the doldrums.
After 50 years, the living circumstances of the vast majority of Africans remain very abysmal. This is in spite of the fact that we remain endowed with massive natural resources.
Even more pathetic is the absence of any meaningful integration of the economies of member nations. This is the Africa our political leaders have presided over all these years, and the least we expect from the AFRICAN UNION (AU) “club” members after this years celebration is not to depress us if they cannot impress us.
According to BBC report relayed on the 25th of May, 2013; “six out of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are currently in Africa”, yet there is still an eerie of economic and social challenges facing the continent which calls for serious responsible thinking and policy initiatives instead of the lay back attitude of our politicians which has clouded good reason in finding a lasting solution to our recurrent problem.
In the past, the despotic political leaders stole the wealth of Africa; making themselves richer than the continent. The irony, they went globetrotting with bowls in hand begging for scraps from the table of the rich and taking loans for our children to “slave” throughout their lives to pay. While their children get education in Ivy League schools in the metropolis of advanced countries, our children sit under trees to receive the sham of what may be considered as education. We are made to live in the filth and squalor, diseased and “ignorant” while we labour to keep these leaders and their cronies living in opulence.
With the re-organisation of the body from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to African Union (AU) and the establishment of a Peer Review Mechanism, it was expected that the AU would work to blunt the rule of despots in power on the continent, prevent corruption and thievery in high places, and put in mechanism that will protect and work in favour of the well-being of the ordinary citizens of the continent. However, its reaction and steps taken so far towards resolving problems facing the continent, let alone implementing the vision of the founding fathers, does not pass the scrutiny of the people of Africa.
The AU should therefore, realise that their relevance after this years conference is being carefully measured by the people of Africa. What is especially under scrutiny is the function of the Peer Review Mechanism in dealing with the failings and excesses of the members in the “club”.
If the AU ever hopes to gain acceptance and credibility before the people of the continent, it will have to respond to the desire of the people to have better leadership than has hither to been offered by the continent’s politicians: a more strengthened Peer Review Mechanism, acting in defence of the people and their interest. Countries that have not acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) should be encouraged to do so to strengthen good and accountable governance in Africa. Countries that have acceded must in addition to their signature demonstrate commitment to the four thematic areas of the APRM.
What the upheavals going on in the continent are demanding is rebirth and rethinking on the part of political leaders, so that creative solutions could be found to the endemic problems confronting our people.
We should not deceive ourselves into thinking that the kind of education currently being offered on the continent can lead us out of poverty and deprivation. Education is not merely the ability to read and write but to master and apply information as a key to creativity. Education must offer free access to knowledge which is essential to human dignity and a pre-condition for equal access to power. The impact that goes with information technology is systemic since it affects the fundamental structures of society; therefore, our investment in human resource development should start with education.
It is about time the continent rose to the occasion and stood on its own feet. Rather than always looking up to donors to dole out resources to cushion our budgets or deal with economic and other challenges.Let us get a bit more dignifying and determine to work ourselves out of poverty, as is being done by the Asian countries. Africa is not poor because of lack of resources; we are poor because we lack good governance and visionary leadership which constitutes the basis of prosperity and peace.
THE WAY FORWARD
In order not to denude the next generation with ever less resources on which to survive, we need to fashion a workable agenda that shall guarantee a better quality of life. The seismic shift in international politics and diplomacy demands that we take another look at where we are, where we want to go and how we get there, using our past experiences, past political history and culture as a barometer.
I therefore propose the following:
We should work to confront the challenges facing our continent; for example, alleviation of poverty, how to defeat ignorance, creation of stable employment, trading among countries within the Union, and investing in science and technology.
Let us engage in a critical academic and intellectual discourse (strategic thinking) that shall eventually promote indigenous scientific innovation in our quest for industrial self-reliance. We should know by now that the dynamics of the emerging global market works in favour of those who control the fundamental technology. Let us demonstrate that as free people we have the power and the wherewithal ability to redirect our civilization.
The unique status of independent and free Africa shall not emerge from a rational economic blueprint we happily append our signatures to at international conferences and the volume of paper work we do at board meetings. It shall emerge by hard work and VISIONARY LEADERSHIP.
A free and unique Africa shall be born when our political leaders, State Institutions and the Civil Service rid themselves of corruption which sabotages the national economies in Africa. It is time to produce evidence of a true independent Africa – showing political, cultural, scientific, academic and economic structures – capable of sustaining its economy. This should be our goal as a continent before our centenary celebration.
This is Africa’s time but are we ready to seize the moment? Authentic leadership is the answer.