Published: November 18th 2012
November 18th 2012
What is RIGHT about Africa?
The recently published book entitled " What is WRONG about Africa concluded that the main problem hindering the development of the Africa is indeed its leadership. It has many valid points but its conclusion determines or should I say takes away the responsibility of Africas future from its peoples because of an elite group of bad leaders -who end up destroying everything they touch.So one could ask the question whats right with africa in a negative as well as a positive wayie what is there thats right with africa - instead of what is there actually wrong with africa? - however you read it my contention is that lets celebrate what is indeed right with Africa compared to the rest of the world...
But if its bad leadership-The list is endless and is a damning indictment of all of Africas leaders from Kwami Nkrumah - who started off as the inspired father of his nation Ghana to being ousted for the way he treated his people...a revolutionary black consciousness icon- yet his leagcy makes tells another story of racism , neptism and corruption.
- the longest serving dictator in Africa is another example of bad leadership.He refused Malaria to be eradicated form his tiny country because he preferred to make more money from an oil contract with another bidder...Hes been in power for over 40 years and doesnt seem likely to give up power any time soon.
There are a few good examples of reasonably good leadership such as Sretse Khama of Botswana, Chiluba of Zambia, Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Kings Moshoeshoe of Lesotho and King Lobengula of Zimbabwe. But if you include Idi Amin of Uganda - who destroyed his country to Arap Moi of Kenya who ended up being another nepotist...and of course in the list we must include Mengestu of Ethiopia and Mugabe of Zimbabwe ( although in the long term he may be regarded as a genious for creating 8 million jobs for his people)- there are others such as President Bashir of Sudan, Museveni of Uganda, Kagame of Rwanda... Mobetu of Zaire( DRC) - at one point the 7th richest man in the world... and who can forget Emperor Bokassa of Central African Republic... or Presdient Banda of Malawi who waged
war on hippies...?
Angola- Presdent Dos Santos ( 35 years and counting)- Mozambique( Chissano & Samora Machel)- Nigeria( Sani Bacha)- its one failed experiment after another... instead of ruling as servants of their people - these leaders let power go to their heads and systematically destroyed their countries- even Jules Nyrere- a great visionary- turned his country into a poor socialist state... still living in another time.Kennth Kaunda of Zambia bankrupted his country in a very short time and it looks like Zuma is on course to do the same with Soth Africa...
Then we can go onto the subject of corruption- disease - nationalisation- war- genocide- nepotism - racism and just plain stupidity. Indeed taken over a 50 year period since 1960 the record for Africa is not very good.So - what is right about africa?- really... what is RIGHT about all these failed states and human degradation?- Are there any redeeming factors in this quagmire of tar?-
How can a continent of 1.2 billion people, the most polyglot ( languages)land mass in the world, be transformed with such bad leadership? - is it
empowerment through education? - more money- emmissaries?-Resources?Investment?...or further colonisation by the Chinese or the Americans? What can turn Africa around? The United Nations- Pan Africanism or God?
When one looks at all the facts one could get easily discouraged about developing Africa to the same standards of the rest of the world. Go anywhere around Africa and you will find the same things... power cuts, water shortages, bad roads, waste - etc etc...
If what that book was saying was true then if Africa's leaders would become suddenly enlightened - we would see a renaissance on the continent. So is it education that is the problem? Are these dictators educated? Some of them are - some of them arnt... so it cant be education. The rot runs from the top down and has nothing to do with education. Many of the leaders have degrees- can speak several languages and are quite intelligent. Jonas Savimbi the Angolan guerrila fighter was one such person - I met his brother - a priest-in Huambo in the 90s and it seems that education or personal intelligence is not what the problem is with African
Leaders- even Gaddafi was quite a clever bugger...
But in the words of John F. Kennedy...." ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country." If everything was up to the leaders of the country - nothing would get done. Bad leadership can only take you so far. It doesnt sum up the entirety of a country. Hitler although a despotic dictator who ruined Germany- was up until he started persecuting the Jewish nation and invading other countries...Germanys savior. He built the autobahn and got the economy going.
In Africa there have been similar success stories such as Rwanda. Go to Rwanda today and you will see a little Switzerland. The roads are clean and maintained. The buses are not overcrowded.Everything seems to be hunky dory. Yet behind this veneer another story is true. So what can be possibly right about Africa?- There seems to be untold tragedy each and every day...? The continent today overall is still experinecing the same problems it has experienced since the Winds of Change came to give independence and freedom to its peoples.Congo's infrastructure is worse
of now than it was in the 50s and 60s...its forest is actually increasing and chaos reigns.
In fact the overall piture of Africa seems one of the same story being told over and over again. Ignorance and instability, selfishness and greed, corruption and ineptitude...is all of this the fault of its leaders? - I dont think so.
No, the problem in Africa is not the Malaria- the AIDS or the dictators... the problem in Africa is the mentality and the mindset. It has nothing to do with education or access to wealth...or communication- it has everything to do with how people think and what they do...and to this end I believe it will be commerce that will change Africa for the better - business and entrpreneurs.
Educated or not- rich or not...most African people have the same kind of poverty mentality that is keeping this continent poor, undeveloped and in chaos.Thi mindset has been formulated over millenium of slvery, feudalism, witchcraft , ignorance and even colonialism... but it cannot be what prevents Africans from moving forward together... it is this mindset that must be unchained...liberated by the age of enlightenement. And to this end volunteers from around the world can help.
yes, this poverty mentality, this mindset that must change to make POVERTY HISTORY AND PROSPERITY REALITY-This has nothing to do with ethics or morality- many African people are moral , hard working and ethical. I have seen so much heart and so much love from African people in this regard. It is the bureaucrats with this poverty mentality , it is the politicians with the same kind of mindset...and it is even its businessmen.
But there is something else too. Civilisation. I could not believe that an educated district commissioner who bragged he had lived , was educated and worked for 6 years in Britain could not spend 10 USD for a tin of paint to paint the walls of his reception- (which he had kept us waiting in for one hour)- I mean they were filthy- dirty in fact down right depressing. The space of the reception area was minute... but his office was palatial. This is the problem. People dont take responsibility for their enviroment. Its the same across the board. ITS DISGUSTING!
Public servants whether they run the country or not should always take responsibility for their immediate enviroment. They should learn to think for themsleves and make things better around them. But... they dont... not in Africa and to a degree - not in the Middle East. Its a pity.
So what is right about Africa?
Lets look at the positives and try to overlook the negatives for a minute...then we can decide.
1. Mineral Resources
. Africa has so much mineral resources that everyone in the continent could go to school, be educated, have clean water, working electricity,free healthcare etc. There is an abundance of oil, gold, diamonds, chrome, coltan( used in cell phones),platinum, iron ore, coal etc. It has MORE minerals per capita than any other continent in the world.
. Africa is so big you could fit Australia, Europe or America and Europe in it. Its huge! - and if you compare it to China... China and India could easily fit in the same space...and there'll be plenty left over for more. Its underpopulated in fact... and theres so much living room for people to do things in. Grow stuff in ... and where theres space... theres opportunity. In fact Africa has enough space to grow enough food to feed the whole world.
.Overlall Africa has a pretty good climate. Yes, it gets hot... but it can grow crops longer because of the warm climate. It doesnt have a cold winter when nothing grows. Generally it is hot and it rains a lot. Yes, there are dry seasons and there is drought but taken over all - Africa has a better climate than Europe or the rest of the freezing cold Northern Hemisphere. There is no need for expensive heating- and that is a big plus... Its not dark at 3.30pm...it gets dark more or less at the same time all year round.... the climate is good and its good to wake up to a blue sky.Britain is probably the most miserable climate in the world which affects the mood or happiness of the people.People get terribly depressed because of the grey skies and wet , cold, dark winters.It has a profound effect on peoples mental health overall.
. Where else in the world can you barbeque next to a river and watch elephants, swim next to crocodiles and get your feet cleaned by tiger fish? Not to mention of course see lions, zebra, impala or giraffe? - Europe- America - Australia doesnt have this abundance of animals. I hav'nt mentioned of course its marine lfe... its mountains, its forests, its beaches... yes...all comparable to the rest of the world... but in Africa- theres much much more!THE BIGGEST LAKE(Victoria), THE LONGEST RIVER(Nile, THE LARGEST FALLS( Mosi y Tunya)- BIGGEST DESERT (Sahara)...HIGHEST FREE STANDING MOUNTAIN( Kilimanjaro)...the list goes on.
. Despite all its problems- Africa has the best opportunities for a young heart wanting to make it in the world. You can start a business or do anything you want with very little capital- and grow the business into an empire if you want. Certainly in Europe thats not so easy. Its so overcrowded- competitive and regulated that it kills the spirit of entrepreneurialism. In Africa... you can... even in America- its not easy... anywhere where its over populated and over regulated... there is less opportunity for the small man to make it big... but in Africa... you can become an Afri- Can!...In Africa prisoners become presidents...policemen become judges...entrepreneurs become astronauts...paupers become princes... warriors become warlords and dreams become true life.
Africa is full of dance,ART- music and song-ORIGINALITY & SPIRITUALITY... and it has spiritual riches not poverty... it is full of creativity... freedom,FRESHNESS - LIFE- JOY and possibility... full of GRACE & Forgiveness-Compared to Europe and Americas spiritual poverty- Africa is respelendent with unseen wealth& RICHES - it is what can
be done that makes Africa right for investors, artists, immigrants and visitors...FOR ANY AFROPHILE- ANY HUMAN BEING...YOUNG OR OLD ALIKE.
And this is I believe what IS right about Africa. I havn't of course mentioned the people...
but perhaps I should... Africa's people are warm, open,friendly, communal,social,enthuisiatic,hospitable and most of all... human... I've had people give me their last food... offer me accomodation without knowing me at all in the middle of the night...
so despite all the drawbacks...all the negatives... you have to balance it all out with what you know and what you want out of life. It has EVERYTHING IN ABUNDANCE- and it has enough room for you!
Its no paradise- but where is? and this is what is RIGHT about Africa- try it some time!
Ubuntu is a word meaning basically " community" - and this is something I overlooked. Africa has a sense of togetherness and community whereas Europe are more isolationists - it is a great positive because elderly and sick, weak and frail, widows and orphans are part of this ubuntu- this whole... and the social system is about the community taking repsonsibility for each other... and although this is not always as it should be; it has demonstaretd to me the wonder of what Africa CAN be...
So this is what is RIGHT about Africa... weigh it up against ALL the negatives and make your own decision.