THE title above, and indeed the script of this entire essay, has been inspired by a speech given by Kenyan Professor PLO Lumumba, reflecting on what kind of Africa would confront our fallen forefathers if they were to wake up today.
It is 58 years since Ghana became the inaugural independent country in Africa, marking the beginning of the monumental fall of colonial empires in the 20th century, and it is 21 years since the tyrannical system of apartheid was brought down in South Africa, marking the end of colonial domination in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Today the only reminder of coloniality on the continent is the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, still under the political domination of Morocco.
The fall of colonial empires across Africa came with momentous hope for the continent, and our founding fathers like Kwame Nkrumah, Samora Machel, Julius Mwalimu Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, among many others, died with a shared dream of an Africa that was going to use its vast resources to achieve development for its own people. These people had an absolute belief in the benefit of self-rule and self-determination, and they thought genuinely that they had laid a good foundation for future generations to make African countries equal partners among the family of nations.
If today we were to be blessed by the resurrection of these our fallen founding fathers, what kind of Africa would they be confronted with, almost 6 decades after we began the journey of what we proudly call self- determination? Professor Lumumba in his speech has it all covered from Congo, Tanzania to Libya, and he paints a gloomy picture of where we are heading as African people.
Our founding fathers would be confronted by a continent receiving over US$50 billion a year in what is officially called Official Development Assistance–essentially a combination of international aid and loans.
Nyerere, Kenyatta, Machel and Nkrumah would all be confronted by the reality that their respective countries, for whose independence they primarily sacrificed their lives, are in the top ten recipients of ODA, largely accounting for the façade of economic stability these countries brag about today. When you enjoy contrived economic stability sustained by international aid your country often passes the political test as an “emerging democracy,” and of course the carrot comes after the stick.Advertisement
Ethiopia, DRC, Tanzania, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Uganda made up the top ten recipients of international aid in 2012 and 2013, benefiting 46% from the $51 billion given in each of those two years, with the rest of the 44 countries sharing the remaining 54%.
These our founding fathers would be confronted by the reality that among the top ten donors providing this assistance are the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the EU–a stark reminder of how post -colonial Africa has dearly maintained the umbilical cord to the former slave and colonial master. We seem to enjoy carrying ourselves as the world’s sorry case, and this mentality has made us a continent of vulnerable people.
Our heroes would be confronted by a bloody Libya, brought down into untold civil chaos borne out of the triumvirate invasion of the country by France, the United States and the UK – themselves wielding the pro-invasion votes of South Africa, Gabon and Nigeria, three African countries that endorsed UN Resolution 1973, the legal instrument used for the invasion of Libya, thinly disguised as a “No Fly Zone UN Resolution” at the time.
The fact that that South Africa and Nigeria are the continent’s two biggest economies provided the legitimacy for the invasion, and the fact that none of the three African countries at the UN Security Council sought the opinion and position of the African Union at the time is yet another confronting reality of where we stand with African solidarity at the moment.
There are 15 members in the UN Security Council, and there were 10 countries that voted for Resolution 1973, and these could easily reduce to 7 if the three African countries had done what the majority of Africans expected them to do–defend the sovereignty of Libya.
Brazil, China, Germany, India and Russia were all opposed to the Libyan invasion, and they abstained from the vote. Seven countries would fall short of the simple majority needed to pass the resolution, but our brothers in South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon would have none of that nonsense. They made sure the will of the imperial triumvirate prevailed. This is the reality that confronts us in Africa today.
Our founding fathers would also be confronted today by boatloads of drowning Africans heading for Spain, Italy and other European countries and Professor Lumumba makes a good illustration of this. No longer is the African kicking and screaming as the slave master pushed him into a boat against his will, he says. That was the ancient enslaved African. Today’s African risks his own life scrambling for a slot in leaky boats so he can force himself into European slavery, with the slave master repeatedly urging the swarming slaves to go back home.
Our people are dying to go to Europe so they can do any menial jobs for any form of slave wages, and that is the Africa that confronts us today. Post colonialism Europe has become to us the Promised Land, and our young people have lost the aspiration to live on our continent. We have our young committing suicide because Manchester United has lost a match, and they cannot even mention the names Harambe Stars or Dynamos F.C. and again Professor Lumumba makes an informed pointer to this phenomenon.
This writer is writing this piece from Sydney Australia, and he is just one of the millions of skilled Africans domiciled in the West today, and there are many more brilliant young Africans dying to resettle in Western communities, many enrolling into Western Universities and never to return. This is the reality that would confront our founding fathers today, if they were to rise from their graves.
They would also be confronted by a Congo that renamed itself Democratic Republic of Congo with only one election to its name since 1961, and with hardly any infrastructure, smitten by a vicious demon of corruption, and holding on to a tenuous peace pact that threatens to tear apart before anyone can say “Congo.”
Our founding fathers would be confronted by a South Sudan at war, with the Dinka and the Neur killing each other freely over nothing but power politics. They would be confronted by the reality of over 10 000 killed in the senseless civil war, 413 000 internally displaced, 66 500 seeking UN refugee, and 74 300 who have fled the three year old country.
Our founding fathers would be confronted by a Nigeria battling murderous religious radicals who have killed 13 000 people in a senseless war aimed at creating an Islamic Caliphate. The reality of Boko Haram makes terrible reading when read in the context of the equally murderous and barbaric Al-Shabab in Somalia–an outfit that believes it can achieve its vainglorious political goals by indiscriminately shooting shoppers in shopping malls in neighboring Kenya.
Our founding fathers would be confronted by the only country still led by a founding father of independence in Africa today, Zimbabwe. They would be confronted by an isolated and economically devastated Zimbabwe, preaching independent nationalism against the wind, advocating for the empowerment of the African, and yet smitten by the relentless spirit of corruption just like the rest of the continent. They would be confronted with the reality that Robert Mugabe heads the African Union today, surrounded by heads of state whose mentality would not earn them even the councilor’s post during the days of left-wing socialist Africa. At home marvelous pretenders who shout with him revolutionary slogans when all they care about is their little personal worlds equally surround him.
Mugabe is surrounded by aid-addicted young African leaders that believe the easiest way to run an African country is to be a good boy of the moneyed Western countries, and to attract as much aid as one can possibly do. That is the Africa that confronts us today.
Our founding fathers would be confronted by a post- apartheid South Africa ravaged by the Aids pandemic, with the vast majority of blacks languishing in poverty no different from the awful days of apartheid. They would be confronted by a South Africa that celebrates Mandela’s reconciliation policy more than it does its own independence, with the rest of the world being told that the greatest thing that ever happened to South Africa is Mandela’s reconciling smiles with the former oppressors, especially his gesture of sharing the Nobel Peace Prize with his jailor.
They would be confronted by the rising spirit of nationalism in South Africa, with young political activists continually pushing for land reclamation as happened in Zimbabwe in 2000. They would be confronted by this dangerous demon of frustration that sometimes sends some South Africans into violent xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans immigrating from neighboring countries.
They would be confronted by a West Africa battling with the menace of the Ebola disease, with the rest of the continent invitingly starring at the West for rescue.
One other illustration made by Professor Lumumba is that if our founding fathers rose today, they would be confronted with universities that church out engineers who cannot even make a water filter, business administrators who cannot set up a company of three workers, IT specialist who cannot make the simplest of a computer, and they will be confronted with the reality that there is still no such thing as a car made in Africa, not even a bicycle.
They would be confronted by our new crop of politicians–greedy, reckless, selfish and crooked charlatans whose only ideology is self-aggrandisement.
They would be confronted by a highly spiritualised Africa, with young and impressive prophets of God all over the place, preaching not the archaic and ancient gospel of salvation of souls, but instantly delivering our poverty-stricken populations from the demon of poverty – literally casting out poverty by the mere laying of anointed hands on people’s foreheads. Would be great if the wave was not the egregious charade it is.
Well, the continent remains the most evangelised region on the planet, and yet it remains the poorest, even getting poorer with the increasing number of prosperity gospel preachers, whose idea of prosperity is most surely limited to their own wellbeing, although preached otherwise.
Populations that have been conned into believing that they can only please God through enriching the preacher man would confront our founding fathers today, and these duped people believe that life is about miracles, shortcuts, and inexplicable achievements–all sadly coming in the name of the Christian faith.
Africa we are one and together we will overcome! It is homeland or death!
REASON WAFAWAROVA is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia