Monday, September 20, 2010

Africa can do better with less rhetoric and more action!


FREEMAN CHARI:

I write to you from Africa. Our problems are there for everyone to see. There are many academics who have built their standing from the study of African politics and economy. We have a vast array of literature that deals on African economy; but why is it that despite all that knowledge at our disposal Africa is not progressing?

Politically, we have witnessed coups, civil wars, electoral fraud, violence and an increased emergence of dictatorships. Economically; even though Africa’s GDP is expected to grow from 5.5 to about 6% in 2010; there are millions of people living in extreme poverty and as it stands there is a chance that Africa is going to miss the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people living on less than US$1 per day. Africa is still struggling to cope with the burden of HIV/AIDS pandemic which in developed countries is no longer regarded as a killer disease yet in Africa millions die every year.

These are manifestations at a macrocosmic level. We know that we can blame the West for colonialism, we can blame USA for destabilizing Africa through its regime change policies that claimed the lives of people like Patrice Lumumba and plunged DR Congo into this crisis they have up to today. Indeed, we can blame whites for apartheid and colonialism that has left many of our people marginalized but the question we ought to ask ourselves is: assuming that colonialism had not taken place, would we as a people been any different today?

Let us take Ethiopia as an example. Save for five years under Mussolini, Ethiopia was largely uncolonized. Under Haile Selassie, the distribution of wealth was skewed towards the ruling elite, the landowners and elements of the clergy. The plight of the peasants is well documented. Upon the deposition of the emperor, the Derg adopted Marxism and communism as their working ideology. Hundreds of thousands were killed due to red terror, forced deportations, or from using hunger as a weapon. Despite the egalitarian rhetoric of the Derg, high-ranking government officials retained privileged economic positions. Even today under Meles Zenawi government officials and a few high-ranking professionals control the country’s mode of production.

There are many people who give colonialism as an excuse for Africa’s failure to thrive. Here is a country that has never been fully colonized, a country that had African rulers from time immemorial- a typical African country that we fantasize about in our excuses. Why is it that we still find oppression and suppression of voices in such a country? Why are Ethiopians amongst the poorest in the world? Why isn’t there such camaraderie as that punctuates our rhetoric when we speak of “WE AFRICANS”?

We give excuses that we had limited access to basic education thus our failure to engage in meaningful economic activity largely due to colonialism and apartheid. Let us look at a country like Zimbabwe which has the highest literacy rate of 92% in Africa. If educating an African was such a factor why do we find such levels of poverty and oppression in Zimbabwe? Why don’t we see Africans in Zimbabwe sitting down in true “African spirit” to discuss amongst them how to lift each other from poverty?

Is it really that “WE AFRICANS” are victims of history or we have inherent characteristics that predispose us to poverty?

Firstly, we as Africans lack the drive for scientific adventure, neither are we inclined towards innovativeness. Have we ever asked ourselves why it is almost everyone’s dream to be a medical doctor? ........more
 
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