“HOW AFRICANS UNDER DEVELOP AFRICA ”
CredoWriters: Wakdok, Samuel Stephen.
Recalling our undergraduate days in the University of Jos , many of us in the department of Economics like others in Sociology, History, Political Science, Law etc were captivated by Walter Rodney’s book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”. The title was as inviting to those with Marxist philosophy/leanings as much as the content of the book. Dr. Rodney’s book is a clarion call for us to regret colonialism and chat down neo-colonialism. Of course the West has exploited and still exploits Africa ; her land, resources and people, but have they always done this alone? Has the West whether as explorers or colonialists, as investors or neo-colonialists, as Aid providers or Creditors succeeded in exploiting Africa without the active collaboration of Africans?
Without confining Walter Rodney’s book or title of his book to the recess of history, rather in trying to juxtapose his work on the reality that has revealed itself over time we must seek to elucidate “How Africans under develop Africa”. It is inundating and heart breaking to x-ray why Africa is underdeveloped and how Africans are still under developing Africa .
In pre-colonial Africa , it was Africans who raided villages and towns especially on the west coast, captured fellow Africans and sold them as slaves to the white slave drivers. Lagos thrived on this and king Kosoko was very comfortable with slave trade in his domain. No sooner had Spain pulled out of Western Sahara in 1976 than Morocco invaded and annexed the territory. In spite of all the international outcry and pressure, atrocities are still committed against the people of Western Sahara .
The capitalists assisted Mobuto Sese Seko to kill Patrice Lumumba in Congo renamed Zaire and now DR Congo. His remains was burnt to ashes, put in a plane and scattered over the country to prevent even his ghost from resurrecting. Mobuto went on to become one of the worst despots of all times and was richer than his country until the rebel forces of Laurent Kabila pushed him out in May 1997. Today after nearly two decades of wars and conflicts, DR Congo is among the most dangerous countries in the word. Despites having the largest contingent of UN Peace keepers in the world; it has been dubbed the rape capital of the world because of the mass velocity of rapes especially in its eastern region by both government and rebel forces.
When Idi Amin Dada took over power in Uganda in 1971 he taught the world a hybrid of what illiteracy, cruelty and power drunkenness can do. He did not spare any one be it his wife, Central Bank Governor, Archbishop or judges. Before he was ousted by Tanzania forces (and Milton Obote guerellas) in 1979 he had turned Uganda ’s currency into toilet money and littered the streets of Uganda with blood of 300,000 Ugandans and Asians. Yoweri Museveni came to office in 1986 as a soldier and shouted to the world that the problem of Africa were despotic leaders. He just won another presidential term to rule Uganda despite opposition’s claims of rigging the elections. Joseph Koni’s the lord resistance Army rebel forces have been fighting a war in northern Uganda with atrocities like rape and limb cutting spreading into South Sudan, Central African Republic .
Robert Gabriel Mugabe became the white man’s nemesis in the then Southern Rhodesia after he successfully fought both the British colonialists and Ian Smith who had declared unilateral independence from Britain . A charismatic leader took Zimbabwe to independence in 1980 and it became one of the best economies in Africa . Today Mugabe is gunning for another term in 2012, and has helped the West to wreck Zimbabwe ’s economy with sanctions. Zimbabwe had the sole privilege of achieving what was called “run-away inflation” hitting millions in percent of inflation at the height of its economies and printing single currency of billion Zimbabwean dollars. One third of Zimbabweans live in exile or are seeking economic/political asylum.
The United States and Apartheid South African backed rebel forces UNITA led by Jonas Savimbi fought one of the bitterest civil wars Africa had ever seen in Angola against the Marxist regime of Dos Santos. It took the killing of Savimbi in February 2002 for the war to end. Today Angola is trying to rebuild but decades of war and Jose’ Eduardo Dos Santos 36 years in power have not improved the lot of average Angolans.
Master Sergeant Samuel Doe who shot himself into power in 1981 took Liberia to the brink until the civil war led by Charles Taylor broke out in 1989. The war destabilised the region of West Africa with many lives lost both citizens and peace keepers; and scattered Liberian refugees across West Africa for about 20 years. The war also spread to Sierra Leone because of the urge to control its diamond as a financing tool. Many citizens were brutally murdered and many others who survived were left limbless. Ivory Coast which was the model of political and economic stability and it once housed the headquarters of the African Development Bank had its serenity shattered after the 1999 coup of General Guei. The world’s number one producer of Cocoa experienced a bitter civil war between 2000 and 2003. The last presidential election stand off between Laurent Gbagbo and Allasan Quattara almost took Ivory Coast back to the precipice.
Togo, Gabon and Guinea all had despots who ruled for over 30 years with Togo and Gabon having the sons succeeding their fathers. Equatorial Guinea with its oil wealth has less than a million people. Yet the oil wealth has not improved the lot of the populace but only the family and cronies of President Teodore Obiang Nguema Mbasago who has spent over thirty years in power. He is also a past chairman of the African Union which boasts of a good number of sit tight leaders. Little wonder the African Peer Review Mechanism cannot add much value to Africa
The wars between North and South Sudan which ended with the Comprehensive Pease Agreement of 2005 led to the independence of the South in July 2011 after more than a million deaths in one of Africa ’s longest wars. Western Sudan has also seen enough carnage since 2002 where the government back janjaweed have been attacking the people of Darfur creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Omar El Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of Genocide. Sudan was the first international headquarters of al qaeda which has seen the distribution of terrorism around Africa and the word.
Somalia ’s case is seemingly hopeless, that country is the number one failed state in the world. After years of misrule by former leaders they have gone for twenty years without a functional government with tribal war lords, pirates and lately the Islamic extremist al shabash making the country lawless. About a million Somalis are now at the risk of death because of famine in the horn of Africa . Chad and Niger house the poorest regions of the world. The 2008 post election violence in Kenya left over a thousand people dead, closely replicated by the 2011 post election violence in Nigeria which killed over two hundred people.
The story of Nigeria is a pathetic one. Once baptised the giant of Africa , a country with rich human and natural resources has been brought to the brink due to years of bad leadership. The mother of all carnages took place in Rwanda as the 1994 Rwandan genocide left an estimated one million people dead in 100 days. Sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch in the landlocked Swaziland only parades virgins on a yearly basis to choose a new wife from annually. He is mostly abroad and spends little or no time in his country.
The northern part of Africa which seemed to be better off economically was in the firm grip of despots. Revolutions in that part have left thousands dead, scattered the economies and disrupted tourism which was their mainstay. Libya ’s Gaddafi has given the west an excuse to seek to re-colonise that country
From North to South, East to West except for a few countries and leaders, the story of Africa is the same. Economic woes, insecurity, civil wars, internal strives and conflicts, ethnic and religious cleansing, looting of public wealth, capital flight, lack of infrastructure and capacity development have become the hallmarks of Africa’s underdevelopment. With the vast presence of arable lands, ironically Africa is heavily dependent on food imports and food aids. With cheap and abundant labour, Africa cannot generate employment to transform her economy and empower her people.
The elasticity of corruption in Africa is like an unchained spirit. Trillions of dollars meant for the development of the continent have been stolen and stashed in foreign lands by African leaders both dead and living, past and present. The penchant for misuse of public goods and massive show of shamelessness are so high.
Everything the developed West have ever done is first to secure the future of their citizens, but the reverse is the case in Africa . The military dictatorships in Latin America and Indonesia laid solid foundations for those regions economic success stories of today, where as the military juntas in Africa regrettably were the very ones who institutionalised corruption. The Greeks gave the world democracy, The Romans gave the world the Senate, the British gave the world a Parliament, and the United States gave the world the Presidency. In all these we see a commitment by both the leaders and the led to develop a system which will drive the transformation of their polity, economy and people. Democratic regimes have not done much to expedite the cause of Africa’s transformation; rather countries like Nigeria operate the most expensive yet wasteful democracies in the world. Africans have the highest impudence at breaking laws and over the years the rule of law does not hold any significance in the lives of the people especially those who have access to the tools of power. No African country is likely to the Millennium Development Goals by the target year of 2015, as basic as these goals are like poverty reduction, water and sanitation, reduction in infant and maternal mortality among the others. While people and leaders in other parts of the world are making progress to improve their nations and people, Africans are deliberately making efforts to under develop Africa . Africa has been underdeveloped with the blood of Africans on the streets of Africa more by fellow Africans than anyone else. Shame!