Tuesday December 12, 2017

The Africa You Know Isn’t The Africa We Know

African leaders pose for a group photograph with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the 18th African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 29, 2012.

UNT – You may be an African, a leader at the same time, and you may tell others that here is my Africa on the map indicating that your Africa is a good place worth living. You may also hear others gossiping around you saying why does he have to talk about Africa when there is nothing good about it compared to other continents such as Europe, Australia, Asia, and America.

When such messages whispered into your hear, you may start to wonder why and how could that be because you are prone to defending your native continent, disregarding the fact that your continent isn’t what you thought it should be to other people.

Quickly enough, your ego may start to synchronize all the alleged burglaries, insults, or labeling against your own continent, and start to internalize them for the best use, and possibly of defending the Africa as if you are defending a continent that you know as straight, rich, prosperous, enabling and so forth against the outsiders.

Walking you back to the title of this article “The Africa you know isn’t the Africa we know” is to shed some light regarding kind of perception we have for the continent we dearly love as leaders, citizens, scholars, and intellectuals without thinking that something wrong is going on in a wider spectrum throughout the continent. We think:

When Africa has leaders in the like of Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenneth Kaunda, Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe who transformed the Africa into the Africa we today refer to as our motherland, we thought that Africa has become the best place to be. We thought that transformation that led to independence of African countries only happened through hardship and deep struggle that ended with the declarations of such independences. The African leaders including us (citizens) did not think that a fight for injustice, lack of development and good governance needed to be prolonged into the 21st century.

Thus, starting from the leaders themselves, the shift of a political arena inclined, and either distorted the long held ideology that resulted into the birth of the African countries, or else buried their heads in the sand and completely become ignorance to the fact that African vision need to be restructured. Of course, Africa underwent serious of socio-political exploitation for decades if not centuries from European people. But, the wake of the champions, pioneering the liberation struggles throughout the continent, met with mere glimmer of hope that the Africans are enjoying nowadays. But that does not mean they would turn their deaf hears against it future social and political progress. There need to be something that should be done by the Africans in general let alone leaders. First let take a look at the most exemplary figures and whose motto was to fulfill the Africa interest.

The exemplary Figures in Africa

Mr. Nyerere, a man most liked from the far, maintained trust and consistency in keeping his promises to his own people. Keeping promises mean working toward achieving the best possible system of governance. For instance, Mr. Nyerere made his public address for the first time at the Arusha Declaration of 1967 that “Ujamma” (meaning family-hood) can be embedded into socialism and structuralizes the agriculture as a collectivistic work. Rural development was given high consideration and so villigization subsequently follow. Little did the African leaders learned about his unprecedented move, yet Julius Nyerere continued to set forth a systemic form of eliminating the foreign dependency and centralize the economic transformation for Tanzania to be foreign aid-dependent-free. Such form of declaration only benefits the Tanzanians, but also earned equal opportunity and a power to stabilize the land with full ownership. The Nyerere campaign of Ujamma became widespread throughout the Africa continent and indeed to the whole world.

To further internalize such policy, the man worked. Had it not been because he was a dynamic thinker with dialectical style of leadership, Tanzania wouldn’t have been the only Africa country that tasted the real statehood in the continent of Africa.

More or so, in this world, a leader that has a quality leadership, that addresses people’s concerns appropriately, that understand the country’s challenges and addresses them properly, earns great respect, love and praise from a far, and so Ujamma policy earned Julius Nyerere, the national title, “Father of the Nation.”

The reason why that touches my conscience is because we as Africans need something that should be recognized by ourselves for our universal good. For example, Julius believed in “people-centred” meaning “humanness in its fullest sense rather than wealth creation must come first. Societies become better places through the development of people rather than the gearing up of production,” (Mark K. Smith 1998)

Although less attractive to peasants who were forced to give up their farm lands, the policy itself made a great significant as far as it context was concerned. Only just a little twist to that can more importantly change the rotten onion and make it become the fresh one again. Julius’s ideology lives!

To further extent, Mr. Kenyetta could be the second person for liberating his own people. The job well done he did with regard to standing tall and faced the British rule, made Kenya become the state that is viable, peaceful and vibrant in many ways today. Investors flogged in large quantities. Than to doubt their presence in the country; nonetheless, he encouraged peaceful and progressive policy reform using one party system. That doesn’t make the best of what Africans today could expect. But through him, clan men carried out wealth accumulations and corruption through tribal affiliation. Relatives entrenched deep and enriched themselves making the Kikuyu tribe the wealthiest of all tribe in Kenya. The policy as Africans cannot be adopted for future socio-economic progress because it easily switches to a serious disaster. But his legacy for standing up as an African man objecting the white domination will live forever. Does it mean he is a father of the nation too?

Also, in African perception, people would like to refer best with given specific place as mine. For Africans to think farthest, the chanting of slogan “my Kenya” as Kenyatta referred to signify the importance of such slogan, which goes beyond most African leaders’ peripheries. Robert Mugabe does the same referring to “Zimbabwe is mine.”

If mine-ness means anything in a good way, maybe it will be followed. But if it means something in a bad way, who knows who would follow?

Continually, he (Kenyatta) did not realize that some days his legacy that he had built would one day fall into deaf hears because of lack of proper political accommodation and unfair distribution of wealthy he had introduced during his rule. Today even if Kenya survives and sustains it’s unify objective, the policy of patronage did and continue to do a great damage to a great nation. He might have a better policy, but I believe uncle was busy and so things like corruption, tribal division, lack of political platform, transparency problem, and more internal conflicts if to name a few, became endemic and paralyzed Kenya. With little possible remark, the founding father as referred to by many had tried what he could and so now the ball is on the court of current political figures nursing the nation (Kenya). Should God have a long arm, he would be asked to stretches his hand out for healing to the (young nation)

Then Tafari Makonnen, literally known as Haile Selassie, became the Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930 and ruled for 74 years. His political line was centered along the royalty line. He was a man recognized internationally with the peace divide end and as well referred to as his Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, conquering lion of the tribe of Judah, kings of kings (emperor) of Ethiopia, and “Elect of God.” The aftermath of the battle of Adowa in 1898, before his coming to the throne vanished with the restoration of monarchy as Empressed Zewditu ruled the country as the queen.

It was than when Mesoloni tasted the defeat and was still angered by such defeat at the battle of Adowa and wanted to re-conquer the Ethiopia one more time. Haile Selassie maintained to advocate for “collective Security and the League of Nations, 1936. Failure to accomplice, the second resistance was launched and so the emperor was exiled to Britain. While in exile, the emperor did not stop campaigning for his own country until receiving a special attention from the anti-colonialists and colonialists alike. The force of Gideon was dispatched, Commonwealth of Nations contributed, free France free Belgium contributed. A defeat was conceded by the Italy and the first public addresses after many years in exile read:

“Today is the day on which we defeated our enemy. Therefore, when we say let us rejoice with our hearts; let not our rejoicing be in any other way but in the spirit of Christ. Do not return evil for evil. Do not indulge in the atrocities, which the enemy has been practicing in his usual way, even to the last. Take care not to spoil the good name of Ethiopia by acts which are worthy of the enemy. We shall see that our enemies are disarmed and sent out the same way they came. As saint George who killed the dragon is the patron saint of our army as well as of our allies, let us unites with our allies in everlasting friendship and amity in order to be able to stand against the godless and cruel dragon which has newly risen and which is oppressing mankind.”(Wiki)

However, the 1974 regime claimed the throne by assassinating the Emperor. The tyrant leader harbored the socialist style of dictatorship and ruled the country for 19 years. Than to further develop the country, Ethiopia, little progress if nothing at all, was seen. But still, Ethiopia was remarkably known for its poorest condition that inflated the rise of commodities.

Than for Mangistu Haile Mariam to think of laying a proper platform and harmonized Ethiopians for common objective, he then looked farthest to become the second Hailey Silasia. Hailey Silasia did not demand praises from people by force, but through good deeds and his services to the throne and to God. For him (Mangistu), he would have just followed the same path as “Ellect of God” than to murder 40s comrades in the army in order to hike his way out to the top. Dictatorship is meaningless!

Now that the big fishes of the 1960s to 80s did something tangible that we could even promote in our modern time. The fight for African identities at various locations throughout Africa could be our latest tool of unity for service delivery and discouragement of Africans suffering. Aid dependency should be discouraged although it means more than we could offer as Africans; it is yet something that deserve stoppage. Thank goodness to the emperor for sending $1,000 dollar to support Britain during the flooding period, but did Africa at large send aid to other countries instead? It is imperative to send aide in support to any suffering countries, but that should be done only when we know that Africa as a continent is well off, given the situation.

Not to disapprove of what did our African leaders plant, but little can be known about them? The formation of the African Union came to light with objective of solving the African affairs, intensified the African vision for future development and retaining by sustaining the national identity as Africans. Seeing from the lane of political harmony, yes the leaders created a very important idea; an idea that can be used to tackle tangible issues relating to the development of Africa. Continental trading can be managed through it, political settlement can be created through it, the African policy can be consolidated through it, the continental security can be consolidated through it and most of all the economic growth throughout the continent as a whole can be shaped to facilitate various sectors of concerns so that Africa become a full independent to herself.

However, shallow political stratification, and poor bipartisanship began to incline and distorted the foreseen objective like harmonized in the 60s. Sometimes, the very people that fought to be freed became the people that continued to talk about European domination, Arab dominations, not knowing that once the enemy is defeated, the independency has gained its ground because the obstacle is gone.

African educational achievement and scientific facts

When we look to ourselves, one would never underestimate the achievement of the Africa when it comes to comparing our educational achievement with other countries. Believe it or not, Africans are gifted people if we could produce these genius people with such achievement in their educational struggle to uplift the name of Africa into the world level, what else could possibly prevent us from any future growth? Educational achievements, and the achievers: Imhotep (fl. 27th century BC), an Egyptian polymath, Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905), an Egyptian jurist, religious scholar and liberal reformer, regarded as the founder of Islamic Modernism, Sameera Moussa (1917-1952), an Egyptian nuclear scientist, Modibo Mobhammed Al Kaburi a scholar, Cadi and jurist, and university professor, from Timbuktu, Mali, Cheikh Anta Diop (1923-1593), a Senegalese historian, anthropologist, physicist and politician, Ahmad Baba (1556-1627), a medieval West African, scholar, and political provocateur, Thebe Medupe (b. 1973), a south African astrophysicist and founding director of astronomy Africa, Berhane Asfaw, an Ethiopian paleontologist, Giday Wolde Gabriel, an Ethiopian scientist geologist, Sydney Brenner (b.1927), a South African biologist, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Christiaan Barnard (1922-2001), a south African cardiac surgeon, who performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant. And Haile Debas (b. 1937), an Eritrean who achieved national recognition as a gastrointestinal investigator and made original contributions to the physiology, biochemistry, and Pathophysiology or gastrointestinal peptide hormones (Wikipedia).

A moment of silent is needed here. The genius made a history. To you as a leader or an intellectual with gut of feeling the paint of why Africa is the way it is than to further her vision. You would completely realize that something is lacking. But when I look back to these people and what they have done although for self-gain, I concluded that they had done the most spectacular things for the name of their continent. If as Africans could think of their work although not intended for Africa continent, the Africans in present would begin to realize that the continent has done more. Such kind of progresses made, shouldn’t be left…albeit by the very leaders who think that Africa continent has been a nursed baby for centuries from other continents, and that it should be transformed, come what may. They could have gathered in the name of Africa whether through a unified body like AU to move Africa into the next level internationally than to just focus their attention on self-gain. Also, if the African leaders think of establishing a scientific foundation where they could pour enough money for scientific purpose shouldn’t that step moved Africa continent and competitively become the world’s leading continent in everything? Look, we have iron ore, copper, gold, uranium, diamond, oil in a huge reserve, fertile land that can feed the whole world, and wildlife reserve throughout Africa that daily make Africa continent tourists site. If such things exist, their existence would mean Africa we know if good for anything and that we should utilize their existence in a good way, should mean we can develop quickly. However, this may come by employing the modern technology for the postmodern development than to be seen crying, we need aide.

Comments from outsiders, None African leaders

Thank goodness to Mr. Bill Clinton, who recently commented in March 1998 to make his point clear to Africans that he could see the new generation leaders of Africa to employ democracy as a tool to tackle the injustice. His comments, if put into a careful analysis, one would begin to realize that Mr. Clinton, challenged the African leaders that “the Africa you know isn’t the Africa we know.” It is the Africa others know as rubbish and has nothing special to be found in. The fact of the matter is African leaders need not be reminded for their own goods (e.g., leadership quality, innovative thinking, development oriented thinking, promotion of human service and more importantly equal distribution in fairness). More comments have been made by developed nations’ leaders against the African leaders. None of these comments were said in disregard of the administration in Africa.

Yes we have hardworking leaders who deserved to be credited for the job well done, but on the other hands, they are the most notorious leaders of all who don’t look to themselves as human like others, but referred to themselves as small gods and can be worshipped by the people in such locations. Don’t they know why Africa needed to be transformed?

I believe Africa is rich like I know. We have good leaders and some bad ones who just need little reorientation through a strong body. We have educated people who can do a profound job, be it mental capacity or physical capacity. The capability of Africans in term of applying manpower is great and can be seen from the far. The innovative thinking we have is outstanding and cannot be compared to anything. But, the love for leadership and greed that engulf them shortly after assuming the leadership is as bad as rubbish. So, if we can’t make a good use of our natural God given resources for positive gain and agitate others that help us help us!!! Who are we to claim that Africa we know is a good place to be, that we cannot be corrected by other that Africa looks more crocked. Do I deserve to concoct my gun and kill a brother for something that I will never breeds or do I have to just say, brother let get together and share this little I have for we would all end up in the same spot together. Think of Julius Nyerere and his Ujamma policy!

I don’t think it is a good idea to see the western world sit and discuss things that needed to be done in Africa than the African themselves for their own success. As Africans, here comes the conclusion that praising our leaders for job they did not do is a way of encouraging others to fall on the same line. Also, giving out a credit to one that does goods is even more important so that some leaders might follow because it is an assurance to let them know that they have done something special for the common good of the nation and the entire continent. Nelson Mandela is our example like all other fighters. He is a man most accepted by many for the job well done. His legacy will live forever. Dictator like President Mugabe, President Bashir, President Esayas Afiweku and Meless Zinawe are the bad examples in Africa. If there is no leadership rotation how stability would comes or how would people exercise good governance and experience transparency in a good way? The big Dudes deserve little credit, but their hard work pay them little respect as well. They are our leaders either in a good way or bad ways. Some days one will be held accountable for his own deeds. Do we agree that corruption is rampaging in the nascent nation (South Sudan); it is another setback to our African vision. A caution must be considered to stop the inexperienced self-proclaimed politicians whom are just there to loot the public assets for their self-gain. Sincerely, Kiir Mayardit is a man of vision, but corrupted by the elements within the administration. I hope, he will find his own way and join with the likeminded good African leaders with great legacy now and forever. He must think of what to do before 2015 election and save the nascent nation. Also, I know and believe that African leaders have a proposed achievable mission and vision in this 21st century. If they do, what is it? However, cry not Africa we know is Africa we know; it is the Africa we don’t know if we don’t fulfill the continent’s expectation. Do we?

NOTE: The Opinions expressed herein are entirely for the author of the article. The Upper Nile Times has no authority on the contents published here.

The Upper Nile Times

Nhial Korow Wicleek

Is a commentator for The Upper Nile Times. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Canadian University College in Lacombe, Alberta. He is currently doing graduate work in Professional Community Rehabilitation & Disability Studies at University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta. You can reach him for any question/comments at korow1st@yahoo.ca


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