Africa and Development; illusions and reality

Adeola Aderounmu

 Do Africans know that the development of Africa beyond what it is today rest solely on the shoulders of Africans? It has become a ridicule really to see African leaders looking up to what has been called the developed countries for salvation of the ugly situations that they have put the African continent into.  

It is very unfortunate that African leaders have used their corruption and ineptitudes to confine the continent to a lag growth phase of perpetual comatose. Now, they are stooping and begging some units called G-8 to help eradicate poverty or HIV. This is part of the ridicule. 

I am beginning to wonder that perhaps Africa would have been a better place if snow does fall on our heads. Perhaps we would have seen the need for technological advancement and our leaders may not have had the need to squander our wealth. The people may have been more vocal than they are now; imagine snow falling on a Nigerian road (characterized by pot-holes) for example and no one is clearing them after 24 hours! Imagine that kind of scenario and a senator pocketing 50 million naira before assuming office. I think the situation would have been different! 

Imagine those helpless market women trying to sell their commodities while the snow is falling. Imagine the policeman taking care of traffic in heavy downpour of snow. With temperatures at the negative end, I think such duties will be considered suicidal. If we had snow in West Africa for example, maybe there will be decent markets and supermarkets where we can shop for food and materials. If the traffic lights are sustained and power supply is constant in Nigeria, we will need policemen on the streets only in emergency situations.   

The absence of snow is not an indicator for “underdevelopment” or third world as African countries are commonly addressed. The greatest single cause of underdevelopment in many African countries is the lack of good governance. Africa is a continent of sit-tight leaders. On the African continent, you have a system that turns ordinary men into wolves as soon as they get to the helm of power. At that point, reasoning seems to depart from these men.  We can read stories and we can see for ourselves how some men have fought for the independence of their countries only to turn around and make slaves of their own people. From Zimbabwe to Nigeria, we see anguish and despair. We see how hopelessness has crept into the lives of people.  

Some African countries are devastated by war simply because of selfish interests, not for any moral or logic. Brothers killing brothers and neighbours eliminating neighbours in the name of tribes! There is a country in Africa that has been without any government for more than 10 years. What difference does it make anyway? Nigeria is governed and yet more than 70% of her 140m population is confined to life time poverty. That is a classic example of failure of governance for more than 40 years!

African leaders and politicians are the obstacles to growth and development in Africa. Majority of them steal money and loot public treasury. Many of them are bad managers and they have no clear vision of where they are taking the people.  

It is very wrong to start looking for help from ordinary unit called G-8 or an imaginary organisation called the International Community. To solve the problems of Africa, African leaders must look inward and begin a soul-searching adventure for their nations.  

Many African countries have fertile land for agriculture; how well have they used this to promote food production and eliminate hunger from the continent? Are Africans not tired of seeing the dehumanizing photos of their babies on NGO and SOS posters worldwide? What a cheap blackmail anyway?! 

The abundance of minerals in Africa cannot be matched by any other continent in the world. How many of these natural deposits have been used for the optimum purpose? Instead African leaders are behind the concept of blood diamond, an evil act that is corroborated by the same international community that they are running to. Are they too blind to see or too daft to reason? I felt sorry for Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka. He was trying to make a case about the selection (there was no election) that took place in Nigeria in April 2007. He met a brick wall at the US congress. I thought Soyinka should know that the US is more concerned about the oil in the Niger Delta than the progress of Nigerians! Did I hear “To hell with those niggers”!  

African intellectuals have continued to participate in the skilled migrant program and the visa lottery program of the developed countries. They have moved away in hundreds and thousands to continue to help the developed countries to develop further. Is it eternally impossible for Africa countries to create the enabling environment for the work force that they trained to stay put in Africa? Why can’t the Africa continent establish institutions that will match and compete with the ones that are used to lure their work force away under the disguise of research collaboration? Have African leaders not yet realized that the best brains in the world come from Africa but they are been utilized by the US and other fast-thinking nations?   

Why are African leaders so devilishly possessive materialistically? Why do they live in mansions and sentenced their fellow citizens to a life in slums? Why do they act like demigod? Why have most of them fail to use the resources of the continents to a good end? In my opinion, I think that the Africa and Africans should start looking for long term solutions to their man-made problems. The earlier we realized that help will not come from outside, the better for us. The sooner we realize that external help is receiving 10 dollars with the right hand through the front door and losing 50 dollars with the left hand through the back door, the better for our own good and that of our children. 

Africans should sit down and think deeply. The world has moved into the 21st century and we need to leave the Stone Age behind. We need a critical examination of our situations and a clear cut approach to our everlasting goals. Africa with the help of their leaders and intellectuals need to move away from “too much talk” to “non-stop action” until we reach the goals and further.   

Africa leaders should stop talking about G-8 and International community. The continent of Africa can be great on her own, but not in isolation from the rest of the world. What about promoting fair trade for our commodities? What about the oil rich countries using their oil resources and agriculture to boost their economy and standard of living and spreading the goodwill across? What about putting a stop to looting and then coughing out all stolen wealth and dedicate that to the good of all? It is possible that some individuals in Nigeria have more money than some state government. This implies that some people in Nigeria may have wealth that surpasses the budget of some smaller countries in Africa! I think this is another aspect of the whole ridicule.  

Some African leaders and politicians loot their national treasury and keep the monies in foreign countries like Switzerland. They make other developed countries richer and spread poverty and hopelessness on their own continent. Is it not possible for Africans to demand justice from those who misrule them and put them on trial for corruption especially?  

Has anyone been following the bad examples from Zimbabwe and Nigeria? All the past leaders that are corrupt in Nigeria are still breathing air of freedom and lavishing stolen wealth and yet some people eat only once a day or not at all. Zimbabwe is a delicate issue and it seems the problem is made complicated by the influence of the British. The sympathy is to the ordinary people of Zimbabwe, they are trapped between the devil and the Dead Sea.    

From Niger, to Ethiopia, to Eritrea, to the Gambia, to South Africa, to the sleeping giant-Nigeria, to the recuperating Liberia and Sierra Leone and to the North of Africa, we should all wake up and stop thinking that we cannot develop without the help of the developed countries. We need them as much as they need us to buy our goods and services on a fair trade level. We need them in the concept of the benefits of international trades, for multilateral co-operations and so on.  

What we don’t need is to go begging when we have not done our homework properly. There will be no need for begging when we do our homework. We don’t need the international musicians to sing into the ears of the unit called G-8. We can make Africa G50+ and we can make ourselves the envy of the world in no time if we define our purpose of existence with the concept of common good. The future of Africa depends on what we decide and what we allow our leaders to do or not do. What we must not allow them to do is to continue to play into the deceitful and invisible hands of the international community. Our hope lies within!