Sunday, April 21, 2024

African governments must stand with one another

In the past several decades, Africa has experienced calamitous events, bringing great damage and destruction along with it.

Some of these disasters, including floods as well as diseases, have been deadly and not only destroyed infrastructure but took thousands of human lives.

Whilst we do not have some of the answers to prevent such events, it is however the bush-league mentality and behaviour of our governments that leave a lot to be desired.

I have always wondered, and still do, why Africa acts as if it is united.

African governments pretend to be united in words during their barren and boring summits, yet the reality is that they are disjointed in deeds. If only the words spoken could translate into action and deeds, then Africa could be a far much better place. This picture of lack of care for their citizens becomes vividly clearer when disaster strikes an African country. Although the generosity of the West and European countries should be applauded during such times of economic and human calamity, it also exposes our cockeyed weakness as Africa.

Please, do not get me wrong, I approve of the much needed assistance Africa receives from foreign countries, but it is this attitude we have developed as Africans whereby we cannot stand with one another during the rough times that bothers me because it makes us not wish or care to help a neighbour. We wait for aid to come our way from external actors.

A good example is the outbreak of Ebola which left thousands of graves across West Africa in a very short spate of time.

The USA, China and Canada, amongst others, sent their elite army units and financial aid to Liberia to help fight the scourge whilst African militaries stood by and did nothing. As concerned citizens, we have to pause and think about what such a trend means and its likely effect in the long-term.

There is no doubt that foreign aid also promotes reliance on others other than ourselves.

If our leaders cannot stand with one another, what message are they sending to the general populace? No wonder, a majority of Africans rely on handouts from Europe and the West instead of striving for empowerment.
It is this same approach at play that we see being practiced by our leaders and it is fearlessly trickling down into the citizens of Africa.

However this is not surprising especially when we consider the behaviour of our governments.

The ECOWAS bloc employed a sleepy approach when Boko Haram killed people like flies and emptied villages. It is only now that Chad is taking a lead in the fight because it too is under threat, while Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will need more than good luck in fighting the insurgents.

Closer to home, the SADC bloc is supposed to be a group of countries linked together by common policies, but time has proved that this is largely a superficial bloc with individual desires. This has been proven by the way they mediated in the Zimbabwean crisis.

We wait to see what miracle they will bring in Lesotho as the leaders involved in these mediations are, themselves, far from clean.

African effectiveness should not be dependent so much on what external actors can bring and do in Africa, but how integrated we are as Africans, to be there for one another.

Although there is a rush by African governments to move beyond regional blocs and into the global mainstream, I would rather suggest that they invest and do more locally to integrate Africa.

The still-remote idea of unity must be resuscitated in order for Africa to blend with one another. No African country, including South Africa, the originator of the slogan “African solutions to African problems” has yet managed to look around locally for any ills afflicting it or the region.

A simple example is how African governments responded to the plea to raise $50 million to fend off hunger in the Horn of Africa. The sluggish response was worrisome and goes down in history as an indication of the greed, corruption and care free attitudes of African leaders most of whom have personal wealth that exceeds their countries.

We can no longer be fooled into believing that Africa is a continent of the poor. African governments have economic and financial clout but they simply mismanage it, mostly to quench their personal enormous appetite for money through corrupt means.

From the billions in profits being made in Nigeria’s oil being enjoyed by the few wealthy ones, to the millions in diamond revenue being pocketed by Zimbabwean politicians, evidence is everywhere that Africa can manage to solve some of these problems if there was accountability.

Africa is, indeed, rich.

I am not so much concerned with the history and what we have gone through as Africa, but am agitated by the fact that this continent-wide obnoxious behaviour will continue unabated into the dark future unless we do something about it now.

The riffraff on the African political front should be a sobering daily reminder that we are indeed a society of individualists hell bent on what we can benefit than lose in the economic puzzle.

And that is where the problem begins.

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