A few months ago, I sat so engrossed in whatever it is I was watching. My brothers were also as interested as I was. Apparently, America’s mid-year election was up and talks on abortion (pro-choice or pro-life), the need for climate change, Trump’s economic revival, women making the headines like Alexandria Ocacio-Cartez (mostly talks on Democrat’s trying to push the women agenda) and of course, the alleged case(s) of rigging was on the lips of many.
I was particularly captivated by how the electioneering process took place. Candidates obviously had to sell their ideas to the populace. Through this, people supported in volunteerism, through cash and others merely sold the vision to get others to tag along. Mesmerized by the white man’s beautiful ways of properly conducting elections, I gazed falling in love with politics once again.
It was in these moments I reflected on my own country, Ghana. We recite, I promise on my honour to be faithful and loyal to Ghana my mother land usually. I must say, the National Pledge and Anthem has been reduced to nothing more than a mere song and just a recital. We take deep oaths to do our very best to see our country prosper. Well our lips say so but our hearts don’t. This is not the case of my beloved motherland Ghana alone.
An excerpt of the Nigerian anthem also reads;
“The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain, to serve with heart and might.”
“To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.”
In Angola, the chorus of their anthem reads; “Forward Angola! Revolution through the power of the people! A United Country, Freedom, One People, One Nation!”
Eritreans sing; “The supreme dedication that brought us freedom, will serve to rebuild her and develop her, we shall honor her with progress, it is our legacy to crown her.”
Tanzanians sing; “God bless Africa. Bless its leaders. Wisdom, unity and peace. These are our shields Africa and its people.”
Almost every lyric responds to the need for the African people to be united. It also pushes for the progress of its land by its owners. Sadly, Africa has done and continues to do the total opposite of what it acknowledges should be done. I sat sadly, gazing admiringly and asking so many questions.
I was unapologetically fed up with claims that the white man was the problem. Blaming the white man was or is just a ploit to ignorantly say that, even though I live in my country, I expect the white man to develop it for me. We have so much power but we sell it cheaply and blame the white man for prioritizing his country over ours. It’s absolutely impossible to develop if we don’t change.
I was bothered and so I asked:
Why should a continent highly endowed with resources be the world’s hub of poverty?.
Why should a continent so rich, be so poor?.
Has Africa been affected by the resource curse?
Why should my Africa promote cultural norms that endangers women and children?.
This leaves me thinking that, it is not necessarily resources that makes a country rich but the ability of its citizens to maximize what they have or utilize and have total control over it, is what makes a country rich. Maybe the average African man/woman doesn’t value what they have enough to know how to maximize it. Truly, without the acknowledgment of the value of something, abuse becomes inevitable. As I reflected on all the bad, I also looked at the way forward. The Africa I want trains and empowers its citizens to be better, know better and do better. The Africa I want indulges in and promotes the right kind of culture across borders. The Africa I want stands for justice, political stability, accountability and patriotism. The Africa I want doesn’t endorse Xenophobia or Genocide but tolerates and listens to eachother. The Africa I want promotes peace and hope. Maybe the Africa I want will only be possible if I stand up and do what I say. Somehow, like the little drops of water, someday that change could happen.
One of the many badges of dishonor Africa wears , is the badge that spells corruption boldly written on it. It appears to me that, the more an African President wields power, the more corrupt the individual is. Perhaps, Lorde Acton; Catholic Historian, Writer and Politician said it more profoundly when he likened absolute power to one’s susceptibility to corruption.
Leadership under such leaders is characterized by suspension of the constitution which results in human rights abuse, totalitarianism and dictatorship, looting of government funds and political instability.
There’s a long list of African leaders who have either wielded political power for decades, misappropriated funds or have overthrown others through coup. They are:
Sani Abacha of Nigeria (Defacto President of Nigeria from 1993-1998)
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (He was President for nearly 40 decades)
Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan (He led Sudan from 1989-2019, before being toppled by army)
Idi Amin Dada of Uganda (He was popularly known as “Butcher of Uganda” due to his incessant desire to kill. He was a Ugandan military leader and dictator who led his country from 1971- 1979)
Jose Edwardo Dos Santos of Angola (He led his country from 1979-2017)
Ignatius Kutu Acheampong of Ghana (He led a bloodless coup d’ètat to overthrew Dr. Busia’s democratically elected government under Prorgress Party)
Idriss Debry of Chad (He’s been President of Chad since 1990)
Charles Taylor of Liberia (He led his country from 1997-2003 . He’s been charged for war crimes and crime against humanity)
and Mobutu Sese Soko of Congo (He led Congo from 1965 -1997) , in fact the list is long.
What’s more disheartening is the attitude of citizens towards politics. Due to the high level of unemployment, illiteracy and poverty some citizens rather buy into the myopic ideas of Politicians. Before politics or leadership, every individual is first a citizen. Unfortunately, the politics of the day is a reflection of who the citizens are. If citizens are corrupt, its likely leaders will be corrupt. In the African man/woman’s dictionary is the question: why go through the process when you can take the easier way out? This reminds me of Mathew 7: 13-14, where the King of Kings admonishes that many are excited mostly about the wide gate. This is where many choose. It doesn’t guarantee eternal freedom which is permanent but it does guarantee earthly freedom which is temporary. The African man/woman loves to be happy but for a moment. Some citizens don’t pay taxes but blame the government for everything that is wrong with their country.
Corruption has been normalized so much to the extent that some citizens from certain African countries such as Nigeria are noted for fraud. According to Punch Newspaper, Nigeria loses 30% of its resources to procurement fraud. The most popular form of fraud is internet fraud or scamming. Just recently, the US authorities charged 80 people (of which a large number were Nigerian nationals) with participating in conspiracy to steal millions of dollars. Reports claim suspects used email fraud and romance scams to target its victims.
Instead of bringing up the rear, we are rather grooming youngsters to hold the same poisonous values to high esteem.
II. Social Injustice
Rwanda is fast becoming a giant of Africa, not because of its present but its past. Rwandan Genocide claimed many lives and destroyed the very foundations on which the people of Rwanda could build on. What looked like a herculean task has inherently become a new joy in the hearts of the people of Rwanda. The many social injustices that happen doesn’t have beautiful ends like that of Rwanda’s. In 1994, some South African persons killed foreigners for coming to their country to take away their jobs, establish businesses and live comfortably whiles they did otherwise. They stormed into shops and homes, killing other African foreigners. This was as distasteful as it is now. This is the same story of Africa in 2019.
Social injustices such as rape, kidnap and murder has become the story of Africa. South African women have taken to social media to name and shame rapists. Each day, at least 20 cases of kidnap is reported in South Africa. Sadly, the victims are always found dead. One of such stories is that of young 19 year old Uyinene Mrwetyana. She disappeared suspiciously and was eventually found brutally raped and murdered. Women in South Africa are just dying for merely existing. Every day, two out of three women are raped in South Africa. It is sad how people are only noticing the rape culture now. This was happening daily. Women have continuously spoken up about this but it looks like no one listened to them but themselves.
In Ghana and Nigeria, cases of kidnap has become worse, with girls and women being the most affected. Three girls, mysteriously got missing in Takoradi (Ghana) only to be found dead later.
According to the United Nations(U.N), the home is also very unsafe for women as reports of murder and domestic violence continue to rise. Women feel very unsafe everywhere.
It comes as no surprise that feminism has become a means to educate many individuals on the many issues of women in the society especially consent.
In South Sudan, men rape women for the mere pleasure of it. Rape is seen as a necessity. This country records very high rates of violence against women and children. Gangs rape just anyone as a means to prove their masculinity-toxic masculinity. This ritual means one becomes fit to be a member. Social injustice is another major problem in Africa.
III. Electoral Processes
Electioneering processes are mostly characterized by rigging, gerrymandering and vote buying. Some Politicians make sure power and control revolves around what they say. They control power so much that, it affects every known structure. In some instances, Politicians twist the constitution to suit their selfish desires. In countries where the party system allows competition from other political parties, leaders in power practically rig their way back to power using mostly embezzled government funds. Such is seen under Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-Patriotic Front Party and Mobutu Sese Soko’s Popular Movement of the Revolution.
Some just become so power drunk that they suspend the constitution. They become shrewd dictators who know nothing but to loot and share. It is due to poor governance and sadly, sometimes poor treatment of the Police that usually leads to coup d’états.
Something that consciously, every individual is very much aware of, even the perpetuators know so well that, it could destroy their country.
Elections need to be very free, fair and open for every eligible voter. Let’s be very honest with ourselves, for elections to be free and fair, we need to make that decision ourselves and consciously build and promote structures that are either already in place or need to be created.
IV. Spectators not Citizens
Patriotism isn’t exactly a virtue instilled in citizens. Many born into this system, leave their countries instead of ‘wasting away’ in a country (or countries) that does not put the needs of the citizens into consideration. “Citizens and not spectators” popularly coined by the famous President of Ghana during his inauguration as President. President Nana Akuffo Addo definitely knew the reality. The reality was that in his country and mine, citizens complain of filth they created themselves and choked gutters they use daily. He knew that citizens bribe their way to get what they want. He knew that no matter how much he did, it wouldn’t take his efforts alone for his country to do better.
Most citizens are spectators. They are just people waiting for change from everyone else but themselves. They want Civil Servants and Government Appointees to change, they want Politicians and Leaders to change but the average citizen believes they don’t need the change they want to see. Whiles change is very important, citizens look in all the wrong places for that change to happen.
The African I want to see isn’t the one who loves to see other developed countries and calls out her leader to do same but fights to make her own communities better.
The African I want to see doesn’t call her leader corrupt because she’s bribed her way out a few times, but well her leader does it a lot so she’s the corrupt one. The one I want to see does differently even when the world goes left.
The African I want to see is prepared for change. She accepts positive change and growth. She isn’t overwhelmed by change but believes that she needs to be a pacesetter.
The African I want to see is empathetic. She doesn’t rob her needs and problems on the face of others when they talk about theirs.
The African I want to see doesn’t uphold patriarchy. Patriarchy is that institution that was created to destroy men and women. My Africa recognizes that there’s a problem with gender and that said looks for solutions to those problems. My African knows that one of the major problems of societal injustices is as a result of the problems surrounding gender.
What is Africa without the African? If we can change then it starts with us. The white man and woman keep doing it for themselves. If Africa can change, then we would have to change our mindset, that it is the white man’s job to make our continent a better one.
The change starts with you!