Who is Responsible for Our Miserable Lives
Our Colonialist, Our Leaders, or Ourselves?
It is now more than a half century since most of the African counties had their so-called independence, but, the painful truth is, Africans are yet to be freed from the agonizing economic shambles and shackles they have been going through for ages; and the fact of the matter remains that there isn’t much hope that they will get anywhere better soon under the circumstances. (Photo: Author – Ibrahim Sillah, Lecturer, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
I have called the African independence so-called simply because majority of the African states are still woefully writhing and wallowing under the disdainful and scornful yoke of the so-called neo-colonialism and imperialism of the Western powers who, despite their awareness of the abundant embedded riches in the African continent, deliberately continue to exert every effort possible to ensure that we are kept kneeling under their feet, with unquestionable humility, to help us get our day-to-day survival needs. The West are unflinchingly bent on their incessant pursuit of instilling the inferiority complex into Africans and thus making them believe that they are doomed to live in misery, as if to say that Africans were created from a lower quality of genetics and hence should forever view the White Man, with reverence, as their eternal masters, superiors and guardians.
For the most part, the above facts have been the case, as far as African development and renaissance is concerned. The condescending and master to slave attitudes are the prevalent norm whenever our African leaders meet the Western powers. This is so because we Africans have time and again demonstrated that we cannot stand on our legs upright; rather, we should at all times be seen limping with bowing heads before our colonial masters if we are to gain any favor of any nature from them. Nevertheless, for African leaders to cease unnecessarily humbling themselves, they must learn to stand on their feet stretching their begging hands to no creatures or entities. However, they can only reach that height when they get economically independent to a great extent. And there is no reason as to why they cannot attain that edge, provided they are serious in their pursuit of being self-reliant.
In this regard, additional the questions that may come to mind are as follows: How can’t we remain subservient and beggars when we are bent on crucifying one another for flimsiest and most trivial reasons? How can’t we be seen at the end of the development index or queue while our leaders have deliberately failed to exploit the God-given natural resources for the progress and general welfare of their nations? How would our countries be developed whilst our leaders have ignominiously failed to provide their people their basic rights? How can our leaders think of developing their countries while they are devoid of any patriotic feelings? How can we rise economically while our leaders are embroiled and bent, in earnest, on looting our resources and revenues to enrich themselves, considering themselves the most blessed children of their nations? How can African people be deemed food sufficient while our endless fertile lands remain unfarmed and uncultivated, as if we are molded to forever bask in laziness, poverty and misery? Why do African leaders not search for viable solutions to the colossal ordeals and hurdles engulfing their nations? Why do our African leaders ignore their oft-sugar-coated and white elephant manifestos with which they fool the illiterate and naïve masses to get them in power? Why, after their election, African leaders and their ministers make it a priority to avail themselves of every opportunity to stock their pockets with their tax payers’ money and revenues of their countries, as if the enrichment of themselves were the sole goal of their election and appointment? Why do African presidents get oblivious of the fact that they will someday have to climb down the echelon of power as they had climbed it up? Last but not least, why do our African leaders take their nations for granted thinking that masses are dumb-founded fools who cannot see things in their real perspectives, or cannot even dare ask the questions as to why their educational and economic status should stay static and stagnant?
Indeed, the above are some plausible questions any African somehow conscious of their birth rights should attempt to ask. It chagrins one to realize that among all the continents on earth Africa is unanimously viewed as the poorest and most undeveloped continent on the surface earth, notwithstanding its various natural resources with which it is abundantly endowed.
Of course, needless to say, bad leadership and corruption are largely believed to be the main factors and causes of our woes and miseries. According to Transparency International, Sub-Saharan African is the only region of the world where poverty, instead of diminishing, has increased in the past 25 years and half of the African continent’s population lives on less than 1 USD per day. The group further states that the thirty-two of the world’s 38 Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) are in Africa. The bitter truth is that African countries are so indebted that the generations yet to be born will have to inherit some or most of the economic problems bequeathed to them by their unpatriotic and incompetent leaders.
In addition to bad leadership and corruption, protracted armed conflict, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and declining terms of trade for non-mineral primary products continue to exacerbate the existing host of economic problems facing the continent.
To further sadden the African nations, findings have proven that our leaders are so corrupt that some of them have mortgaged their countries’ resources for their personal use. Many of our African leaders, while seated the highest offices in their countries and while they are believed to be working for the interest and general welfare of their nations, acquire properties in the developed countries with resources that should be utilized to make life better for citizens of their countries. Sadly enough, there are a host of Mobutu Sese Sekos ( the former President of Zaire-now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in the midst of our African leaders.
However, some may conclude that the African masses are somehow the real architects of their perpetual miseries simply because they have either conditioned themselves or have allowed themselves to get conditioned to do with whatever meager livelihood they happen to get available. Most Africans go unfed without realizing that their governments are mostly responsible for their pathetic and miserable lives, because many a time they have been fooled and lured into believing that the most essential thing in politics is just to have their tribal men at the helm of power. For such masses, once that mission gets fulfilled, they do not care much about any betterment and improvement their leaders are basically responsible for contributing to their status.
Well, one may not cast much blame on the masses perhaps because of their vulnerability or because of the rampant illiteracy in the midst of our African people. And, of course, education, which is deemed to be the core factor behind the developmental processes of any nation, is virtually not given due consideration in many countries in Africa. In some African countries, the rate of illiteracy goes as high as 70%. Hence, for heaven’s sake, when and how do you envisage African countries with such high illiteracy rates, coupled with bad governance, can make any headway towards improving their lot?
Elsewhere, some quarters strongly believe that the onus of development should not squarely be placed on the African leaderships simply because they are ruling nations who can only be likened to a dead horse. Such leaders would ask such questions. How can you develop a country or countries whose nations do not have an iota of ambition to upgrade or make better their living conditions by any means? That is to say, how can you help someone who is not at all willing to help himself? They ( the leaders) would conclude that such masses might, until now, have not heard of John F. Kennedy’s famous statement: “Don’t think of what your country can do for you, but think of what you can do for your country”. With the ingrained culture of dependency rampant in the midst of African communities, how can you expect our leaderships to instill the spirit of growth and progress into such deeply slumbering souls, whose sole concern might be just to get their daily mouthful food stuff, something to keep them alive until the following day? It is mostly in Africa where you can find a bunch of family members and others solely depending on one individual in the family for their daily feeding and for other services. Indeed, such is an unhealthy gross situation. Africans must learn how to be self-reliant.
We oftentimes blame our leaderships for our inadequacies and miseries, where as if we objectively screen ourselves, we will definitely find ourselves wanting and lacking in so many aspects. Take the United States of America as a good example where you can be whatever you want to be, depending entirely on the nature of efforts that you make towards attaining your goals. I think such is the case in many places in the world whereby, if one strives hard, they can make their dreams come true. Many believe that, to change our status quo for the better, Africans must tighten their belts to be positive and diligent citizens relying on themselves, and thereby cease to hold their leaderships accountable for all their miseries. It is a hard fact that there are wasted talents in Africa partly because our leaders or/and the concerned authorities or bodies have grossly failed to make use of such talents and partly because we have ignominiously failed to stand as a match to our ambitions by exerting the efforts required to make our dreams come true.
On the other hand, many would still conclude that our leaderships are exclusively responsible for making their citizens grow with such backward lackadaisical attitudes. African governments should provide mechanisms to ensure that citizens are not idling aimlessly. This can possibly be by making available various vocational institutes, IT institutions, scientific research facilities and agricultural opportunities. In short, our leaderships should make the required professional studies whose findings will clearly indicate areas of vital importance with respect to the short and long-term general welfare of their nations. That done, African governments should gear their efforts towards the thorough planning and mapping out of strategies that can change the living conditions of their citizens for the better. This is what our leaderships MUST embark upon to prove their merit to the seats they are occupying right now; otherwise their chairs would be worthless. A true and patriotic leader should strive to leave behind him/her a legacy for which they should gleefully remembered. Popularity of a leader is not a criterion for him/her to be viewed as a national hero or heroine.
African brothers and sisters can you all see how grave and appalling our situation is? Can you figure out the magnitude of the dilemma we are living in? Kindly help suggest more viable solutions to our nightmare? Now is the time for us to objectively and constructively think about how best we can make our continent comfortably livable so that we will soon cease seeing the White man’s land or the Middle East or anywhere else on earth as the best place to live in. Let’s have pride and confidence in ourselves, our capabilities and potentials and utilize them for the betterment of Africa-our God-given green continent.
by: Ibrahim Sillah, Lecturer, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
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