Africa has been described time and again, as the ‘creator of mankind’. For those of you who have been to Africa and those of you who have not, its one of the most beautiful, resource-rich and fascinating regions of the world. Anthropologists and other Scientists around the world are now unanimous that the human race originated in Africa. However, even with these blessings, Africa has continued to remain a continent of enormous upheaval – wars, diseases, poverty, genocides, on a horrific scale. Former UN secretary general, Boutros Boutros-Ghali once said that Africa is in danger of becoming a “lost continent”. One problem that has been identified as the cause of Africa’s decollate, is BAD LEADERSHIP.
From 1960 till date, Africa has had close to 229 heads of states. Only less than 20 of that number can be said to be inspirationally transformative. What this means is that a vast majority of the leaders in Africa, from 1960 till date, completely failed their people and that a vast majority of the African people still lives under an explosive hardship. Out of over 1 billion people in Africa, only few are economically stable and can boast of three square meal a day – the number gets worst day-on-day.
There are two type of Africans – the ones that understands the true definition and meaning of accountability, transparency and democracy. They don’t wait for government to do things for them and they sure don’t know how to dilly-dally with corruption but instead they work hard, day and night, to get not just themselves but also other misfortune ones too, out of the pernicious impoverishment they find themselves. I call these set of Africans “The New Breed of Africans”. The salvation of the continent rests on their shoulder. In contrast, the other type of Africans are the ruling elites who for decades, are stuck in their intellectual pouch and conspiracy. They sit in their cloud nine spaces, complaining of colonialism and imperialism, doing nothing to take ‘resultful’ control of the massive human, natural mineral resources the continent is blessed with, and turning them into a productive venture for both them, the people and the continent. Economic reform, political reform, critical infrastructural development and provision of better life for the people through good governance, are never their ultimate goal. They benefit from the rotten status quo and are lazy because to them, they have nothing else to fall back to the moment they decide to change the ill-shaped status quo.
Uncountable number of Africans are angry. Really and deeply angry about the condition of Africa. A continent that’s not poor. One rich in mineral resources, natural mineral resources. But the mineral wealth of Africa is not being utilised to lift its people out of poverty. There are so many people, so many organisations, and so many governments willing and ready to help Africa – an Africa and Africans they don’t understand. And just before you get me wrong, am not saying Africa shouldn’t be helped. Helping Africa is noble. But doing this has turned the continent into a fear of the absurd. Its like the blind leading the clueless. In some of my Africa-centered articles, I have repeatedly stated that Africa’s begging bow leaks. Over 4o% of the wealth created here in Africa is not invested here in Africa. Its taken out of Africa, according to the World Bank.
For anyone – foreign organisations, interested individual sympathisers, governments etc, to be able to help save Africa, they must know where the real, help-needing Africans are. Three broad sectors or economy exist in Africa – the modern, traditional and informal sector. The modern sector is where the elites are and quite frankly, this sector is already lost. Donor organisations or development partners empty their purse in this sector. More than 80% of Ivory Coast aide in 2013, 2014 and 2015, went into the modern sector. The traditional and informal sector are where you find the majority of the African people, the real people in Africa. And obviously it makes common sense that if you want to help the people, you go to where the people are. The traditional and informal sector is where Africa positions agriculture so you tell me, how then can Africa feed itself given the X-rayed structure? This is exactly the very reason why annually, Africa spends over 200 billion dollars on food import. You cannot develop Africa by ignoring the traditional and informal sector and you can’t adequately develop these two sectors without an operational understanding of how they both work.
In Nigeria for example, and this is the same for all African countries, the gap between the rich and the poor is very wide. The parallel level of injustice remain on the rise and what the people keep asking for isn’t been provided. The conspiracy of the elites in Africa against their people is so deep, old and enjoyable to them so much so they never ever want to let go. A way out is needed and newer, more change-minded vessels are needed to carry on with this torch.
Am not writing Africa off – that’s not my intention and that’s not the point of this piece. Agreed, most countries in Africa have made some significant progress on things like infant mortality, maternal health, and gender equity in education and government. However, many African governments need to do quite a lot more work in the area of accountability and transparency. There’s the need for energy and electrification which has become even more critical today than it was yesterday. As it stands right now, Africa has a very small number of really wealthy people, a modest but growing middle class, and a vast number of poor who are largely rural but urbanising. A well thought-out, principled planning based on gathered data is needed to better develop livable cities with good sanitation even in poorer neighborhoods. 75 per cent of Africa’s population are youths. About 62 per cent are unemployed and the remnant, underemployed. Creation of sufficient jobs for the growing youth population is a thing that must happen now and not later. Truth is, the current crop of leaders have successfully proven that they cannot achieve these fundamental needs of Africans – the challenge practically rest on the tiny shoulders of the continent’s new breeds. So unless they want the many-motion-but-no-movement status of Africa to continue, then they have to take up this challenge. The dark days of the quark revolutionaries, vampires, corruption lovers, kickback-takers and narcissistic personality disorder tyrants are over. Takeover period is here.
Young African leaders, do not let the words of Boutros Boutros-Ghali come through. Do not let Africa become a “lost continent”. The ball is now in your court. Failing the next generation of Africans is not an option.
God bless Africa.
*Okoroafor is a good governance advocate and civil rights activist; the founder of OpinionNigeria.com and a strategic team member for #BringBackOurGirls.