Over the sounds of crickets and frogs in the soft African night in Akute, the halo and the ring of light around the sickled shaped moon up in the sky depicted the serious conditions of the environment. The entire corpus of the African continent merely cosmetics reforms is a suggestive symbolism of the corollary and natural consequence of the continent’s political, economic and social ills. It was like going to the edge of the known world.
As I was putting this piece down, the public power supply went dead, and an eerie silence except for the crickets and the frogs in the ditch out by the road descended on the hippy commune. The continent has suddenly became like a patient suffering from damage to the coronary arteries and in a
near-fatal coronary, whose corpse was barely recognisable.
In a continent that is overcome with grief, deep sorrow caused by the rawness of the violent bruises to its well being and a recovery process that has become complicated and fraught with often unanswerable questions. I sat still listening to the night sounds and wondering whether the African continent would get things right at the twilight of the first decades of the twenty-first century; with its politicians excessive display of political correctness, wild and impetuous and whose hearts were always in wrong places. To add that with the glaring failure of leadership staring the continent in the eye, one didn’t feel much charity for any of them.
In the eye of the world, the continent has inexorably squandered its potentials for greatness, and apart from their histories, the world has found it difficult finding a common denominator or marked difference between the North end and the South side of the continent in terms of dreams, hopes, philosophies, ideals and aspirations, and therefore, do not require a biopic to see that it is a continent whose democracies, aspirations and ambitions were riddled with clichés but fitting – a
small plus against a lot of minuses.
The continent’s lofty dreams and it’s people’s expectations of good hope while contending with poverty, hunger and wrong priorities in a wide continent that has so much to offer in terms of human and material resources leave so much to be desired.Today, in the continent where wrong desires coincide with opportunity and greed seeing anything of ambition and a glowing future through the veil of optimism and hope can be challenging and devastating.
The point one is making here is that its teeming mass of humanity always here had a seemingly unending struggle for civil and human rights, survival, safety and security. Economic forces was no longer been made to control, regulate or direct the attainment and continuous enhancement of its teeming mass of humanity’s prosperity and social well being. Therefore, it was no longer news that:
a). While the Continental economic dependence intensified, its consequences for its people were also intensified.
b). The decline of agricultural production and the increasing dependence on food imports plagued the continent. It has become imperative and necessary to abandon all dreams of economic Independence, and, as a result,
c). The real income of the vast majority of the African population has decreased, particularly, burdened are the poor people either in Malawi, Cairo, Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Benin republic or Cote d’ ivoire and elsewhere on the continent.
d). Manufacturing capital has been crippled, in some cases by capital flight, especially in enterprises that rely on the constricted domestic markets, credit squeeze pervades the financial system, unemployment increases rapidly – as the continent wilynily get futher integrated into the global capitalist system as marginalized, peripheral and subservient members. Thus, the continent struggle for economic Independence has been further postponed as the base for same is being increasingly weakened.
Africa is currently ranked the continent with the highest number of extremely poor people, extreme poverty with hundreds of millions surviving on a little less than a dollar a week. The weak growth in its formal economy suggests that employment at the current pace will be relatively inadequate to reduce poverty. Also the unstructured nature of the informal sectors of its economy coupled with the prevailing harsh conditions, poor power supply and inadequate governments interventions make its whole future outlook bleak.
In the global perspectives, in an easily digestible snapshot of the global economy, all of the African continent featured prominently in the lower rung of a misery index calculated using economic indices, including employment, inflation and bank lending rates minus the percentage change in real GDP per capita. A higher Misery Index to which Africa belonged reflects a higher level of misery, and it’s a simple enough metric that its busy politicians and leaders, without time for extensive economics briefing can understand at a glance.
In the misery that has befallen the continent, it laid prostrate and spread-eagled on the sinking sand like a pinwheel on a stick. Its really difficult to pinpoint what went wrong, but one thing was certain, the general state of pervasive poverty amidst the Technicolor brilliance of confusion that made its peoples hearts rocked in their chests in an imbalance of dismay and incredulity, while waiting for progress and advancement for the continent has become like keeping a vigil for the dead.
The world had begun to feel the worst for this ‘blighted’ continent, whom poverty had practically turned to a Chinese laundry. The air was warm, thick and sultry, the silence in the dark night accentuates the noise of the crickets at the vast wilderness the dark night presented. Its political leaders, an aging class that perpetually aspire to stay relevant with their fat face florid are enjoying the pinnacle of political power and all with righteous indignation too outrageous to be taken too seriously, while fishing for compliments.
With the way things were going and the desperate straits the continent was in, the norm and nostrum put forward to cure the continent’s ills and afflictions, everything and everyone were in tenterhooks and, all in a continent that has become insecure. One could see that for Africans, there was no point in protesting the characters, the situations and circumstances, as it appears Africans prefer to live it. What a strange non-sequitur!
The people seemed too remote to contest their leaders ignorance and profligacies. One tracked and feeble-minded leaders, who do not comprehend expanding wealth or creating wealth, which they viewed as limited and finite. Its painful that the leaders and their followers in the twilight of the 21st century, could not get the message, that the great prosperity so many people enjoyed today in the global economic spheres, is available to everybody.
The village was bathed in a layer of light rain, and with it, the image of the continent’s recession and slow recovery process, one was instantly scared of its future. One’s mind turned to the future the 2020s and beyond will bring forth for Africans. In spite of one’s enthusiasm and incurable optimism, looming ahead was a full throttle danger for the continent, alas! in a generation that enjoyed unprecedented technological, scientific and financial resources. And yet, perhaps, the generation to take Africans to the brink of a [political, economic and environmental] systems breakdown.
The continent was unsure and uncertain, throwing its surrounding pines into unnatural relief and exposing dearths of ideas and discernment which ordinarily should be between a flash of lightning and thunder to deliver its teeming mass of downtrodden from innate sense of hardships. All the leadership require to wash the fear from the peoples systems of being alone in the wilderness, was to be combative with hearts and minds of unflinching granite that brook no contradiction.
But what the continent had were a group of leaders who could not muster enough resolve and resolution. It faltered badly, and is still floundering, fumbling. Faltering, unable to pull in the reins, when they have to, this performances has been largely unimpressive and it appeared going off the rails was the continent’s leaders signature tunes. In all of this, all manners of things have been let and left loose, while the world was enjoying the soap drama sequences – soap after all are supposedly a reflection of real life.
Something was seriously wrong with the African society and its leadership, chronically tensed like a motor that stays revved up. In spite of the continent’s emotional upheavals, disappointment in the leaders, some of the challenges facing the continent and that robs the continent of tranquility, security and safety, includes but not limited to:
a). Financial inequality: the continent’s broken economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite at the expense of the poorest in society, the majority of whom are women.
b). Conflicts: the continent is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.
c). Threats to the Environment: by nature’s design, man and his environment ought to cohabit, but man’s relationship. Its biodiversity
is being lost at mass extinction rates, pollution of the air and sea has become an increasingly pressing threat to human health.
d). Environmental Degradation: as people developed efficient ways of sustaining themselves as advancement in technology and agriculture took new dimensions, throwing up a number of environmental health issues.
e). Human population grew rapidly and that only indicated that additional resources were required to cater for the expansion as cities emerged and took shape from little societies, which created a wedge between people and nature.
f). Also, insect numbers are in steep decline in some lands. Because insects pollinate plants, scientists are now warning of a potential “ecological Armageddon.” Coral reefs are in trouble too. Scientists estimate that about half the world’s reefs have died in the past 30 years.
In the face of the threats the continent must be desirous of changes needed for a safer and more secured existence. To be effective in the fight against the militating challenges. To mitigate the effects on the land and people, any cure must surely address the roots causes of the troubles, not just the symptoms. A cure must do more than address symptoms; it must correct underlying causes.
How can Africans understand itself better and also make sense of its sad history and mitigating factors. Pondering over this, one wonder why peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it. The Leadership thrived on poor advices, raise false hopes and dreams and unrealistic expectations. As one politician after another promises to make things better, but cannot and have not. Their failures are a regular recap of how shallow their depths were and has been. One can’t placed their collective wisdom, even at a time the UN is promoting the concept of “global citizenship”. The reason? As expressed by the UN Chronicle, “Climate change, organized crime, rising inequalities, unresolved conflicts, mass displacement of people, global terrorism, infectious diseases, and similar threats that do not recognize borders. All the leadership should do is to join the bandwagon, at a time its homeless, poor of the poorest and voiceless are being shunted out of existence. One continued to wonder, how Africa came to this sordid pass, with its rich human and material resources and its world fast becoming more strange, spending more money on things and getting less value and satisfaction. While Its people still are hagling for space on a bag of basmatic rice in the quagmire of a beach of poverty, and all forgetting there is more to life than increasing its speed.
In fairness here, colonialism was a different thing to all, but for all one could say for colonialism it didn’t cause frost and brought fought plagues of snail and caterpillars to destroy the continent’s seeds and fruits. The ensuing conflicts, destructions and accompanying deprivations were self-infected. Thus, the continent have to navigate out of the morass and decline by its good judgement and experiences of those who know more about life, persuasion and pressure.
These seeming wild, frustrating bouts of confusion and darkness, must be followed by leaping brightness and warmth. The ordeal of leaving the mass of teeming humanity to their struggles must be handled with impersonal and unassuming efficiency. The deplorable conditions under which Africans live and die in Kigali, Tunis, Libya, Nigeria or anywhere on the African soil are enough impetus for the awareness of danger, that couldn’t isolate the truth and the reality of the continent, that should make the leaders to be interested in the weapons and the strategy and the nature of the enemy – poverty, second only to religion and power tussle, which between them had perpetrated some of the worst and most terrible atrocities that have scandalized the continent’s history.
The continent must rid every sectors of its dependent economy of wastages, grow its energy capacities, generate employment and curb inflation and corruption. Its important for the AU and it’s sober-suited businessmen politicians to form an understanding with the people, their moods and be authentic and open so that the people can understand them. It would make them vulnerable, many of the leaders are unwilling to be transparent and feel that by keeping the people in the dark they maintain a measure of control. But that’s a leaders folly and a continent’s failure. Secrecy spawns isolation, not success. Knowledge is power, yes, but what the leaders need is collective power, and that requires collective knowledge. So open up.
The continent’s leadership should at this time and level of its development be primed to provide leadership at its most challenging, even as they present views that should be profound and deeper than that of the UN, on who the ultimate beneficiaries of development and its dynamics should be. It should be able to position development as indexed in the people: in the quality and access to education, functional healthcare delivery programmes, in their objective living conditions, and in the quality of food on their tables. A determined attempt to drastically reduce all corrupting influence, worker’s rights to full and gainful employment and their right to decent living. Anything contrary and as the continent have it today is mass poverty.
The leadership must spell the ground rules that the law is not about preventing people from enjoying life or oppressing them, but the establishments of limits on behaviours. Laws are the tools used to build an orderly society and environment. An orderly society cannot be achieved or maintained if people are allowed to do whatever they wish and or want to do, with no regard for anything but their pleasure. Zimbabwe, or Ghana or Gabon and what have you been mega microcosms of the larger African society can no longer excuse people nay its leaders from all personal responsibility for their actions, which negates the requisite criminal intent, or MENS REA, as lawyers call it. Henceforth, the continent body must ensure that every leaders who have shown they lack the capacity to meet a minimum level of responsibility and proclivity must be held accountable for all their ultra vires. Without unduly stretching this point, the AU must insist on the exercise of personal responsibility and restraint by those capable of exercising it to make virtue a necessity. On the numerous cases of corruption which had made the continent absolute bedlam, the leaders should with their collective will demand swift justice. Granting immunities which is another name for excusing people from the penalties of the criminal system is at best a prescription for anarchy.
The need thus arises to infuse new life into the Continental search for and discourse about credible leadership and failure of leadership; its poor responses to matters of life and the rampant and flagrant below par performances in tackling development issues. It is amazing how Africa’s pompous bureaucracies will go to make systemic changes, rather than making an exception that would easily fix the problems. And the similarity is like the difference between puffy spring rain clouds and the clouds that precede a tornado, one is temporary but normal, the other is chronic and accumulate aggression.
There is no single panacea for the continent’s political, social and economic ills, but the AU could with panache do something about the most prominent ones and make fundamental changes that would placed the continent on the upwardly mobile path. The continent’s political kingpins, economic and industry leaders and moguls and opinion moulders have a lot of soul-searching to do, deep, critical examination and analysis.
In times like these, it’s helpful to remember that there have always been times like this. The African continent has to do positive things to effect a desirable and positive change or be further saddled with a continent that smothers rather than rejuvenate energy and enthusiasm. The continent’s repairs, repositioning and reconstruction requires apart from guts and balls an imaginative streak, cold, calculating and shrewd 4D approach and nothing should diminish the enthusiasm for the ‘liberate Africa’s project.’
The effect of the anaesthetics induced by slavery and colonialism and neo-colonialism must have worn out enough, such that the continent could no longer label anyone it invited to dine and take exceptions to its complaints about their table manners. Everything looked fuzzy for now, but that’s how dreams were sometimes, especially, when we are close to wakefulness. In dreams you run desperately like a mouse running on a treadmill and never getting anywhere, but dreams disappears in the morning, leaving your thinking, reasoning and perspectives intact.
The AU under pressure to liberate the African continent, a popular Arab proverb says “Pressure leads to an explosion” and the reactions must lead to the spontaneous and reactionary explosion through deep analysis in an attempt to place the continent on a good, solid terra firma and sure-footed sound footing; but first have to revolutionize its thinking and rationalising process for a continent that has been silent and yoked, and now in dire need of a complex change in its conditions, way of life and living.
Africa with a fame and history of mounting instability and chaos across its length and breadth seemed to have stabilized somewhat under the AU and has witnessed a series of rejuvenations both as a continent and in relation with contemporary elements enough to hunger for advancement, growth and development, which calls for the discontinuation of any unpopular and repressive politics, and the answer the AU must further provide positively is liberalisation through whatever means.
The whiff in the air is “Enough is enough’ to retrogression, poverty and deprivation, and the revolution is likely to shoot the continent up and to the forefront of world politics. It would not be a revolution of arms and or violence, yet the revolution would be respected globally, because it would be brought about by mere civil disobedience and withdrawal of labour in a civilised environment. With a modest approach to civil matters without necessarily inciting the people to wanton destruction out of frustration and desperation. But with a renewed strength for a wind of change in a tumultuous and politically and economically comatosed continent.
The AU have to begin from the beginning by upstaging the apple cart and clean up the augean stable of filthy lucre, high level corruption, heists and accumulated foreign and local debts in an attempt to make for a virile, viable and a progressive continent; since drastic offences demands drastic solution, allergies desperately acquired should be desperately cured. As a collateral the AU must strive to keep societal ills and abuse of office to a barest minimum by tackling in a most proactive manner its extinction; such approach and methods should be fully supported by all the leaders. The African people would generally and overwhelmingly welcome this new standards.
The AU have a bereaved continent to account to. It therefore could no longer desecrate the memories of those that have passed on through its own engendered neglect and dereliction by being lenient to the “criminals”. There may be some not too clear verdict here and there, since the evidence, human perception and perfection are limited, but even at that, the voice of reason must prevail.
The AU, indeed, for the world the difference between countries, brothers and other members of the same family is quite natural, and only with coexistence can there be any existence, and in spite of the fact that it quietly stand on a foot of clay, the AU can nip in the bud what could eventually be a catalogue of disaster and sadness. It must take a concerted and unilateral action to curb killings, extrajudicial killings and atrocious conflicts that leaves deaths, maiming, sorrows, tears and blood on its trails.
Those watching Africa unfold and who followed the events and situation in and around the continent knows that Africans have suffered from neglect and dearths of selfless and honest political leaders and irresponsible actions which time could not obliterate. The African people know that the politicians have little or none integrity, but have within their piting limited talents fought bravely and so grittingly with debonair for survival that even cynics were surprised. This much would be recorded by historians for posterity to note.
Now is the time for the AU to endeavour to pacify and satisfy the Africans yearnings, particularly, as it concerns the economy and free enterprise, an unfettered judiciary, free press that would publish and report what the people want, not what the proprietors want to hear and or see published. As the world move on the threshold of the 2020s and in view of the continent’s problems that has brought it to its knees and the brink of doom and an unprecedented quiet uprising and AU quiet acquisceing, time it is for a call to action, for the AU to wake up from its primitive and traditional naivety and ways, means and methods of navigating the areas of concern in the turbulent waters of the “third world”, the rejection against local tyrannical regimes supported and or propped up by imperialism and to total abhorrence to official misconduct and societal ills that had abinitio engulfed the African continent.
To find the spectrum you need the prism, the AU forays into the realm of such puritanical ideas would send the signal to the world that Africans no longer can compromise principles because, then, the strength and quality of the leadership would now revolved around equity, equality, liberty and freedom for its teeming mass of humanity. Africans must be led to rediscover politics not as an end in itself but as a means to an end.
The AU’s stance in its pursuit for individual aggradizement, wealth and selfish happiness, politics of economic survival and democracy, while its peoples were dying and or labouring under economic strangulation, and the global recession seemed to have relegated the continent to the back-heel. In its economy, the typical African conservatism is directly inverse and therefore opposed to its complex Western domination being an effect of colonialism and neo-colonialism. Here the AU and its African Development Bank should up the ante even as it connives to provide adequate, modern, ‘home grown’ consultancy and lending facilities at environmentally friendly lending rates for proven entrepreneurs of the continent. The AU has to bridge the gap and the growing inequality between the Mostafazin (the poor) and the Bazari (the rich). As soon as solutions are found for this, all the continent and the AU just have to sit back and wish for success.
The AU was still composmentis and should brace up as it embrace and pursue with speed and versatility, the survival of the continent and its people who should be led to live a life of total economic and political emancipation. There is the need for a general security needs against common enemies that know no borders – poverty, lack, interracial bickerings, internecine wars for the survival of the continent.
It must strive to organize the continent in such a way that its people have increased values and enjoy a good income, a high standard of living and become masters of their economic destiny either in the voluntary, involuntary and frictional employment marketplace rather than a victim of a dynamically changing and ever changing economic times
The AU slow recovery pace, albeit, very much regretful, and should henceforth, expressed deep concerns, even as it begin to proffer long lasting solutions to the continent’s political, economic and social problems. It is the time to act.