The Real Problem With Africa
We are now in 2020, almost half a century later and Africa is still looking for development. We must tell ourselves the bitter truth that what has already happened is a thing of the past and those who still speak of it are missing the present and obstructing their future. Africans are currently responsible for Africa’s underdevelopment. The slave trade and colonialism are a thing of the past and I don’t think we should ever forget them. And yes, Colonialism was a disaster and the facts prove it:
Western colonialism was both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most places where it existed. Perhaps the easiest way to understand why colonialism was so horrific is to imagine it happening in your own country now. It is invaded, conquered, and occupied by a foreign power.
Note also that these plagues are not specific to Africa. They have affected other regions of the world including Latin America, North America and Asia.
Can we compare these regions with Africa today?
Are countries like India, Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore and others still blaming Europeans for their unfortunate past or have they themselves turned into economic and political powers?
Brazil is today the seventh economic power in the world. In the history of the world, each civilization as each country has experienced ups and downs. Europe rebounded after the two world wars, the United States following the civil war and racism, Asia and Latin America after colonialism, dictatorships and political unrest.
Why should Africa not recover from the slave trade and colonialism?
At present, it is obvious that Africa is the least advanced continent in the world. The region suffers from all kinds of problems, 90% of which are of human origin. Naturally, the region seems to be the luckiest, because it is one of the most geographically stable continents with the least natural disasters. Most countries in the region do not have the unbearable climate found in the extremely cold polar regions or in the extremely hot Arab regions. Furthermore, Africa is the main supplier of raw materials in the world. Rather than transforming and enhancing its raw materials, Africa exports them to countries which will transform them and then resell them to it in the form of finished products at exorbitant prices.
The main problem in Africa is the failure of leadership. Most African leaders, past and present, have failed the region miserably. Their obsession with staying in power made it very difficult if not impossible to replace them. Over 85% of the elections in Africa are not free, fair and credible. Only Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and a few rare countries can boast of relatively free and fair elections. Until very recently, elections were not even held in almost all of North Africa. African leaders are stealing millions and billions of dollars from public funds to invest in European economies. How many leaders from other continents steal public funds to invest in Africa?
The other problem with Africa is the inability of its citizens to recognize each other as natural brothers if only because they are all human beings. It is even difficult to find a single African country free from religious and ethnic crises. Each year, thousands of lives and property are lost in Africa in the name of religious and ethnic differences. Twenty years ago, in Rwanda, it is estimated that more than 2 Million Hutus and 800,000 people were killed just because of their ethnicity. Currently in the Central African Republic, people are massacred by the hundreds because of their beliefs.
And Nigeria? Don’t even get me started.
Between 1.2 to 2.4 million Africans died in the Atlantic slave trade over a period of about 360 years. The number of deaths from ethnic and religious crises in Africa between 1980 and 2010 has exceeded this figure. The number of people who died during the 34 months of the Nigerian civil war alone are equivalent to the total number of Africans who died in the 360 years of the Atlantic slave trade.
When we look at the very few African countries that claim to improve their economic growth rate such as Rwanda, we find out that their citizens remain in deep suffering, as if the increase in national economic growth was proportional to that of poverty and suffering. The development of these African countries is ironic in the sense that it is an evolution which increases the suffering of the people, which makes the poor poorer and the rich richer.
Despite these problems and troubles, Africa still has a chance to develop. The resources, the workforce and all the assets are there. What is lacking are will and determination.
Let all Africans do their part to make sure that the region gets out of this mess and finds its real place on the world development map in 2030. This will only be possible if the continent accepts to leave its victim status to finally take action.
By Ekechi Gerard