A stage to ponder Africa’s challenges

OPINION – All you hear in Dakar here from African thought leaders gathered to address Africa’s disadvantages and think out future plans for progress are mere claims and glorification of the past.

And there are people like Professor Theophile Obenga and Aboubacry Moussa Lam sweating hard to prove that the black race is responsible for the World’s civilization  insisting that the original Egyptians credited with pioneering thoughts and acts that started the World on its civilized path were blacks.

They praise Cheikh Anta Diop whose research work and publications started this thought in the1950s and 60s. He had the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar named after him.

Propagating this thought is a major element of the present World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures holding in Dakar up till 31December.

Cheikh Diop it was who takes early credit, alongside Ghana’ s late President Kwame Nkrumah for the suggestion of African unity. Diop suggested the formation of an “African Federal State” in 1959 in a book he entitled, “The Economic and Cultural Basis of an African Federal State”. According to Diop’s apostles,  ‘faced  with the mega entities which China, India, the United States or European Union have grown into today, trying to weigh down with micro-states is something impossible.”

That is like saying the survival of Africa as it is now is impossible, given its predilection for decimation. Africa keeps splitting up into smaller impoverished states when the rest of the World is binding together and using largeness as strength.

Neighbouring Cote D’Ivoire is currently on that path with its leaders unable to agree how to govern the country or who has the legitimacy to do so.

Sudan is in the process of splitting up, with threats of war . Separatist  campaigns are going on in Angola, Nigeria, Algeria, Somalia and elsewhere on the Continent. Even while special guest of the Dakar gathering, Libya’s President Mouammah El Ghadaffi, is preaching for a united Africa under one government, he screamed at the roof top not long ago that Nigeria was too big for its own good and called for a mushroom of countries there on ethnic and religious lines.

Still President Abdoulaye Wade says he is prepared to be a state governor presiding over Senegal within a United States of Africa.

In Kenya, the unity government is on a shaky footing. The union isn’t working in Zimbabwe, either, where President Robert Mugabe and his deputy, Morgan Tsangirai aren’t seeing eye to eye.

But, just why can’t African leaders get it right? Why are they ever so confused? Is it something to do with the black gene? Even as embarrassing as that suggestion seems, it’s the indication there seems to be.

Why is it that it is only in Africa that leaders scheme to rule forever and are forever unwilling to let go of power at the end of their tenure? Why is it that it is only in Africa that you have a back and forth motion of democratic rule and military dictatorship?

Why is it so difficult for a progressive system to emerge in Africa? And be sustained? Why are democratic elections so difficult to hold in Africa? Why must African elections be supervised and judged by Westerners all the time? Why is Africa ever so like a baby which can’t clean up itself?

IN Nigeria, in Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Algeria, on and on, greed for power is inhibiting progress.

Still, is it to do with the gene? It seems worthy of trying to genetically engineer a new breed of Africans, metaphorically and, even, biologically. And, that species must be given a new world view, a new ethos, a new sense of being. A realization that the growing of a strong economy is one of the cardinal escape routes. And that that ties up with scientific and technological advancement.

These are what has taken China and India to the present position where they are now the chieftains of the current scramble for and partitioning of Africa. Instead of being nudged to caution, African leaders are now falling over one another to become the colonies of India and China. Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, all of them!

Less than two decades ago, India, China and Brazil, among others, were grouped together with African countries and called “third world countries”. Today, those countries are being hailed as “emerging world economic powers”. To underscore that, US President Barrack Obama had to go over to India recently to woo the Indians to come over to the United States and invest.

Still, Africa adamantly neglects the only group that can help achieve the change it so badly needs – its youth population. While the whole World keeps looking at Nigeria as a potential world economic power because of its youth population, there’s hardly anywhere in the world where the youth are more neglected, without direction, without nourishment, without the warmth of mothering.

Africa neglects the education of its youth, neglects their health, neglects their social development. And the greed of African leaders to enrich themselves and hold tight to power at the expense of the Continent’s future are the key reasons things are in such sorry state.

President Wade has initiated a healthy support for the youth to enable them to think in terms of Africa’s larger development and emergence from the doldrums through his sponsorship of the activities of the African Youth and Students’ Network. But, the Network’s activity must go deeper than visits to popular African cities like a mere tourists group. It must seek to leverage on its empowerment to forge such understanding of each country’s challenges and ways of overcoming those challenges through collective assistance and the strengthening of one another’s strong points to lift up Africa.

Right now, all you can see is African youth deserting Africa en masse and itching to be westernized because it is practically impossible for them to survive in Africa. – The Nation