African Problems Are Self-Inflicted
The launch of this book African Problems are Self-inflicted the fifth literary work in my collection provides, for me, yet another momentous occasion to reflect on the dire situation in our beloved continent, Africa. When the majority of us took the step, many years back, to venture overseas it was essentially to avoid the significant problems of the times exemplified by social malaise, unstable political climate and plummeting macro-economic fortunes among others. We hoped, optimistically, that things would soon take a turn for the better. Sadly, decades later, Africa seems to be heading further and faster into the abyss without any reprieve in sight. I have chosen to talk on the topic of Leadership crises; Africa's Woe during this short introspective introduction. Frequently, the debate has arisen as to the root cause of Africa's woes. Some afrocentric individuals have sought to attribute the continent's suffering to the twin ills of the slave trade and colonialism. Going further, those belonging to this school of thought reason that the rest of the world, particularly Europe, owes Africa an apology, for starters, along with the wholesale eradication of her foreign indebtedness- the deserved icing on the cake! Then, and only then, in their eyes will the impetus be provided for Africa to begin to assume her rightful place in the community of world nations. Contrary to the above view however, I hold a divergent opinion. Africa's tragedy, to my mind, is not a product of the slave trade. Neither is there any credence in the lame duck colonialism thesis; nor are its problems located in the plague of disease and death besetting its people. To my mind, Africa's biggest trauma lies in the constant constrictions (economic and otherwise) placed on the dreams, hopes and ambitions that Africans have for themselves. The culprits in Africa's malaise are its rulers, the most bombastic of the species that history has ever thrown up. These miscast actors are adept, through their greed, at eroding the best of Africa's promise. It is at the doorsteps of Africa's rulers that the woes and misfortunes should rightly be consigned. Undoubtedly, you are surprised that I have deliberately refrained from engaging the verb 'leaders' in describing African rulers, heads of states, or presidents, as the case may be. Leadership, after all, means inspiring the people towards achieving corporate goals which serve the common good of the larger society. African rulers, over the years, if anything have abused the levers of power in order to abort the continent's dreams and bloody its people. As I survey the continent, in order to dredge up signposts of remnant promise, I am struck again and again by its misbegotten history. Everywhere I look, there is devastation, death, destitution, and a creeping anarchy: Nigeria, blithely acclaimed by it's misrulers of being a great nation is leading the continent in corruption, graft, and wastage of oil resources. Somalia's warlords have shot their nation into oblivion. Sierra-Leone has become a mere shell of a nation, partly run until recently by a limb-hacking mad man called Fraday Sankoh and a collaborative military junta. Liberia until a few days ago was groaning under Charles Taylor's jaundiced notion of state craft. The two Congo's are in a turmoil of war that continues to escalate, defying solution. Like many African rulers before him Robert Mugabe has discovered that Zimbabwe is his personal playground, available to be wrecked as he wishes. Until providence took Jonas Savimbi away, he had staked out Angola as his own territory to rule or destroy. Rwanda is haunted still by the ghosts of 800,000 Tutsis murdered in cold blood, in one of the 20th century's worst genocide. Does it surprise anyone that, in most of Africa, political power has emerged as the only thriving industry? Worse still, those who hanker after power do so in order to rape the national promise and ravish the national treasury- the maniacal Sanni Abacha of Nigeria; and Mobutu Sesesekou of erstwhile Zaire providing ready reference points, in this instance. They bask in the paraphernalia of power; but have little or no concept of the transformative potentials associated with political power. They invest their energies in accumulating the accoutrements of powers, but mock the high responsibilities attending to the offices they occupy. Men who wish to become power players in Africa learn ruthlessness, but never equip themselves with social vision. For them, it suffices to master the art of killing opponents, rigging elections, decapitating the future and undermining the promise of their nations. To these men, power matters but they have no historic past and no potential future only the present. For them history begins and ends today and it is essentially a bloody creature. I hope that someone is listening. African Problems are Self-inflicted is a glimpse of Africans day to day reality within the context of the foregoing. I hope that the material makes for interesting public reading. Julius -I-Ebetaleye Author
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