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Mediocrity and not Colonial Legacy is Africa's Problem

When I was in School we had this American Professor who used to get visibly annoyed with the claim of colonial legacy as a major reason Africa is lagging behind. In his estimation, this was just but a lazy excuse. I was not particularly critical about this back then. I do not remember giving it much thought. I treated it more or loss as one of those classroom conversations which started and ended there. These days I frequently revisit this notion and I am afraid my professor could have been right to a reasonable extent. Of course, I won’t pick a quarrel with anybody on whether or not African nations were negatively, and severely so, impacted by colonialism; neither will I ever find a place in my mind to justify any flavor of colonialism anywhere any time. 

But the fact that many African "nations" seem not to find a way to get over the colonial legacies, over half a century later is deeply disturbing. We can right many past wrongs but we may never have any chance to edit historical realities. Colonialism is part of our history, one that we may never run away from but should not be allowed to hold us back for ages. We rightly refer to it as historical colonialism. 

Historical colonialism is comparable to a near fatal injury that an individual survives. Whereas you will live with the scar, you just do not let that scar be the compass pointing at (and even dictating) the direction your life takes. I mean, there comes a time you dust yourself, rise up and move on. It's been about 60 years of independence yet we have grossly defective polities, some of which are similar-same or even worse than the colonial ones. Our nations are still largely ruled by ruthless and a totally inept click of largely old men whose world revolts around mundane things like eating, drinking, sex and dancing. In the Platonic classification, this is a category of people that are simply not fit to govern. Anybody privy to the meetings and trips of African heads of state knows the kind of creatures we are here talking about. Surprisingly, many of them are willing to kill their own people just to have their grip on power in order to sustain their flawed way of life. Some like Mobutu, Abacha, Ben Ali etc converted their country's wealth into personal wealth, others like Bokasa, Habre, Afewerki, El Bashir, Nkurunziza etc kill their own people, some like Museveni, Kenyatta, Lungu, etc loot, plunder and mess their economies while others like Zuma, Desalegn etc have no heads of their own. Others, like Kagame are simply allergic to any form of political dissent, others like Santos, Biya use state resources to maintain world's expensive wives and daughters, some like Nguema appoint their own sons as vice president, some like Bongo are even capable of raping etc.

But really, is all this mess plaguing Africa because of colonial legacy?! Is it really because of colonial legacy that African leaders are simply incapable of proper management of public affairs in their respective "nations?" Is it because of colonial legacy that our so called leaders are burdening their own people with unsustainable Chinese loans and engaged in infrastructural projects that do not make economic sense? Well. naah. We have a problem. I recall in 1963, Kenya declared "a war on disease, poverty and ignorance." I am genuinely worried that we are not winning this war. And, by the way how did Kenya end up vacating its own officially decreed war and deeply get sucked into other nations' wars such as the American war on terror and the Chinese war of expanding of its spheres of influence? I mean, history is history; we may never change it; the best we get from it is lessons. The more reason we should have picked our hard learned lessons and re-imagined an African polity outside the realm of coloniality and all its facets, including legacies (its rays).

Yes, colonialism was very damaging. It simply shouldn't happened; it must never happen again to anyone at any time. But what it did is interrupt African civilizations. What we lack now are visionary leaders who can retrace the steps and put African "nations" on the right path to reclaiming our blurred (not lost) glory and creating true African polities that are wrapped in African civilizations and are competitive in the global stage. 

We do not need throngs of African leaders to China and the West to beg. Africa does not need aid; I repeat, Africa does not need any aid. It should not be lost in mind that in a period of 30 years Nigerian Presidents looted more money than what African nations collectively received from Western powers in terms of donations in the same period. We have enough resources in Africa; all we need is good management and thoughtful exploitation and utilization of those resources. This includes committing the wealth of our "nations" to programs that enhance the lives of the vast African populations as opposed to narrow selfish gratification of few thieves who have captured our states. 

Colonial legacy therefore, is really not our major problem. Let us turn our eyes to the level of ineptness, mediocrity, plunder and theft that permeate the management of public affairs in many African states. Therein lies our trouble. And by the way, now that Ethiopia and Liberia were not colonized, how come they are not well ahead of other African states that suffered colonialism?! Trouble!
Mediocrity and not Colonial Legacy is Africa's Problem Mediocrity and not Colonial Legacy is Africa's Problem Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on November 08, 2018 Rating: 5

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