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On autopilot to nowhere

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On autopilot to nowhere

After winning the war for independence, Africa seems to have lost its mojo and, without a point of reference, seems to be drifting aimlessly. How can we regain the pre-independence spirit? By Kwame Muzawazi

There was a time when the African voice counted for much in global politics. This was a time when Africa spoke with one voice on the issue of granting independence to the nations of Africa. The 94 years between 1900 and 1994 saw congresses, conferences and political actions that took Africa to a position of global political importance.

Today Africa is nowhere near having that forceful relevance. One could plausibly argue that this continent of 55 countries and over 1bn people is at its weakest when it comes to fighting for and defending what’s good for the ordinary African. 

What’s next for Africa? We fought for and got the right to run the affairs of our countries but it’s evident that the fruits of independence are as elusive as a slippery fish in our hands. Every generation has a question to answer and actions that must be taken. What’s the burning question today?

Whilst the 20th century was meant to be about addressing the issue of Africa freeing herself from the manacles of colonisation, this century is about the next calling. The 21st century must become the epoch of Africans freeing themselves from educational and cultural colonisation – those invisible aspects that are still pervasive.

There are a dozen or so issues that postcolonial Africa needs to confront with determination. For today, let’s look at three.

 

Educational content

Across Africa, the majority of textbooks being used in schools have not changed, even though this is a continent that claims to be independent. As a result, our teachers are producing nicely colonised graduates who will know more about European history and geography than
Africa’s.

In Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa, the most popular song they sing during playtime in schools is called “Great Christopher Columbus”. It praises Columbus for being a great explorer and navigator. Yet our kids should be singing about Ibn Battuta, the Moroccan who pioneered global travel and upon whose autobiography, A Gift To Those Who Contemplate the Wonder of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling, Columbus himself relied on for planning his overseas colonialist navigations.

 

Our high-level begging

Have you not felt ashamed to be an African when you see a large number of our heads of state or government leaving Africa to meet the leadership of another country? Or, many of our leaders lining up in some overseas capital for handshakes with a small group, to talk about African development!

As recently as October 2018,  African leaders were in Turkey for a meeting called the ‘Africa–Turkey Business and Economic Forum’. Shockingly, the collective amount of money that our countries spent travelling to Turkey, where they were booked in the most expensive hotels of Ankara, was more than the money they got from Turkey in real returns. Could it get worse?

 

Hope for the youth

Also away from home, young Africans die in the ruthless waters of the Mediterranean Sea, seeking to cross to Europe in search of a better life.

Between 2017 and 2018, the UN’s International Organisation of Migration reports that 5000 Africans were lost in this way, trying to emigrate to Europe. This matter has received endless publicity but neither the African Union nor African governments have said or done anything decisive.

Whilst I watched television with my family one evening earlier in the year, a news report was broadcast. My 16-year-old niece asked a question which until now I have wondered whether I answered correctly: “Uncle, if Europe and America were to station ships on the coasts of Africa and invite the youth of Africa to voluntary slavery in their countries, how many young Africans will not go?”

I just shook my head and told her I would research and come back to her…

Africa today must find a rallying point to bring together the activities of its leaders and societies. The real enemy for Africa in the 21st century is not colonialism: it is the black man himself – his own passivity, his own lethargic approach to his own affairs.

With no rallying point, we are on autopilot to nowhere. And that rallying point must address the fundamental, structural issues – it must be revolutionary. NA                                

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