Even the most fervent and optimistic pan-Africanist cannot help but be despondent at the state of affairs in Africa today. The continent cannot continue to rely on its historic oppressors to right the wrongs besieging Africa today, writes Femi Akomolafe, arguing that Africa needs to find unorthodox solutions to its current predicament.
While the horrendous wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone have been doused, more such conflicts have been ignited with a vengeance in several parts of the continent. Nigeria is menaced by the scourge of Boko Haram. Christians and Muslims are murdering each other with Old Testament fury in the Central African Republic. Newly-minted South Sudan is engulfed in mindless internecine civil war.
DRCongo is yet to overcome almost five decades of civil strife, and al-Shaabab is wreaking havoc in East Africa. In the meantime, there are more foreign troops rampaging around Africa today than at any time since the ostensible end of colonialism in the 1960s.
And while the elites and their supporters/sponsors in the West continue to tout self-generated impressive macro-economics statistics that purport to show how good things are, the reality on the ground, at the micro-economic levels, is still the abysmal and shocking poverty in which citizens are forced to live.
Sadly, many Africans still live in conditions that would be unacceptable in some countries. This is despite the fact that almost every corner of the continent drips with one natural resource or another.
On the economic front, the elite have imposed brutal Jurassic, dog eat dog, man eat “dirt” economic systems, which has resulted in a yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots, with frightening social implosion implications. The neo-liberal economic policies have largely negated Africa’s traditional value systems, resulting in an abandonment of the age-old communitarianism that meant people care for one another.
Ghana’s share in the oil deals with foreign firms is a paltry 10%. The arrangement is for 20 years
While today African rulers and the elite continue to enjoy the best times, few ordinary citizens can remember when things were this bad.
Let us consider the example of Ghana, the birthplace of the doyen of Pan-Africanism, Kwame Nkrumah, which, unfortunately, has become the stalwart of Global Imperialism Puppetry.
Ghana joined the list of oil-rich nations about four years ago to loud applause and great expectations.
Today, Ghanaians are gnashing their teeth as the prices they pay for their petroleum products keep rising monthly, thanks to what officials call the “automatic price adjustment mechanism”.
Here is the saddest part of this huge paradox: For reasons best known to them, Ghanaian officials signed agreements with foreign oil firms whereby the companies will ship the oil out in its crude form. Ghana’s share in the deal is a paltry (make that insulting) 10% royalty. The agreement is for 20 years.
In the meantime, Ghana’s own oil refinery at Tema lies moribund, and is starved of crude oil to refine. This is the absurd situation Ghana, like many African countries, finds itself in.
Ostensibly independent, these states continue to function like colonial outposts with local compradors ruling in the interests of the metropolitan powers. This is the sad reality of Africa today, where citizens continue to live wretched lives in their own land, while foreigners enjoy the best things in life. And it is this unholy situation that gets huge praise from the West and its corporate media. Many Africans also glorify it.
Ghana is touted as an example of the good African country on the move. The Star Pupil and the Gateway to Africa. Where Ghana is moving to is never told. As citizens struggle to eke out a miserable existence and face every manner of taxation and bills, the presidential cavalcade gets longer. But no matter how long it was kept away, the truth has a way of emerging.
The bubble has burst and the pretensions can no longer be maintained that Ghana’s economy is buoyant, and that it is a pertinent lesson for Africa to observe.
The admission by Ghana’s finance minister that the economy is in bad shape and might require “help” from the IMF cannot but be the cause of distress to patriotic Africans.
It should, however, not come as a complete surprise to any close observer. As our elders say: “Houses built with spittle will be felled by dew.”
What is baffling to many is that it is to the IMF that the Ghanaian government turns for help. It looks like we refused to learn anything from the lessons of history.