Reversing The Shame Of Africa

Recently the EU coast guard dug up from beneath the Mediterranean Sea several hundreds of bodies of young Africans drown in a desperate attempt to cross to Europe. The desperation tells another sordid story. Young Africans full of life have been short changed by a myriad of misfortunes in their native homes.

Careful interest in the nationalities of the young Africans, swarming the Mediterranean Sea and daring deaths at every opportunity reflects countries embedded in corruption, terrorism, repression and poor governance. In effect, hardly surprising, rarely is any of the desperate young Africans are from the Republic of Rwanda. A thing or two about Rwanda. A little over two decades ago, Rwanda, driven by corruption, hate and nepotism descended into the lowest abyss of human depravity and genocide. Rwanda in a sharp dramatic turn became the embodiment and poster boy of Africa’s horror and shame.

But a sustained momentum of inspiration and individual vision, President Paul Kagame has led a most hateful, divided, impoverished and desperate society into a model of reconciliation, good governance, and national ascendancy. 

Why is it possible that in a time frame of a decade African leadership is able to lead a failed state into a model of economic prosperity and other African countries with far less trouble, better endowed economically and socially are sinking daily into categories of failed and failing states? Take, for instance, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya, etc. Each of these countries by its natural endowment and human resources harbors more potentials than any single European country. Yet, the youths, the future, the posterity of these nations are on daily basis voting a rejection and embracing certain death and joyful, merely that they are escaping the inhumanity that profiles their African citizenship.

So in the 21st century Africa, over a century behind the era of European slavery of Africans, our values are being subjected below even the inhumanity of slavery. In simple terms, European slave masters came over to Africa, deployed weapons to pursue, capture and take Africans into slavery. Today, Africans designed their scheme in pursuit of an aspiration to be enslaved. That is my interpretation of the mass migration to Europe.

“The reality is, Africa is being ripped off big time,” says former African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka. “Africa wants to grow itself out of poverty through trade and investment - part of doing so is to ensure there is transparency and sound governance in the natural resources sector.”

However, transparent and fair trade between Africa and the rest of the world especially the Western world seem unattainable, but it is too late for Africans to sit idly and lament, development in the diamond-rich Botswana and once impoverished agrarian Rwanda revealed that if African countries do the right things, it can experience stable and transparent economic growth and turn the lives of their citizens around in a short period. 

Imagine Nigeria with a population of over 170 million, the biggest African market, the most enterprising and energetic young people, a depth of robust professionals and highly creative people. What else do you need to have a world power other than these elements, but the Nigerian dream and aspirations of a strong nation, leading the rest of Africa had been rendered a pipe dream. According to a former World Bank vice-president for Africa, Oby Ezekwesili, Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, has lost at least $400bn (£250bn) of its oil revenue since the country’s independence in 1960. Meanwhile, about 90% of the people live on less than $2 per day. Yet that cannot be all of the story of Nigeria.

The last general elections in Nigeria was eloquently described as a watershed, the narrative leading to the elections were built around change. Nigeria needs change. Nigeria needs to lead Africa to an enduring change however for Nigeria to succeed in this, she needs to look in the direction of a tiny East African country that is not all that perfect, but that country seeks excellence by doing the right things so far.

The challenges in Africa are real, but the solution lies in Africa, and not abroad. Rwanda, led by an African has given eloquent testimony to this. It is a viable model. Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and even the troubled rich Libya can borrow a leaf from the Rwandan model and save this generation of Africans, the absolving, enduring shame of today.

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