Since the pre-colonial period, old states, kind and chiefdoms of the past, sometimes of the distant past had certainly had their own problems, but managed generally to feed their people well. They had flourished with their farming production and their networks of internal trade. Their communities were always fully functioning and so did their systems. Why then should modern Africa be struck down by a crisis in which communities are torn apart, and every system of government seems to fail?
What could be the reasons responsible for this?
I would like to argue the problems be facing Africa rose from a common heritage in human frailty, greed, lack of foresight into the destructive consequences of get rich quick policies. In Uganda for example, wide forests have already been destroyed, perhaps forever, broad grasslands have withered under drought and overgrazing. These are partly responsible for the failure of Africa whereas others lie in bad governance, irresponsible leadership, habits of waste and idleness.
However simply blaming Africa’s failure is seemingly naive and unconvincing from a thinkers’ standpoint. It is looking at only the surface of events without appreciating the deeper roots of the problem at hand and these roots cannot primarily be found in human failure and I would like to state without any fear of contradiction that humanly Africa has not failed but in terms of infrastructure, Africa has not only failed, it has collapsed.
The methodologies, means and systems of the current governance that modern day Africa has employed have failed it not the human resource. Let us at this example: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has possessed 88,000 miles of good all season motor road by the time of Independence but only 1,200 miles by 1980 after more than 20 years. For a country well-endowed with resources as the Congo, how else could it have come about?
Mother Uganda attained her independence in almost the same time with South Korea, Singapore, Kenya among several other countries that were not better placed in as far as natural and human resources were concerned but 53 years later, Uganda lags behind of even Kenya in economic development yet we used to be told stories of both countries having had a deal where Uganda sold hydroelectricity to the then H.E Daniel Arap Moi’s government.
With only 11% of Ugandans connected to the national grid with fewer opportunities for growth of a vibrant informal sector, why would better thinking President make such a visionary mistake of steering another countries growth when you are badly off yourself?
This is the time when African thinkers should realise that our continent is somehow on the wrong track. Africa is now marred with stories of state-crafted murders, corruption, self-destruction conflict, war, dictatorships and sin of greed and the duty of Africa’s reconstruction is upon us to take our continent back.
The solutions to the African problem must come from Africa itself not the curtail of good intentions from the rich western world in form of foreign aid, military aid. Universities must start to produce a new generation of trained scholars and specialists whose minds and skills are devoted to addressing the central problem of institutional decline from whose work of thought solutions will begin to come to hand.
Most of the reasons to institutional decline are obvious with exception of human and institutional failure. One of the most obvious of all lies in the system of world trade into which Africa has done its business in that Africa has concentrated more on importing things they have raw materials to produce such as cooking oil at the same time not meeting our export output on the world market. Africa is pressurise to export on “north” rich countries by the terms of trade or by debt service or even other economic means.
Another obvious reason for decline lies in foreign interventions or foreign inspired banditries that have spread in almost all countries but more acute in Libya, Algeria, CAR, Somalia mostly by the United States of America, France in West Africa. These are enlarged by nationalism or nation-statism which had been used by the colonialists as their instrument of change.
Can it be done: The importance of this article is to generate debate in colleges and Universities, public discourse on how to share, participate in power. It is said that because a few people hold power at the top, they never share their power, its privileges with its hands on money and land with those at the bottom who tried to get hold of a share in power.
Africa had never been short of brave and thoughtful persons and protesters. There are those who said Africa’s history had useful lessons to teach to in this tough debate about solving and correcting the mistakes holding us aback. There is therefore need for profound social and political reflection in this century as we take another look at the old principles and consider whether they could have some useful application in the reforming of the rigid centralism.
As I concluded this article, what lessons, in short, could be learned from the living history of Africa’s self-development in the past that could form a good solution to our current problems?