I Weep For Africa: The Cry of a Worried African Youth
AFRICANGLOBE – Africa is a lovely continent and the ordinary African is indeed one such nice person to discover. Africa is a continent of one people, though currently without a common vision, we still have a common destiny. The true African is always proud of his African identity.
As a matter of fact, the African citizen, tend to cherish his identity even better, when he/she travels to Europe or America and all one can see on the streets are two colours: Black and White people all over. It is at this moment that he/she sees the Blackman as his true brother/sister.
As a proud African, when l walk on the streets of London, Paris, or Beijing and l see the Blackman anywhere, I feel proud to have seen my brother or sister in a foreign land. At that time, I care less about which African country specifically he might come from. I do not really care about his religion nor his ethnic background. I do not care whether he belongs to a political party or not. I care less whether he’s a Muslim or a Christian. At that moment, all l see and feel proud of, is my African brother/sister who shares my common identity. I shake hands and hug my African brother/sister with pride. Whenever Africans come together, it is a moment of joy and excitement.
For instance, during international sports competitions, the entire African people tend to rally behind any African team/country that is able to make it to the final stage against teams from other continents.
I remember during the 2010 world cup held in South Africa, when Ghana was left to carry Africa on her shoulders; the entire African continent came together in harmony. Many Africans across the world rejoiced in unity as they rallied behind Ghana.
In the end, even when Ghana couldn’t make it, Africans all over the world though they felt disappointed, they were proud. Such is the true taste of what it means for a people to come together, and live in harmony, rather than always having to fight among ourselves as the enemy wishes.
From Where Came All These Divisions?
Divide and conquer has always been the strategy the colonial masters often used to destroy a people. Imagine how lovely and wonderful this world would be, if the north, south, east and west were to live together in harmony, instead of wars and conflicts that often leave the innocent and the vulnerable suffering?
The whole world knows that it will be wonderful for a people to live together in harmony, yet why can’t it be so? Across the world, Africans are facing challenges in areas of racism and its discriminations.
Yet today, thanks to the lack of foresight from many of our leaders. Africa, a people who ought to be the most formidable force in the world, has been broken into pieces. From the north, the south, east the west, to the central Africa, Africans are fighting among themselves, killing our own brothers and sisters all in a bid to please the colonial master.
The colonial masters have succeeded in dividing the people into so-called “economic regions and countries”. Yet, within our own regions and countries, we’re still not free: we’re fighting for individual interests. Our people have been divided along political lines, ethnic and tribal groupings. Many of us are still struggling under the yolk of religious differences. Little regard is given to the fact that we’re all Nigerians, one Ghanaians, one Somalis or Ethiopians, and that we are not different people, irrespective of our religious and political beliefs. But we have believed the enemy more than ourselves.
With this, Lucky Dube, the reggae legend who was eliminated by the usual mafia, shared his sentiments. Quoting Bob Marley, he said:
“Bob Marley said: how long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look? But little did he know that eventually, the enemy will stand aside and look, while we kill and slaughter our own brothers”.
Indeed it is a sad reality, because colonialism had it that, the African people were being suppressed, beaten and killed by the colonial masters. But sadly in today’s Africa, neo-colonialism has made it possible for Africans to be killing themselves and suppressing their own freedoms while the enemy rather sits somewhere and looks.
Why must the African people allow certain minor issues such as religion and political parties, to throw us into killing ourselves? Does it really make sense for Ghanaians, Nigerians, Kenyans or the Ivory Coast to be fighting and killing their brothers and sisters because of politics or religion; forgetting that we are all one people with a common destiny?
It is very sad that our African identity has been erased from our minds and our thoughts, to the point where instead of us coming together to solve our problems, we’re rather busying ourselves with how we can suppress one another for selfish gains.
Recently, the fact that we’re all Africans and come from one continent is not an issue that bothers our leaders. What happened to the spirit of living in a universal brotherhood? Where did we go wrong?
Many African leaders today are secretly busying themselves with how they can suppress the growth of their neighbouring African countries.
While some are secretly funding and collaborating with various terror groups in their attempt to sew chaos in other countries, others are equally busying themselves with how they can make life unbearable for the other Africans living in their country.
Then after all these distractions, African leaders shamelessly continue to gather at Addis Ababa, under the umbrella of the AU, as they hypocritically wine and dine on one hand, exchanging fake smiles and handshakes, whiles their governments continue to frustrate and intimidate the citizens of other Africans living in their countries on a daily basis. Why all these hypocrisy of a so-called African Union?
It is a big shame to our current African leaders that after all these years of drumming into our ears, unity after unity, Africa still remains more divided than ever.
At a time when we cheerfully welcome many Asians and Europeans into our countries; we shamelessly intimidate our own brothers and restrict their freedoms on their own motherland.
African leaders must change these habits and take immediate efforts to normalize diplomatic relations with all African countries. I am urging the AU to bring into discussion the urgent need to make efforts to remove these entire border and visa restrictions which the colonial masters have imposed on the African people through the colonial accord of 1844.
We the African people want the freedom to explore Africa and to interact with our brothers and sisters across the continent without being submitted to any unnecessary delays that comes with this visa queues and the long waiting times.
In this 21st century where every continent is well integrated to facilitate the swift movement of goods and services that promotes economic growth and job opportunities, we in Africa have entangled ourselves in some colonial boundaries that were drawn centuries ago with our enslavement and suppression as the ultimate objective.
Yet, every year, our political leaders shamelessly celebrate independence as if to say Africa is independent from these colonial bonds. We are supposedly claiming political independence, yet, we have allowed some 19th century’s colonial bondage to continually bind our freedom of living in a continent of universal brotherhood.
Until this colonial bondage is broken, Africa shall continue to remain impoverished, wretched and chained for another century to come. At the same time, our Asian and Latin American colleagues would have freed themselves from this bondage and become one of the most formidable forces at a time when Europe and America might have collapsed. By freeing themselves from the shackles of colonial bondage, the emerging economies will be doing business among themselves, creating more opportunities for their people, when we in Africa would be looking everywhere, fighting among ourselves and blaming the White man for our lack of foresight.
I weep for Africa, my beloved continent. But I won’t give up, because there is still hope for our current leaders to do what is right.
Long live Africa, our only home.
The writer is a Pan-African analyst and the founder of the Project Pan-Africa (PPA), an organization that was established to unlock the minds of the African youth to take Africa’s destiny into their hands. The PPA seeks to provide the biggest platform that will give international exposure to all hidden but exceptional talents in Africa.
Please visit us at:www.projectpanafrica.org and support the project. PPA is grateful to ITech Plus and all media partners that support our vision for Africa. Email me at:firstname.lastname@example.org
PPA Set to Revive the Pan-African Revolution
The Project Pan-Africa (PPA), a Pan-African Youth Organization that was established with the sole purpose to liberate the minds of the African people politically, economically, socially, culturally and psychologically to reclaim their destiny is ready to roll in the coming days.
When commissioned, the PPA is expected to provide the biggest exposure to all exceptionally but well-talented African youth, to reach out to the outside world with their innovations, inventions, talents and capabilities.
According to the Project Coordinator and the main idea behind the project, the PPA is highly concerned about the fact that, there are many exceptionally skillful, innovative, technologically outstanding and well-talented youth out there across Africa, who only need a platform that will provide them with the needed exposure to reach out to the outside world with their capabilities and innovations. It is against this background that the PPA was established. Meanwhile the PPA is highly concerned about the lack of confidence for African technology, African products, African innovations and the continues neglect of African expertise by their governments.
It is expected that the PPA will actively engage with African governments, political leaders, business executives and many philanthropists across the continent to help empower the African youth to contribute their full potential to the development of Africa. Promoting of African values, African products, African innovations, goods and services to the international community will be major areas of focus. The majority of African experts currently “stranded” in the diaspora, will also be encouraged to return home and contribute to the development of Africa.
According to the current statistics, there are many Africans with wonderful degrees and qualifications across Europe and America who yearn for the opportunity to return home and help solve the many challenges of the African people. However, the major challenge has been the lack of motivation for these sons and daughters of Africa to return home.
It is expected that, the PPA will provide a platform for many of such individuals to express their concerns and also to share their experiences with the African people especially the young ones who currently yearn for “opportunity” to travel abroad in search of so-called greener pastures.
The major idea behind this project is about unlocking African minds for the freedom of mother Africa.
This revolution has just began. As an African who has the welfare of the African people at heart, we encourage you to contact us and get involved.
Email the project coordinator: email@example.com for details on how to get involved.
The writer is a Pan-African analyst and the founder of the Project Pan-Africa (PPA), an organization that was established to unlock the minds of the African youth to take Africa’s destiny into their hands. The PPA seeks to provide the biggest platform that will give international exposure to all hidden but exceptional talents in Africa. Please visit us at:www.projectpanafrica.org and support the project. PPA is grateful to ITech Plus and all media partners that support our vision for Africa. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Africa’s Abandoned Natural Resource: The Youth
“Everything in the world revolves around Africa. From the Starbucks coffees to Apple iPads, Microsoft’s computers, Airbus’ aeroplanes and the components of the Mars Curiosity Rover; even the resources employed by NASA to man its missions – all these things are taken from Africa though Africa doesn’t get paid its true worth”. – Dario Thurston.
Most importantly, there is no doubt that Africa still has in its possession, a vast amount of untapped natural resources. Apart from the gold, diamond, copper, uranium, cocoa, and many other strategic natural resources which are still in abundance, there are plenty of oil and gas reserves in Africa that hasn’t “officially” been discovered, though many of such discoveries were actually hidden until further colonial interests recently developed.
Africa’s Plenty Resources and the Colonial Agenda
Undoubtedly, Africa is the world’s resource base. The world moves around in activity because of Africa. While there is a brewing peak of oil crisis elsewhere, we are discovering oil in unthinkable quantities in Ghana, Uganda, Sudan, Algeria, Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon among others. From country-to-country, Africa is so rich to the point where the true value of her entire resource cannot be properly estimated by any single resourceful institution.
For instance, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) alone is said to be the world’s richest country by resource endowment. The country is estimated to possess over $24 trillion worth of mineral reserves. Therefore it is no surprise to some of us, that since the brutal murder of Patrice Lumumba in the region, the imperial powers have managed to keep the Congo and the neighbouring countries in chaos up to today, while these resources are been looted on a daily basis.
Zimbabwe, a country which the corporate media sometimes refer to as a “failed state”, is also said to be proportionally the world’s richest country (resources divided by population) and we are already starting to see what it is capable of doing on its own terms. But it is no wonder that imperialist powers have also been fighting hard to remove President Mugabe at all cost and to put in his place someone who will sell off these resources to the West, just as they recently did in the Ivory Coast under their usual hypocritical guise of “democracy”. As for Libya and Nigeria, I don’t think there is any need to discuss their resources and the strategy currently being employed to loot these countries.
The chaos in Libya today, the foreign-backed rebels currently operating in Nigeria (Boko Haram) may explain the strategy often used to destabilize the prospects of a country and the subsequent looting of their resources just as it is on-going in the Central African region. In the case of Nigeria however, the problem is not that they have passionate leaders that are working in the interest of the ordinary citizen (did you notice how many Nigerians were murdered in Libya without the government doing anything?). The problem however has to do with the growing Chinese influence in the country and how the West seeks to contain China, hiding behind rebels as a justification to establish military bases across the Ecowas region (under the guise of fighting terror), after which more military pressure can be mounted on the African leaders to distance themselves from China. At worst, rebels will be used to destabilize the country until Nigeria end up divided, just like they have successfully done in Sudan, (all because of oil). It is a painful truth but there is definitely the need to raise the awareness.
The strategy has always been the same: the imperial powers always sow the seed of chaos in any country where they have strong economic interest, especially where its leaders refuse to go by IMF-imposed conditions. The Ivory Coast was no exception.
Currently, there are strong indications which suggest that South Africa could soon be targeted by rebels as well, unless the people discover the truth and act immediately. Any African country that has strong economic prospects must continually be on guard, as imperialism is on high alert to suppress economic growth in Africa. The situation is like a vampire which survives by the suppression of its host, usually tearing its prey into pieces. Otherwise, there is no reason for Africa to be bleeding today.
Is Economic Prospects Brighter for Africans or Foreign Capitalists?
The abundance of these strategic resources should be an indication that as far as the future of the African people is concerned, the sky should not even be the limit but rather the beginning.
In the next few years, if Africa’s resources could be managed efficiently, certainly there would be no poverty anywhere on an African soil. But how can Africans continue to dream of wonderful future economic prospects, when majority of the youth who ought to be the most strategic African resource are being abandoned for cocoa, copper, oil and gold? Is Africa truly investing in her youth to take over the management of these plenty resources from the hands of the foreign “advisers”? When will Africa discover that the youth are her most valuable untapped resource? A continent that continues to abandon its youth is indeed a continent with no future.
The Forgotten Multitudes: The Youth
Many youth though qualified cannot fine jobs
Today, in their quest to receive quick revenue for their families and their political rallies, our leaders have been keen on selling off Africa’s natural resources to the point where little or no attention is paid to training the youth who ought to be the future managers of our economy. Our streets have been overcrowded with too many young men and women selling dog chains, foodstuffs, bread and sachet water, while many of them ought to be in the factories, doing productive works or in the technical/engineering schools studying practically-related courses that focus on solving real life problems.
There are those in the rural communities who continue to work hard on the farms but also never get the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour. The whole economic situation in Africa is geared towards the interest of the foreign capitalist.
In his book “Towards Colonial Freedom”, Kwame Nkrumah wrote:
“It is the aim of colonial governments to treat their colonies as producers of raw material, and at the same time, as the dumping-ground of the manufactured goods of foreign industrialists and foreign capitalists.”
For instance, the Ivory Coast produces over 40% of the world’s cocoa beans. Yet it is very unthinkable that due to IMF-imposed conditions, the country does not have even a single chocolate factory! Therefore the farmers who produce the cocoa cannot even afford to buy this chocolate which is often imported from abroad and sold at cut-throat prices. How reasonable is that? The African youth are merely serving as slaves one their own motherland just as they do overseas.
When will African leaders pay serious attention to the plight of the African youth? There are many young men and women in Africa who possess wonderful exceptional talents. Across the continent, young men are making serious inventions and innovations. Yet, our societies do not provide the needed environment that will enable the youth to harness these potentials.
In recent years, government across Africa are wasting too much money in the entertainment industry whiles science and technological institutions are begging for help. Nobody sees the need to provide the infrastructure that will help equip the youth adequately so that they can contribute meaningfully to the economy.
Every year, the rate of people who do not get the chance to enter the secondary schools and tertiary institutions continue to rise. Though many African leaders had the opportunity to attend some of the best schools at the tax payer’s expense, no effort is being made to ensure that the mass majority of today’s youth could enjoy the same privilege. Because of the lack of adequate educational infrastructure here at home, parents are forced to send their children abroad for studies, often paying ten times the cost: an amount that could boost our local academic institutions if we were to expanding the structures.
Meanwhile the lack of industrialization means that majority of these students have little or no hope of gaining a job back home. As a result, many of those with degrees and relevant qualifications are still stranded in Europe and America, cleaning and washing dishes despite having master’s degrees. Is this the destiny of the African youth? Certainly not.
Lessons from China: Invest in Your Youth
Today, the whole population of China is an economic advantage. Thanks to ambitious industrialization. Though they’re currently about 1.5 billion in population, the people of China have managed to put themselves to work and are grabbing jobs at every corner of the earth. This is so because the government has invested huge resource to ensure that their educational system places emphasis on science and technical education, unlike our style of education that is characterized by theories and stories that often have no real-world solutions.
Besides, the Chinese government has ensured that adequate funds are always provided to support their local companies. For instance, all the Chinese contractors operating in Africa can secure funds from a special bank dedicated to that course (Chinese Development Bank).
Unfortunately in Africa, instead of helping the local industries to flourish, the banks are rather looting the people and crippling the local business community with high interest rate, usually over 25% APR. The last time I checked, the “official” interest rate figures across many African countries were over 15% whereas in Europe the figure is below 3% in many countries. Meanwhile, regular commercial banks in Ghana are charging annual interest rates of between 15% and 30%! Therefore many local industries are lacking adequate financing and many are being forced to shut down operations, forcing many to lay off their workers. All these conditions have been strategically designed to cripple local African industries who may rely on banks to expand their operations, at a time when our governments and the politicians continue to deposit their moneys in overseas banks that later turn around to loans these same money to our governments.
The youth are therefore paying the price for such measure as unemployment increases, bringing about high crime rates, prostitution, increase in social vices among others, whiles their politicians continue to ignore their plight.
“I have always believed that the basis of colonialism is economic, but the solution of the colonial problem lies in political action, in a fierce and constant struggle for emancipation as an indispensable first step towards securing economic independence and integrity”. –Kwame Nkrumah, (Consciencism, pg 98).
It is very sad that the majority of the African youth are increasingly becoming more hopeless despite the fact that the continent continues to discover plenty of strategic resources, which only requires political foresight to bring about the needed benefits to the African people. As long as the youth who are Africa’s most strategic resource are being abandoned, it remains to be seen whether the continent can hope for a brighter future.
I am appealing to all African leaders to listen to the voice of our revolutionary leader, Kwame Nkrumah, and act in the best interest of the youth.
Long live the African youth!
Long live Africa!
By; Honourable Saka
The writer is a Pan-African analyst and a well-known social commentator in Africa. He’s the founder of the Project Pan-Africa, an organisation that seeks to create a mental revolution across Africa. He is highly grateful to Itech Plus, and all the media which supports his vision for the African people.
African Youth Facing Severe Youth Unemployment
It may have one of the fastest growing economies in the world — but if you’re young and out of work in Africa, the future remains bleak.
The search for employment is a daily struggle for 24-year-old Sherrif Mohamed. He’s one of millions of young unemployed Africans whose lives have stalled, despite economic growth across the continent.
Sherrif lives in Egypt, where until recently he was pursuing a university education. The revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak forced him out of school and into a job market, which has continued to worsen. The uprising kept tourists away and investors out — and Egypt is yet to recover.
Around 30% of 18 to 29-year-olds are now out of work — a figure that’s echoed across Africa. Sherrif’s lack of a qualification narrows his employment prospects further.
“Now there are no jobs whatsoever,” he said. “I’ve tried working in restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores and lately worked at my brother’s store. But the wages are not sustainable at all.”
Thousands of miles away in Kenya, more disillusioned young adults walk the corridors of the University of Nairobi. Unlike Sherrif, they’ll get to complete their studies and enter the job market as skilled professionals. But with Kenya’s youth unemployment rate standing at 40%, they feel their prospects of work are equally slim.
Eunice Kilonzo is a promising student on the campus. She said: “I’m competing with around 700 people to get the same job, probably in the same place. So the chance of getting a job is pretty thin.”
She places the blame firmly at the feet of her government. Eunice feels the job market will not improve in line with economic growth until the education system is revamped.
“If the market is way beyond your education level, there won’t be productivity. We need to change everything about the education system. I cannot go into the library and study a book that was published in 1969. We are in 2012.”
For Eunice and Sherriff, economic forecasts make for irrelevant reading. Africa’s economy is expected to grow by 4.5% this year and by 4.8% the next, and its youth population is set to double by 2045, according to the African Economic Outlook report. But the headlines that herald a burgeoning economy aren’t translating into the jobs they need.
If jobless growth continues, they believe young Africans will continue to find themselves unemployed or, more frequently, underemployed in informal jobs.
World Bank Chief Economist Shantayanan Devarajan agrees that creating employment is the biggest hurdle that African nations will have to overcome.
“In low income African countries people can’t afford to be unemployed. They are working in the informal sector with very low earnings and very low productivity.
“One reason for that low productivity is that these people have had very little education.
“On the other hand it’s a huge opportunity because we can train them and can improve the quality of education. The other point is the rest of the world is aging, so Africa will become the place with all the young people.”
The African Economic Outlook report also speaks of the importance of unlocking the potential offered by the region’s youth. But it says the continent must modernize its industries and develop sustainable private sectors, in order to do so.
While, such harsh warnings are not relevant for all of Africa, the sentiment behind them is important. Devarajan agrees that private firms could provide an important source of jobs for the young and says African businessmen are taking advantage of the opportunities available now.
“Macroeconomic policies in Africa have improved inexorably in the last 10 to 15 years,” he added.
“We’ve had commodity price booms in the past but those haven’t translated to this kind of sustained growth before. And that means there is hope for a better future for Africa. This is not hype, this is real.”
Africa’s Era of Youth Unemployment
The latest African Economic Outlook paints a promising picture for the continent, but crucially, it also warns that the scourge of youth unemployment will impact severely on the capacity of African states.
The latest African Economic Outlook (AEO) has been released, and it’s optimistic. A joint project of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the OECD Development Centre, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the AEO predicts that Africa will continue to be one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, having escaped the worst of the global financial crisis. In fact, the continent has seen year-on-year economic growth while economies in Europe and the US stagnate under pressure from the recession. In line with this trend, Africa is expected to grow 4.5% this year and 4.8% next.
The news is, however, not all rosy. The report warns that the sheer scale of jobless growth, coupled with the world’s youngest population, gravely imperils further progress. According to the AEO, Africans aged between 15 and 24 currently comprise 60% of the continent’s unemployed.
More worryingly, 22 million of those 40 million unemployed young people have already abandoned their search for a job. And the situation is set to worsen – the number of young people in Africa is expected to double to around 400 million by 2045, from 200 million currently.
Although the new discourse of ‘Africa rising’ is a welcome change from painting Africa as an abject failure, one danger of this discourse is airbrushing the significant challenges the continent still does face – despite the pretty picture painted by economic growth forecasts. As AfDB chief economist Mthuli Ncube says, “The issue of youth unemployment is the elephant in the room in Africa.”
The 293-page study, themed “Promoting Youth Unemployment”, urges governments rigorously to pursue incentive-based programmes to help facilitate job creation. The South African experience, however, proves that this is easier said than done. Despite the government’s pious protestations and grand schemes, there still exists a huge failing in the number and kind of opportunities available to young South Africans.
Last month, Ambar Narayan, World Bank lead economist on poverty reduction, noted that this asymmetry in opportunity demonstrates the failure of South Africa to level the playing field. Speaking at the release of the “South African Economic Update: Inequality of Opportunity” report, he emphasised that it was young people who were most affected by “this inequality of opportunity, particularly in the labour market, [which] is the highest for the youngest age group.”
Sandeep Mahajan, World Bank task team leader for the latest report, says: “Our results show that a South African child not only has to work harder to overcome the disadvantages at birth due to circumstances, but having done so, finds [that] these re-emerge when seeking employment later in life.”
Ncube notes that not only in South Africa, but across the continent, these issues of inclusion and exclusion from the economy and public life are crucial to understanding why youth unemployment is such a great challenge for African states. “The youth bear the burden of shrinking opportunities,” he says. “And if young people see no space for themselves in the economy, circumstances for social strife are then rife.”
The scrutiny then falls on explaining how exactly we got to this situation.
Ncube believes the high incidence of youth unemployment is traced back to inefficient education systems that fail to educate young people well enough to meet the needs of society and the economy. Key to addressing the problem, Ncube believes, is the education sector. “Education must be reformed,” he says.
Independent policy analyst Ebrahim Khalil-Hassen agrees that the failure of education systems is the most conventional explanation in countries with high incidences of youth unemployment. He adds, however, that another explanation is to view the problem in the context of rising levels of youth unemployment worldwide – understanding the problem as a global one, then, instead of a particularly African one.
Hassen points to research by Rulof Burger and Dieter von Fintel, which is based in a South African context and suggests that the issue of youth unemployment may actually be misunderstood as a fundamentally generational issue. “(The study) argues that time alone will not solve the problems facing the currently unemployed young people. In other words, without a longer term strategy, the reality of being unemployed at 21 in any year will continue throughout this person’s life. The key to this argument is that the South African economy has shifted to become more skilled, and at the same time a large number of young, unskilled and African people looking for a job has increased,” Hassen says.
Ncube stresses that in Tunisia, where he is based, the effects of youth unemployment on politics are already being seen. “In Tunisia, the revolution was based on two things: jobs and justice,” he says. “On the one hand, there is a great number of young people whose skills don’t match the opportunities available to them, and on the other hand, the system was perceived to be unjust. It was seen as a closed economic space, and it created the sense of exclusion from real opportunities for the majority of Tunisians.”
Hassen agrees that the high incidence of youth unemployment may well lead to greater social and political upheaval. “There is the ticking bomb factor with these statistics. It points to the possibility of higher levels of social unrest,” he says.
Ncube believes that there is a momentum among African states to address youth unemployment more forcefully. “African countries are raising awareness of the problem,” he explains.
South Africa’s statistics offer a rather grim outlook on what life is really like beyond the daily political spectacle. The rate of unemployment, at 25.2% (or 33%, if discouraged workers are included), is among the world’s highest. Social grants make up 70% of the income of the poorest 20% of South Africans, and if these grants were excluded, 40% of South Africans would have seen their income decline in the first decade after Apartheid.
According to an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, young people today are three times more likely be unemployed compared to mature adults, while one in five young working people live on R8 a day.
Statistics released by the latest Labour Force Survey don’t offer a more promising picture for South African youth, either – youth unemployment has increased by 9.9% since the last quarter, and is now standing at a staggering 42%. This, of couse, is without the number of young people who have already given up their pursuit of employment.
“The numbers are really depressing,” Hassen notes. “There are more people unemployed today than there were in 2008.” Economic equality, equality of opportunity, and issues of inclusion in the economy are all fundamental to a sense of democracy, Hassen believes. “A society that has more than 50% of young people unemployed is not a functioning society,” he says.
Hassen explains that in South Africa, the momentum towards a job-seeker’s grant, which emerged from the ANC Policy Conference in June, may be one solution to South Africa addressing its challenge of youth unemployment.
“If it works properly, like it’s done in Latin America, where the grant is linked directly employment opportunities, it could make a difference, providing a basic level of income to those who need it most,” he says.
“I personally think it’s the right approach.”
But, he adds, the youth wage subsidy should not be disregarded as an option. “Given the level of the crisis, a range of options should be tried,” he says.
Meanwhile, others believe the first step remains in education and skills development. “Africa has a skills shortage, and at the same time has this high rate of youth unemployment,” Ncube says.
“There is an opportunity in skilling these people.”
By; Khadija Patel
When Will “Modern” Africans Free Themselves From Mental Slavery?
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. For none but ourselves can free your mind”, -Bob Marley.
For many years, this has been the cry of Bob Marley, an African reggae legend who was eliminated by the usual mafia which doesn’t want the African people to be free.
Hundreds of years ago, many Africans were forcefully sold into slavery across Europe, America and Arabia, where they suffered all forms of torture and brutalities. Today, even though many falsely believe that kind of barbaric slavery is “over”, mental slavery, which is rather more dangerous than the previous one, is currently starring at us in the face.
First of all, the African people must be told the truth. Colonialism didn’t end 50 years ago! Slavery is not yet over either! We are still trapped MENTALLY, PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, SPIRITUALLY, SOCIALLY, CULTURALLY, ACCADEMICALLY, TECHNOLOGICALLY, and many more.
This is one of the reasons why Patrice Lumumba had acknowledged many years ago, that indeed the liberation of the minds of the African people (the war on mental slavery) shall even be a tougher battle than the eradication of settler /colonial regimes. How correct he was!
But what makes mental slavery much more dangerous than the chattel slavery of the 19th century?
The truth is that, unlike the slavery of the colonial era, our forefathers knew for sure that they were in slavery. They also understood that they were living under colonial rule. By understanding their problem, they were able to work out a solution. This explains why they were able to chase the colonial regimes from power at some point.
Unfortunately, because today’s slavery is a mind-set, many Africans do not even realize that they’re still under the yolk of “modern” slavery. This is what makes it very dangerous. It is more dangerous when one has a problem but hasn’t even realized it. How then can one think of a solution when he/she doesn’t even know there is a problem?
More dangerous is the fact that our politicians themselves do not realize that we’re still under colonial rule. We have many puppet governments in place, most of which are directed and controlled from abroad. All political decisions are made by the IMF/World Bank and imposed on our governments for implementation. This is what Kwame Nkrumah referred to as “neo-colonialism”.
A laptop made in Ghana by rLG Gh Ltd
Currently, the entire African generation have been brainwashed to disregard our culture, our fashion, our identity, even our own technology (African innovations) and our society as “out-dated”. Cars, machines, electronic gadgets such as mobile phones, laptops, digital tablets, smart TV sets and all such products made here in Africa are considered to be “sub-standard” and “unsafe”. Meanwhile we spend millions of money to import similar products of less quality from abroad.
I have for the past few months been lamenting about the gradual collapse of African industries, as we continue to import from elsewhere.
Isn’t it a shame that some African women are being manipulated by “modern” fashion to the point where they walk the streets almost naked, yet they don’t realize it?
Though many signs are recently pointing to the conviction that more African women are becoming proud of their natural African beauty and fashion, the major question that still remains unanswered are:
When will the ‘modern’ African woman manage to free herself from mental slavery?
When will the majority of African consumers, free themselves from mental slavery?
When will our politicians and the African leaders free themselves from mental slavery?
When will all Africans listen to Bob Marley, and understand that none but ourselves can free our minds?
Only time will tell whether the modern African woman, will give dignity a chance at some point and go back to her root, or whether she will continue to throw her dignity to the dogs in the name of so-called “modern fashion”. At the same time, time will tell whether the 21st century’s Africans will also be able to come out of slavery and to overthrow their batch of colonial rulers from power, for the freedom of the future generation. Time will tell whether Africans of today will even realize at all that we are still living under slavery.
It is important for us to understand all these realities because it is said that: “To understand the problem itself is half the solution”. I therefore encourage all Africans to join the campaign to free ourselves from mental slavery so that we can be in a position to control our own destinies in the near future. We must continue this campaign to successfully unlock the minds of our people for the freedom of Africa.
The revolution continues
By: Honourable Saka
The writer is a political analyst on African affairs, and a well-known social commentator in Africa. As a strong Pan-Africanist, he is currently seeking to establish the “Project Pan-Africa” (PPA) to create a mental revolution across Africa for the freedom of Africa. He is the editor of “The Doctor’s Report”, your most reliable source of critical analysis on African issues. Please visit his blog at: http://www.honourablesaka.blogspot.co.uk and Email him at:email@example.com. Also visit PPA at: www.projectpanafrica.org
Economist: Africa Growing, Political Risks Remain
Africa will continue its economic growth into the next year, but faces increasing threats from continued political instability, youth unemployment and the global recession dragging down oil and commodity prices, a leading economist said Tuesday.
A forecast from the African Development Bank expects 4.5 percent growth across Africa in 2012 and 4.8 percent growth in 2013, with Africa to grow at an even faster pace, the bank’s chief economist Mthuli Ncube said. Post-revolution Libya should see its economy grow by 14.8 percent over that period, as normalcy returns and oil exports return to normal levels, he said.
However, the political instability caused by the Arab Spring and other concerns has weighed down the economies of North Africa, particularly Egypt, a report by the bank released Tuesday shows. And the recent coup in Mali indicates that unrest even in established democracies and other governments remains a possibility across the Sahel, Ncube said.
“If you overlay (political) exclusion with natural resources, leaders never leave,” Ncube said. “And if they do leave, they never leave quietly.”
The bank’s forecast also estimates sluggish economic growth from South Africa as well, typically a leader on the continent. It anticipates a 2.9 percent growth as the nation’s unemployment rate stands at 25 percent. The World Bank recently pegged South Africa’s growth at 2.5 percent for the coming year, on the back of lower exports and a drop in mining.
Africa has seen year-over-year economic growth while economies in Europe and the U.S. stagnant under the weight of the global recession. That has affected Africa, as tourism dollars have waned and there’s less desire to send aid to the continent, Ncube said. That also could cut back on remittances, cash sent back to the continent from those living abroad that now represents a $50 billion-a-year infusion, the economist said.
China’s economy has also begun to contract, meaning the price of oil, precious metals and other commodities exported by African nations likely will drop, squeezing budgets of export-dominated nations like Nigeria, Ncube said.
Perhaps more worrying for the continent are its demographics: Of more than 200 million young adults on the continent, less than half have jobs, according to the bank’s forecast. As Africa’s population continues to grow, job creation continues to lag far behind and will put even more pressure on countries, Ncube said. Meanwhile, universities across the continent graduate more students expecting jobs that simply aren’t there, he said.
“This continent needs to start creating jobs,” Ncube said. “There is a good part of our growth that is due to commodities and that is not good enough. Commodities don’t create a lot of jobs.”
Africa Rising – But Are Africans Benefiting From the Economic Growth?
After 26 years of the most horrific war, Liberia seems to have settled down despite noisy disenchantment with the rule of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, now in her second term. I recently attended a conference on Liberia for some 300 investors and potential investors.
During this, I heard very many positive statements from companies that have already invested in the country and praise for the remarkable recovery it has made since the war finally ended in 2006. The biggest ventures are in mining and palm oil plantations, though there was also talk of housing projects and even tourist beaches.
President Johnson Sirleaf was originally on the billing but pulled out. Many people would have liked to have heard her speak, and I would have welcomed the opportunity to ask her why she appointed three of her sons as ministers. Maybe in such a fragmented country they were the only people she really trusted. But this nepotism has damaged her previously glowing reputation – though she has recently suspended one of them, along with 46 other officials, for failing to declare their assets.
The conference was held in the sumptuously grand rooms of the Drapers Hall in the City of London. Its full glorious title is “The Master and Wardens and Brethren and Sisters of the Guild or Fraternity of the Blessed Mary the Virgin of the Mystery of Drapers of the City of London” and its origins go back to 1180. On the wall of the main meeting hall is both a clock and a weather vane (connected, I assume, to a device on the roof). Traders in the 18th Century really had to know which way the wind was blowing.
Today’s weather vanes are the big consultancy firms such as Ernst and Young. Its 2011 report It’s Time for Africa said that the continent “has one of the fastest economic growth rates, enjoys the highest returns on investment in the world and is making strong progress towards political reform, macroeconomic stability and social development”. It urged investors to pile in, though it did feel the need to mention the company’s ability “to navigate successfully through the complexity (of Africa) that our clients are experiencing…”
The report had a huge impact. Suddenly other big business beasts – and not just mining companies – began to set sail for Africa. Just a few years ago, in many London-based companies, the very mention of Africa would have set eyes rolling and provoked a quick change of subject. Now they are falling over each other in the scramble for the new El Dorado.
Africa is the world’s last great untapped resource landmass, but there are two big questions: why hasn’t it fulfilled the potential that these resources promised? And what has changed that makes them accessible now? I still cannot quite find the answers, but in the process I developed a set of rules for reporting the continent.
The first one is, don’t make continent-wide generalisations. Africa is the most diverse continent on the planet – it has more than 2000 languages for example. Unqualified generalisations are useless. Every time you reach a conclusion you find several cases where the opposite is true. Ernst and Young at least mention the complexities of Africa, but then go on to make sweeping statements such as: “Africans themselves are leading the growth in investment across the continent, and display an overwhelming optimism…”
The second rule is to rely mainly on African information. The Ernst and Young survey, however, did not rely on African perceptions. It was based on interviews with 562 businesses of whom 59 percent were European, 18 percent North American and 18 percent Asian. Sixty-one percent had operations in Africa, and many of those businesses hired Africans, but there is not much input from other Africans there.
That is not to say the perception is wrong, but rather that I would treat it with caution. It comes from inside the air-conditioned bubble that expat and African professionals inhabit in every African city. From home to car to office and back to home they rarely, if ever, leave that bubble or listen to ordinary Africans in the street.
The third is to treat all figures with deep suspicion, especially if they are precise. I had always accepted World Bank figures as gospel until I realised that the Bank relies on African governments for most of its data. Remember Ghana in 2010? That year the Ghana Statistical Service “improved their national accounts series by incorporating new data sources and better estimation methods, classifications and standards” said the World Bank. That led it to “re-base” the estimates and revise the level of GDP for 2006 upwards by a modest 60 percent. Yes, SIXTY PERCENT richer than we had been told. Overnight it became a middle income country. And Ghana has one of the best bureaucracies in Africa. God knows how they add up the figures elsewhere, but one thing is certain – Africa is a lot richer than the development lobby and aid agencies would have us believe.
Another recent report from McKinsey and Co called Africa at Work, Job Creation and Inclusive Growth suffered similar problems of generalisation. It says Africa is the second fastest growing region of the world and the continent’s GDP is expected to grow at 4.8 percent this year. Good news, but worryingly drawn from only 14 countries, most of them the more successful ones.
Their employment figures seem to have been extrapolated continent-wide and that is worrying because there are some big “buts” hidden among the optimism. Firstly, natural resources extraction is the single biggest contributor to Africa’s growth. There is not much sign of adding value to those resources or manufacturing in Africa. Secondly the report claims poverty is falling and poverty figures are notoriously short term and unreliable.
The report says that 90 million Africans had joined the world’s consuming classes by 2011 and that the continent is about to reap a “demographic dividend” by 2020 as there will be another 122 million people in the job market. Then comes the killer fact that makes the so-called dividend look more like a disaster: only 28 percent of the current labour force has stable wage-paying jobs. So technically Africa – were it one country – has a 72 percent unemployment rate. And where will new jobs come from? Resource extraction – namely mining, oil and gas – are notoriously low employers these days.
Without work, millions of poor and poorly educated young Africans will sit at home trying to make sense of why they spent so long in school and why their parents made huge sacrifices to send them there. Why did they bother? But this huge rising generation will be connected, linked to each other by the internet and global social media. My guess is they will become angry. How long before an explosion of that anger blows away investors for another generation?
RAS recently launched a book on this very topic: Alcinda’ Honwana’s The Time of Youth. She defines the situation of most young Africans as “waithood” – a never ending time waiting for life to begin when they will have a job, can get married and have a family. Dr Honwana concludes that the Arab Spring might spread across Africa. She writes: “Could this represent the beginning of an era in which young people will no longer allow themselves to be manipulated by the elites into fighting ethnic and religious conflicts but instead choose the fight for their own socioeconomic and political rights? Could this mean that the waithood generation in Africa is shifting the battlefield from identity-based conflict into class inequality and rights-based conflict?”
You won’t read that in the business prospectus, but business in Africa needs to know about it too.
By; Richard Dowden
Mauritania: Enslaving Africans in Africa in 2012
To better comprehend Mauritania, one should understand that slavery has been abolished three times! The fourth abolishment of slavery is yet to be announced as the widespread practice continues unabated.
The north-western African country’s first abolishment was put on paper in 1905 when the country was colonised by France.
The second, as a result of a continuing of the practice, was to be enforced when Mauritania joined the United Nations. But that second abolishment law was so ambiguous it only implied that the practice would be prohibited under the constitution. At a later date!
The third was in 1981 by the Military Committee of National Salvation, under Mouhamed Khouna Ould Haidallah.
In what is seen as an incredible disrespect for the sanctity of the law, the three too-many abolitions are not clear and the language used to enforce them remains ambiguous.
The very classes who are in charge of the laws are the same who benefit from slavery, and the regime continues to exploit the citizenry considered as “slaves”. There are no signs that the authorities are sincere about any talks of freedom, be it of movement, thought or economic.
Consequently, Black Mauritanians, are still owned as slaves by rich Arabs.
So, such is the struggle in 2012 to free enslaved Africans in Mauritania in a modern society.
The pre-historic political consciousness is such that Birame Ould Dah, a Mauritanian abolitionist and leader of the Initiative for the resurgence of the abolitionist movement (IRA-Mauritania) has been in detention since April 2012.
Tens of thousands of enslaved Africans in Mauritania. The property of Arab-Berber savages.
Birame has been accused of burning scholarly Muslim works, while insisting that their authors justify the practice of slavery in Mauritania by virtue of Islam. National and international opinions associate his arrest to his anti-slavery activism and his fight to inform the world about what is really taking place in his country, Mauritania.
Birame’s imprisonment does not meet standards designed for stray animals being led to the slaughter and without much surprise his life is in grave danger due to his condition of health. A condition designed by the very authorities who on three occasions have banned the very practice Birame is reminding them of.
Sudan and Mauritania, where Blacks and so-called Arabs co-exist in the same geographical space, have long been in the business of slavery.
Dr. Samuel Cotton, author of the masterpiece “The Silent Terror: a Journey into Contemporary African Slavery“, expresses his shock upon discovering the extent of slavery.
“Tens of thousands of Black slaves in Mauritania?
“The property of Arab-Berber masters? The idea struck me as absolutely incredible! How could this be going on and how could the rest of the world not know“.
Cotton attributes the continuation of slavery in today’s Mauritania to the world’s near ignorance of the situation.
“As my research continued, it became clear to me that although there was certainly an abundance of data, the world did not know what was happening in north western Africa. As I worked my way through the various maps, documents, and articles I had requested and received, a picture of Mauritania began to emerge in my mind’s eye.”
As you read this article, “slaves” who have taken the bold step to move into cities like Nouakchott and Nouadhibou are living under atrociously difficult economic conditions. This situation is echoed by Kevin Balance in Disposable People, which reveals that Haratines earn about $8 a month and are forced to pay fees, as common slaves, to the government.
For those Blacks (Fulani, Wolof and Soninké) who live in the southern parts, and thus a distance away from the traditional settlements of the Arabs, life couldn’t be any worse. Legal discrimination is the order of the day despite the first president of Mauritania, Mokhtar Ould Daddah having declared his political goal of seeking a country in which Arabs and Blacks lived together in peace and together build a Nation-State, in 1960.
But there is a big gap between Mokhtar’s declarations and what occurred. Dating from the time Mauritania became independent on November 28 1960, and continuing to the present day, national construction focused only on affirming a discriminatory system. Mokhtar, as well as his successors, broke the promise to build an egalitarian country and, instead, treated Black Africans as second-class citizens, in legal terms.
In 2000, for reasons best described as self-explanatory, Mauritania left the Economic community of West African States (ECOWAS), to join the mainly Arab North African grouping, thus consolidating its “Arabisation” programme.
The implementation of this Mauritanian Apartheid system has led to serious problems of co-existence between Africans and non-African Arabs.
In 1989, more than 120, 000 Blacks were deported to Senegal and Mali and the reasons behind it were to have fewer Blacks- since their goal has been to create an all Arab country – and to exploit their lands. Mauritania is known among certain circles as “The Other Apartheid.”
By; Abda Wone
Black Mauritanians in Senegal a Bitter Past
Black Mauritanian refugees who have been on hunger strike since June 19 in Dakar, Senegal saw a light at the end of the tunnel this week.
Sustained media coverage of their strike saw a large delegation of dignitaries from Fouta, composed of former ministers, MPs and public figures, visiting them to show their support on Thursday. Their hunger strike was sparked by the mass expulsions of Black Mauritanians from Mauritania, which began in 1989. It was an attempt to create an all Arab country where Blacks, who form a majority of the population, would be relegated into second class citizens.
The Nouakchott régime, at the time, decided to expel more than 120,000 Black Mauritanians to Senegal and Mali.
Although the new regime in Nouakchott has distanced itself from the ethnic cleansing policies of its predecessors and recognised the fact that Black Mauritanians scattered around refugee camps live in precarious conditions in cities like Dakar are indeed Mauritanian, their conditions have not improved even after they have taken the difficult decision to move back to Mauritania.
“You mobilised to help your brothers and sisters who had been unjustly uprooted from their historical homeland” said one of the refugees.
Today, many returnees, most of them who lost everything during the deportations, have been badly settled and live as refugees in their own homeland.
After over an hour of very emotional discussions, the delegation on Thursday announced that they were now ready to commit to finding a happy ending to the crisis. “We will do everything, we will speak to the authorities of Senegal and UNHCR to find a solution to this crisis,” said former vice president of the National Assembly, Dean Aboubacry Kane.
Kane is widely known for his reliability and commitment to peace.
Writer and former minister, Cheikh Hamidou Kane and former finance minister, Mamoudou Toure asked the refugees to stop their hunger strike. But the refugees reminded the delegation of their poor conditions and alleged contempt shown by the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Mauritanian government.
“We are especially honoured to see you here, especially so due to the important role you played in the past to help Blacks in Mauritania live happily and in dignity in their country,” said Aljouma Cissokho, on behalf of the Coordination of Mauritanian Refugees in Senegal. “After the deportations, you mobilised to help your brothers and sisters who had been unjustly uprooted from their historical homeland.” Mauritania is the only country in Africa where slavery is still widely practiced.
Africa a Beacon of Hope In a Darkened World
If you are looking for some cheer in a pretty gloomy world, consider the growing consensus among some of the world’s smartest money that the next big emerging market may be Africa.
Above all, that is great news for Africans: As we have seen across so much of Asia, economic growth has accomplished what decades of well-meaning development efforts failed to do, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. If that happens in Africa, the world will be transformed.
This case for Africa as the world’s new economic tiger is made forcefully in The Fastest Billion: The Story Behind Africa’s Economic Revolution, a data-packed collection of essays to be published at the end of this month and brought together under the aegis of Renaissance Capital, an investment firm with Russian roots and global ambitions.
The consensus view among many students of the global economy is that investment decisions are about choosing, in the words of Mohamed A El-Erian, chief executive of the fund manager Pimco, “the cleanest dirty shirt”: The US faces a fiscal cliff and political gridlock, Europe is tenuously poised between years of painfully slow growth and outright collapse, and even go-go China is slowing. By contrast, in the view of Stephen Jennings, the Renaissance chief executive, Africa is on a tear.
“It is the only region in the world where growth is accelerating,” he said by phone from Moscow.
“If you strip out South Africa, the rest of the region is actually growing very, very quickly.”
Jennings says he believes Africa is following the path to economic development that has been trod in recent decades by countries like Brazil, China, and India — only in Africa the transformation is happening faster.
“The chances are this will be like Asia and this will go on for the next 30 years.
“It is helpful to remember where Asia was in the early 1970s. Then, most of the wars were in Asia, the lowest GDP and life expectancy were in Asia. People thought that was Asia’s lot.”
We hold those same prejudices but more deeply, when it comes to Africa, Jennings says. But, quietly, Africa has been remaking itself. “It is not something that we are predicting. It is something that is happening. You have this very broad-based, Asia-like process of modernisation.”
Jennings, who pointed out that Kenya had halved infant mortality in five years, an improvement it took India 25 years to achieve, predicts that within a generation, Africa’s place in the world will be utterly changed.
By 2050, he believes Nigeria will be the most populous country in the world and the African economy will be bigger than that of the US and Europe combined. Jennings is not alone in predicting an African transformation. Two years ago, McKinsey, the management consulting firm, put a savanna spin on the emerging market cliche in a report entitled Lions on the move: The progress and potential of African economies.
Foreshadowing The Fastest Billion, this report painted a picture of an Africa whose economic pulse has quickened, with GDP rising about 4.9% per year from 2000 to 2008.
An obvious source of Africa’s new might is the surge in commodity prices, and both reports acknowledge the impact of natural resources. But they also have a shared conviction that domestic factors are at play. The predictable one is improved governance.
Both McKinsey and Renaissance have produced hopeful documents, and that is a very welcome perspective. But it is worth challenging one optimistic assumption.
That is the view that in Africa, economic growth and democracy will go together. Their synonymity is a comfortable belief. But in Africa, as in other emerging markets like China, Russia, and even Turkey, it may not be true. For example, Mohamed Keita, Africa advocacy director at the Committee to Protect Journalists, argues that in countries that are cracking down on freedom of the press, like Ethiopia, economic growth deflects attention from growing authoritarianism rather than undermining it.
This is the Putin model, or the Beijing model — forget about ephemeral concepts like free speech and pluralism in exchange for a swiftly increasing GDP. It is not just impoverished domestic electorates that are tempted by this siren song. Western investors and many Western governments find it equally convincing.
Will Africa Ever Benefit From its Natural Resources?
Whether Africa will ever benefit from its natural resources is a question that is more relevant now than ever, as new discoveries of coal, oil and gas across East Africa look set to transform global energy markets and – people hope – the economies of those countries.
But can the likes of Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Uganda really turn their newfound riches into tangible wealth for ordinary people?
This month intellectuals from across Africa will be in Ethiopia asking just that. Politicians, business representatives, activists and academics from across the continent will be taking part, as over 800 experts gather in Addis Ababa for the Eighth African Development Forum.
“On average, resource-rich countries have done even more poorly than countries without resources,” according to Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank and professor of economics at Columbia University, in the United States.
There are greater economic inequalities in resource-rich countries than elsewhere – as perhaps indicated by on-going miners’ strikes in South Africa, considered one of the most unequal countries in the world – and too often there is also endemic corruption.
In Nigeria, the continent’s biggest oil producer, at least $400bn (£250bn) of oil revenue has been stolen or misspent since independence in 1960, according to estimates by former World Bank vice-president for Africa, Oby Ezekwesili. That is 12 times the country’s national budget for 2011. Meanwhile, 90% of people live on less than $2 per day.
There has been violence between Sudan and South Sudan over oil this year, and Malawi and Tanzania have yet to resolve their dispute over who owns the oil and gas in Lake Malawi.
A different story?
Ghana started producing oil in December 2010 and there is further exploration all along the West African coastline. Only five of Africa’s 54 countries are not either producing or looking for oil.
From Algeria to Angola – and from petroleum to platinum, iron ore to oceans – the scramble for Africa’s resources has often caused problems rather than created prosperity.
Meanwhile, much of the profits from resource exploitation leave the continent entirely in the hands of foreign-owned companies which pay low rates of tax.
Few African countries process their own raw materials – rather, the value is added elsewhere, to the benefit of others.
Foreign-owned resource extraction companies are often criticised for providing little in the way of local employment and contribution to local economies.
But could there be a different story?
Diamond-rich Botswana has been praised as a country doing things right, experiencing relatively stable and transparent economic growth for decades.
It has also managed to retain some of the profits from processing its raw materials – something most African countries have failed to do.
A once poor European country, Norway, also proves it can be done – distributing its oil wealth so equally that it heads the United Nations Human Development Index (Nigeria comes in 156th place).
So why have so many African countries failed to turn natural riches into benefits for the masses? Who is to blame for the foreign exploitation, and whose responsibility is it to put things right? What about possible solutions – renegotiation of contracts, better transparency mechanisms, higher taxation, resource nationalism?
Should the likes of Mozambique and Ghana be celebrating their resource discoveries – and what do they need to do to make the most of them? Will Africa ever benefit from its natural riches?
Africa Needs a Mental Revolution; Not Aid
“The liberation of the minds of the African people will be a tougher battle than the eradication of settler regimes”. -Patrice Lumumba.
These words of Patrice Lumumba, clearly underscores the urgent need for institutions to be created throughout Africa, with the sole responsibility to liberate the minds of the African people. It is for this reason that the Project Pan-Africa (PPA), a Pan-African initiative that seeks to create a “mental revolution” throughout the continent and strive for a better Africa, is currently underway. Fortunately, a few African institutions have shown their desire to support this initiative. This is desirable because we seriously need a change of mentality to free ourselves from colonial bondage.
One major challenge that currently faces the African people is not that of poverty. Neither is it the lack of resources. In the 21st century, the major problem we face as a people is what Bob Marley has referred to as “Mental Slavery”. Bob Marley acknowledged that “none but ourselves can free our minds”.
We have all the resources here in Africa. In fact it is estimated that Africa possesses more than 60% of the world’s natural resources. Yet, Africans are brainwashed to believe they are poor. Our economies have been held hostage by imperial dictatorships. Prices are pre-determined for our natural resources neither on the basis of their value nor their quality. Rather, they’re designed to enrich the foreign capitalist’s interest. Africa’s resources are being looted on a mass scale under the guise of ‘investment’ and ‘economic aid’. We accept this fate because we’re told we have no knowledge of how to explore these resources by ourselves.
“It is often said that the foreign ‘investor’ however self-interested he might be, would still be ‘doing Africa a favour’. This sort of argument reminds me of the man who, having found plenty of buried treasures in his neighbour’s garden, took it away and then told his neighbour that he was doing him no harm, because, until then, this fellow was unaware of the existence of such valuable resource”. –Kwame Nkrumah (Africa must Unite, page 20).
Instead of African leaders to unite and demand a fair price for the vast resources we have to benefit the ordinary African, we individually beg for aid and they take our resources barely for free. Africa needs fair trade; not economic aid with unfair conditions attached. The great millions of Africans are growing impatient of being the hewers of wood, the providers of unskilled labour, the drawers of water, as well as being the cleaners of Europe and America. What Africa currently needs are leaders who believe in Pan-Africanism. For it is because of Pan-Africanism we attained independence from colonial rule. We need leaders who will see the benefits that come with our determination to stand together, struggle together, grow together and unite in order to fight against imperial dictatorship and Western exploitation. Just imagine how the entire African leaders were ignored by the US, Britain and France who imposed their wish upon Libya, murdered Gaddafi with impunity and threw the country into chaos. Even though the UN Resolution 1973 on Libya was abused, you can be certain that the ICC: the International Court of Criminals will never find anybody in NATO to be guilty of war crimes nor crimes against humanity. As of now, even though many evidences have found Bush and Blair to be guilty of crimes against humanity, the ICC still remains blind to these evidences. It is always African leaders whose crimes are seen by the international community. It is time for Africans to establish their own judicial systems to deal with crimes committed by Africans. The current imperial systems have outlived their usefulness; they have been corrupted and are now tools that serve Western interest but do not serve international justice.
When Kofi Anan became the UN sec Gen, Africa was full of hope. When Obama won the elections in America, Africa was full of Hope. A Gambian to head the ICC, Africa started Hoping. When Okonjo became the World Bank MD, Africa hoped and hoped. The new hope is that when African woman becomes the world Bank President, Africa will be better. My humble advice to all Africans is to end this illusive dream and take a cue from India, China, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea by putting their hopes only in themselves and working hard to develop their countries. Africans must stop putting hope in western puppets!! We must create our own institutions to deal with our own problems. This form of imported justice and imported policies must stop.
How Long Can We Cope With Apathy?
Thousands of weapons were poured into Africa by France and Qatar, ignoring all international laws. When two Western journalists died in Syria, the whole western world was outraged. Yet, in Libya, many Blacks majority of them Nigerians were brutally murdered by NATO’s Arab rebels under the watch of the UN, while the West cheered and jubilated, calling it a success. No one pointed out that indeed what happened to the Gaddafis was not death by accident but a premeditated murder. This had already been discussed in the Western media, with Hillary Clinton herself calling on the Al-Qaeda rebels to “capture or kill” Gaddafi.
Yet, there was not a single word from those who declare themselves as ‘world leaders’, human right institutions nor the international “courts of justice”, condemning Hillary Clinton’s remarks and the killing of Blacks in Libya. After all, the fall of Gaddafi and the oil contracts were all they sought after; not the security of Africans.
Shockingly, the African leaders, many of them Doctors and Professors, averagely beyond the age of 70yrs, were simply relegated to the status of “children”, whose views were side-lined by NATO as irrelevant. This could only happen because there is no unity among our African leaders and as such they couldn’t have been taken serious. Most importantly, the strong ones in their midst have been tainted by corruption to the point where their voices cannot be heard on such important developments for the fear of putting themselves in the spotlight. The challenges facing our individual countries are getting out of control. It is only with a concerted effort that we can contain these problems. It must be understood that no single African state can stand against the wrath of imperialism, without needing the protection/support of the entire continent.
In his book Africa Must Unite (page xvi), Kwame Nkrumah wrote:
Imperialism is still a most powerful force to be reckoned within Africa. It operates on a world-wide scale in combinations of many different kinds: economic, political, cultural, educational, military; and through intelligence (covert operations) and information services. …Just as our strength lies in a unified policy and action for progress and development, so the strength of the imperialists lies in our disunity. We in Africa can only meet them effectively by presenting a unified front and a continental purpose.
Unfortunately, African leaders of today, many of them intellectuals still pretend as if they are never familiar with these words of our founding fathers. What happened in Libya and Ivory Coast clearly confirms the urgent need for African leaders to unite and be able to defend the interest of the African people. Africa needs leaders who see the need to work together bearing in mind the interest of all Africans, but not merely to seek their selfish interests nor that of their individual countries.
China, India & Africa
The reality of Indian and Chinese investment in Africa is much more complex than the good cop, bad cop image of Asia’s two emerging economic giants.
China and India have caused an explosion of trade and investment in Africa in the past decade. Yet they are perceived quite differently: China has a reputation for economic ruthlessness, while India’s business interests are generally seen as beneficial to Africa.
But their investment in Africa needs to be viewed in the context of broader investment trends on the continent, trade experts said at the “Money, Power and Sex: the Paradox of Unequal Growth” conference organised by the Open Society Institute of Southern Africa, which recently took place in Cape Town, South Africa.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of African governments to set firm ground rules for foreign investment flow and ensure a direct relationship between trade and development, the experts said.
“We are not leveraging our regional economic communities or the African Union (AU) to get better deals and the kind of investment that we need,” lamented Buddy Kuruku, policy advisor at the African Centre for Economic Transformation in Liberia.
If Africa would make development its priority, with the support of the AU, its 54 nations would quickly gain more control over emerging economies’ investments in their territory.
“World powers compete for a presence on the continent, and Africa can benefit from that. If the AU countries would work in solidarity, they wouldn’t need to fear India’s or China’s presence,” said Zhongying Pang, professor of international relations at the Renmin University of China in Beijing.
Although it is still too early to tell what China’s and India’s impact on Africa will be, “it’s potentially more positive than negative,” says Howard French, former New York Times bureau chief in China and a fellow with the Open Society Foundation researching Chinese migration to Africa.
“Africa has for a long time been stuck in a position with few options of whom it wants to trade with,” French said.
With China and India competing for investment opportunities alongside Europe and North America, African nations now have a multitude of potential trading partners to choose from. And more leverage to set the rules.
According to the World Bank, Indian and Chinese foreign direct investment in Africa has grown dramatically. To date, China has been the largest single investor, aid-giver and trade partner on the continent, with 127 billion dollars in resource extraction and infrastructure deals in 2010.
India has much less financial muscle than China, but its influence in Africa is on a rapid rise. It currently accounts for 46 billion dollars in trade deals on the continent and has announced it will invest 70 billion dollars by 2015.
“The Chinese state is surely a major motor of economic activity in Africa. But India is equally striving to boost its investment in resource extraction on the continent,” said French.
At the same time, exports from Africa to Asia tripled in the last five years, to 27 percent of total Asian imports, according to 2010 World Bank data, showing a clear trend towards rapidly growing South- South commerce.
This tendency has been heightened since South Africa joined the Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) group of emerging economies in December 2010, now called BRICS.
China’s push into Africa is viewed more critically because it is largely based on massive state companies pursuing major public works and infrastructure projects, such as stadiums, highways and railroads, very often with state and multilateral funding.
“China has a very formalised policy to encourage Chinese interests and investment in Africa. India has no such policy,” explained Kuruku. India instead follows a short-term investment outlook, with a two- to five-year strategy.
India sees Africa as an economic opportunity
India’s engagement with the continent is primarily driven by private businesses and focused on acquisitions.
“That means Indian companies tend to generate more jobs and facilitate skills transfer, while only a very small component of Chinese investment in Africa creates jobs,” Kuruku noted.
China says it is committed to reversing its negative image. The Asian giant plans to revise its Africa foreign policy, hoping this will provide further political advantages in Africa.
“We have learnt from criticism levelled at our investment policy. If China wants to continue to play a role in Africa, it needs to maintain its principle of non-interference, but also add others, such as multilateral interventions and careful policies on land ownership,” said Pang.
Chinese enterprises in Africa also need to comply more strictly with local labour and environment regulations, facilitate the transfer of skills to African countries and upgrade their industries.
Others argue that India is getting off too lightly.
“India has invested in buying off agricultural land to fight food price inflation in its own country. India doesn’t have better labour standards than China. Exploitation, corruption and bribery are rife in India,” argued Aniket Alam, a senior editor of the Mumbai-based journal Economic and Political Weekly.
Like China, India has been particularly interested in Africa to help meet its rising energy requirements, investing in nations with crude oil resources like Nigeria, Sudan, and Angola, he said.
China and India both have rapidly modernising industries and burgeoning middle classes with rising incomes and purchasing power. They have therefore demand not only for natural resource-extractive commodities and agricultural goods but also for diversified exports, such as processed commodities, light manufactured products, household consumer goods and food. All of which Africa can offer.
How Africa Can Leverage China
Low income economies within Africa may be set to benefit from China’s increased international outsourcing of labour-intensive manufacturing.
The recent FOCAC (Forum on China Africa Cooperation) ministerial meeting held in Beijing in July has again upped the ante of China’s pervasive engagement in Africa. The Chinese government pledged a further $20bn in investment to Africa over the next three years, but it seems likely that China’s state-directed capital toward the continent will become less significant than the growing trend of Chinese market-driven outbound investment.
This refers in particular to the start of a long-term trend of the offshoring of China’s low-end labour-intensive manufacturing sector. Whilst China will remain a very competitive manufacturing economy for at least over the medium term, rising production costs will encourage and force Chinese firms to relocate their operations abroad.
At the FOCAC meeting, African policy-makers were intent on winning Chinese “pledges” in the form of foreign investment, concessionary loans, grants and aid – Chinese “state capital” into their economies. This is a wise strategy. A politically-welcoming environment amongst African governments is of paramount importance for Chinese capital. In Europe, the US and recently Australia, there have been government attempts to block Chinese investors from acquiring local assets – in telecoms, in computer hardware and in mining. In Africa, however, there has yet to be a political obstruction to a Chinese investment on the continent.
Despite a deceleration in China’s economic growth rate, its outbound investment continues to increase rapidly. In the first half of this year, China’s outbound direct investment (ODI) rose 48.2% year-on-year to $35.42bn. The main thrust of the ODI was from China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) receiving both encouragement and capital from China’s Ministry of Commerce to do so, pursuing “strategic national interest” in international markets, most often commodities focused.
China’s state-capitalist confidence has been fuelled by the $600bn-odd stimulus package during the western financial crisis, the bulk of which ended up in the coffers of the SOEs. There are indications, however, that we have reached the peak of the Chinese state’s influence over its own SOEs – as well as its ability to direct the commercial interests of these enterprises into the global economy.
Instead China’s slowing economy may well encourage the process of internationalisation of Chinese enterprises, be it either state-owned or private business.
From State Capitalism to the Market
Chasing the Beijing-influenced SOE investment into Africa will be Chinese private companies. Traditionally – over the past decade or so – Chinese activity on the continent could be divided into two simple categories, large firm SOE investment and then Chinese micro-enterprises made up of migrants either trading or selling. A new type of Chinese investor will be coming to the continent in the medium term – growing private firms that best represent the real competitiveness emanating from the Chinese economy.
At FOCAC, there was very little focus being placed on the macro forces that are impacting the Chinese domestic economy and how Africa can strategically benefit from this. The dynamic is now changing. Whilst resources have underpinned China’s foray into Africa throughout the first decade of this century, a shift is taking place – no longer planned by the government in Beijing but being shaped by market forces. The possible move of manufacturing out of China to Africa is potentially the next thrust.
According to Justin Lin, former chief economist of the World Bank and now at Peking University, China is forecast to possibly lose up to 85m labour-intensive manufacturing jobs within the next decade. In the same way that Japan lost 9.7m in the 1960′s and Korea almost 2.5 million in the 1980′s due to rising wages and production costs, the Chinese economy will undergo a similar (but far greater in number) process.
Wages for unskilled workers in China are set to increase four-fold in ten years. According to China’s National Statistics Bureau, the average monthly worker’s wage now stands at US$322 with an annual increase last year that topped 20%. Wage inflation and rising production costs are forcing China to become a higher-value and more efficient manufacturer. The days of the derogatory named “Fong-Kong” products are numbered.
The Chinese economy has reached the so-called “Lewis Turning Point” – named after the Nobel Prize-winning economist W. Arthur Lewis. The point refers to the time when manufacturing costs begin to outstrip manufacturing competitiveness. China has passed this Lewis Turning Point in the past two years.
It has been a very disruptive period over the last ten years for foreign manufacturers that have battled to compete with the Chinese manufacturing machine. South Africa’s textile and garments industry, along with other sectors, have undoubtedly felt the pain. China’s labour-intensive manufacturing competitiveness is, however, now on the wane.
The inevitable result will be the relocation of Chinese low-end manufacturing to lesser-cost developing economy destinations. This will create enormous opportunities for low income economies with nascent manufacturing sectors. Justin Lin supports this argument by citing the figure of China’s apparel exports amounting to $107bn in 2009, compared to Africa’s total apparel exports of just $2bn. The opportunity for Africa to capture a share of this revenue from relocated Chinese factories is indeed enormous.
From Asian to African Geese?
East Asia’s growth model has been characterised by US academic Daniel Okimoto as a V-shaped flying geese pattern with Japan as the leading regional economy. By the 1970′s, Japan was followed by the Tiger Economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The third tier of Asian geese includes Malaysia, Thailand and now recently Vietnam. But the lead goose is undoubtedly China. Its economy is not so much a flying goose in formation as it is a Boeing 747 – such has been its disruptive impact.
If we apply this model to Africa, can we begin to identify the leading geese? Whilst South Africa is undoubtedly the lead goose on the continent, as rising production and wage costs in South Africa’s economy have increased, we have not seen South African manufacturing shift to lesser cost African economies except perhaps textile and garment production moving to Lesotho. It is unfortunate that regional economies in SADC have not done enough to make themselves attractive to South African manufacturing in the way that Asian economies did to attract Japanese manufacturing that divested from its own economy in the 1970′s.
As there are few states in Africa that are sufficiently differentiating themselves from their neighbours – Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda stand out as exceptions – perhaps the “African geese” can fall into formation with the Asian model. Which African states will proactively build the required institutions and enabling environments to attract manufacturing into their economies and step up on the bottom rung of the industrial value chain?
And where will Chinese industry, which now accounts for over 20% of global manufacturing, begin to move to? The emerging competitors to African countries’ manufacturing aspirations are all Asian: Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. Their labour costs are becoming relatively cheaper as China’s comparatively rise.
According to the Bank of America quoted in Bloomberg Businessweek, their economies are “poised to accelerate, propelling the area’s currencies and fuelling consumer and property booms”. Supported by young populations – the so-called demographic dividend – and high literacy that is above 92% in all three Southeast Asian states, Asian states are well-positioned to benefit from the relocation of China’s low-end manufacturing.
Africa did not lay the foundations for industrialisation that Asian competitors did in the 1970′s and 1980′s. The “latecomer challenge” now lies in building the necessary infrastructure, institutions and skills base to attract the investment. African states did not foresee the China-driven “commodity super cycle” of the last decade and thus did not fully leverage the opportunity it presented for its resource sectors. It is imperative that we now recognise the upcoming shift driven by market forces in China’s manufacturing sector in order to give impetus to African industrialisation and beneficiation ambitions. Africa’s relationship with China is no longer just about attracting state capital but also now private investment.
By; Dr Martyn Davies
Perfect Scenario: More African Women Set To Go Natural
For those of us who are passionate about Africa, perhaps the most refreshing development currently in the news, is the fact that many African women are gradually becoming confident in their natural beauty, and are finally rejecting “artificial beauty” altogether. Many African ladies are saying bye-bye to foreign wigs, hair relaxers and the bleaching cosmetics, which are perceived to be dangerous to the skin.
In February 1994, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Cancer Society released an epidemiologic study involving 573,000 women. The researchers found that Black women who had never used permanent hair relaxers showed decreased risk of all fatal cancers combined, as well as urinary system cancers.
There is also a recent shocking revelation which warned that “many of the hair care products on the market affect Black women’s ability of to have children. Consequently, women who regularly use these chemicals/cosmetics, stand a triple risk of getting fibroid”.
Perhaps this explains the reason why cancer, infertility and fibroid are becoming common in the lives of many African women both home and abroad.
Therefore it is refreshing news that Black women throughout the world are gradually becoming aware of the above risks. This is an obvious reason why many campaigns are currently seeking to encourage Black women to keep their natural hair and to “go natural” so that they can spare themselves the risks of cancer and many more terrible consequences.
Natural hair campaign goes viral It is now confirmed that, the “Black is Beautiful” and the “No More Chemicals” campaign that were recently launched on the various social networks, have all gone viral.
From Facebook to Twitter, YouTube, through Google, many African women are increasingly embracing the idea to go natural; a development that has been hailed as a step in the right direction.
By choosing to go natural, African women are now sending a strong message to the world that they have finally had enough with all those chemicals/cosmetics that have unleashed untold consequences of cancer and reproductive-related problems on the women. It is also an indication that at last the days of “inferiority complex” among Black women are coming to an end.
As the ‘black is beautiful’ and the ‘no more chemicals’ campaigns become bigger and bigger by the day, it will be perceived that any African lady who might still be caught dancing to the tune of “artificial beauty”, is probably one of those who still needs help to overcome her “inferiority complex”.
“There is nothing as beautiful as the natural African woman (without chemicals). African women must shun their inferiority complex and keep their natural hair, their natural skin colour and of course their natural African fashion. These are the best ways to keep our pride as Africans”, a comment on twitter suggested.
Recently, in a report titled: “No More Chemicals: More Black Women Choosing to Go Natural”, the writer made some wonderful revelations as to why many Black women have finally decided to go natural. They have found out about the danger that comes with the use of these chemicals to maintain their hair and their skin.
“I was pregnant and I knew anything I put on my body goes to the baby.” says Jimmere, a 29 year old woman who is now awake.
“Women are sharing information on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, everywhere. It’s endless,” says Espy Thomas, 31, of Detroit, who with her sister Jennifer, 29, hosts periodic natural hair meet-ups that attract hundreds of women, -the report explained.
The most important part of the report suggested the following:
“More and more Black women are opting to wear their natural hair and discontinuing the use of relaxers.”
This revelation was originally contained in a 2011 Mintel report which suggested that between 2006 and 2011, the sales of hair relaxer kits, have dropped drastically by 17%, an amount that translates into several millions of US dollars. The trend is “expected to continue,” the report concluded.
In an interview with some students at the University of Abuja, (Nigeria) Ufuoma, a lady in her early 20s made the following comment:
I feel very ashamed whenever I see my fellow Nigerian sisters/women trying to look like they’re from Asia or America, especially with those fake wigs here on campus. In my opinion, such African women merely suffer from inferiority complex. They don’t seem to appreciate that the African woman is much more beautiful in her natural form and even more respected by the real men out there. For this reason, I and a couple of friends have set out for ourselves the challenge to lead this campaign here in Abuja.
Another woman in her 30s who identified herself as Uche, made the following comment:
To be honest, even though I do not like the idea that some African women use hair relaxers and wigs to depict their confidence, I believe this trend is as a result of the impressions they get from watching TVs, movies and all these foreign fashion shows where such products are presented to them as ‘modern’ fashion/beauty. We seriously need some institutions that will put pressure on the media to educate our people because we are Africans and ‘they’ are not. I think it will be a good idea to show our natural African beauty to the rest of the world too. Maybe if we do, they could also want to dress like us.
When reached for his comment, Emeka- a fashion designer and a movie star in Nigeria explained further:
Being a fashion designer in Africa used to be a very big challenge because the problem was not just about women. In fact many of our men especially the politicians never liked to dress the ‘African way’. It is very surprising to see men always in ‘suits and tie’ with heavy coats despite the hot African weather. However, I must admit that though this scenario is common in other African countries, here in Nigeria, our politicians dress the Nigerian way. I have never seen a Nigerian president wearing suit; rather they wear the Nigerian outfit even when they go on foreign trips. Our mothers also like to dress like African women. The major problem however has to do with the youth. Perhaps many of them were copying blindly from foreign fashion: a clear indication that the movie industry must sit up.
Shifting the revolution into full gear, the role of the politicians
President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
The good news to us the African people is that this revolution has come at the most appropriate time. Fortunately, the African Union has recently declared a decade for women empowerment. At the same time, the AU itself is currently lead by Dr Dlamini-Zuma, a proud African woman whose African pride is reflected in her love for the traditional African fashion.
There are also many respectable women leaders in the likes of Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia. It is my appeal to these noble women of Africa to directly get involved and lead the revolution, so that we can together liberate the minds of every African woman especially the youth, to be proud of their natural beauty, and to portray the African fashion that reflects African norms and values.
Now is the right time for African women to free themselves and start their journey to healthy natural hair. This will enable us create a positive image about African identity to the outside world, to visit Africa, experience our values and appreciate our beautiful continent.
The Project Pan-Africa (PPA) will be willing to cooperate with all the stakeholders, in this regard.
Long live the natural African woman!
Long live the Pan-African Revolution!
Long live mother Africa!!
The writer is a political analyst on African affairs, and a well-known social commentator in Africa. As a strong Pan-Africanist, he is currently seeking to establish the “Project Pan-Africa” (PPA) to create a mental revolution across Africa for the freedom of Africa. He is the editor of “The Doctor’s Report”, your most reliable source of critical analysis on African issues. Please visit his blog at:http://www.honourablesaka.blogspot.co.uk and Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Africa in the Shadow of Colonialism
All over the world and all over history, colonialism has always generated a lot of contentions and confusions. Some political and moral philosophers have always out rightly regarded it as evil; while some others differed in many ways ,arguing that colonialism is a ‘civilizing mission’ of mercy as the British merchants’ watch word connoted or a ‘religious mission’ as justified by the Spanish conquistadores. However, history had shown that almost all the powers that had conquered and colonized other nations were at one time or the other, been under the burden of colonialism. From the time of the ancient warrior and greatest hunter of all time, Nimrod, who built the first ‘kingdom’, man has always desires to conquer and colonize others to build up an empire upon which no sun will set.
For instance, by the late 19th century, Great Britain which successfully had, almost all the nations of the world existing under the shadow of the ‘Union Jack’ was once a colony of the ancient Romans from the city of Rome in present day, Italy. No wonder traces of the Romans could still be seen in the names of several towns, cities, streets and nomenclature of Great Britain as a nation today.
While under Alexander the Great and Julius Cesar, large portions of the Mediterranean the entire known world to the Greeks and Romans had been colonized by both nations respectively. Before his death at the age of 33, Alexander the Great had conquered and colonized the world from the Adriatic Sea in Europe to the Indus River in Asia. While Julius Cesar was even murdered by the seven Roman senators, led by Claudius, who believed among others, that the conquest of Cesar over other lands, languages and people would eventually be of no good to the citizens of neither Rome nor the Republic. Then the saying, world over was -”All roads lead to Rome”.
However, from the carcasses of this great powers sprung forth their successors, (as predicted in Daniel Chapter 8, via the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, also a world power in his time) among which, at a time included parts of Africa.
History as written by the Europeans has been unfair to Africa
Once upon a time, Africans, the Moors (as they are referred to in most literatures) were at a time a world power that conquered, occupied and colonized the Iberian Peninsula and other European territories as far as France for nearly 800 years. For instance during the African Almoravides dynasty (1040-1147 A.D), the empire had absolved southern Spain and Portugal into its sphere of influence ,at the height of its power. The architectural designs ,relics, and artifacts like ancients coins (e.g. the coin of the Almoravids, Sevilla, Spain 1116 B.C. now in the British Museum) in such European nations and cities of Spain and Portugal, Aeolian Islands, Sicily ,Southern Calabria, in Italy attested to the legacy of the Africans while their reign lasted in Europe.
Moreover, the ‘Holy Land’ or the ‘Promised land’- Palestine or Canaan land, which is today a contentious global ‘hara-kiri’ among, Jews, Christians, Arabs etc, upon which bloods are shed on daily basis and upon which men and armies, statesmen and great icons have ended their career, belonged to the ‘Blacks’! Canaan land was established by Canaan (Gen.10; 19).According to the Bible Canaan was the grandson of Noah, and the son of Ham the second son of Noah. Canaan was noted to have established Carthage, present day Tunisia, in North Africa, Phoenicia, ‘England of antiquity’ among others. While Ham his father, was said to have migrated, southwest into Africa and part of the near Middle East (with Canaan’s siblings like Mizraim, Cush, and Phut), where they established many cities. Interchangeably, Ham and his four sons had been attributed to be the ancestors of all Africans or the Biblical progenitors of all present day Africans.
Therefore, colonialism is not an exclusive preserve of Europeans nor is it restricted to a specific time or place; from time immemorial stronger societies have always subjugated weaker societies into its newly conquered territories .And contrary to what the European historians would want us to believe, Africa is not the only continent, to be colonized in history. Nor Africans the only unfortunate people, neither an inferior race to be colonized. The Europeans as represented by Portugal, Britain, France, Spain, Netherland, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, (not necessarily in any particular order) were the last of their kinds when the roll call of colonial powers is called. Their reign lasted till the 20th century, and by proxy, till date.
In other words, colonialism is as old as mankind itself. Nations, kingdoms, empires had risen and nations, kingdoms, empires had fallen. The entire recorded history of man is strewn with the wreckage of the great civilizations which had come into prominence and suddenly as it came, declined and crumbled under its own weight into mere memory of man. That has always been how the story of the world, nay! Mankind goes.
African was the Cradle of Civilization?
Without being found guilty of contradictions, this is the continent where mankind first came forth into reckoning and existence as asserted (to) by immutable, incontrovertible evidence. This is the cradle of mankind-the home of civilization. Genetically, all people having descendants today had the same receptor protein of today’s Africans. That is to state scientifically that, 1.2 million years ago, the skin colour of all creatures was dark, like the present day Africans. The emergence of lighter skin color or White people is as a result of low levels of melanin occasioned by the migration of early man’s migration to less sun-intensive regions in the north where low vitamins D3 levels were a problem.
Before Europe, Africa experienced civilization
This land once gave rise to the greatest empires of yore, when the European nations were still in her primordial state. While the Barbarians (500 A.D) and savages-the ancient Anglo-Saxons (who invaded and created the English nation in early 500 A.D. ),the Jutes (400 B.C),the Vikings (800-1100 A.D) permeated the Europeans nations with their blood thirstiness, Africa had evolved and maintained complex structures into highly organized societies and more sophisticated population with specialized social strata; Africa has one of the world’s oldest civilizations, Egyptian civilization (5500 B.C) and Kerma civilization or Ta Setu (3000 B.C). The Ethiopian Empire of Aksum (300 B.C), the Songhai Empire (1464), Nok Culture (1000B.C), the ancient city of Ife (ca.800), the ancient Kingdom of Zanj (980 A.D), the Kingdom of Buganda, the Kitara Empire, all attested to the fact that Africans had developed a cosmopolitan city-state long before the creation of most European nations and long before the emergence of Europeans in Africa. Monuments, obelisks, of Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Sudan, highly specialized sculptural relics ‘of bronze, copper terracotta figurines’ and pavement traditions of Ife, the great pyramids of Khufu and Giza, the relics along the Nile valley from down East Africa to Cape Town to the fringes of the Mediterranean among others are marks on the sand of time that attested to giant’s steps taken in Africa centuries before Now.
Africans once ruled the world in almost every human endeavour!
Imhotep, father of medicine & architecture
This is the land where the titans once trod, bestrode and bequeathed to humanity the greatness that life could ever offer to humanity. Once upon a time there was Maheru Imhotep, a historic figure, who was the chief and father of architecture and medicine. Before Christ, there was Queen of Sheba, a powerful African monarch, from Ethiopia, who swept King Solomon off his feet, with her beauty, gait and wealth. What of Cleopatra, who dazzled two of the greatest emperors of Rome with her outstanding beauties and skills? There was also Shaka Zulu, a Zulu king, a military genius and a great empire builder. Yaa Asantewaa, Queen of Ejisu, Ghana, who led the Asantes in war against the British in 1900. Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. Queen Nzinga, Queen of the Mbundu people of Angola, a fierce anti-colonial female leader, who fought the Portuguese in the 17th century to abolish slave trade.
While at a time in world history, the center of the world’s scientific knowledge was situated in Timbuktu- the famous world class University of Sankore, in the fabled city of Timbuktu headed by an African, Ahmed Baba Es Sudane (or Ahmed Baba ,the Black)who was a great scholar and intellect in the 16th century.
And at other times the world’s largest and most famous library was in Africa, the Ancient Library of Alexandria, Egypt, which functioned as a major center of research and scholarship in the world by 300 B.C. It was in this Library, that the scientific method of enquiry was first conceived and put into practice by man, and, hence meriting honourably, the term –‘Birthplace of the Modern World’.
It is of no more contests or dispute that most of the first sets of outstanding scientists and philosophers in antiquity and recorded history had their teeth weaned in Africa or were from Africa or passed through Africa in their quest for knowledge. The world greatest mathematician and father of Geometry-Euclid was born and raised in Africa. Similarly, Theon and his son Hypatia, acclaimed as ancient mathematicians and scholars, were from Africa. Philo of Alexandria (20B.C -50A.D), one of the ancient philosoper and a contemporary of Christ was raised in Africa. Pantaenus, Clement of Alexandria, origen, John Philoponus(A.D490-AD 570,he was noted to have proposed –The theory of Impetus, which was the first step towards the concept of Inertia in modern Physics. And a major influence on Galileo Galilei, the European acclaimed father of modern science) and several others were from Africa. Plato at a time was said to have sojourned to Africa, before establishing the ‘Academy’ in Greece. Africa gave to the world -Astronomy, Chemistry, Architecture, Agriculture, writing system, iconography and several branches of human knowledge. All these clearly defeated the argument for ‘civilizing mission’ used as justification for colonization.
Africans occupy strategic place in shaping the present World
In modern time Africa had given birth to giants, whose acts and arts continue to bedazzle and enrich humanity. This is the continent of Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegalese writer and one of the world’s greatest historians. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, a living legend and one of the rare personalities to be honored and celebrated on the Broadway. Wole Soyinka, a compendium of greatness and sagacity in Literature and the first African to be awarded a Nobel Laureate. Phillip Emeagwali, a supercomputer genius, who made the internet a reality. Benjamin Olukayode Osuntokun, an outstanding authority in Medicine and the pioneer of tropical Neurology, most especially-Neuroepidemiology, and ataxic neuropathy. Felix Konotey-Ahulu, a Ghanaian doctor practicing in the United Kingdom, the world’s greatest authority on sickle cell anemia. Victor Anomah Ngu, Cameroonian doctor and discoverer of an Aids vaccine, VANHIVAX. Nelson Rolihlahia Mandela, one of the worlds’ most revered statesmen. All these are evidence that Africans are not inferior to any race.
The Berlin Conference and Scramble for Africa; Colonialism
In 1884 during the Berlin Conference in which Africa was carved up among European powers, Bismarck’s (the convener) plan was not to help Africa but to help Europe from being locked up horn to horn, in another war over Africa because of the aggressive scramble for Africa by the Europeans .The Berlin conference had as its outcome, the General Act of the Berlin Conference, which was the formalization of the scramble for Africa, ushering in a period of heightened colonial activities on the part of the European powers and simultaneously the destruction of African nations’ ability to develop sequentially a thriving ,autonomous societies. Joseph Conrad sarcastic and satirical reference to the Berlin Conference as ‘The International Society For the Suppression of Savage Customs’ in his novel –Heart of Darkness is therefore justified.
The Hamitic Hypothesis; Are Africans accursed?
The question that is pertinent to be asked today is where and how is it that Africa as a continent and Africans as a people, fell from great Olympian height into the abyss of chasm and depravation? And thereby conforming or accepting unwittingly, the erroneous –Hamitic hypothesis-‘slaves of slaves’, or ‘servants of servants’; which was merely a scientific racist’s allusion and logical absurdity that was invented by Europeans as a tool to justify slavery and eventually colonization. Of the Biblical account of Ham nothing is related except his irreverence to his father, Noah and the curse which that patriarch pronounced not on him but his fourth son- Canaan (whose third son Jebus (Gen.10:15-16, Judges 1:21) established present day -Jerusalem).The other sons of Ham “Cush, Mizraim and Phut”, who together with Ham, established the cities that later formed the continents of Africa were never at any time cursed.
Is it a Case of ‘The Lost Glory’?
When Germany’s Leo Frobenius, an ethnologist and archaeologist, travelled to African city of Ife, Western Nigeria in 1910, he exclaimed to have found the mystical ‘Lost City of Atlantis’. Today that lost city is finally lost. Africa’s glory is now departed from its confines-like the story of ‘ICHABOD’, (1Sam 4:21).
Then, like the societies of Europe during the ‘Dark Ages’, once came a time when darkness came and the continent of Africa lost all its glory into oblivion and obscurity. A continent that once ruled the world in almost every facet of human endeavours then suddenly became a by word, victim to every bird of prey and prized spoil of war for any contending powers and army of conquest; The Europeans, the Arabs and now the Asians.
Africa today, is like a keg of gun powder, as result of the effect of slavery and colonialism?
Today, most of the negative tendency and backwardness that are synonymous with African nations had been blamed on the Trans Atlantic slavery and eventually, colonialism. Walter Rodney in his epic book-‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’, Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and ‘The Wretched of the Earth’, pointed out that the evils that pervaded African societies today, were as a result of colonialism vis-à-vis the terrible and repressive nature of administration and legacy left behind by European powers in Africa, most especially those under the bootjack of the Anglo-Saxons. ‘Divide and Rule’ might have worked for the Europeans as a form of political administration of the ‘native Africans’, while their reign lasted in Africa, but its bitter after taste continued to destroy the social and political fabric of African countries till date. Let call to mind, the Hutus/Tutsi crisis, the Nigeria/Biafran conflict, the Congo Brazzaville’s conflicts, Angola ,British Somaliland, Ethiopian/Eritrea, Sudan (once an outpost of Egypt, during the British mandate over Egypt) among several others.
Whereas slavery and colonialism had done much less harm to Africa compared to the greater harm done to African nations by the effect of the methods and style of decolonization after the Second World War .No strongman would freely let go its captives. While slavery and colonization had created skewed evolution, revolution and development of societies in Africa, decolonization had created a far more catastrophe, which had resulted in jaundiced political and social structures and heavily dependent economy.
Why is topical issue like bad leadership, corruption, social strife, brain drain among others a catastrophic pandemy in Africa more than elsewhere in the world? After independence from the colonial powers, most African nations had experienced and degenerated to high scale socio-political and economic decadence. The receding or seceding colonial powers (After the nationalism fever of self determination or self-government, prompted by the Second World War, where a good number of Africans fought side by side, their White counterparts and came to realize that the ‘Whiteman’ , is not invincible after all, agitated for independence. And more so, encouraged by the U.N Special Committee on Decolonization, often called the Committee of 24) had in most cases in a highly vindictive nature handed over, nations of Africa to a group of excessively corrupt, grossly repressive, critically incompetent and pathologically ‘yes-yes’ Africans who would serve as ‘rookies’, ‘sidekicks’ and ‘proxies’ for the benefit of Europeans’ economic interest through indirect mechanism of control (colonialism by other means) after their disengagement from the political scene of Africa. And in turn, over time, such ‘rookies’ had turned the continent of Africa into a bloody conflagration with many tales of woes. Ludwig von Mises once opined that ‘the worst evils which mankind has ever had to endure were inflicted by bad governments’.
And that was precisely the devastating legacy that receding colonial powers intended and bequeathed to emerging African nations. Africa today is an ugly theatre of outright and tragic failure of leadership, no thanks to the dismal legacy of African former Colonial masters. There is hardly any nation in Africa that has not experienced one man made calamity or the other after independence. Some have experienced terrible civil wars, for some it was military incursions that destabilized democratically elected governments and built up hegemony of what is now termed- ‘sit tight’ war lords. While to so many others, poverty, famine and several others man-made tribulations are the order of the day. Africa is hell on earth.
Africa Diaspora; Brain drain and Brain gain
Here then lies the truth about Africa, why so many of its best children are not found within its borders, but outside it confines, a living glory of other nations and continents. Never blame Africans who labour to build the glory of other nations, if they were to be in Africa, they could have ended like Steve Biko, or Gani Fawehinmi, or suffered the fate of Anwar Sadat, Samuel Doe, Samora Machel, Moshood Abiola or Thomas Sankara. Or be wasted like Dele Giwa, Chris Hani, Pa Rewane, or Nana Drobo(remember the Ghanaian herbalist that was found dead with bullet holes in his head, not long after he successfully treated a dying French man with AIDS ,who was sent to him from the Ivory Coast). Or worst still, they could have been subjected to a living, hopeless walking corpse-‘zombie’, like millions of Africans are today in Africa. The glory that such African children (those in Diasporas) enjoyed in other continents of the world today could have been a shame ,had it been, they were to be in Africa. Presently, 140 million people of African origin are recorded to be domiciled in the Western Hemisphere, compared to the 800 million at home i.e one out of five Africans stays abroad from Africa, the statistics is increasing annually. Africa Diaspora is now a major phenomenal crisis of some sort all over the world.
‘There’s only one good, knowledge and one evil, ignorance’. Socrates
For Africa therefore to come out of the doldrums, it must as a matter of not only necessity but also compulsion, begin to do what the Europeans did during what is now called the Renaissance period; invest hugely on education-research and knowledge. In other words Africa must make very strong conscious effort to invest into intellectual capital development. In this century just as the last three centuries it is evident that those that would lead the world or those that would not be left behind or suffer similar fate like the reign of the dinosaurs, must be those with ‘brain power’ and not those with ‘brawl power’. The Jews are a little people, but through great investments into intellectual capital are presently leading the entire known world in almost every facet of life. The British Isle is far smaller than Africa, yet the British used their mastery of the sea waves, knowledge of the use of the compass to conquered two third of the world. The Americans touch every life on earth today in every field, not by the abundance of its weaponry in its arsenal, far from it, but by its investments in intellectual capital. The Japanese inhabited an unfriendly geographical terrain, a very small Isle, saddled inadvertently and fortuitously between two seas along a perilous fault, yet the Japanese learnt the arts and science of taming the elements of its peculiar environment through its knowledge and investment in technology. Today, Japan is a world power in technology; the world’s largest supply of electronics, appliances, and maritime equipments had its source from a little Isle in the Eastern corner of Asia, Japan.
No people, society or nation can develop and survive the stormy water of existence without taking conscious and not accidental steps to invest into the development of its population.
Moreover and much more, Africa must deemphasize on material or natural resources, which are the foundation of every societal decay in African societies,as it were today and a cause of all the wars and fraternal battles common with the African nations for the past half a century. Laying much emphasize on this, continue to propel men and armies to contend aggressively and brutally for land, power and control and thereby subjecting the continent of Africa to much more agony, despair and poverty. Today, African nations patronized what it has no use for; purchase what it can easily produce with obvious comparative advantage and amassed wealth it cannot sustain. Africa is always at peace with his neighbors, but buying guns and guns for use against its own people! A consuming people, heavily dependent society, that hardly produce its staples and means of livelihood can never survive the brutal reality of the 21st century.
Oh Africa, how I wished you honour your children for your own glory?
To survive, Africa must learn to gather all her children from the Diaspora or from every angle of the world back to Africa. It is believed, that Africans in the Diaspora has the potentials to revitalize Africa, improve themselves and their fatherland. A situation where an African would find pleasure abroad and doom at home must fade away like the reign of the dinosaurs. The Africans of this world – the Barack Obamas, Philip Emeagwalis, Gabriel Eyinbos, Olaudah Equianos, Chinua Achebes, Wole Soyinkas, Felix Konotey-Ahulus, Victor Anomah Ngus etc must all come back home, to Africa that would greatly welcome them and appreciate them.
Wealth of a Nation
Africa must borrow a leaf from the age long political and economic conclusions of Adam Smith in- An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (generally referred to by the short title-The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776), that “The greatness of a nation is not in the abundance of its material resources…” i.e natural endowments like oil, gold, diamond etc, “but in the creative ability of its people”.
Conclusively, Colonialism could not be said to be an outright evil per se in its entirety. History abounds with nations that had come forth from the pains and gory tales of colonialism into astounding fame and glory, thereafter. However, the colonialism and decolonialization of Africa is a different thing entirely. As of the time of African’s quest for independence, European nations had almost exhausted all her resources, and Africa offers a ready and willing prey with abundance of untapped resources both human and natural resources, too tempting to let go. Therefore, for Africa to realize its dream of an independent ‘people’ under God, it must take cognizance and holistic appraisal of its weakness and peculiar history.
By :Shola Adebowale
Shola Adebowale is a prolific freelance writer, syndicated columnist, researcher, and blogger. He specializes in telecommunications, Internet trends, and investment portfolio.