WHOEVER bewitched African leaders probably perished at Nagasaki in 1945, many years before the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded in 1963. That person, alongside his tools of trade and his relatives, were definitely blown to smithereens by the nuclear explosion leaving nothing for Africa to salvage.
Africa and Africans in general are yet to comprehend the ideals of Independence. As a continent, we dance to music that is played in Paris, Washington and London in the lofty comfort of air conditioned offices in the dusty streets of Abidjan, Lusaka and Harare.
We are not victims but willing and active participants to the “genocide of ideas” that is making it possible for the continent to lose out on opportunities availed by the digital economy, let alone benefits to be accrued by embracing the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).
The just-elected Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema has recently been gallivanting in the US. He visited effigies of slavery and slave trade, recited stories by anti-imperialist icons whilst conveniently choosing not to wear the white gloves he has been wearing ever since he was elected president of Zambia. His electoral message resonated around the need to do away with Chinese aid. He seems to be warming up to US-driven debt whilst already having been a recipient of a motley consignment of vaccines from the Americans to the tune of US$18 million. Talk of vaccine diplomacy.
One thing is clear. He either did not read Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo who hails from Zambia or if he managed to go through it, then he did not understand what she meant. He is not alone in such a quagmire. Colonels are staging coups in Francophone African states, one after the other as if on cue whilst Kagame is posturing an image of being an all (awe-) inspiring hero capable of defeating terrorism through killing terrorists.
Essentially, all if not most of these dubious deeds by African leaders are mollycoddled within a sheath of propaganda, too complex to unravel yet useless for the African kid who is impoverished and accustomed to poverty and suffering.
At 1,3 billion people, 60% of whom are below the age of 25 years, Africa has got serious potential to be both a manufacturer, producer and consumer of its own goods. There exists good opportunities for the emergence of a middle class that can help spur economic growth and development of the continent. However, the reverse of this is what is happening.
Disputed elections coupled by a series of protests, rampant corruption, weak institutions and vestiges of colonialism has allowed the continent to remain impoverished to a point of having its leaders hoping for donations to fight the global menace, Covid-19.This saddening reality is made worse by the fact that brain drain continues to spread like nobody’s business. Nothing is being done to retain skilled human capital that can help Africa boost its Global GDP contribution, which stands at a paltry 4% or thereabouts despite having around 15% of the world’s population.
Lockdowns are still the order of the day in Africa as dubious doomsday conspiracies drive Africans away from vaccination centres. The opposite is the truth elsewhere. Antony Joshua lost his IBF, WBO, WBF world heavyweight titles to Olexander Usyk of Ukraine in front of a 70 000+ partisan crowd at Tottenham Stadium.
Revelations that only 6% of Africans have been vaccinated makes sad reading. The implications to African economies cannot be understated. Value chains are being decimated whilst lethargy in decision making, worsened by lack of visionary leadership continues to be the order of the day. The tourism sector is almost dead yet nothing is being done to stimulate domestic tourism. In most African states, it is an achievement to visit local tourist sites. Using an aircraft is a status symbol.
Whatever happened to Africa is proving to be a curse that is limiting our growth potential.Whilst at it, I am hopeful that Hakainde Hachilema will not disappoint his vociferous social media fanatics like Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi. So far, the signals are not looking good.
- Sapien is a security expert