African nations have had independence for so so many years: Why aren’t our nations better off? That is the question Nadia Zeine asked on twitter a couple of days ago. It is question I have often tried to answer. Off the top of my head, I can think of these five reasons; Leadership, Followership, Aid, Corruption, Neocolonialism and Religion.
We haven’t been too lucky with the leaders we have had in the past 3 decades or so. We have had very ignorant, selfish and greedy leaders who have done nothing but robbed our nations of their wealth and signed contracts primary school children wouldn’t even sign. Development can come when we have strong development-oriented leaders who are interested in the welfare and development performance rather than vague policies, nepotism and ethnic divisions.
I have maintained that ’in as much as we have a leadership crises in Africa, I believe we have a followership crises as well.’ We have followers who don’t analyse or pay attention to the real issues and vote accordingly; we have sycophants who only seek their well-being and not that of the state. Followers have failed to criticise leaders constructively and vote the right people into power. Followers have been more interested in what they get rather than what nation.
Aid, Aid and more Aid. I am just one chapter deep in Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid but I share her views on aid; Aid has been and continues to be, an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster for most parts of the developing world. Aid has done nothing but led to the underdevelopment of our continent. Aid has been seen as a end rather than a means to an end. Governments have become lazy because of aid. We have become too dependant on aid that we have failed to generate the money we need for development. This is one area we can learn from China. China in its economic transformation sought foreign aid as a supplement to national resources and as a means to acquire know-how and management skills. The opposite is true with Africa. Governments after governments boast how much aid they were able to secure. This has to change!
Corruption continues to be one of the reasons for our underdevelopment. Although we have some good examples in Botswana, Cape Verde, Seychelles and Mauritius, African countries continues to be in most corrupt nations. I have always said we don’t punish corruption enough in Africa. We live in countries where corrupt public servants are ‘asked to proceed on leave.’ How do you deal with corruption in a state like that? The only way to deal with corruption is not true fruitless education drives we have seen around the continent but to give out stiffer punishments.
Before the end of the cold war, Africa was the ground for the proxy wars; Mozambique, Angola which have caused tremendous damage to their economies. Neocolonialism continues to be a problem for the continent. Today, it has taken economic dimensions through unfair trade practices.
It is my view that every society which is over-religious or over superstitious will always remain underdevelopment. Our being over-religion and over-superstitious has affected the development of our continent. We take religion too seriously. We would do whatever the pastor, imam or priestess says even if it’s wrong. We rely too much on religion to solve our problems. Religion won’t! I believe in religion but I think religion comes in where science can’t provide an explanation.
Africa’s future is up to Africans. The earlier we take our destiny into our hands and correct these wrongs, the better.