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Opinion - Is colonialism solely responsible for Africa’s economic, political stagnation?

2020-08-17  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Is colonialism solely responsible for Africa’s economic, political stagnation?

Many years after independence and nationhood, almost every African leader is placing the blame of Africa’s inability to lift herself up economically and politically on her former colonisers. However, African countries are not the only ones, which were colonised. Other countries, which were colonised have since then risen up and faced real economic and political challenges. England was once under France around 1066, Japan colonised China, the United States of America was at one stage under Britain and so was India and many examples.

LoveWorld Ministry Pastor Chris Oyakhilome questions how much time does Africa needs to be helped in order for her to become self-reliant in all economic and political aspects. He singles out African leaders and universities for failing to improve the situation in Africa but have adopted a begging spirit like a child. Yes, economic development has been made to such extent, but not satisfactory enough considering the abundant resources on the continent. What has happened to the convincing sweet promises of African nationalists shortly before independence? There could be many reasons, but maybe the following could suffice for now:

The colonial past
This cannot be an excuse for Africa’s economic and political stagnation anymore. Many countries have undergone through this phase, woke up, and made some better economic and political strides and policies. The Asian Tigers is a very good example.
Lack of vision
Many African leaders have come up with hollow Visions promulgations. There is Vision 2030 in Namibia now. One wonders whether Namibia is seriously marching towards it when many Namibian children have no access to ICT. The Covid-19 has unveiled this, where schools were found not having enough computers. Many children in rural areas in Namibia has never seen a live television broadcast. After thirty years of Independence, many villages in Namibia have no electricity and potable water. Many teachers are still computer illiterate. We cannot talk about industrialisation in Namibia when we cannot make even a toothpick. With the advent of the coronavirus, just walk around in our shops and you will understand that we really depend on South Africa, as the shops are almost empty. Think about it that we are only left with ten years to catch up with Vision 2030 and it seems we have not started this journey. 

Failed education systems
Africa has failed to change its curriculum after many years of independence, as it remains theoretical. Of course, there could be minor changes here and there in the curriculum, but that is not enough. At tertiary levels, Africa is still using foreign literature which is irrelevant to Africa. In most cases, higher tertiary qualifications are mere medals and cannot be utilized for practical purposes. We are sitting with the coronavirus, yet few African institutions of higher learning are struggling with solutions to find a vaccine for it. We are waiting or vaccines to come from China, Europe and the USA and not from Africa. Whereas lockdowns are helpful to curb the spread of the virus, for now, it is not the final solution to the eradication of the virus. Africans should find their own medication and vaccine for the virus, following the steps of Madagascar.

Insensitive to constructive criticism
Many African leaders cannot stand constructive criticism, as they regard it as a challenge to their rule. Constructive criticism in many African quarters is seen as a conspiracy to topple the Government. Europe and the USA are where they are today because they adopted the spirit of tolerance and accepted divergent ideas. Yes, their path was neither smooth, but at least Africa should have learned from their mistakes and experience. Africa tried one partyism and military rule, but failed dismally, because as we say, “one finger alone cannot pick or crush a louse.”

Share kleptomania
Many African leaders enter state houses with one or two suits and within 10 years walk out as billionaires. Those who cannot lay their hands on billions of the taxpayer’s money are seen as weak. The first thing members of parliament think about when entering the August House is not about the electorates, but where to find a farm and how to buy a Mercedes-Benz. In the process, they develop an illness and insatiable urge for money. It is money that matters not the plight of the electorates. It is politics of the belly and the politician can do anything because he or she has the ill-gotten money to splash around.

Lack of accountability
Many members of parliament seem not to be accountable to anybody. Voters are bought with a mere N$100 to vote for an honourable member of parliament who disappears after the elections and reappear after five years asking the poor electorates to cast their votes for the absent representative. It repeats itself election in and election out, and these voters because of abject poverty have no choice but to vote for the sly politician as there is nobody there to assist them. They hope against hopes that this politician will perhaps come to their rescue one day, which never happens. The voters are taken for granted and the politicians ride on their backs.

Recycled politicians
It is an open secret that many African politicians are allergic to retirement even if there are octogenarians. It is a taboo and a sign of weakness for many African politicians to step down willingly despite having run out of new ideas. As a result, they cannot come up with creative and innovative economics and political idea. Mo Ibrahim has recently added his voice to this scenario of African leaders refusing to step down, that they do so.

Brain drain
Many African intellectuals find it difficult to settle in their own homelands, as they become targets for expressing authentic views. These intellectuals should develop Africa, but their brains are put into good use elsewhere. Some leaders entice and lure intellectuals to come back home, only to frustrate them shortly after their arrival.
African cannot continue blaming the colonizers for their failures. If education introduced to Africa was inferior, the leaders have all the opportunity to reform it and make it relevant for Africa. So, are the economic and political systems, as keeping on blaming colonialism will take Africa nowhere.

2020-08-17  Staff Reporter

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