IF one expects a change of political, social and economic fortunes in Africa, they ought to look elsewhere as the continent’s leadership is preoccupied with power retention and political survival.
guest column:Gibson Nyikadzino
Guinea’s Alpha Conde and Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara are recent examples of how constitutionalism in Africa is a dead dream. A lot of hopeless examples about the continent are glaring.
In May 2000, an edition of The Economist magazine headlined a “demeaning” story about Africa on its cover page.
The story portrayed Africa as “The Hopeless Continent.” On the magazine’s cover page was the continent’s map and in its background a young man who loomed large, carrying a missile launcher on his shoulder.
The image alone depicted Africa as a continent successively at war and whose fighters are young men, who potentially should be working to lead it out of poverty.
Many pan-Africanists and other moderates protested the headline. They argued it was another Western bias in projecting Africa as a continent that lacks ambition to end war.
To academics and African intellectuals, the headline resembled subtle racist approaches at campaigning for the acceptance of a neo-colonial global narrative under the New World Order.
The headline came against the background of an Africa that had made historical successes and monumental strides in anticipation of the new millennium.
In 1996, Nigeria’s Under-23 football team won gold after beating Brazil and Argentina in the semi-finals and finals, respectively of the centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.
The same year, Nigeria’s Under-23 team won global acclaim, Ghana’s Kofi Anan was to become the United Nation’s first secretary-general from sub-Saharan Africa, taking over from Egypt’s Boutros Boutros Ghali.
Fast-forward 13 years later, The Economist magazine in its March (2013) edition had a headline story about Africa titled A Hopeful Continent.
The emphasis of the “special report” edition was that “lives had already greatly improved over the past decade.”
While there are some positive strides taking place in Africa, some of them tend to be piece-meal “successes” to lure international media for public relations purposes.
But a critical look at what is happening in Africa 20 years later continues to vindicate what The Economist’s edition highlighted as “The Hopeless Continent.”
Because the world has become a global village, the movement of human capital, resources, technology, skills and knowledge transfer remain tilted in favour of countries that are not in Africa.
To explain that, since 2000, many African countries have not invested in broad-based economic development.
Hospitals, road networks, sporting infrastructure and schools have not changed.
The continent’s leaders continue going either to the West or East in search of medical help.
In 2013, the African Union (AU) launched an initiative called Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020 #theAfricaWeWant.
The initiative, seven years later has faced a lot of operational challenges and guns remain the language of mediation in many parts of the multi-ethnic continent.
The AU has been clear that the intention is to “end all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violent conflicts and preventing genocide on the continent by 2020”.
Since 2013 when the AU pledged to silence guns by 2020; there has been a Renamo insurgency in Mozambique; the South-Sudan conflict has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives; Burundi, Cameroon, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been classified as the most volatile and insecure countries.
The most recent conflict is going on in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. A lot more has and continues to happen.
Terrorism cases have multiplied and the security of many African citizens is at risk.
Terror cases continue to be recorded in Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Libya, Egypt, Kenya and in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region.
Coups have also been prevalent in Africa since the AU 2013 initiative.
Now, the continent has Agenda 2063 anchored by seven aspirations.
By 2063 the continent’s leaders anticipate “strengthening mechanisms for securing peace and reconciliation at all levels, as well as addressing emerging threats to Africa’s peace and security.”
The unfolding circumstances and trends in Africa today are reflective of leaders who care little about their legacies and the future of the continent.
For example, in 2018 Zimbabwe’s military officers shot and killed civilians during election protests.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa set up a commission that recommended that those who killed civilians should be brought to book.
However, the recommendation itself is an indictment and prosecution of the military that brought him to power in November 2017.
The nation remains gripped with horror memories of what many thought was a moment to bridge the divide in a highly-polarised nation.
There is no change that is coming from contemporary African leadership that consists of the comprador bourgeoise.
They are keen and intent on being the middlemen of the exploiters at the expense of the population.
The leadership has no sincerity to depart from the colonial politics that were characterised by segregation, exploitation and nepotism. Segregation, exploitation and nepotism continue to happen.
In most cases, most African leaders have not experimented with any economic policy such as socialism like what the late Julius Nyerere did in Tanzania under the Ujamaa philosophy.
The little that modern leadership is doing has no humanist content.
The younger generation is intellectually massaged to think they are the leaders of tomorrow.
Whenever they are brought near the centre of power, they are easily absorbed into political hallelujah boys, lacking vision and sight on how best they can enlighten colleagues.
The ability to end the pernicious shame of neo-colonial squalor, poverty, corruption and underdevelopment is a feat that Africa will never achieve in a thousand years.
Survival will remain driven by the law of the jungle — survival of the fittest. As it is, the May 2000 edition of The Economist magazine is vindicated, Africa will forever carry the tag: “A Hopeless Continent.”