Only Africans Can Develop Africa
THE African continent has no choice but to completely divorce itself from the disastrous and dependent construct of ‘just surviving, merely existing’ and indefinitely root itself into the real and tangible trajectory of living, the reality of a dignified lifestyle. The day-in-day-out toil for barebones survival, the contentment with the ‘beggars and burgers theory’ is just unacceptable right here in the meaty-beefy, resource-laden continent. The ‘cradle of mankind’ is well-endowed with abundant natural resources, raw beauty and manned by extraordinary social engineers with the African cause which was stubbornly self-tattooed at the inception of existence.
This is a continent with a cause, a just cause, a bona fide blue-print for its re-ignition, its re-organisation and intended dignified re-emergence. These social engineers are not new and we have witnessed their emergence before in the form of Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara, Cabral and Patrice Lumumba just to name a few and the idea has historically been frustrated and countered with colonial coercion and more recently neo-colonial craftiness. The defining feature about these unique social engineers in spite of the persistent pressure to asphyxiate the cause is that new and more robust ones always emerge and the cause stays alive.
The engineers at the nucleus of the conscious and righteous quest for the African regeneration and fusion are still alive, have been born and are still to be born. Robert Mugabe is alive to that cause; Julius Malema has been born with the Mugabe vision permanently inked to his spirit and more are still to be born to that continent-defining outlook. The African quest to dissociate itself from the one-sided and overly dependent relationships must not be viewed as pursuing an isolationist course but a positive move towards mutually favourable development partnerships. There is need for mutually beneficial engagement with development partnerships, in particular with China and, of course, continued engagement with traditional development partners from the West.
However engagement with traditional development partners must be mutually advantageous. The concerning thing is that over fifty years of post-independence engagement and development partnerships with the West has seen minimal benefit in terms of tangibility. Pre-independence, the colonial settlers focused on development to cater for a small and specific target group and, post-independence, the traditional development ‘partnerships’ from the West have seen very little in terms of tangibility and solid evidence of economic progress on the continent. China’s engagement with Africa on the other hand has in fact resulted in real and concrete productive assets such as infrastructural development. What remains on the continent from engagement with the traditional ‘partners’ from the West is what they built pre-independence and very little post-independence.
The empirical evidence on the ground clearly shows that Africa’s engagement with the Chinese is about productivity, economic transformation and real development whereas the engagement with traditional western ‘partners’ has mainly been about less tangible and soft surface issues such as Millennium Development Goals, democracy promotion, proliferation of NGOs which foster more of dependence as opposed to innovation and self-sustenance. The engagement with China seems genuinely based on mutual respect and mutually beneficial outcomes are intended and evidenced. There is concrete, visible and tangible evidence of the roads and other infrastructure that China is building in Africa whereas engagement with traditional development ‘partners’ continues to witness conflict after conflict in any area of resource-abundance.
Although it would be dishonest to suggest that partnerships with the West have been exclusively disastrous, their presence unfortunately seems to invite conflict whereas Chinese presence seems to bring positive economic progress for the continent. The mutually respectful Chinese approach and the West’s ‘saviour attitude’ is what separate these two development partners. There is nothing called charity and both partners are in it for themselves, but mutual respect is crucial to any relationship.
More Malemas and Mugabes will continue to be churned endlessly as long as the same reasons that agitated Lumumba, Nehanda and others remain unresolved and continue to afflict the African continent. The illusion that once people have ‘food on the table’ the agitation will stop is just but what it is - an illusion. The very reason why President Mugabe’s name is synonymous with the pessimistic prophets who wish to extinguish his visionary flame is the very reason they will perennially construct and reconstruct his end year in, year out. The people of Zimbabwe, the people of Africa subscribe to this vision and what they all see in the Mugabe vision is the very same thing the architects of his customary yearly demise and resurrection see as well; the threat to their historical cushioned and pampered ‘living’ as opposed to ‘just surviving’ which has historically and continues to come at the expense of the unfortunate inhabitants from the cradle of mankind.
Africa is on a journey, an African journey and a journey that requires Africans and them alone to carry forwards. Don’t be fooled by superficial seals to the cracks with illusory promises from Alienville; Africa is alone in this quest and no charitable champion is going to command the survival of the continent with no motive of their own. The perennial repertoire of analyst after analyst wishfully clamouring for the demise of President Mugabe can only tell you three things - that the man must be doing something right, is doing something right and has done something very right!
The regurgitation of the national leader’s supposed end is not only morally-offensive; it is irresponsible, immature and imprudent. That no amount fabrication will quell the inevitable quest for that morally-thick formula to genuinely upgrade lives is clear testimony to the unquenchable craving for that enduring reality of dignified ‘living’. Only Africa can develop Africa. No philanthropic knight-in-shining armour is going to come and rescue Africa from this permanent predicament that has historically stalled its long overdue development.
Bernard Bwoni can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org/ bernardbwoni.blogspot.com
Africason is a Musician/independent recording artiste and a die-hard believer in Africa.
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