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Opinions of Friday, 25 May 2018

Columnist: Benjamin Osei Boateng

Echoes from the womb, tears from the unborn African child

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Africa is undoubtedly the richest continent in the world and yet when I take a bird’s eye view, I see a different picture. I keep asking myself whether to live in self-denial or wake up to the reality.

Africa today, is defined by European standards. I begin to wonder why we cannot tell our own story and attempt to change the narrative. Then a question comes to mind, “Which story?” the story about the successes we have chalked so far or our unpardonable failures? I would rather concentrate on the latter for obvious reasons.

May 25 of every year has become a day for our annual ritual. Africa Union Day is marked across the length and breadth of this continent. As usual, a time for Heads of State to dine and unwind with each other.

It does not come as a surprise to see the young, old and the young at heart throng the recreational centres to have fun. A clear sign that we are fast losing the significance of the day. Is AU Day still relevant? But of course, what do you expect from a failed union? if you grant me a little latitude, I would share with you few observations I have made over the past few years.

His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on January 28, 2018, launched the theme for this year: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation” during the opening ceremony of the 30th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. Since then, nothing significant has been done.

Sometimes, I am tempted to think that those who toiled for the liberation of the African continent from neo-colonialism will today be lying in their respective graves full of disappointments. It brings into sharp focus great leaders like Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) and many others.

I am quite optimistic there will be lots of questions on their minds if they were to be alive today. Well after a second thought, I think I must respect the dead by allowing them the luxury of sleeping in peace, not in pieces. I would rather concentrate on the living or particularly zero in on the kind of Africa the unborn generation is likely to face if drastic measures are not put in place by the present crop of leaders across Africa.

What are some of the challenges that beckons the unborn African child in a village in Ouagadougou, Bujumbura, Accra, and Yaoundé and so on?
The unborn child will be plaqued with an Africa where civil unrest, atrocities and wars have become part of us. We live on a continent where peace is gradually becoming a mirage. Africa seem to have reached its most dangerous stage in decades.

The upsurge in armed conflicts in recent years is outstripping our ability to cope with the repercussions. From the global refugee crisis to the spread of terrorism, our collective failure to resolve conflict is giving birth to new threats and emergencies.

The emergence of terrorist groups like Boko Haram (Nigeria), Al-Shabaab (Somalia), Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia), Lord’s Resistance Army (Uganda) just to mention but few, raises more concern about what the future holds for the next generation. It is largely believed that some of these groups were behind the attempted coup d’etat in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Egypt and others.

Even in peaceful countries, the politics of “winner takes all” and fear has resulted in dangerous polarization and demagoguery.
The unborn child will come face to face with an Africa where there’s uneasy calm in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central Africa Republic, South Sudan (the youngest state in Africa), Eretria, Somalia, Egypt, Libya and Niger.

We live on a continent where some political actors have become power-drunk. Others still want to hold on to power until death, regardless of the consequences. It is generally believed that this is happening as a cover up on various heinous crimes committed under their watch.

We have come to s stage where political actors tend to concentrate more on petty issues instead of pertinent issues. The average African now looks and analyzes issues through the lens of the politician. But I ask, ‘why does democracy seem to thrive well on other continents than Africa? Is it that it does not sit well with our cultural setting or perhaps we failed to get the script right before its adaptation?’ These are some of the mind-boggling questions the unborn child needs answers to.

The unborn child will be confronted with a new Africa where pundits, scholars and statisticians say is developing but in reality is stagnated. We are made to believe that our economies have made significant progress and yet the spate of unemployment is unimaginable, hunger is on the ascendency, violence and insecurity amongst the people.

We seem to have lost our identity and woefully failed to recognize our rightful place in the economics of this world. We have for decades failed to realize that the so-called super-power countries like The United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Turkey can never survive without us. Africans feed these countries with most of their raw materials like gold, bauxite, cocoa, timber and so on but amazingly, these western countries determine the prices of our commodities. This is an absurdity.

The innocent African child born today, will be confronted with an Africa whose men and women have lost confidence in themselves. But wait a moment, do these echoes reflect the reality? Because we live on a continent where most politicians pursue their hidden agenda with the aim of amassing wealth within the shortest possible time. Why not? Again, we live on a continent where presidents and public officials make a public spectacle of themselves by driving in the latest Toyota landruiser v8 cars, travel long distances in a convoy only to commission or cut sword for the construction of a toilet facility (not even a water closet).
They will be challenged with a certain Africa whose leaders have failed to even provide basic social amenities for the citizenry. We are all privy to the failure of leadership to sustain basic health insurance schemes for the poor and vulnerable and yet spend lavishly on porch apartments and travels. And as if that insult is not enough, they proudly fly in their various presidential jets to Europe with cup in hand for donor assistance. Yes! They will be confronted by an Africa where government budgets are largely funded by donor agencies from Europe. This is a tragedy!
That baby in the foetus, will be faced with Africa where our workforce are constantly frustrated, intimidated and humiliated at the embassies and High Commissions of European countries. This is partly because leadership have failed to provide congenial atmosphere to inspire the youth to become entrepreneurs. The exodus of our workforce to seek greener pastures in Europe and other continents is indictment on leadership in Africa and yet the Africa Union seem not perturbed. Young men and women from countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania and so on get drown in the Mediterranean Sea as they seek to be enslaved in Europe.
The unborn generation will be plagued with an Africa where some of the indigenes have lost their sense of pride. Africa which has lost total confidence in her own cultural heritage. Yes! We have seen indigenous institutions like hotels, hospitals and so on named after persons of foreign origin. We have seen countless occasions where governments have named major streets and highways after individuals from other continents instead of the illustrious sons of our dear continent.
They will be confronted by an Africa where the media which is supposed to play a watch-dog role and serve as the mouthpiece for the under-privileged and marginalized, deeply divided on political and ethnic lines. Some media institutions are seen busily doing the bidding of their ‘slave masters’. Situations where politicians have strategically opened radio and television stations in order to use it as a tool for political propaganda. With most countries currently nurturing their infant democracy, this is indeed a recipe for disaster. We live on a continent where our radio and television stations have been taken over by cheap imported soap operas from Mexico, Spain and even China. These telenovelas come with stories that have got nothing to do with the African agenda. Sadly, some stations go through the ordeal of translating these telenovelas into local languages instead of supporting indigenous producers in the showbiz industry.
The coming generation will again be faced with an Africa where its citizens have lost pride in themselves. A continent where its energetic young men and women have denounced their God-given complexion (Black) and have resorted to spending lots of time and resources on body creams and lotions just to get a white skin. Now, bleaching has been modified and now called “skin toning”. Africans are at a stage where we have blatantly rejected beautiful black silky hair and have now resorted to the buying and importation of expensive human and artificial hairs from Brazil, Peru, and China. I will not be surprised to hear sooner than later the importation of pubic hairs from maybe Yugoslavia or Ukburkistan.
Europe constantly plan to have a share of Africa. Why does Africa continue to let its resources meet the insatiable needs of those outside its continent and then turn around in search of donor support?

Majority of what is making Europe rich are end products of Africa's mines, soils and brains. I am very sure they even have a long-term plan of exporting our wildlife to avoid traveling all the way to see them here. Let Africa must rise again for the betterment of the unborn generation. These are echoes from the womb.