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Opinions of Friday, 7 March 2003

Columnist: Anane, Baffuor Gyau

The Fault Is From Within

Mother Africa is in pain; self-inflicted pain caused by her own children. The African has allowed the so-called hidden hand, best known as Western Conspiracy, which to the African and most people in Third world societies, is a branch of Western Foreign Policy, to cloud his perception of reality regarding the socio-economic and political mess on the continent.

Ignorance and lackadaisical attitude towards government have allowed thugs and crooks who call themselves leaders but are nothing more than opportunists, scalawags, and swindlers to deny the African the abundant wealth that is his. These thugs shoot themselves into power and because they do not know how to govern but do know how to steal, no attempts are made to build schools, hospitals, and roads and they allow the existing infrastructure to crumble. They govern with the gun and smother any attempts by the people to protest against their illegal rule. Dissidents are silenced by the gun or imprisonment. There is no hidden hand in this. The African is responsible for his own suffering.

If a warlord could take up arms and claim ten square miles of the continent as his domain, the West has nothing to do with it. If rebels could attempt to overthrow an elected government because they do not like the ballot-chosen Head of State, the West has nothing to do with it. If Africans could buy arms to kill themselves when millions of their people are starving do death, please do not blame the West. If dictators could rig elections and stay in power till death or a coup d’etat kicks them out, please do not blame the West. If African leaders, elected or not, could use the national coffers as their piggy banks, the so-called hidden hand has nothing to do with it. If African leaders, elected or not, could execute people they felt were threats to their rule, the so-called hidden hand has nothing to do with it. Limbs of innocent African children, as young as toddlers, have been amputated in the name of revolution. Young girls and pregnant women are being raped across the continent by rebels, in some cases right in front of their fathers and husbands. The atrocities being committed by rebels break the most hardened heart.

These evil acts have displaced thousands of Africans from their towns and villages, and refugee camps, as congested as canned sardine, have mushroomed all over the continent. Africans are planting landmines instead of planting crops to feed themselves. Western Conspiracy? The turmoil has deprived the African of his freedom. A great Western philosopher says that man’s “freedom is understood as the index of his possibilities.” How far can the African reach, intellectually and economically, when warlords, rebels, and dictators have taken away his freedom? The gun has taken away the African’s freedom. Africans do not manufacture AK-47 assault riffles and powerful guns, but because gun shops have proliferated all over the world like fast food restaurants, war-torn African countries have become like the old Wild West.

Warlords, rebels, dictators and corrupt leaders have used these guns to terrorize, maim, and kill innocent Africans. Usurpation of power, corruption, and gangster mentality of rebels have brought the African down to his knees, pleading for handouts from the West he accuses of being the reason behind his endemic plight. The African can never blame Destiny or Nature. Africa is one of the richest, if not the richest in mineral resources. Though the Sahel deprives some parts of Africa of arable land, most of the land in Africa is fertile. Mechanized farming is feasible in most parts of Africa and that will increase food production. Unfortunately, primitive farming methods are still being practised in most parts of Africa. Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and the Ivory Coast can feed the whole of West Africa. South Africa, Uganda, Central African Republic, the Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, and Botswana can feed the rest of Africa.

Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Senegal, and the Gambia, through irrigation and good animal husbandry, can provide the continent with milk, beef and cheese in abundance. Africa can be self-sufficient in food and spare the world the agony of seeing African kids with distended stomachs and skinny limbs shooing flies from their sad-looking faces in congested refugee camps. Destiny or Nature therefore has nothing to do with the unnecessary pain and suffering inflicted on Africans. Usurpers of power who masquerade as revolutionaries or as patriots have destroyed the continent.

As Shakespeare says, the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings. It is about time the African realized that warlords, rebels, and corrupt dictators who treat African countries as if they are their great, great grandfathers’ personal properties they have inherited are the reasons behind the suffering in Africa. Corruption and the lack of respect for the rule of law are the root causes of the hell in Africa.

It is not a hopeless situation. An African proverb says you do not step on a fool’s testicles twice. It really hurts. For how long should the African endure this pain? Thugs and thieves have kicked the African around for too long. The African has tolerated stupidity and evil for too long. There is no hidden hand in this. The West did not conspire to make African countries beggar nations. This mentality is wrong and it has allowed corrupt African leaders to inflict pain on Africans and blaming the West for the problems they have caused. Human beings are endowed with the power of reasoning, one of the greatest gifts from the Source of Life, God, and through this precious gift no one has to tell a man that it is wrong for someone to impose himself on him. It should not take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

What is the solution to all this? The solution is as simple as the African being aware that democracy and good governance and respect for authority nurture stability and prosperity, and the African should stop jubilating on the streets when fools trumpeting ‘power to the people’ take over the reigns of government by forceful means just to enrich themselves. The best Africans could do is to organize mass protests when the Corporal Sansas, the Sergeant Tongas, and the General Greedys usurp power.

BAFFUOR GYAU ANANE
FREELANCE WRITER

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.