By Mildred Ngesa
Thursday is Africa Day, but the continent might be too busy nursing a broken heart to even think about it.
Today’s Africa is an Africa that has lost its soul – it pushes and shoves towards the global doors of opportunities with the gluttony that depletes the motherland but enlarges only the radius of the shameless few.
Africa’s audacity to amplify its status on the globalised economic stage has awarded it a new camouflaged status of futuristic possibilities but sadly one that hides the reality of the vandalism within.
Africa is wooed by a flow of over $50 billion worth of Foreign Direct Investment but of which no one speaks of the ultimate loss to the people when the “so-called” investors are done raping it dry and it resources have been vanquished.
Africa’s masses have learnt to surrender their destiny to fate, choosing instead to blame the gods of poverty and natural calamities rather than the wolves masquerading as sheep in the form of leaders exploiting them with a vengeance that is unmatched.
Exactly 54 years today, Africa’s forefathers resolved that never again would the motherland mourn and gnash its teeth over its liberation and sovereignty.
They must have purposed that the colonial blood flowing from Cairo to Cape Town in the dark ages would eternally dry up.
Sadly though, they must be turning in their graves as the continent haemorrhages violations, suffering, desperation, discontent and disillusionment amongst its 1.2 billion people.
Where politicians should have led the way to steady and progressive governance, dictatorial and nepotistic tendencies have gained root, ensuring that power remains the preserve of a minority to the detriment of the majority.
From Angola to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea to Zimbabwe, it is seemingly “unbecoming” for an African president to hand over power to the next at the end of his term without much of a fuss.
Today, whenever a president relinquishes power after one or two terms it makes breaking world news and breaks the Internet, never mind that such occurrences are curiously rare.
Africa is marred by the impunity of corruption and illicit financial flows.
Every year, Africa loses over $52 billion through bribery, money laundering, tax evasions and a myriad of other corrupt practices.
These vices propagated by global and regional bodies have been perfected by our very own fellow African leaders, elites, investors, technocrats and entrepreneurs, most of whom care less about the future of the continent.
In Addis Ababa, where this day was born, Africa’s dignity stands mocked in a towering castle “gifted” to the continent by the Chinese.
One wonders what is worse: The fact that Africa’s liberation headquarters is nestled along a road named Roosevelt Street or the fact that China gave Africa a “gift” specifically to enhance its relations with the continent.
The answer is in the face of Africa’s economic growth that has curiously evolved into being even more Chinese than Beijing itself!
From Marrakech to Maseru, Yamoussoukro to Swakopmund, Nairobi to Porto-Novo, Chinese food and restaurants represent the infrastructural face of Africa with an uncontested certainty.
The real impact of this presumed transformation will only be known in the foreseeable future.
When Africa’s children breeze through life ignorant of the significance of Africa Day, let this be the day that Africa starts having conversations of change with itself.
Let it remind its children of the journey it walked to get here, the price paid, the resolve made, and the future it fathomed in 1963 when it declared through the words of the great Kwame Nkrumah that “We must unite now or perish!”
Africa knows what ails it and thus must be its own antidote and device a cure that will see it through the challenges bedevilling its very survival in the 21st century.
Unless we embrace our true historical identity and instil that consciousness, knowledge and pride into our youth, our future will be forever compromised.
Secondly, we must redefine African political leadership and governance, Truth be told, the club of 54 African leaders that converges at least twice a year in Addis Ababa, claiming to chart the path to Africa’s destiny is taking the continent for a sorry ride.
If they were serious about their mandates then South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and the Central African Republic would not be smouldering to ashes as we speak.
We know what these conflicts are about, who is fuelling them and what needs to be done to end them.
We just do not care enough because we are busy “benefiting” from them.
If the heads of state were serious, then they would act as one another’s accountability partner on crimes of humanity, human rights violations, corruption, constitutional infringement and social and economic injustices.
Unfortunately, this ambition will remain a pipe dream.
Thirdly, it was un-African to eat before the children eat and to dance on the graves of the dead.
But we have now perfected this art all in the name of corruption. We must return to the centre of communal ownership, selflessness, social and economic accountability crowned by integrity.
There is no short cut to it. Lastly, Africa will not rise from the abyss of destruction with a single clarion call and neither will it rise by empty rhetoric and endless policies.
Africa will begin to rise through the careful, deliberate and resilient internalisation of the reality of our perpetual struggles and the determination to always remain focused on overcoming them collectively.
Back then in 1954, Kwame Nkrumah and his fellow freedom fighters had this clarity of vision.
His words run true even today. He said: “On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence.
Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist control and interference.”
As we mark Africa Day, his words could never have been so apt.