Reclaiming the African geographic territory from colonialists was the beginning not the end; the greatest achievement would be affording African citizens what colonialism deprived them – freedom and liberty. As things stand, we are far from that, Africa of today cannot feed its citizens, an African still has to leave Africa to freely criticise his/ her government. The continent’s leaders have been behaving with recklessness abandon; selfishness, tribalism and the politics fronted by many of our governments represents an ideology in which coexistence of different tribes is extremely difficult.
The only way to avoid an endless cycle of imperial authoritarianism in Africa is the transformation of socio-politics in the continent. Demand more from leaders; stop dining with dictators; no amount of sloganeering, no amount of finger pointing, no number of military coups will disguise the rogue politics playing out.
Confront the problems, we cannot keep making excuses for failure. Internally designed failure must be highlighted and decisively dealt with. Blaming everybody else but ourselves has become Africa’s favourite policy position, every time citizens fall for it; this is a toxic ploy and diversionary tactic used to disguise failure and avoid accountability for bad leadership.
What is disabling Africa? First, look at Africa; the explanation to why Africa is so rich, yet Africans are so poor lies in Africa itself; the answer to the question why Africa is free, yet Africans are enslaved lies in Africa; the explanation to why Africa cannot address its vulnerabilities in international political relations lies in Africa itself. The reason why Africa experiences a disproportionate number of unresolved conflicts is in Africa.
African citizenry can change politics, but people lack conviction. How much responsibility are we willing to take to break old barriers and alter the course of politics in our continent? We long embraced a dangerous setting where tribes and clans habitually exchange demeaning stereotypes, and we have politicians wilfully exploiting that. Africa’s politics is about kinship attachment than policy; one’s tribal identity wins or loses them elections, no matter the long-term implications for the country.
Political leaders and the elite will do whatever it takes to extend and protect their grip on power hence the perpetual use of tribalism as a political power purchasing tool; it comes as no surprise that leaders show little zeal in creating a social and political environment conducive to coexistence.
Yes, colonialism created new boundaries; in some regions these Western prescribed borders split some communities many fold, and in cases grouped together communities that had always harboured hostility towards each other, but that alone is no reason for the chaos we are witnessing. There is no justifiable reason why we cannot safely deal with the impact of those boundaries; we firmly believe the mission of politics in the 21st century must be to contribute towards concrete steps to peaceful coexistence of humankind.
Africa’s problem is ideological, following in the footsteps of colonialism, the overarching desire has always been to build a state where a particular tribe would rule alone, disenfranchising all others. The ideology is very clear, and against the interests of other entities; it cannot be acceptable in this day and age that one’s tribe becomes the main factor in determining access to basic services.
The continent needs change; we need to look after our people, they need to live with dignity. Our people are in need because for decades they have been disenfranchised by a leadership obsessed with order, but not justice.
A reconstitution of the political field is necessary; we must move away from the colonial design that oversaw a political extremity where power at any cost was the norm; tribalisation of power is not the answer; we appreciate the prospect of a peaceful, and the very much needed coexistence of humankind.
We need to build social democracy and justice so that the coexistence of the very rich and the very poor does not automatically lend itself into a threat to either group. Let us design a political and economic system that opens opportunities for everyone and whose target is the eradication of poverty in our communities. We want a system in which neither the rich can rule alone, marginalising or even enslaving the poor nor the poor can rise up and confiscate the wealth of the rich. Fair taxation and use of resources to maintain social justice is key.
With power, comes responsibility, Africa must set itself targets to get into the habit of being honest with its problems and solving them internally. It is not acceptable that today some communities are, now more than ever before, facing an existential threat. Normalising misrule is the past, the future is more public participation in politics, overseeing social, political and economic justice for minority ethnic groups, vulnerable population groups such as women, girls, children and the infirm.