Osibisa! God bless them. They sang and jived beautifully … “We are going. Heaven knows where we are going… Heaven knows how we will get there. We know we will. It will be hard we know. And the road will be muddy and rough. But we’ll get there”…. Muddy and rough all right and a gross understatement. For about six hundred years Africa has endured it all; calamities of all shades, intensities and sizes. Many of these we have created ourselves. Several others have been imposed on us by colonisers and meddling foreigners.
Africa on the move?
It is oft-repeated that Africa is a land of great diversity and untold riches, a continent of immense promise and mind boggling possibilities. Yet we Africans seem unable to climb up the pole of development with deliberate pace forward. There must be a conspiracy somewhere for okro(okra)-mouth swears he saw some rascals smearing grease on the development pole for Africa. No wonder we even seem unable to organise drink-a-thons on the millions of luxuriant palm wine plantations punctuating the African landscape. Why? Why are we so keen to pedal the development bicycle backwards?
We Africans are faced with an overwhelming and disheartening list of issues. They are countless. Many of our problems seem intractable. The road to progress is fogged up with distractions and also smoke from our many burning rubbish dumps. No one, not even our “Honourable” and “Distinguished” leaders seem to possess any binoculars (whatever the make – raffia, wood, plastic, metal) to peer through the smoke haze let alone look beyond to the primordial forest of issues. These issues have been debated for decades. They will be debated for many many more until that day when we translate relevant ideas into action. Whilst we grandstand at these debatefests posterity stares at us. Let us think aloud here. In spite of the natural endowments, the narrative for Africa thus far cannot be written without phrases like:
Inequitable allocation of our resources and distribution of our collective wealth.
Bondage of and strangulation by abject poverty and hunger.
Fragile health infrastructures and systems, the lack of sanitation and the scourge of diseases… does Ebola ring a bell?
Hopelessness wrought by unemployment, under-employment and utter helplessness.
Inconsequential, inept, unimaginative and rudderless leadership.
Repressed and brutalised societies.
Stigmatisation of perceived or manufactured enemies and “outsiders”.
Docile and timid peoples.
The savagery of abysmal, naked, senseless, shameless and rampaging corruption.
Non-adherence to the rule of law – basic principles of human rights for all our peoples is an afterthought.
Chaos is promoted, lauded and reigns unfettered.
Lack of governance, accountability, integrity, probity and the list goes on.
Abundance of self-centred, greedy and corrupt politicians.
Under-performing and/or false economies.
Putrefaction of our cultures and morals, the fragmentation of nation states into fiefdoms.
Disintegration of societies underscored by dysfunctional family units.
Endless succession of kakistocracies; bad governments.
Walking dead governments!
The curse of colonial histories.
Patronisation by foreign powers coupled with usually paternalistic interventions by former colonisers et cetera.
The scourge of the foreign experts; many a time square pegs in round holes, and
White elephants for development programmes.
Development status of Africa
The challenge is to do what is right by Africa. One dimension of the problem is that we Africans have been far too timid, too compliant, too trusting, too uninterested in our own destinies, far too accommodating of bumbling, ignorant and self-absorbed leaders. Chief Zebrudaya, the true Honourable, rightly said “The hospitality of the African man has cost us a whole continent”. It is costing us and benefitting them. Let us chew the cud on this for a moment.
The whole place might as well be on sale to anyone with but the local currency. We are far too scared to call rotten mangoes, coconuts, millet and beans for what they are. Far too scared and timid to stand up for ourselves. Let us unshackle our minds and hands. Let us remove those calcified scales from our eyes. Let us demand what is right for Africa from our leaders, from ourselves before looking to pretend-friends of Africa. We have to do this for posterity.
Africa must be rid of suave kleptomaniacs. We must rid the continent of corrupt leaders with their coteries of one-eyed influence peddlers and conga lines of sycophantic apparatchiks. We must rid the continent of these power drunken and slurping boofheads. We must consign our incorrigible and bumbling twits of leaders to the rubbish dumps of history. Now imagine this:
Imagine we had good, selfless, competent, visionary leaders in Africa? What a relief that will be!
Imagine millions of our dear mothers not worrying unnecessarily about hunger and disease? Curable diseases and man-made famines? Huh?
Imagine bureaucracies were not inefficient and corrupt; self-devouring paper-stackingand- shuffling monsters? Imagine these bureaucracies were not purposefully made stifling in order to extort money for any service; however trivial? It makes you want to poke senior bureaucrats in the eye with the pens they wield about their pork-barrelled nostrils!
Imagine our leaders do not go begging for loans anywhere only to divert them to personal foreign accounts; billions disappearing into thin air? Are these super magicians or super-duper kleptomaniacs or what? That will be the day the sun rose in the west!
Imagine the hospitals, schools, houses, roads, centres of excellence et cetera built with those disappearing billions? These dreams of ours….
Imagine Africa was one effective and prosperous country? United States of Africa? Na? Not when we cannot even keep the status quo now? Why create even more failed states coalesced around our numerous languages and demagogues?
Imagine Africa powering ahead at its optimum potential? Yeah right!
Imagine sons and daughters of Africa strutting the world stage because Africa is free in the true sense of the word? Not because we were economic refugees? Not because we fled from persecution whatever the shade? That Africa is home! The dreams of our ancestors long gone! That there is room for African sons and daughters at the African dinner table!
Just imagine! Just dream on; it won’t cost you a dime! Yes we have to dream because dreams can come true… these dreams can become our reality if we want them to.
Imagine you and I, our leaders, our families, our societies and all taking charge of our collective destiny; Hypothetical Africa! Not hungering for handouts and hand-medowns to keep our governments and states alive? Can we die a little for ourselves, children, grandchildren and future generations? What about a bit of altruism?
This magazine will offer solutions … tongue-in-cheek solutions. It will be the hypothetical, the “could have beens” and the “what ifs” approach to highlight issues to prick our consciences and mindsets. It will harp on the “why, what, where, which, when, and how” ad nauseam. This publication hopes to channel the thoughts of many concerned Africans through witty, satirical, whimsical or sarcastic pieces. We will be cheeky. We will laugh at ourselves. We propose to inform, entertain, sadden, enrage, baffle, agitate and challenge our readers. It is going to be on a first class African continental road punctuated by potholes and Kilimanjaro-high boulders. Come on board. Strap yourself in for the ride! It is going to be exhilarating!
Hypothetical Africa is a yearning for the transformation of the continent. It is a cry for a brighter future for our children and grandchildren; for posterity. When we get there, we will not need publications like Hypothetical Africa… abject poverty will not be the norm, corruption will not be the order of the day, repression and brutalisation of us Africans in our own homes enabled by our own inactions, connivance and worst of all perpetuated by our own governments will be but a distant memory. When we get there, basic human rights will not be afterthoughts in our national discourse … it will be integral to our whole being. When we get there, our refrain will be equality and respect for the individual, minorities, the down-trodden, the weak, the sick, the rich and the poor … and even the powerful but clean and upright … not the kleptomaniacs! It will be the awakening and invigoration of a disrespected, down-trodden and long comatose giant. It will be Africa the beautiful!
Question for you the reader: Will Africa ever reach its potential?Please comment below or write to the Editor.