Leadership Puppetry, Despotism, Corruption & Hypocrisy: Poisonous For Africa

By Tapiwa Kapurura, zimeye.org

Pan-Africanist ideologies demand the elimination of the past colonial order, revamping of the dignity of the African person and the control of the resources on the land for the benefit of the native African. Such creeds petition the renewal of the African pride, dignity, respect, consciousness and being knowledgeable. If these values are collapsed into global standards, they inevitably place the African individual at a similar pedestal with other global citizens while not being unduly taken for granted. Pan Africanism therefore seeks to eliminate the once-rampant stereotyping lacuna reminiscent of of the colonial epoch when Africa was dubbed the “dark continent”. Such “darkness” was in bad taste and not only covered the sub-Saharan skin color of the natives; it also touched aspects of the dark cave life where man hunted and gathered to survive, killed each other or ate their young through bizarre acts of savagery or barbarism, was illiterate, ignorant and required spiritual, mental and physical healing. Through the said prism Africans were labeled as unreasonable, loquacious, empty-headed and violent. That was the label sent to the world by Europe causing Africa to suffer for centuries through wanton resource exploitation, slavery, hard labor, abuse, racism, exploitation and prejudice.

Rolling forward, the contemporary leaders in Africa have ganged up with enlightened activists and scholars as they spearhead the modern Pan Africanist ideologies that have been propounded by folks like Marcus Garvey, William Du Bois, Thomas Sankara, Julius Nyerere and various other notable African statesmen. Such Pan Africanism has been verbally preached by African leaders for ages but indirectly weakened through back door inability to rule, lack of principle or mere corruption. Some leaders have found themselves inadequate to rule without being guided or looking up to Europe. Europe does not come to Africa these days but rules Africa by satellite gadgets. Needy leaders are always roaming in Europe trying to establish friendships deemed indispensable. Despite great ideas from notable scholars, African think tanks and University colleges on African studies, the African leader has felt inadequate without dashing to Europe for ideas to run a country. Forget about the headlines on pride and prejudice, it is all propaganda. Even the most vocal leaders have failed to function without the guidance of the European hand.

Interestingly, Africa remains replete with resources, human capital and various other blessings yet she remains the poorest continent in the world. Poor management of economies, corruption, absence of democracy, pursuit of personal wealth has all clawed back on African progress and development. With oil, diamonds, farm products, wild life and tourist features, Africa remains suffocated with poverty as debt continues to rise exponentially. The IMF and World Bank keep extending loans and credit lines to the poor continent and the debt cycles and dependency syndrome are bound to stay forever as resources are mortgaged by the year. Such debts appear like favors but the side effects are grand. Many modern African leaders today are open worshippers of Europe where they invest their plunder and wealth that they steal from the Motherland during the heyday of their reign. This could be the same reason why poor leadership among Africans or weak economies remains attributable to the century-old colonialism and past historical imbalances. It should be hastily noted that running one’s country with a heavy handed or suppressing free speech has no link to erstwhile colonialism. Actually this puerile agenda has triggered many disappointed Africans to prefer the old colonial era to the present order despite the obnoxious racism and exploitation of the old day. Then, at least corruption, while not ruled out, remained benign as economies were up and running. The colonial order was heavily resented but had futuristic thinking and planning on resource planning and management. Today Africa remains poor because politics is now deemed an easy ticket into wealth. Many start from new shoes to new cars, boats, jets and mansions all the way to Swiss accounts and other offshore investments. To add to that, the leadership has no continuity agenda and many prefer to die in office being some of the wealthiest folks in the world amid the poorest world citizens a stone’s throw away from their heavily-guarded residences.

The colonial system saw emerging African leaders sitting on the fence. They needed more time to learn the ropes of government and the rule of law. Now they make endless trips to Europe and Asia to consult Europe on government issues and survival tactics. When Africa is hungry, Europe expects a knock on her door. The justification-Europe stole so much from Africa and it is payback time. While partnerships with foreign countries are ideal for national development through technical assistance and equitable tradeoffs, many contemporary African leaders prefer to passively receive advice and be indirectly controlled or led. The dependency syndrome is embarrassing amid plenty of African skills and resources. In open speeches African leaders denounce control by Europe but in nefariously-held meetings, they are busy requesting Europe and China to come and continue from where they left before independence. Interestingly, modern Africa is slowly becoming a new colony of China. On the Chinese presence, some dazzled analysts have regarded Chinese presence in Africa as ideal friendship with pragmatic solutions when matched with the West. To the contrary, historians have already started sending signals for “friend beware” because this presence could later become like the hyacinth weed in Lake Chivero, Harare that has given biologists incurable heartburn of all times as they fail to eliminate the weed from the lake. The scramble for Africa with its inhuman consequences and the gradual blood spills should have ushered in prudence and wisdom to many to seriously guard African values after the horrendous ordeal. Surprisingly, most African leaders never learn and the dependency syndrome in their systems has coagulated into solid structures.

After the colonial phase, liberated Africans started various ideologies to save their pride, dignity and values. So many theories were advanced to secure long term African interests to define the modern African person who had to be conscious of own rights and alert to best solutions for Africa. Such a concept on Africanism swept through Africa as a wind of change and was supported by organizations like the Organization of African Unity (now Africa Union). To date, so many other complementary themes dominate the air waves to make the African person vigilant to African interests in the face of potential colonial doctrines, propaganda or exploitation. That Pan Africanist ideology not only protects humanity in the African context but also encompasses the need to secure African borders, prevent past racism and discrimination, resource exploitation and the inequality between the so called developed world and the First World.

Such African pride has also instigated the North-South debate where the underdeveloped nations have pressed for a fair share on the global table in terms of debt forgiveness, equal consideration on global politics and economics as well as due respect in organs like the U.N Security Council. Some have even called for reparations for past colonial practices. Many leaders and African authors, scholars and various folks in academia have fought to keep African themes afloat as they spearhead its liberal doctrines, independence and consciousness values. Today many centers of African studies continue to sprout around the globe as African dignity and consciousness theories are advanced to remedy past racial imbalances historically suffered. While many such propositions have remained theoretical in volumes of bound encyclopedias, the main issue now is on how the global concepts can be whittled down to smaller scale. They say charity begins at home therefore this global talk can be reduced to local action to test how effective or realistic African leaders can perform to advance local values without being corrupt or despotic. In many times, African leaders have been labeled as hypocrites for not practicing what they preach.

While the modern African person should be independent, knowledgeable and free to express oneself and also promote the sense of pride in being African, many today remain “refugees” in their own places of birth. The suffering and torture by their political systems is equated to hell. Those who cannot stand the economic and political heat have fled from bad governance and dying economies or for fear of being invited on Oprah to narrate how they lost their hands to machete wielding men in independent Africa. Analysts state that there have been more refugees fleeing independent Africa than those who fled from the insufferable colonial system in Africa. Millions have been made to suffer and are now in the Diaspora. The reasons for fleeing are public knowledge. Even the UNHCR knows everything. In Africa dictators do not tolerate dissenting views or debate. If disgruntled citizens continue being smart mouths, they easily create lucrative business to funeral homes. On the other hand, disgruntled Africans flee and take their refugee status as the panacea for guaranteed freedom, democracy, good jobs, better schools and colleges for their children. They do not have to fast and pray for good quality infrastructure. Overseas, no doubt, resources and markets are plenty and readily available as the infrastructure remains shiny and well maintained but it is not home. While many question the motive for refugees to be lodged in foreign countries leaving behind the African soil, they might prefer it that way than be mystified or sheepish cheerleaders of a few wealthy folks who occupy the social high towers and flash their wealth and political power in an Africa they have deliberately impoverished amid plenty of potential resources to turn around the economy.

Despite the refugees fleeing annually in millions from the Motherland due to internecine wars, drought, poverty and political disgruntlement, the Africa Union has hardly been noticeable on efforts to promote good governance ideologies at home. The problems are known but the solutions remain theoretical and saved on computer memory somewhere in an Addis Ababa skyscraper.  Also, the belief that not much can happen without funds from the IMF and World Bank makes Africa weaker and dependent on others. While Pan Africanist ideologies are colorful on paper, immediate problems like resource exploitation by the leaders or bad governance have been swept under the carpet as more focus is placed on broadsides to do with the 1884 Scramble for Africa. In the said pursuit of dignity, freedom, liberty and happiness through Pan Africanism, many have proposed various constructive agenda to revamp the spirit of consciousness to spread across the continent with vibrancy and enthusiasm yet the pill for curing bad governance remains a dream.

In light of the advocated Pan Africanism, some top African leaders have embarrassingly back-pedaled on African values through irresistible power hunger, corruption and greed. They preach the need to be independent and free from foreign rule yet they keep asking for help. Even notable Presidents, who have been loud champions of Pan Africanism, have been found wanting on how to be independent. That could be the reason prominent Europeans still call the shots in Zimbabwe besides this noise about land invasions and other politicking. Money talks in the business and wealthy Europeans have continued to buoy politicians by financial contributions in exchange for African resources. The cheap talk about Africa not being a colony again has not made sense as the definition of colonialism has been a matter of who you are talking about or to. There has been generally conspicuous hypocrisy of the worst order. Most African leaders have been found weak and not principled enough to stand by their beliefs in the face of European presence. That fear or compromised association has seen Europe calling the shots and walking away with natural wealth, minerals, wild life, valuable artifacts and other assets.

We thought independence brought freedom and self-control that could usher sustainability to Africa. We are far from it. While too vocal to kill fly-by insects with their noise, our leaders are too weak to be independent and too greedy to be democratic. Their dependency syndrome speaks volumes on how we cannot function or survive without consulting Europe to come in and get our natural resources. The time is up for practically advancing African values not only in social independence but also in economic and political independence. That spirit of consciousness should touch many aspects through a holistic approach that makes a true African person complete with dignity, pride, respect, control of own resources, the economy and destiny as well as freedom to make choices. Investment should be enabled but through fair business dealings that are globally reputable. African leaders should simply walk their talk, let citizens practice free speech as the leaders honor the rule of law. There should be African solutions for African problems and there should also be fair trading of resources in exchange of true values that promote sustainability for African folks at large. If we do not respect each other as Africans, through personal choices, dissenting voices and property rights, the world will never respect us.

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