Leadership for the Africa we want .
I cannot come to terms with the fact that Africa is still undeveloped (not underdeveloped). It simply beats my imagination.
The story is told of a male prostitute (name withheld), who catered to both male and female clients. Whether you were gay or straight, he was of service. Night after night he would return to his house, breakdown in tears and ask ‘WHY’? He was giving out the essence of his life to people who paid with what never satisfied him or help him make any reasonable progress.
Africa is like this. We cater to many continents and countries, with our essence, our resources; and what do we get in return? Nothing satisfactory; nothing that can enable us make progress in our lives.
Our lives as Africans is miserable and pitiable. And that is putting it mildly.
Consider the following verifiable facts:
-is home to more than 3 billion tonnes of Iron ore, making it the 12th largest iron reserves in the world and yet Ajaokuta steel company lies moribund in Kogi state for over 30 years and counting, while Nigeria heavily imports steel.
– has an estimated 42 billion tonnes of bitumen reserves making it potentially the second largest in the world
– has 10 million tonnes of lead and zinc reserves, spread across 8 of its 36 states and yet nobody on the streets of Nigeria can tell you coherently, the simple, basic uses of lead or zinc.
- The Zambian Government sold the copper mines in Northern Zambia to an outside consortium for $25,000,000. – Because they couldn’t manage to keep them. The company that came in and took over rye Zambian Copper Mine, made $75,000,000 in three months. The crazy part of the deal was that they didn’t even pay the Zambian government in cash upfront, they were going to pay over the period of some years, from the money they make, at the government’s expense! This is insane. In fact, Anil Agarwal, founder and executive chairman of VEDANTA (the company that bought the mines from the government) was caught on camera mocking the Zambian government on how he was sold Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) at a cheap price of US$25 million and boasted that KCM was giving him US$500 million every year in profit
- The blood diamonds of Sierra Leone is another story that readily comes to mind.
The facts around the story are both laughable and pitiable.
The diamond story started in 1935 when DE BEERS legally possessed the rights to mine diamonds in sierra Leone for the next 99 years. And why was this so? After the discovery of diamonds in Africa, De Beers, a London based company was one of the first involved in mining activities in the continent. This was in 1870. The man who began this ‘adventure ‘ was Cecil Rhodes. Another English immigrant miner fought for the control of the same diamond claims. His name was Barney Barnato.
Also, Leabnese traders in Sierra Leone soon discovered the stupendous profits that could be made by smuggling diamonds out of the country. This led to increased illicit mining and trading in the country.
So we have foreigners fighting each other and fighting the indigenous people of Sierra Leone, turning them against each other, for Diamonds that rightfully belong to the nation.
The story gets funny when you hear of De Beers, an outsider country, claiming complete mining rights over a resource found on another man’s land. But it gets pitiable when you hear what the Sierra Leone leaders were busy doing.
In 1961 when Sierra Leone gained independence from Great Britain, one would have thought the illegal mining would stop, and policies would be put in place to utilize the proceeds from diamond mining to develop Sierra Leone. But not so. Instead, illegal mining gained grounds and became a political and economic problem.
1968 when Siaka Stevens became prime minister, he appointed Jamil Mohammed, a Lebanese businessman, as his key adviser; and together, the two took control of the diamond mines. As you should expect, everything went downhill from then on.
This is the summary of African Leadership heretofore. Its a story of greed, selfish interests, shortsightedness, sheer wickedness, dictatorship, childishness, low self esteem and cowardice.
Each night, as these facts stare me in the face, I ask WHY?
The problem has to be leadership. It is a cliché, but that doesn’t make it untrue. Africa has been unfortunate with the kinds of leaders we get.
The Africa we want is an Africa that will rise and stand shoulder tall among other continents, and not bow like animals before fellow humans just because they have white skins. We need leadership that can inspire us, motivate us, persuade us and enthuse us with self esteem.
The Africa we want is the one that doesn’t spread out her arms to beg for aids and bailouts from foreigners. We need leaders who are strong and courageous, who would speak words that energize us to look inwards and be productive, be creative and be self sufficient.
The Africa we want is the one that evolves original educational systems that cater for our unique fabric, orientation, strengths, abilities and future; not the one that copies everything everyone else is doing, even though they are irrelevant and outdated. We need leadership that has the will, strength and sincerity to overhaul the current failed system
The Africa we want is a sleeping giant; we want leadership that will wake her up!