Author: Adekola Taylor
This article, The Black People: We Need a Change, is dedicated to all our past heroes who fought gallantly for the emancipation and independence of the states of Africa. However, many years after they have all gone, the mother continent of Africa is as turmoil-stricken as ever with only two or three states getting it right. Then we begin to think that we need a change.
The Black People: We Need A Change
The black people unrelentingly with great struggles came out of 19th century shattering the chains of slavery. We entered the 20th century to confront stereotyping, a sense of uncertainty, racial discrimination and more domination. We go into 21st century with high hopes, but with mother continent of Africa as turmoil-stricken as ever, characterized by wanton display of corruption, despotism, nepotism, and the killing of one another in the name of politics, religion extremism, tribal sentiments, and traditional bigotry. Then we begin to think that we need a change. The high hopes, attached to our independence and emancipation, have been shattered by our unprecedented, inhuman act of selfishness and unashamed corrupt practices. Black people are killing one another on the beliefs that are grounded on the altar of archaic mental dehumanization and shallow thought processes.
Many theorists, virtually in all walks of life, have tried to postulate different types of theory that might be responsible for Africa underdevelopment and why the states of Africa are not getting it right. Over the years, the state of Africa underdevelopment has drawn the attention of politicians, the international community, scholars, leaders, and commentators. Many theories have been propounded, many books have been written, many discussions have taken place, many institutions have been established, and many leaders well aware of these theories have been ruling, but the problems persist. Then we begin to ask ourselves, what are the root causes of these problems? Are these theories beclouding the reality? Are these theories still applicable or have they become obsolete with time? The most popular among these theories include developmentalist theories, classical theories, and Marxist theories (Cypher and Dietz, 1997).
The developmentalist theories argue that underdevelopment of Africa stems from unbalanced growth, inability to reach the take off point for development, market failure and poor linkages. The Marxist theories are predicated on the fact that underdevelopment arises from exploitation by internal and external collaborators accentuated with negative impact from imperialism, colonialism, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, incorporation of Africa into the world capitalist system, and general dependence of Africa on the developed world. The classical theories opine that underdevelopment crops up from lack of comparative advantage, rapid population growth, low economic growth, low savings and investment. As earlier mentioned, in spite of many postulations and theories, the underdevelopment has remained the distinctive vestment of Africa.
After the independence, many states of Africa have experienced the most unthinkable inhuman act of brutality and tyranny from their own supposed leaders. According to Joshua Agbo, these leaders are in three categories (Igbuzor, 2011). The first ones are the most extreme cases, the psychopaths: Emperor Jean Bokassa of Central African Republic, Idi Amin of Uganda, Hastings Banda of Malawi, and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire. The second category includes: Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Paul Biya of Cameroon, Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, and Milton Obote of Uganda. The final category includes: Arap Moi of Kenya, and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. Over the years, most of the underdevelopment theorists have concentrated their efforts on the past actions of the colonial masters, the Europeans, which have made Africa underdeveloped. It is evident that in our contemporary times these theories are no longer tenable for the understanding of the state of Africa development predicaments.
We need to learn from the past, settle the past, and move away from the past to the present for us to navigate into the future. It is very pathetic that the post independence economic structure of African states has remained unchanged with her near-zero production capacity and dependence on imported items. Looking critically at the post independence African states, it is evident that being in power at the local, state, or federal level is tantamount to being in charge of the use of wealth and treasury that belong to people, and the supposed illegal embezzlements of public fund by the elected leaders and their party cohorts. Without gainsaying, the problems of development of many of the states of Africa in our contemporary times can to a larger extent be traced to corrupt practices by their supposedly elected leaders. In reality, the problems of development of the Black nations can best be explained from the perspective of Richard Joseph Prebendal Theory (Audu, 2009).
Prebendal theory is grounded on patron-client ties which serve as a network through which one enters the dominant class for continued enjoyment of the subsistence allowance granted to the state from the resources of the state. It is characterized by unruly practices, such as sharing of the state revenue allocations, grants, and funds meant for the development of the state among the dominant class for personal and private use. According to the submission of the World Bank annual conference, April 1997, corruption is cosmopolitan but it is of great concern in Africa where unashamed practice of corruption has impounded the continent's vast wealth, leaving her poorest citizens with little or nothing.
Through the act of corruption, the continent of Africa has been disenchanted. A continent with vast resources of talents and natural resources but contributes insignificantly to the world economy. A continent where her people live in the midst of wealth but yet considered as poorest. A continent that has only a small number of people rich, while a plethora of people wallop in abject poverty. A continent that has a greater percent of orphans, widows, the helpless, the aged, and the underprivileged neglected without any provision for them. A continent where the able are disabled, and the disabled are trapped in the web of discrimination. A continent where a great percent of children go to bed every night without a meal, let alone a balance diet. A continent where a great percent of the shepherds leave the sheep, they are called to protect, for the wolves to devour.
A continent where noble ideas, world-changing visions, and life-improving dreams are widespread, but without the needed empowerment and the needed structures to bring them into a reality. A continent where a great percent of relevant and life-changing institutions are starved with the scourge of corruption and scepter of injustice, predicated on the vicious foundation of personal aggrandizement, prebendalism, sentiment, and bigotry. A continent where noble and unique ideas are wasted away everyday without any concern, where the inferior are elevated and the superior are demoted. Many leaders parade themselves as visionary leaders but in actual sense they have no vision for development. Many leaders who claim to have grand dreams for growth and development, their dreams are for their bellies, and they subvert and loot the system for their own indulgence and personal aggrandizement.
It is a stark fact that post colonial African leaders can be referred to as modern Nero in tyranny, brutality, and self- indulgence. The staggering figures of fund looted from African states over the years depict the unthinkable extent of corruption in the continent. It was reported that Mobutu Seseseko of Zaire was richer than the state of Zaire. This was made open by loaning the state treasury of Zaire nearly 80 million pounds to settle the arrears his state owned IMF. A criminal investigation report in the USA divulged the fact that the president of Equatorial Guinea, a president of a country where Oil was discovered in 1991, has $700 million in a US bank account. Nigeria has earned approximately $400 billion from oil, but between 1970-2000, per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has decreased in purchasing power parity terms to $1,084 from $1,113, and the number of Nigerians living in poverty (living less than a dollar a day) has escalated to 70% from 36% (Tam, 2003).
In the developed economies, fraudsters and thieves are apprehended to face the wrath of the law but in Africa, fraudsters and thieves are highly celebrated with many chieftaincy titles, and decorated with accolades for being mega and smarter thieves. In Africa, politics is destroyed; religions are prostituted and turned to money-making ventures, and virtually all infrastructures and institutions required for empowerment and development are practically destroyed. The tendency to destroy is becoming part and parcel of African history, but we need to change this tendency. This tendency has to be exterminated for us to experience sustainable growth and development. The unbridled corruption of Africa is highly characterized by calculated gifts, bribes, prebendalism, unruly patronage, kleptocracy, selling favors to beneficiaries, grand corruption involving high class officials, nepotism, electoral fraud, and so forth.
It is a renowned fact that the group of the world richest nations accounts approximately one-sixth of the world's population, and at present they consume and produce three-fourths of global production. Critically looking at the profiles of the world wealthiest economies, the top twenty-five countries comprise exclusive countries in northwest Europe, their white colonial offshoots in Oceania and North America. African states are nowhere to be found among the top twenty-five wealthiest economies in the world. It is not that the African states do not have the potentials to be among them but the scourge of corruption, prebendalism, nepotism, various display of fraud, kleptocracy, and so forth, has crippled the mother continent of Africa.The estimate is that the North America takes 34% of the world's wealth, 30% for Europe, 24% for the Asia-Pacific region, and the rest of the world accounts for 12%. The United States, Japan, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom are the top five countries, and they have the two-thirds of the world's wealthiest individuals. Africans and South Asians constitute the global poorest, while the huge majority of the global rich people are of European descent.
In conclusion, it is crystal clear, no country can develop under the scourge of corruption being practiced in the continent of Africa. The Africans, in particular the leaders, need a change of philosophy, a change of attitude, and a change in their ways of life and thinking. Equality, transparency, liberty, democracy, accountability, love for fellow human beings, cooperation, and integrity should be enshrined and held in great esteem in the African contemporary culture and in our way of life for us to put our house in order. All hands must be on desk to effect the change we need.Remember you can be the agent of change we need.
(The Black People We Need A Change is one of the outstanding articles of a creation of Mathsthoughtbook.com called Thinking For You Series.)
See Also: Dreams, Visions, and Empowerment; Multiple Intelligences; The Etiology of IQ; Thoughts; Stop Teen Cosmetic Surgery; Your World and You; Human Development and Aging; How to Stop All Your Bad Habits in just 21 Days; Thinking for You Series; The Black People: We Need A Change; Logical-Mathematical Reasoning for Teens; Regenerative Mathematics and Dimurelo Puzzles for Children; The Thoughts You Need to Think; Mathematical Discoveries; The Foundation of American Constitution: A Lesson for All
Ashraf, Q. and Galor.O. (2007) Cultural assimilation, cultural diffusion and the origin of the wealth of nations. CEPR Working Paper No 6444, London UK.
Audu, Jacob. (2009). Underdevelopment theory (UDT) and the failure of political theorizing of contemporary African underdevelopment. A paper presented at an international Conference on "How Africans underdevelop Africa," at Uni Zik, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria between Monday 18th - Friday 22nd May, 2009.
Cypher, J. M. and Dietz, J. L. (1997). The process of economic development. London, Routledge.
Igbuzor, Otive. (2011). A review of Joshua Agbo's how Africans underdeveloped Africa: A forgotten truth in history by Dr. Otive Igbuzor at the launching ceremony held in Makurdi on Saturday 23rd April, 2011.
Tam D.W.(2003) "How Africans Underdeveloped Africa" Daily Sun, Friday, October 24.