Although colonialism is responsible for some of the ills that still plague Africa today it is not responsible for everything. Former French colonies were forced to pay for the country’s infrastructure that France took credit for building during colonization. In fact, more than 80 percent of the foreign reserves of these African countries are deposited in so-called “operations accounts” controlled by the French Treasury. However, colonialism is not responsible for corruption that also plagues many African economies.
The tribal differences that expedited colonialism through divide and conquer are still in effect across Africa. Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi are examples where tribalism has hampered development and cost millions of lives in the post-colonial era. Members of a minority tribe with great ideas haven’t been voted into power even when their ideas and plans trumped those of the dominant tribe. This stifles growth and nations are not run by the best of the best that can move the nations forward. Kenya, Zimbabwe, Rwanda are examples of some of the most tribalist nations on the continent. Even in the diaspora some Kikuyus cannot work together with Luos or Shonas cannot work with Ndebeles or Hutus with Tutsi which is disastrous. If there is no unity among us as Africans how can there be unity across Africa?
The popularity of television shows like Big brother Africa underscores the acceptance of foreign garbage programming in Africa just because it is foreign. Big Brother Africa is unAfrican, immoral, and uncouth show designed to spread sexual deviance and make it mainstream and yet there are no activists or elders to shut down or even speak against this cultural cancer. In general Africans accept this just because it is foreign and especially because it is a western concept.
Culturally, we believe that the elders are always right and that they possess a lot of wisdom. While this is true some of the time, we should acknowledge that sometimes young people also have good ideas to offer. In addition, we should be willing to acknowledge that even older people sometimes make foolish decisions.
In many African communities in the diaspora Africans are calling for the return to polygamy. Polygamy is one of the most destructive forms of family structures. Families are destroyed by polygamy as jealousies and rivalries plague such families destroying relationships and family unity. In addition, it is more difficult to pass on generational wealth if you have 23 children versus if you have only 5 children born to the same mother and father.
There are many business people who are being heralded as top entrepreneurs and yet cannot replicate their so called success. The reason is because they have ‘successful’ businesses as a result of political connections that award them no bid contracts. There is no innovation just patronage and the result is that economic development is stagnant or hampered because there is no competition that fosters innovative economic progress.
At the end of 2015 Rwanda voted to remove term limits to allow President Kagame to run again because he has done a great job to bring Rwanda forward. This is faulty thinking is built on the belief that no other person can run Rwanda better. It has turned Kagame into a godlike status where no one else can prevail. This is what stifled post-colonial African regimes in countries like Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Angola and so forth.
When leaders act like the countries that they run are an extension of their empires they strive to pass down leadership from father to son. This is the twentieth century where governments should be run by technocrats and those with the best ideas and not some over indulged mama’s boy who has power handed to him because of who his father is and has no idea how to run an economy.
The idea that the leaders who helped to liberate us are infallible because of their accomplishment in ushering independence. While we are grateful for their contribution in the liberation struggle, should we be held hostage and be indebted to them forever even unto out our detriment.
An East African newspaper heralded President Magufuli of Tanzania as ‘unAfrican’ because he was setting standards for government when he was elected. Magufuli was just doing what any leader in a functioning democracy would do but because for so long all they have known are abusive dysfunctional governments that do not serve their communities they no longer know what a government for the people looks like. Many African political leaders are associated with expensive shopping sprees, huge entourages and government waste, corruption and huge Swiss bank accounts acquired on the backs of the nationals who are now deprived of infrastructure such as good roads, clean water and electricity which are basics in any nation.
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Dr. Mireille Twayigira: From Rwandan Refugee to Doctor at 24
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