Africa, Pick up thyself!
“Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me, my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.” – Songs of Solomon 1:6
My 3rd year in the University marked a significant moment in my life; that period fathered my love and consequent interest in the African continent. I found the views of the white man about Africans somewhat amusing. Amongst the numerous degrading descriptions were “Africans don’t think, they don’t invent anything, they only move around in circles, drumming on drums with sticks, shouting and doing absolutely nothing else”. “Blacks have their place in the dustbin of failure”, Africans have cannibalistic chromosomes and have their hearts on the wrong side”.
Some time ago, a friend of mine bought a bleaching cream. When I asked her while she wanted to deny her originality, she replied “Black na dirty” which colloquially means ‘black is dirty.’
Black was seen as dirty and associated with everything bad. Frantz Fanon wrote: “For some years now laboratories have undertaken to discover a serum to eliminate black pigmentation. With utter seriousness, laboratory workers have rinsed their test-tubes, adjusted their scales, and initiated researches intended to permit unfortunate blacks to bleach themselves and thereby cast off the burden of their corporeal curse”.
After colonialism, it was thought that Africans would fight to debunk the prophecies of the “white man”. Independence signaled strong hopes for us all. Unfortunately, our hopes have been continuously dashed on the rocks.
Economist and Historian George Ayittey focused on the “Internalist school of thought” in his book “Africa Betrayed” as the reason for the overwhelming backwardness of Africa. The Internalist school of thought stresses that Africans are the cause of Africa’s many problems, not her erstwhile colonial masters. The internal factors include misguided leadership, bad governance, systemic corruption, capital flight, economic mismanagement, declining investment, collapsed infrastructure, decayed institutions, senseless civil wars, political tyranny, flagrant violations of human rights, military vandalism amongst others.
The political leaders who assume offices for the supposed betterment of the lives of the citizens and the progression of the Africa have turned out to be vampires-sucking on the vitality of the economy. A wonderful scenario of this happened in the just concluded gubernatorial election in Ekiti state, Nigeria; where bags of rice, bought of course with the masses’ money were used to patronize and convince the peoples of the state to vote for a gubernatorial aspirant. Of course, once in power, the next time the citizens will receive such “massive kindness” from the government would be at the “build up to the next election”.
Award winning writer Chimamanda Adichie talked about the “Danger of the Single Story”. By her brilliant presentation, she sought to convince us that the African story is not a single story of catastrophe; that there are wonderful, positive stories of the African peoples. According to her, a single story occurs when you receive a description about a people, or a place, and make it the definitive story of that people, or place. Chimamanda says; the danger of the single story is that it robs people of their dignity”. I agree.
Africa needs more beautiful stories. More beautiful stories to challenge and overcome the many negative stories which has painted a sour picture of Africa in the minds of numberless people. These stories are to be written by Africans themselves, Africa is in charge of her destiny.
The great change we desire is within us, eager to find expression. There are wonderful creative, innovative and productive individuals African individuals seeking to effect a change. George Ayittey calls them “The Cheetah Generation”. We implore you to be a part of this great movement!
Africa is irredeemable and un-improvable, . . .that I will wholly and utterly deny.
Africa is me, Africa is you. A singer said “As long as you have black on your skin, you are Africa”! The ball is in our court, let us shun greed which begets corruption and its accompanying vices and subsequently underdevelopment. In its stead let us align ourselves with magnificent words such as purpose, excellence, contribution, spiritual balance, unity and renascence.
Africa, our Africa, is rising!