Friday, March 11, 2016

Africa: Epitaphs For A Failing

By Dan Amor
Africa, my beloved continent, appears to have lost out in the world's debate. Aside from the achievements of its founding fathers, the continent which habours the largest population of the black race in the world has almost gone comatose politically and economically. Africa is indeed the only continent in the world in which it takes a fortune teller for its leaders (looters) to realize that something is really lacking in their character.
The black continent has been reduced to a guinea-pig laboratory in which wanton denigration of corrosive state power has been carried out in its unspoken barbarity. In no other continent than Africa have the citizens been so abused by the powers of the state. In their idiotic, shameless and sadistic mentality, our rulers think that the people are destined to last, unmoving throughout the cataclysms of the surrounding world in the face of national usurpers and foreign conquerors. With the physical exit of the whiteman, African rulers ostensibly formed a new generation rebellious at its inheritance of a cynical and hypocritical legacy.
Today, Africa has produced more treacherous dictators than any other continent in the world and even any other race in history that could even make the Age of Antiquity and tyranny of the Renaissance green with envy. Even as some of them now pretend to be democrats, they still cannot cover their inner colours with their new 'democratic' skin. Yet, how do we appreciate the nebulous fancy of the average African dictator? How do we extrapolate his consummate excesses? How do we vitiate the nuances of his personal pride and ambition? And, finally, how do we impugn the Johnsonian epigram about the innocuousness of corruption and the mentality of the African dictator? It takes only serious thinking for analysts to decode that much of the savagery connected with the African tragedy can be explained in the violence inherent in Western manners. African leaders are therefore hapless tools of that logic of history which leaves a minority determined to assert itself against the majority with no choice of methods than using terror as not merely an attendant phenomenon, but a vital function of insurrection.
Almost six decades after gaining political independence from European exploiters of their resources, Africa, easily the most naturally endowed region on the face of the earth, has been turned into a theatre of war no thanks to the lackeys who took over the mantle of political leadership from the colonialist. It has been a monumental tragedy that Africa is yet to find its bearings more than fifty years into self rule. 

*African Heads of State 2016 Summit
Before 1960, only a few countries, mostly in North Africa, had won their own right to national existence and participation in international life. In more than half a century after political independence, African masses are still condemned by history to a life of Guinea-pig mentality. The people are constantly yearning for that day when they will escape completely from internal slavery. Whereas Western leaders understand power as an instrument of change, African rulers see power as an agent of force and an avenue to acquire ill-gotten wealth for self aggrandizement. Yet, in the uncanny dialectics of the African condition, one fact has inevitably been ingrained in the consciousness of the people. In the face of grinding poverty among the people and the fact that more than eighty per cent of Africans are slum dwellers, African dictators still parade their fat cheeks, fat bellies, fat bank accounts and highly expensive limousines and palatial mansions in almost all the big cities of the world ostensibly to taunt the people.
Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo was the leader of the gang of political thieves who had changed from military to civilian dictators. He led the first military coup in Africa in 1963 and turned the tiny West African country into a private dynasty. Following his controversial death in 2005, his son Faure assumed responsibility as president (without election) of the poor country his father overran for almost 38 years. Also, General Sani Abacha who terrorized Nigeria for five miserable years and looted the national patrimony into his private accounts in Swiss banks actually wanted to be life president but was stopped by God. Again, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo who had the privilege of ruling Nigeria twice (1976-1979) and later (1999-2007) also wanted to elongate his tenure beyond his exit time as stipulated by the constitution but was halted by the Senate led by Senator Ken Nnamani. Due to their inordinate craze for power, African leaders have turned themselves to maximum rulers and have ruined the economy of their respective countries in the process. The laudable idea behind the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, now African Union (AU) has died a permanent death because of the quality of materials who emerge as rulers in the continent.

In Kenya, Daniel Arap Moi presided over the murder of innocent youths who agitated for political reform in their country. He misruled Kenya for more than three decades and died almost a life president. Kenneth David Kaunda who misruled Zambia for 26 years since gaining political independence in 1965, was voted out of power in 1991. Chiluba, his successor, also turned out to be one of Africa's most notorious dictators and looters who have raped the continent dry. Traore, who was later toppled in a military coup, was a blood-thirsty dictator who used bullets to reduce 150 Malian youths to dust in 1991 for daring to agitate for political reform in their country. Mobutu Sese Seko, of Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) misruled his country for 32 miserable years and was chased out of the gold-rich country by another Hispanic denizen called Desire Kabila in May 1997. Kabila was himself killed by his bodyguard in January 2001, and his son, Joseph, is currently the president. Kerekou of Benin Republic was almost becoming a life dictator before he was defeated in an election even when his country imports everything including toothpick from France. Mengistu Mariam of Ethiopia died in power while Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, the most murderous black dictator in human history equal only to Pissistratus of Cecily, died about 25 years ago in exile. Samuel Doe of Liberia who set fire on his country in his bid to stay permanently in power, was consumed by the very conflagration he ignited. There was Muammar Ghadafi of Libya who rose to power through a coup in 1969 and ruled until he met his death in the hands of his American traducers only recently. Even in Nigeria, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida ruled the country for eight years and annulled the most placid election ever held in the country in 1993 before he was forced to step aside by the masses.
A combination of two factors: greed and docility among the leadership, has further reduced Africa to a junk-yard that only the most corrupt and powerful can breath an air of relief. These usurpers of power by treason, repression and fraud, in their mad stupor, have shamelessly placed the African continent in an asphyxiating condition. But these power grabbers don't always learn their lesson. As they spring up day by day on the continent, it is imperative for us to warn them that they certainly cannot provide the answer for the doubts that now torture the African mind. If they don't know that the objectivity desirable in their patriotic claims is lacking, the intensity and vividness embodied by their attachment to destruction of lives and property and looting of their national wealth, more than justify critical considerations. For, the genuine bellicose fervour found in their love for power contrasts greatly with their doubtful credentials as leaders of people. Until the African masses rise up against these local potentates who have nothing to offer except misery but who are living and operating above the laws of their respective countries, this dilemma will continue. May God, in His infinite mercies pronounce a curse on these little Pharaohs for peace and development to reign in this soulless continent.

*Dan Amor, an Abuja-based commentator on public issues, writes a column on the back page of the Authority newspaper every Friday 

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