when will we get it?

I know it is the season of merry and I should probably be writing about some fun thing that is happening somewhere in Africa. I also know that the mainstream media in the West and in Africa have already covered this story at length and that I should probably give it a rest. But I can’t. I can’t because it amazes me that we keep making the same mistakes over and over and over again. Like little children without any knowledge of history we keep repeating the same mistakes that have been made on the continent of Africa over the last four decades.

I am talking about Guinea, the world’s largest exporter of Bauxite whose president just died and where there is an ongoing tussle over who really runs the country – the army or the civilian Premier? The army has concocted a name for itself – The National Council for Democracy and Development – and vowed to hold an election in two years. This sounds very much like the dictators that have run Liberia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana and many other African countries at point in the last four decades. They are always pro-democracy and pro-development. They always promise to correct the ills of the civilians they’ve deposed and/or disposed of. It makes you wonder where these clowns (the Guinean army) have been over the last 24 years when the late President Comte had been milking Guinea dry and jailing and killing the opposition.

Can we ever learn? Do we ever feel jealous when we read about Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia and now India and China? Are we ever embarassed that we are the only region of the world that is still largely a basket case? Do we ever pause to think of what we are doing to future Africans? How are they going to compete in a world where everyone but Africans has broadband internet and no loner has to die of malnutrition? Do we ever pause to think of these things? Do we ever pause to think about why we need nation-states and what they ought to be doing for the people?

Things never seem to change. There is always some bloody country somewhere messing up and trying to take the entire neighborhood with it. Think of Kenya at the beginning of the year and what this did for East and Central Africa. Think of Zimbabwe and what it is doing to Southern Africa. Think of Sudan and Chad and how this has distabilised the entire region. Think of the DRC and Western Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi (and now Angola wants in on the action). Why can’t we just calm the hell down and start thinking about providing schools and indoor plumbing, and malaria medicines, and condoms and ARVs and TB medication? Why aren’t our governments ever concerned about laying the groundwork for every African to have a chance at a proper modern life?

These are the questions that have bugged me all of this year and will probably continue to bug me next year. It is really sad.

This Christmas think of the generic African kid that keeps appearing on the cover of every international newspaper, dusty, naked and with flies all over his face. Think of this kid and try and figure out how such images impact your life.

A more cheerful post is coming soon…