During the colonisation of the African continent and the subsequent years that followed the heinous enslavement and pillaging of our people and natural resources, Africans knew the difference between enemy and friend. It was this knowledge that lead to the fight for independence cross the entire continent.
As a person who only knows of that time through history books, elder’s tales and documentaries, I reflect fondly on the resolve of my ancestors. Their bravery, wisdom and their undying determination to overcome and abolish the European rule was undeniable. They struggled and gave their lives to fight a system that was created not only to destroy them physically but also to engrave the will of the slave on their hearts, minds and their unborn children.
The world is a different place, yet I have no doubt in my heart that if our ancestors did not fight and lay down their lives for our futures, we would all be a shackled slave working the plantations. Even worse would be the complete and utter erosion of our mental capacities, which is still a possibility today.
I pay homage to all those who made it possible for a black man to find his rightful place in the world, not as a servant but as equal to all other humans on this earth. Our generation does not understand the gravity of their achievements and the ultimate price that many had to pay for our current freedoms. Our respect and admiration must go beyond mere words, it must reflect in our actions and our love for each other, our continent and for all those who suffered the same fate us our ancestors.
By now we are all aware that everything in life comes in stages, even as an individual you go through a barrage of changes both physical and mental, each coming at its own time, this is the nature of evolution. The need for man to dominate over another is no different, if anything the cravings that drive mankind to such animalistic behaviour is glorified and openly practiced in this globalised society.
In my very humble opinion based on facts and figures, I wish to demonstrate to those of sound mind and reasoning that we have failed not only ourselves but those who started the struggle for our independence, which again in my opinion has not been fully attained, at least not in the way I envision true and unadulterated independence.
Firstly in order for a person to entirely comprehend his or her situation, they must be able to absorb the reality around them. This is our setting and I will spare nothing of the truth regardless of its grotesque nature.
Before we were colonised, it is estimated that we comprised of up to 10,000 different states. This alone shows that in order for so many states to have coexisted, our borders were limited to our social or tribal affiliations. Meaning our original systems of governance were smaller, more efficient and centralised across smaller demographics.
I tend to believe these societies where more peaceful amongst themselves, and justice was equal due to the fact that they were probably one or more tribes brought together because of mutual interests, such as intermarriages, water, land and trade. Bare in mind most Africans were nomadic thus not remaining in one place for long, but constantly moving and engaging with other tribes they meet along the way. This might be a simplistic way of looking at it but before colonisation we really were simple in our lives.
Even as we are today, tribalism plays an important role in every corner of the continent. Sometimes it plays a significant role in our peace most of the time it is a detrimental force that brings conflict and bloodshed. After the end of our enslavement we ended up as 53 different states. This recently increased by one after the formation of South Sudan. These borders that we currently find ourselves dwelling within, are not by our choice but a legacy we foolishly accepted from the colonialists.
These states are far larger than those original smaller states; therefore they encompass a wider grouping of peoples. Some of these peoples have never interacted, maybe even had resentments towards each other. For example in the Congo or the DRC, there are over 200 different ethnic groups all clustered together, include the so called democratic system and what you have as a result is a constant fighting for control of one tribe over another, and the use of export money from minerals to gain supremacy.
This is becoming more and more apparent all over the continent; the new nation of South Sudan is another perfect example. After a long struggle to gain independence from the Sudan, the new state has now plunged into another ethnic conflict, why? Again the so called democratic process that gives one tribe complete control of the limited funds over another is further proof that we have taken the wrong turn somewhere along the road. Proving that the real reasons are much more than just religious or cultural indifferences, and that there are deeper issues constantly creating such conflicts.
I can give you more examples, CAR, Mali, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia and the list is in the double digits. What is the main reason for all this political turbulence? what are the major catalysts? all these problems are just symptoms. Why are we willing to kill each other without any hesitation?
The fact of the matter is that we are not financially independent, and when we don’t control our own wealth and what little we do gain is the reason we turn on each other with guns and knives. Like I said previously everything comes in stages, after physical enslavement, we entered financial slavery and we are still ignorant to his reality.
We are the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped continent, our entire continental GPD stands at an abysmal 2.4 of the entire global GDP, even though we are the biggest exporter of natural resources. This is the only proof we need for us to understand that what we put into the global markets are not bringing back its equivalent in exchange.
Somewhere along the line of these transactions we are drawing the wrong end of the stick, again I believe this is due to the colonial powers that never really left the scene. By having undue influence on our resources, western governments or more so their Multinationals have been able to control our internal policies and our external relationships with our neighbours. They have been able to groom and place in power leaders that further their agendas, and over throw and destroy those who stand against them, the Kenyan leadership is currently undergoing a veiled embargo, leading to insecurity and economic stagnation all because they are not favoured by the west. These schemes are not as straightforward as I make them, they are systems developed to maintain poverty, lack of education and destroy the health of the societies they are deployed within. These programs are hidden under the guise of development loans, capacity building and social justice initiatives.
This is the new face of colonialism”neocolonialism”, it has resulted in weak governments the continent over, almost 40% of our adult population is illiterate and two-thirds are women, resulting in both mother and child most likely being uneducated by the end of their life span. The overall literacy rates are below 50% in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.
I may not be able to state all the facts here and now, but I am sure you will find very little to disagree with what I have mentioned to this point. The final and the most worrying fact of all is what I will leave with you to pounder on your own.
Currently the world has 13 on going armed conflicts, 7 of these conflicts are raging within this very continent with no signs of cessation. This has prompted our weak minded and morally deprived leaders to run hand in hand to the former colonialists, giving them the mandate to re-enter the continent militarily. I for one cannot understand the reasoning behind such feebleness in the mind-set of these leaders. When your house needs cleaning you don’t ask your furthest neighbour to do it for you, again simplistic but this is my preferred way of life.
We know our problems we live through them everyday. We know our enemy; we have known them since the turn of the nineteenth century, the question is why are we so willing to continue as slaves and forsake the ideals of our heritage?
I believe wholeheartedly that the onus is on our generation to further the goals that lead to our independence, and to reverse the damage done by the last generation. We are more equipped then our predecessors, our technical abilities and analytical skills give us a greater advantage especially with the technological advances we can utilise.
It is time we wrestled back our financial superiority from those who wish to keep us engulf in poverty and war, after all Europe was nothing more than a wasteland until they discovered the benefits of collective prosperity. There is no doubt that the lack of real finances fuel corruption and conflict on this continent. Therefore if we wish to see a peaceful and truly united Africa we must make economic independence our only major priority. There is no two ways about it unless we wish to forsake our future generations and continue the sins of our fathers.
By Hamza Egal