Why Africa remains poor

Why Africa remains poor

The first year of my undergraduate years was spent in a class full of students from other faculties and the subjects, ranging from logic (philosophy) to psycholinguistics, economics to political science, ensured that one gained a lot in terms of needed general knowledge necessary for one to understand what peers engaged in other fields of study actually dealt with.
This ‘common first year’ curriculum meant that even those who on the regular day were considered to be of lesser value were understood in full and their fields of study given due recognition and acknowledgement.

One came out of the institution’s system an individual so enlightened that it vexed one’s understanding why they would be told at the public service’s offices that their subject and field of study was actually ‘useless’ and rendered them ‘unemployable’.

I often found this declaration disappointing because I had been taught that each and every subject one learned in school was actually useful in some way somewhere within the various government departments and ministries.

There is actually no subject that is useless, for my simple assertion is: if it is so useless, why does the government through its manpower development programmes actually provide funds for individuals to study such a ‘useless’ programme?

Something does not add up here, and this argument aims to note some of the glaring peculiarities that lead to the underdevelopment of Africa as a continent despite the high levels of ‘literacy’.
An illiterate political class is the first glaring reality one sees when attempting to establish the real roots of the continent’s underdevelopment.

Fact: There is just no way a blind man can lead the seeing, and the reality is that we have a large part of the political class that has not seen the doors of institutions of higher learning, and this means that they are not on par with politicians from other parts of the world who have qualifications in various fields relevant to the running of the given ministries of their governments.
The basic argument one hears is that “political leadership does not necessitate education,” a statement which I frankly think is utter fly-infested pile of diarrhoea turd.

The running of modern government is not an uneducated affair, it actually demands of the individual engaged in it to be highly educated with regard to the inner ramifications of its running.
The argument that it does not need one to be ‘educated’ to occupy a seat in government actually sounds very similar to the assertion that one can drive without prior training in terms of traffic rules, sort of like expecting a child to master the computer at the age of just three months.

Africa should wake up to the reality that it needs educated ministers and not ignoramuses that stutter speeches on issues of policy that they do not understand. Without the basic understanding of what political rule means, Africa is thus stuck with mouthpieces that say what they do not understand, what they do not know the real meaning of. Such a case means we shall never progress unless the continent and its citizens insist on a political class that is literate.

Poor planning and implementation have been the bane of the continent from the moment each and everyone of the African states got their independence.
This is largely due to the simple fact that there was little or no consultation with the members of the previous colonial regime, leading to the newly elected ‘struggle heroes’ blundering blindly into the delicate processes of government.

In the cacophony of post-independence celebrations, the African enjoyed the lavish lifestyle found in the plush office of the previous regime, and more often than less, these individuals did not even understand the contents of the files they found in these offices.
This means that we as a continent fell upon independence like a band of hobos would upon the house of a man they have just managed to chase out.
Post-independence Lesotho was somehow different from that of other African states because there was a level of consultation with the previous British Protectorate authorities for a period long enough to render Chief Leabua Jonathan and his cabinet competent enough to run a government in terms of policy and strategy.

The following regimes failed due to the simple fact that there was no consultation with previous regimes. Instead, what one has seen are stark ‘takeovers’ that have at their core utter disregard for previous policies and strategies ignorant of their effectiveness in dealing with prevalent social maladies.
Adherence to populist notions instead of facts is very common in the lobbyist speeches that precede every election. The masses are given pipe-dreams to hope on, to give them some form of conceited sense of faith that the new leader will pull them out of the mess of poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness they often are in when they attend party rallies where they receive empty promises and t-shirts.

I have not in the many years that I have lived actually heard a politician laying out a clear strategy for the emancipation of the masses, but this would perhaps be asking for too much because the reality is that the average politician is not conversant in matters of strategy and policy, and therefore, vague visions of paradise that are presented at the rallies are the only thing they have something to say on.

The reality is that the realities of poverty, unemployment, and health should be the mainstay of political speeches and rhetoric, they should not be addressed in passing but should actually be treated with the level of seriousness they deserve if the continent is to get anywhere. That disgusting sight of a politician that says one thing during the lobbies and to do the exact opposite after being sworn into office should be dealt with. There should be a level of accountability on the part of government, not the expensive Scaramouches posing as commissions we see everyday.
Utter disregard for talent and nurturing of nepotism are facts on the African landscape on a daily basis in almost every sector of society, excluding perhaps the family as a social institution. Patrice Lumumba, Chief Leabua Jonathan, Steve Biko, Thomas Sankara, Nelson Mandela, and Muammar Gaddafi were exceptionally talented as leaders of the people, only one among this group was actually honoured for the effort he put in to see his people freed.

The others were unceremoniously deposed and even assassinated (executed) for their progressive views on how the continent could actually reach tangible development goals.
There is the Judaic notion that a hero is not honoured in their own hometown, but the funny thing is that the Semitic peoples of the world actually flourish because they dismiss this foolish notion.
It is nonsensical to use the Bible or any other holy book to justify self-hate; for it is self-hate at its most profound to be bold enough to make the declaration that one cannot be honoured in their hometown or village.

Where else can one be honoured if not among the people that intimately know him or her? Jealousy (covetousness/envy), narcissism (pride), greed, lust, gluttony, wrath and sloth give rise to these kinds of notions and it is they that have led the continent to losing its most talented individuals. Every African wants to be the chief, and the true kings are thus not rightly honoured as they should, and so they leave for places where they shall be given due respect.

Under the aforementioned conditions, one finds large numbers of unused human resource and this leads to the ‘brain drain’ the illiterate politicians talk about in their speeches when they want to sound smart.  There is just no way (from the perspective of the talented individual) that one can watch their talent waste away because someone has decided that they are not good enough to be given due reward with regard to their efforts and talent.

No one wants to be underpaid on the basis of their not being politically or otherwise affiliated, and anyone that expects anyone to accept rejection or underpayment despite tremendous talent is fooling themselves. The wise ones move on and out of the circles that do not acknowledge their talent to pastures that promise a better life for one and their dependents.
The departure of such individuals spells fortune on their part as individuals, but the reality too is that the country and the state which they leave loses more in terms of human resources needed to help such a country to progress in terms of economic development.

Fascination with pseudo-qualifications is the ‘in thing’ of the moment, every individual that offers some semblance of political leadership or philanthropy is sooner than later bestowed with an honorary doctorate, and they gallivant with the title of “Dr” without actually understanding what it means to reach the level of the philosopher’s degree (PhD).
Without this understanding, it means that the continent is often led by dictators with the title of doctor, an ironic affectation that plunges the continent deeper into the clutches of poverty and its sister maladies; for the fake doctor wears the garb and the cap of the philosopher but has none of the qualities salient to status: for he or she lacks the education vital to the attainment of such a hallowed title.

Honour should equal the effort and the knowledge, for if it is reliant upon only one side of the definition, then it means that what we are seeing is an act out of the stage of the theatre, in itself a misconception that leads to the commission of crimes against humanity and the desecration of institutions that stand as the vanguard of society and progress.
Dependency on foreign aid is not a symptom of the continent’s lack but is only a sign that we are plagued by a chronic form of laziness and incompetence.
This lack of continental self-trust is born from the selfish notion of the illiterate that they can attain anything that they want, and when this fails, they cannot swallow their pride and consult within their given countries to get opinions on what needs to be done to deal with the prevalent challenges in African society.

Being the children of the colonised who have actually not gotten over their dog-master, master-dog mentality, the begging leader finds going to some foreign land to ask for ‘aid with conditions’ better than admitting defeat in the council of fellow citizens and compatriots to get to the solution.
The old migrant that went to the mines a herdboy only to come back to the village a Smart Alec actually never went away with the end of colonialism, he actually put on different garb and assumed a new role as a politician that spends a R1, 000, 000 to get a $100, 000 in foreign aid.
African leadership (in fact) has the tendency to believe more in what comes from outside instead of believing what is within and using it to get out of the misery of poverty, disease and unemployment.

The calculating vultures from out there can see through this weakness and make sure to use it to their advantage by giving measly amounts of money to extort vast mineral wealth from the beggar African states.  This is the main reason why the African lives as a second-class citizen anywhere he or she goes in the world; because Africa is rife with a leader-class made of beggars and not introspective individuals that self-examine first before looking to the outside for help.

Some n***** said African slavery ended with the ushering in of post-independence, I think that son of a three-legged pot is lying; we shall remain perpertual slaves as long as we beg and not work ourselves out of the poverty we are largely to blame for sustaining with the constant cap-in-hand trips in search of ‘aid’ with conditions that favour the donor more than they benefit the intended recipient.

Freedom is not this heap of dung we are forced to live in as our forefathers did, freedom will come the day when we shall negotiate on our own terms and not some fake carpetbagging Samaritan’s.
Political reformation is a wish unclear, a ruse that will never occur unless the minds of the populace on the continent change the crabs-in-a-bucket mentality currently rampant on the mainland.
Fussing and fighting, posing as hustlers, living to please and not to ease the burden of others, posing as a wannabe-something-other-than-my-current-circumstances-dictate, the African will never reach a point of progress other than the unsavoury present.

Pretending that all is well or will be well just because we imitate or choose to follow the strategies that got Europe, America, or China out of the clutches of poverty will get us only as far as nowhere.  Because the fact of the matter is that we are neither of these places, our challenges are different: divide and rule got us here, and it continues in subtle forms that impact us profoundly.
Africa should be bold enough to look into the mirror and to make peace with the countenance it sees therein if there is to be any progress. We should stop pretending we are what we are not; dumb heads stuck into smart-phone screens we did not even get to assemble locally and all the time faking wealth in worn out shoes and frayed shirts. Africa needs to get real!

By: Tšepiso S Mothibi

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