Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Fifty-two Years Later
After bitter struggles with the manipulative and intoxicating political, social, and economic concoctions spread and sprinkled over Africa by the callous forces of imperialism and colonialism, Ghana and Libya proclaimed independence in 1957 from Britain and Italy respectively. Thereafter, a succession of African colonies felt a sigh of relief after being released from the shackles of bondage and indignity. The major European powers responsible for Africa's demise included Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Portugal who collectively depopulated Africa's human population and also emptied its natural resources. Upon vacating the disastrously misused continent, the European powers embarked on a new form of mental subjugation that continue to bite the poor continent to the core to this very day. The harrowing legacies of imperialism and colonialism and the misguided principles espoused by Africa's apprentice leaders culminated in the creation of utterly misguided leadership qualities that ultimately displaced the authority and institutions known inherent in Africa since time immemorial. The aftermath saw the mighty continent plunge into protracted corruption spearheaded by kleptomaniacs, dictators, and outrageous kings.
Historically, emerging empires or classical societies copied nations that preceded them in mode of governance, in specialization of labor, in agriculture, and in techniques related to better trade and commerce. They did so so they could apply and inculcate new governing styles that would be acceptable to those under their domains. "The greatest asset of any nation is the spirit of its people, and the greatest danger that can menace any nation is the breakdown of that spirit" (George B. Courtelyou). Alas, not a single African leader went a step ahead of his comrades to try to emulate European governing styles. On the contrary, the continent underwent drastic changes with the creation of 'presidents-for-life' who ruled until the pangs of death caught up with them as was the case of Omar Bongo of Gabon, Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire to mention but a few. The absence of constitutional compromises, the denial of the minority to have a voice in the government, unbalanced land distribution, and failure to create political and economic development impede Africa's solidarity with the rest of the international community.
While African leaders fight each other to death over flimsy election irregularities in this 21st century, in 509 B.C.E., the Roman Republic witnessed similar political altercations between the ruling Patricians and the common people who were known as Plebeians. Amazingly, the Patricians granted Plebeians the right to elect officials who were known as tribunes. Why can't African leaders learn to compromise by borrowing a leaf from history? The principle that defendants remain innocent until proven guilty has been copied from the Twelve Tables promulgated by the Romans in the era known as Pax Romana ("Roman peace") corresponding to the time of Augustus.
Africa is lacking philosophers to guide it to its right course. What's good for Africa is good for its people, and what's good for the people is good for Africa. "It may be argued that peoples for whom philosophers legislate are always prosperous"-Aristotle. Perhaps, the greatest danger to Africa today is the combination of poor leadership and massive brain drain.