Some African countries are celebrating half a century of independence from colonialists.
The irony is that the more they chest-thump about this great feat of independence, the more they hold out their hands with begging bowls for favours and aid.
The favours range from being granted citizenships and being allowed to work in those countries. And we are not talking about high-value jobs. Menial work is our preference.
The dignity of being independent from the imperialists collapsed the very day Africans chose to accept the independence flag but decided to keep the imperialists’ education, economic models, culture, and even the political system.
The official language has to be French, English, Spanish or Portuguese. The academic curriculum has been maintained and even some universities have modeled their teaching to fit or compete with the Western models. Some of the oppressive colonial laws such as annoying the chief are still functioning statutes.
The economic advisors still come from those who know the art and skill of colonizing. Little wonder then that despite such well-cultivated advice, Africans have still remained the same. The imperialists cleverly passed on the template of everything they were doing in the colonies and the liberated colonies did not have the skills to dismantle them.
So, what is the claim of independence all about? Does one still get surprised when hundreds of thousands still trek or dare to go to Europe in hope of better life? A new form of slave trade called human trafficking has emerged.
Incongruously, Africans are paying to be enslaved! Many of the people who were recently reported to have been stuck in Libya and were turned into slaves had paid huge amounts of money to be taken to Europe.
Unfortunately, their agents had a different agenda and they shortchanged them. So, even though many of them are running away from poverty, they are selling their property to meet the fees charged by the traffickers!
While the European explorers came to the ‘Dark Continent’ in search of new markets, the Africans have no chance to exploit any markets in Europe. Africans have chosen to return the continent to a state of nature where there are no rules, and if there are rules, they work for and against certain categories, and not for all.
The leaders are unquestionable. The natural resources get personalized. These injustices have forced some Africans to hate their homes and choose slavery.
Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo is one of those leaders who like to bark at our former colonial masters, but whose words are actually sheer demagogue. Early in December 2017, President Akufo-Addo hosted French President Emmanuel Macron.
During a joint press conference, Akufo-Addo startled his guest when he said: “We want our relations with France to be characterised by an increase in trade and investment co-operation, not aid.”
“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent on the basis of whatever support that the Western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked and it will not work,” he added.
“We have to get away from this mindset of dependency. This mindset about ‘what can France do for us?’ France will do whatever it wants to do for its own sake, and when those coincide with ours, ‘tant mieux’ [so much better] as the French people say…Our concern should be what do we need to do in this 21st century to move Africa away from being cap in hand and begging for aid, for charity, for handouts. The African continent, when you look at its resources, should be giving monies to other places…We need to have a mindset that says we can do it…and once we have that mindset, we’ll see there’s a liberating factor for ourselves,” he explained with his rising tone and demeanor demonstrating his passion for this subject.
But how can the piper choose the tune for the player?
While Akufo-Addo sounded right at that occasion, the reality is that the African mindset, including that of the leaders, is still very much configured to look up to Europe for help. For what can explain the exodus of desperate Africans to Europe amidst all bottlenecks including death?
The author is the business development director at The Observer Media Limited.