Africa’s leadership challenges


Africa is one place where the majority of its people eke out meager living without harboring much faith in their collective future, in spite of various political, economic and social experimentation that are/were attempted in the component states. Africa’s current collective leadership, (not only in the political sphere) seems not to care much about the benefits hindsight can avail, as a result, developing well thought out policies based on our concrete position in the world system has become untenable. Availing even the very basics to the suffering masses has become an insurmountable task! To be sure, many of the important issues that continue to affect/afflict us directly/indirectly are exogenously driven. In the area of resource extraction for example, nothing much has changed since the direct colonial rules of centuries past. From Angola to Libya, from Nigeria to South Africa, from the Guinean coast to the East African coast etc, natural resource still remains our foremost ‘curse!’ Unless we are very careful, our fate might well be back to the future, to the era of tighter shackles: outright colonialism, apartheid, etc.
Our post-colonial leaders, we believe, had failed to maneuver their respective countries to more promising tracts given the slight wherewithal ‘flag independence’ afforded them. The land issue and its subsidiary, the agrarian question for instance, has not been resolved in a number of African countries, impeding the full employment of agriculture-based occupation. Unlike those who are obsessed with the industrialization of agriculture and its founding principle, ‘unsustainable growth a la market logic’ we believe ‘sustainable agriculture’ can and should be promoted as a respectable livelihood for the African multitudes, rather than denigrating it as a mode of primitive existence. This distorted notion must be rectified soon, particularly in light of the crisis petro-agriculture is facing (massive unsustainable inputs.) Agri-culture is not only about growing stuff it is also about down to earth organic living.
In this complex world where the cards are stacked against us, the old notion of leadership that revolves around the individual ‘chief’ won’t be able to deliver what is urgently needed by the African masses. Nonetheless, it is this archaic form of governance our detractors still want us to pursue. After all, it is easy to work on/manipulate an individual who has taken custody of a nation’s affairs, rather than deal with an organized and committed entity with a firmly established agenda; like those previous movements that led Africa’s struggle for political or more honestly, flag independence. In the absence of such committed entities that still have the interests of the people at heart, it is mostly the hyphenated elites, propped up by the domestic/international oligarchy, supported by international institutions that are currently vying state power. On the other hand the African people are fed up of the various palliatives peddled by the local representatives of the global oligarchic system and are vigorously demanding concrete and visible actions for a more determined transformative trajectories. Something has to give!
In this regard, it is again Africa’s youth that is raising the banner. From Egypt to South Africa, from Nigeria to Kenya, etc, they have started to demand more than the usual crumbs that are frequently thrown at them, compliment of the prevailing policies of the established global order. When the beast (human mass) is threatened with a dwindling supply of forage, it will start to lose it. 2013 promises to be a year where forage might be in short supply. Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and closer to home, the coast people of Kenya and the island people of Zanzibar are all seriously entertaining quite a different political arrangement that doesn’t bode well with the existing AU agenda. On the face of it, the increasing sentiment to ‘go it alone’ has both endogenous and exogenous reasons. The exogenous ones are obvious to those who respect hindsight. For example, would perceptive Africans be surprised if the US Africa Command sets up its new headquarter on the island of independent Zanzibar? Certainly not! {Tanzania = Tanganyika (mainland) + Zanzibar (island).}  The endogenous ones might well be the results of accumulated anger exasperated by the chronic shortcomings of our collective leadership. Therefore, it is only natural for the beast to pursue its objective in the way it knows best–rampage! Ironically, the African Unity of states is increasingly facing the African Disunity of the beast!
The burning question in Africa still remains the same, that of liberation (economic, cultural, etc.) But such a massive task requires mass movements. What we have today in the majority of countries are ‘chiefs.’ Chiefs without movements! The so-called movements that prevail are those that are mobilized around temporal issues grounded in the primordial sentiments of identity politics (ex: North and West Africa.) Africa’s confident, competent and committed individuals must urgently try to set up credible entities/parties that will concretely work to alleviate the existing misery/poverty of the masses. Unless these problems are arrested, the situation will inevitably lead to chronic instability. (Congo is on again.) From their public pronouncements EPRDF and to a lesser extent ANC, (the ruling parties in Ethiopia & South Africa) are the only ones claiming to prepare crop of succeeding generational leaders.
It will be a real pity to turn the dream of one of African Union’s founding fathers into a complete nightmare. “The brighter day is rising upon Africa. Already I seem to see her chains dissolved, her desert plains red with harvest, her Abyssinian and Zululand the seats of science and religion, reflecting the glory of the rising sun from the spires of their churches and universities.” Kwame Nkrumah. Good Day!