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The modern nation states incorporate some kind of mechanism through which the voice of the mass can find listening ears inside the corridors of power. Prior to these modern states, it was mostly a variety of Kingdoms that ruled the days in the lives of subjects and masters (serfs, kings, lords, etc.) In today’s world, almost all countries have ‘rule based’ governance institutions/structure, (constitutions, judiciary, etc) save few kingdoms under the tutelage of monarchs. In such not-so-modern states, the majority of inhabitants are mere subjects of their rulers and can hardly be considered citizens in the proper sense. These modern day serfs have to put up with the eccentricities of their masters without having much input in their own public existence. At least citizens elsewhere can still make noise, for whatever it is worth; elections, etc. To us, this archaic form of governance is the epitome of ‘bad governance.’ But so long as there are benefits to be derived from such abominations, empire gladly obliges. Nothing new here!
Our objective today is not to rant about the usual hypocritical policies of empire, but rather to reflect on the topic of bad governance as it pertains to our continent. Modern nation states that are further away from the above medieval types can also give rise to bad governance via gross mismanagement. The existing African states, which are creations of the colonialists, (by and large) are having difficulties coming up with durable governance structures to barely pacify the beasts’ (human mass) struggle for mere existence. Our historical legacy is such that; deep ties that goes beyond colonial times amongst diverse populations that currently find themselves under one umbrella, is a currency in short supply. The creeping centrifugal forces now in the offing are testaments to this underlying reality. Post-colonial Africa seems to be failing in its ambitious project of overcoming the absence of strong common heritage by convincingly forging equitable common destinies between its diverse people. What can be done to arrest the ascending centrifugal tendencies?
Failing to bring traceable transparency in collective social life alienates those who have always been skeptical about their place in the newly formed states from the get go (flag independence.) When Africa’s prevailing judiciaries are rigged to the rim in favor of the moneyed goons and power-connected, disillusionment in the system is bound to take root. Consequently, victims will be forced to entertain unappetizing options in order to liberate themselves from the systemic oppression, covert or overt. When formal accountability is not backed by sincere responsibility, but is only performed to appease the gullible by rendering its essence as mere exercise in numerology, (just like the accounting scam of fraudulent bankers, local/global) corruption will be crowned and will ascend to the throne of governance. When there is a clear lack of democratic dispensation in the whole collective social existence, it is only a matter of time before all is lost and probably for good!
In the last two years alone Africans have been forced to witness a number of countries become victims, in one form or another, to the above entrenched malaises. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Cote d’ Ivoire, Sudan, (south vs north) Mali and now Congo, to say nothing about Somalia. We believe, the economic giants of West/East Africa, Nigeria and Kenya are also on their way to facing rude awakenings of their own. The economic giants of Northern/Southern Africa, Egypt and South Africa are confronting their own challenges as well. The lessons are clear; GDP growth within the framework of polarized existence (even within rich economies) is no guarantee to securing the peace.The difficult and protracted mission of crossing the main street in front of one’s hotel in down town Johannesburg in broad daylight, is a task that requires the accompaniment of a fully armed policeman. We think this says it all!
Because of manifest bad governance that has been going on for decades, Africa is forced to entertain the proliferation of failing/failed states. For example Nigeria, with all its resources (natural, human) has been so badly governed, it seems the only way forward is to allow the separation of people and the partitioning of the country around resources and identity politics. See Igwe’s article on page 50. If truth be told, the structure of federalism has been nothing more than a vehicle of accumulation for the collectively corrupt leadership (politics, business, religious, etc.) Kenya to some extent is also about to hit the wall. Between the corruption systemically erected to benefit its degenerate elites in cahoots with the global oligarchy and the painful outcry of its‘wannainchi’, (the general public) there seems to be little room and hope for long-term peaceful development, economic or otherwise. See Makori’s article next column.
Such all-pervasive crime cannot bode well for any country aspiring to better the livelihood of its people. Ethiopia’s revolutionary party must take cognizance of various experiences in many of the African states and initiate decisive measures to thwart the ascending big time criminality closely associated with the current economic model of rent seeking and power abuse. Only going after the small fish while allowing the sharks to feast on the poor won’t do it. Unfortunately, to our small time crooks and idiotic psychopaths, it is the oligarchs of Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, etc and the lumpen bourgeoisie of the oil kingdoms that are the celebrated heroes! We abhor such inclinations! Our advice to the youth; ‘Young man/women look East’ (Singapore, North East Asia…)!
Here is a clear message from one that was down and out only recently. Take heed this is a dire warning to all. “The current crisis is also an existential one: Humanity is uncomfortable living in an unequal world without ideals or dreams, only greed, consumerism and double standards. Undoubtedly, we will see a turn to the left and the movement toward a fairer society. Globalization based on speculative finance resulted in the current recession and the Eurozone crisis, and the public knows that a financial monster must be defeated and social policies must be changed completely. If the country’s leadership continues to only ‘imitate political changes,’ it may be overthrown.” Leader of the Russian Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov. Good Day!