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Revolutions can be bloody without being transformative. On rare occasions certain transformations can be had without much bloodshed. Generally speaking though, holistic societal transformations are preceded by bloody revolutions that tend to eliminate the excesses of the old.
Transformation and revolution go hand in hand and violence almost always accompanies revolution, it comes with the territory. For many African countries, (not all) the project of ‘flag independence’ was a protracted and violent process that galvanized the natives. As it were, flag independence was an achievement that was definitely transformative. It allowed direct self-rule by the natives, however improvised and compromised! It is this very achievement of ‘flag independence’ that encouragingly sustained Africans belief that goes something like this; ‘we can gradually sort out the other problems (development, democracy, etc.) once we assert ourselves and consolidate our states vis-a-vis the prevailing world order.’Unfortunately, this belief that kept us going for over half a century is becoming increasingly ephemeral!
For a start, resources today are not cheap or might not even be readily available for many of us for many reasons. Unlike the developed world, our population has a long way to go before stabilization. Moreover, the natural environment is no more predictable, with attendant consequences. This is the objective reality! On the other hand our states run by the elites, (whatever their occupations) tend to stir us towards models of societal existence that are simply unachievable, as they are predicated on the complete negation of the above concrete reality. Fossil fuel civilization has brought many things to the human world, but not all have been beneficial to collective existence. Examples abound, at the dawn of the 21st century. The better elements in the societies that are at the core of this civilization (OECD) are trying to extricate themselves from the quagmire they find themselves in, however difficult. On the other hand, Africa’s leadership (not only political) is obediently following the diktat of global entrenched interests that are largely responsible for this crumbling and outdated form of social organization. Somehow, somewhere, something has to yield!
Let us look at one vivid example where our leadership is clearly failing us. Food is critical enough to warrant a well thought out policy, be it along the line of ‘food security’, ‘food self-sufficiency’, etc. Even in considered policies, one needs to take into account existing global productions/prices and future trends. In many African countries it is usually temporal ad hoc decisions that sway over principled policies in almost all areas that matter; sustainable agriculture, extraction of non-renewable resources for export, energy security, etc. As a result, every time there is a fluctuation in price/production of essential commodities globally, (food, oil, etc) there emerge massive mass upheavals in African countries. Some African countries are naturally unable to grow their own food, (North Africa, etc) but many can, but won’t! For example countries like Nigeria eat what they don’t grow and end up importing millions of tons of rice from Asia. Perfectly neglecting what is real while endorsing all sorts of fantasies is a very common feature of our heavily learned (read, indoctrinated and unthinking) elites. For the initiated, such idiotic rationale is old school that never had serious relevance outside of theoretical economics, i.e. in the real world of finite resources. Another concurrent belief of this old school (comparative advantage) is its blind faith in humanity’s unfailing omniscience. Baloney!
Africans must abandon their irrational fixation on the exhausted classical conception of development, essentially derived from western experience. The west’s material development was achieved at the back of plenty of cheap resources, which were there for the asking or for the grabbing (colonial violence). The west also had plenty of time to adjust to a somewhat optimum population. In those days, nature was active in extending a sort of ‘helping hand’ in the stabilization process, i.e. before modern medicine started to intervene. Overall, the negative consequences of the old development paradigm, are now quite visible, unless one is blind in the head; climate change, ocean’s acidification, top soil erosion as a consequence of monoculture farming, melting of polar ice, disappearance of biodiversity, unsustainable social polarization, etc. etc. In light of such realities, we have no option but to change our ways, per force!
Africans must brave a series of revolutions that will systematically dismantle the old system and replace it with a less complex and manageable humane civilization. We admit, status quo is an entrenched animal, which chronically lacks realistic foresight. The best it does is celebrate cowardice, be it in Africa or elsewhere. The few global ruling elites (the 1%) that run the real show actually know the system is beyond redemption, but they still insist in creating all sorts of charades to hoodwink the beast, (human mass) lest it becomes restless. The impending catastrophe, which is inevitable, is so scary, even the 1% do not want to admit it themselves, let alone address it to outliers. See Hudson’s article next column.
The time for open/honest debates/discussions/interrogations of existing global operating paradigms, be they in development or otherwise, is well overdue. See the article on page 44. To think our existing and heavily learned/saddled elites will, all of a sudden, become vanguards of transformative changes is preposterous, as the accrued material benefits had successfully overwhelmed their skin dip concern for a better Africa. In the words of a born revolutionary or shall we say born revolutionaries with uncanny resemblances, not only in looks and deeds, but also in their unfortunate (relative) short lives: “Our learned and unsuspecting elites serve as conduits for the interests of the global masters, but at times they can come in handy, as useful idiots.” Vladmir (Ulyanov) Lenin and Meles (Legesse) Zenawi. Good Day!