19 August 2014

Africa: When Is Our Evolution Coming?


SO THEY ran. In dozens. Falling over themselves. Spending millions in fuel. And travel allowances. Our esteemed presidents. Just like they always run. China-Africa summit. France-Africa summit. Africa-EU summit. Now the US-Africa summit.

They plead for help. Beg for investment. Cry about African diseases. Poverty. Stunted development. Unemployment. Sit in long meetings. Deliberate about Africa. But still return to dying cities. Rising unemployment statistics. Rising mortality rates. Reduced life spans.

They pledge African resources. Animals. Jobs. Land. Everything as long as the summit hosts pledge a little money to create a few jobs. This is how small we are. Pliable. Shortsighted. Generous to a fault.

Just when are we going to be our own investors? If we have the resources, what is it that we do not have? When is the African evolution coming? Who should beg? Us with our loads of valuable resources? Who should call the shots? The seller or the buyer?

Our leaders beat their chest. Africa is the richest. A gem of a continent. Yet we beg to sell off all these to the highest bidder. It is investment. Africa needs investors, they say.

And when they run, they pose for pictures. Them and their women. Put on grey smiles. After that then shopping sprees. Back home nothing changes. Under the tree classes go on. Empty, decaying hospitals open their doors. Weary and hungry villagers stream in to spend the day waiting for the only nurse. To while away time waiting for God's call.

The jobless wake up. To stand by the roadside. Or to walk the same path to a job centre. For another wait. Long hopeless wait. Their job is to look for a job. They age. They resign. They retire. Still jobless.

Right now, somewhere on the continent, some bodies lie abandoned in the streets. Ravaged by Ebola. Nobody wants them. Nobody wants death. Whole villages closed off. Towns blanketed. Death stalks the continent. Somewhere just outside the city, the lucky ones lie in shallow graves. Hastily dug. Hastily buried. Nobody goes there. Thrown away.

Cities stir up. Tired smoke from weak industries struggle to reach the skies. Rickety jalopies rattle along the potholed roads. Negotiating paths through another long day. Laden with hopeful and ever smiling faces. Domestic workers. Labourers. Government clerks. Nurses. Teachers. Waiting for a better day. A pleasant time. For evolution.

They have seen revolutions. Participated. Lost loved ones. Everything too. Souls included. And they hoped with the end of the revolution, they will find hope. Chart a new path. Be people unto themselves. Live off the resources in their country. And never beg again for a chance to live. To reproduce. To die dignified deaths.

They wait for evolution. But African evolution is a mirage. Fleeting shadows. A rainbow. Beautiful. Yet unreachable. Same as our resources. So near, yet so far.

China-Africa summit. France-Africa summit. EU-Africa summit. And now US-Africa summit.

The summit hosts will run. Open up mines. Bring in their experts. Rope in a few of us. For wheelbarrows. Picks and shovels. After all we do not need much. Our lives are simple. We need no cars of our own. No decent houses of our own. We must just make do.

So they take our gold. Uranium. Diamonds. Open banks to siphon our money off. Develop their cities with our wealth. Cart our resources for their factories. Create jobs for their people. Then open shops in our towns to sell products made in Europe from our own resources. And we pay hard.

Yet we wait for evolution to come. That day when we can have President Hifikepunye Pohamba calling for a Namibia-Europe summit. That day when president Goodluck Jonathan will host a Nigeria-China summit. That day when president Jacob Zuma can hold a South Africa-France summit. We wait for those days when our leaders can call the shots. The day when we become our own investors.

The day when we realise that it is not true that we do not have the resources. Money even. Experts too. It is not true that Africa cannot do it for herself. How can we not be able to invest in our own economies when we have been independent for 50 years? Why do we still look outside? Run every time we are summoned. Crawl when we get a chance to appear before other leaders. Beg for them to come and take away our resources.

When is our evolution coming? And why does it seem as if we are evolving backwards? While they are rushing to summits, our youth unemployment rises.

- Wonder Guchu is News Editor at The Namibian.


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