By Dr. Emmanuel Mutyaba
The major problem of Africa is bad politics (Valerie Møller, Benjamin J. Roberts, Habib., Waiting for Happiness’ in Africa. In Helliwell, J and Layard R (ed) 2017., World Happiness Survey Report, chapter 4.) When you observe African nations (North, East, South, West and Central) critically, you find that all their troubles are centered on one and the same problem; bad politics.
Why such bad Politics in Africa?
Modern African politics went wrong right from its origin. These pan African fathers who formulated modern African politics that we follow up to today, were semi-colonial elites formed by the colonial masters with the purpose of handing African nations to them as puppets. None of them was not educated from the colonial masters’ nation (with the purpose of brain washing him to think and act like his colonial masters) and none of them did not serve in colonial government for the interest of colonizers. These Pan African presidents used to give wonderful speeches in favour of Africa and Africans but acted colonially simply because their hearts were African but the minds that influenced their actions were colonial. This explains why they set forth for us a political system that is a shadow of western politics deprived of African values. None of them restored power to or recognized traditional authorities but suffocated them the more (some restored them as puppets), they exercised tribal and political party segregation, continued with the colonial exploitive system of law cost labour, monopolized power, no party wanted to share or leave power to the other. Indeed they continued with the deformation of African history. All Pan African leaders ended up forcing their nations into a single party system under the disguise of African socialism (eg: Nyerere, Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah, Kenneth Kaunda, etc) (Alagi Yorro Jallow (2013) Pan African Debate: Comparative Study of Leadership and Governance by Africa’s Founding Fathers, in: http://gainako.com/pan-african-debate-comparative-study-of-leadership-and-governance-by-africas-founding-fathers/)
As a matter of fact, there is no African nation which did not experience a civil war or at least an unsuccessful coup in the first decade of independence. This is what we still experience today; no African president willingly shares or leaves power as it was with the pan Africa presidents (with the exception of Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere ruled for 23 years, Sir. Dauda Jawara of Gambia for 30 years, Leopold Senghor of Senegal for 20 years, Akmadu Ahidjo of Cameroon for 20 years, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia for 27 years, etc). This is what we see even today. As their predecessors, current presidents too still implement that economic system designed by the colonial masters which is purely cash crop based which benefit Western industries not African people with little emphasis on manufacturing industries. They are less concerned about the wellbeing of their people; they placed the economy of their nations to be determined by the colonial masters under the disguise of common wealth.
As a consequence, poverty continues to menace Africans. Millions of Africans’ lives today are at risk due to famine like in Zimbabwe, Angola, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mozambique, Somalia, and in Sudan. In 1989, Nigeria despite of its fuel had a foreign debt risen to more than 30 billion dollars and Egypt’s debt by 1990 had reached 50 billion dollars four times than ever, for Algeria, had risen to 20 billion dollars (King, Gerbian and Vanessa Lawrence, (2005), Africa, a Continent in Crisis: The economic and Social Implications of Civil war and Unrest Among African Nations. EDGE Final Spring) Actually, the whole political system in Africa suffers from the deformed history of Africa which led to loss of our identity. We define ourselves from the colonial masters perspective as inferior people and irrational among others. Incapable of self governance, we have to depend on their guidance, take up their political ideologies even if we cannot make sense out of them. Which politics do you expect from people who are still eluded about the truth of who they are; people who are mentally determined by others yet they deceive themselves that they are free? (we are people of the lie).
What we should know is that, people who are still struggling with identity/character as we are, cannot have a vision. What we call visions in the actual sense are nothing but egoistic ambitions. I am afraid that Uganda’s “vision” 2040 will end up null as the ten years plan did. Not even the saga of togikwatako-gikwateko is a vision; see the lies and the physical fights that accompany it by its protagonists. This is a sign of people without character (a quality/good conduct that typifies a person or a group of people) yet a vision depends on the character. No character no vision. How can we have character with a distorted history? How can we recollect our history with this colonial education which systematically eludes us into being ashamed of our African traditional values? We were systematically led into being against ourselves because we do not feel self worth.
Being people with distorted history hence people without character, we can not have a national spirit in African states. Whoever attains power feels that he is to colonize/dominate others. Leadership in Africa has nothing to do with service, but dominion and wealth acquisition. We have heard presidents saying that they are not servants of anyone. The concept of power in Africa is that of dominion (kufuga in luganda) and satisfying one’s self at the expense of others; it is indeed a colonial attitude. As people with distorted history hence people without character, we are: chaotic people, people who are ashamed of our original selves, admirers/mimickers of the West, we have no problem with murdering ourselves; no sense of fellow feeling. When one American or European is killed, all get concerned but when millions of Africans get killed, very few Africans get concerned. What kind of politics do you expect to emerge from such a reality?
Not even the opposition parties in Africa can do any better than the ones in power. The issue is not simply change of power, but correcting our history so that we reacquire our character as Africans. To better Africa, we need to come to terms with our reality (we have been historically destroyed, we need to reconstruct our history), we have to regain our selves/identity/character as Africans. We should be characterized by our values not as imitators of the west. There is no dignity in being photocopies of others. No one prefers a duplicate to the original; that is why we are despised even from our own homeland. Our African values should form the basis of our politics and policies as well as our laws. Ever since independence, we practice colonial politics but it has led us nowhere apart from self destruction. I wish that our leaders could heed to these words. Please curriculum developers let our education be based on African values.
Please our dear leaders, the most important thing is character not power. It is character that creates genuine power. Powerful leaders without character look for people to follow them, but leaders with character, people long to follow them because they inspire them. Leadership is all about inspiring people not ruling them as colonial politics teaches. People are inspired by character not power.
It was character that led Nelson Mandela to become a great leader. Several times the colonial masters went to meet him in the prison cell asking him to give up the fight against mal governance in South Africa and powerful positions in the government were promised to him but he refused to give up a good fight for his people. Power without character leads to failure. This is what the Baganda legend of Kibuuka Omumbale aims at teaching; it is just like that of Samson in the Bible, (Judges 16:18). These two very mysteriously powerful men (Kibuuka Omumbale and Samson) fell because of lack of character. Kibuuka during the war between Baganda and Banyoro managed to be a successful fighter since the Banyoro did not know his fighting tactics. But due to lack of character, he was seduced by a munyoro woman who tricked him and he revealed to her that his power lies in his ability to fight from the dark cloud. The munyoro woman disclosed the information to Banyoro soldiers and during war, one of them pierced the dark cloud with his spear and Kibuuka Omumbale fell down dead. Samson too revealed to Delilah that his source of strength was in his hair, so when he fell asleep, she shaved off his hair and that was the end of his strength; thus he was defeated by his enemies who even removed his eyes.
That is what lack of character does to great men and women; less of vision. The colonial masters knew very well that by destroying our character, we shall remain without vision hence we shall be forever led by them and that is how it is. Joseph (Gen 39:12), being a man of character, resisted the temptation of the lady who wanted to fail him; he rose from prison to the position of the prime minister.
It was his character not power that raised him to being an important figure. Yet colonial politics that we follow eludes us into searching for power/dominion by destroying character hence bribe, corruption, murder, etc in order to attain power and once attained to consolidate it. Such moral turpitude/lack of character is not solved by strengthening the judiciary or prayer, but recollection of our history and we formulate our social-political and economic life based on our values. Once again, I emphasise that, African values should be emphasized in homes, schools and in worship places so that future leaders grow up with these values influencing their thoughts and actions. That is the only way to go in reconstructing Africa.
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