All I hear and read a lot about these days is how it is time for Africa, Africa is rising (and the cynic in me wonders what we are rising from). The way I see it as an African is that we either rise or fall.
As Africans we have for the longest time gotten used to the idea that the world needs us, we are after all, the continent endowed with every mineral under heaven, huge natural resource reserves of oil, gold, diamonds, copper … name it we have it. Mind, we never had to do a thing to have all these things, we just had them, and whether or not we earned the right to call them ours is a debate I just will not start. And if that was not enough, the world needed us to feel good, after all we gave them someone to rescue.
They say (don’t ask who) that necessity is the mother of all invention and I must say I agree. For in all of our existence as Africans I am hard pressed to find what it is we have our stamp on, what we can say we invented and shared with the world. More often than not, we use things someone else already created and we are bright enough to be able to tweak them here and there to suit our needs and purposes. Oh I know the wheel has been invented and we need not try re-inventing it, but surely with all the brilliant minds on the continent, we are disgustingly happy with very little?
Maybe it has a little to do with the fact that we have got it all. The great weather just two seasons, and as earlier stated, the wealth of minerals, not forgetting the fact that we are nearly natural disaster free compared to all other continents, talking of course about earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, the monsoons, flooding to mention but a few. Honestly, we have it good.
And so we have become complacent, (more like we were born complacent). I may be able to live with all of our failings, but the thing I don’t understand is just how hard we find it as Africans to just do business together. East Africa has its own common market, West Africa has one too, Central, North and Southern Africa also have similar arrangements. Europe came to the realisation that they needed each other to survive, Africans, we are still on the slow coach, waiting until disaster strikes before taking any action. If you ask me, disaster is not that far away.
The world has been developing while we have been sitting on our laurels and soon, all we consider valuable may become quite valueless, especially with no takers on the international scene. I am talking about the fact that countries like the US may well not need to buy anymore oil from the likes of Nigeria, because they have come up with less expensive and cleaner alternatives, and so even as East Africa discovers its reserves, there may be no (international) market for it.
The idea really is for Africans to see the need to do business together. Why should we all be paying Visas to travel on the continent, why have we not designed our own type of Shenzhen Visa? Why must we struggle to get around our continent and yet make it so easy for foreigners .. frankly I don’t understand why Visa fees for other countries are so paltry when they have designed theirs in such a way they shut a lot of our people out.
Nothing good ever came easy and nothing will change for us as Africans unless we start working smart rather than hard. I mean there is nothing wrong with hard work, but what is the point if there is nothing to show for it.
I have had it with the pictures depicting Africa as the home of hungry starved near dead children, granted some pockets of Africa go through this, but that is not the face Africa. With some of the fastest growing markets, a young educated population, an emerging middle class, even if no one else bought what we have, our businesses could never go burst.
Now we need to create brands, brands that will define who we are in the next century.
It is time .. time for black Africa to realise we hold the key to our happiness, our prosperity, that unity is a must. We must accept that nobody needs us anymore. It is time we got our act together politically, economically and socially. Time to get rid of bad leaders, some decidedly ancient, demand more from the ones we chose and believe that we deserve better. Without this conviction, we might as well sign our own death warrant.