Today I read an article on the Guardian blaming western governments and western media for giving Africa a cold shoulder and turning a blind eye on the many mishaps, civil wars, genocides, xenophobia and a host of mega corruption scandals that are ruining the continent and driving Africa’s economies to premature deathbeds. As usual, the notion of ‘what do we stand to gain in return’ and the scramble for, partition of and colonization of African countries was highlighted as being chief amongst the reasons for the west snubbing Africa’s humanitarian crisis and the crippling plunge in our economies.
I think we as Africans are our own enemies. Just how much of an attempt do we make to ensure the world knows about our plight. Do we have to blame international media for going mum on our injustices yet we don’t give local media enough footage to capture the same? We very much know the track record of most African countries in providing and advocating for media freedom. We don’t want to lose on tourist numbers or be given sanctions in the international market for such violations. We are busy trying to arm-twist our media to paint non-existent rosy pictures of our continent at the expense of ravaging poverty, hard-biting famine, mass starvation, malnourishment, over-dependency on international aid, a misleading rich subaltern mindset, inadequate science, technology and engineering education, internal displacement of persons, land grabbing and large recurrent expenditure bills at the expense of development expenditure. Of course we will cry that western media portrays us negatively but how much good and positivity do we strive to do? Our leaders only want their glossy sides painted to the public but what goes on in the dark corridors of power are blatant actions that undermine fundamental human rights especially the freedom of expression and association. Humanitarian organization like UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, Red Cross and alike have done a lot for Africa but all we get to take note of is the damage that they have brought to Africa than the marginal positive impact they supposedly have had. We have complained of them depicting Africa with the most degrading and humiliating images. We claim that the African people’s dignity is not something they cared about. The huge billboard and magazines photos showing Africa at its worst now fill the mind of billions of people around the world, and unfortunately those people can’t help but think about Africa only through those images. But what has been our input in changing this perspective? Look at the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Northern Nigeria, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia et al. Where are all the great noble leaders of Africa? Why haven’t they risen above and championed for their fellow Africans in war-torn countries? Or is it because it is much easier to blame everyone except oneselves? It is us Africans that mark down our lives. There seems to be little appetite for peace and reconciliation. Our borders are permeable and largely meaningless because no border can satisfy the demands of politics (Abyei, Migingo…), religion, tribal traditions and historical rights. Outside intervention can only further fragment an already shattered continent. Our leaders are masters of double-speak trashing international peace conventions when it is them facing the guillotine but readily available to push their rivals down the same throats. Ugandan president is an ardent advocate for the establishment of a counter-ICC African Court yet he was the first to push former LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen to the Hague-based International Criminal Court. All countries should live in peace. Our leaders should lead with compassion, wisdom and magnanimity in order to avoid bloody conflicts. We have had the misfortune of lacking such leaders in most parts of Africa and as result we have had proportionately more conflicts than in other continents. Writing about deadly attacks in Africa does not necessarily stop them, nor does that address the underlying causes. We need to understand that the world won’t stop going on with its business because we are busy butchering each other. We have to take responsibility for our actions. We declared our readiness to run our affairs to our erstwhile colonizers and even though some are sponsoring such conflicts, we cannot rely on them to put an end to our sorry state of running affairs. It is high time our leaders walked the ‘We Are Sovereign’ talk. The writer is an Economics & Statistics student at the University of Nairobi.