‘I Dream of an Africa, which is in peace with itself’- Nelson Mandela
Since January this year, Africa has been in the news for the wrong reasons. In fact, conventional Western media have always aired news about poverty, hunger, illegal migration, coups, and sit-tight leaders from the African continent. This is depressing to the psyche of the average African. An example. Between January 1 and June 26 this year alone, over 2000 African nationals have lost their lives trying to leave the shores of the continent for a better life in Europe and America. The sad tallies include those who died on the three major routes across the Mediterranean, as well as at the Atlantic route from West Africa.
In just one huge tragedy early in the year, the capsizing of a fishing boat Adriana in the deep waters off the coast of Greece was recorded. The boat had departed Libya crammed with hundreds of Africans. It took the lives of the migrants on board when it sank and 596 souls perished in a single night.
The lost souls were desperate Africans trying to leave the shores of Africa, to escape poverty and want. Many have given up on the continent and are ready to risk their lives and limbs in a bid to get a better life outside its shores. In spite of the huge number of lives lost to dangerous migration, many are still willing to take the risk. And this is due to the fact that many others succeeded in the dangerous voyages. Italy has seen a significant increase in the number of migrants arriving on its shores through illegal routes. This year alone, more than 60,000 have succeeded in entering Italy compared to 27,000 last year.
The question to ask then would be why are Africans trying to leave the continent at all costs? The answer, again, is glaring to all – greener pastures for work, survival and value of life. Africa is now being projected as a continent where nothing works, a hell on Earth. A place peopled by blacks who are still living on tree tops with Monkeys. But Africans deep down in their heart knows that this is not the right characterization of Africa. Africans across many African countries are being held down by their leaders, many of whom lack the vision to develop the abundant resources the great continent yields for the good of her teeming citizens.
Africa is a land God created to be great. But it is being held down by incompetent leaders and sit-tight bigots who are only interested in stealing and lining their pockets. Of what use again is 90-year-old Cameroonian President, Paul Biya, who has been in charge of that country for 41 years?! Biya got to power in Cameroon on November 6, 1982 and through constant manipulation of the constitution, he has remained in power till date. The living standards of most Cameroonian is dismally low, while the old man spent the better part of his time outside the country receiving treatment for ailments and generally enjoying his life.
Teodoro Obiang, the current and second president of Equatorial Guinea has created an unenviable record of being the longest serving President in Africa. He came to power in August 1979, and has held on to the reign of power since then till date! He holds another Guinness World Record title as the longest-serving President in the World. Suffice to ask, what impact has he made on the life of the people of Equatorial Guinea since assuming power through a coup that ousted his uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema?
Another sit-tight leader is Denis Sassou Nguese of Congo Republic. Nguese has spent a total of 39 years in power. He first served from 1979 to 1999, and returned in 1997 at the end of the country’s civil war. Since then, he has been in charge of Congo but not really adding value to the life of Congolese. From Congo, we move to Uganda , where Yoweri Museveni has been President since 1986. He took over the office in January 1986 after winning the war that toppled Uganda’s presidents Milton Obote and Idi Amin. King Mswati III of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and head of the Swazi Royal family was crowned on April 25, 1986, at the age of 18, making him the world’s youngest King at the time. He co-rules the nation with his mother, Ttfomni Tfwala, who is currently the Queen Mother (Ndlovukati).
Isaias Afwerki is the first and only President of Eritrea till date. He has been in charge since the country got independence from Ethiopia in April 1993. Letsie III is the current King of Lesotho, and has been in charge of the country since 1986, after his father died in a car crash. His coronation took place in October 1997, at Setsoto Stadium, and was attended by current King Charles of England. As a constitutional monarch, most of King Letsie’s duties are ceremonial.
Other African leaders that are not really adding value but are not willing to go anytime soon include Ismail Omar Guelleh, the current President of Djibouti, who has been in power for 24 years; Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, who belongs to the ‘Alawi dynasty and ascended to the throne on 23 July 1999, upon the death of his father, King Hassan II; Paul Kagame, who assumed office in 2000, is the fourth and current president of Rwanda, and the 10th longest-serving president in Africa. Kagame has been de facto leader since 1994 but focused more on military, foreign affairs, and the country’s security than day-to-day governance. He only went after the top job when the then-president Bizimungu resigned. Kagame was sworn in as President in April, 2000. Despite the length of their tenures, some of these leaders have been criticized for human rights abuses, corruption, and poor governance.
Now, the present wave across Africa is that military boys are kicking many of the sit-tight leaders out of power. From Mali to Burkina Faso, to Niger, and now Gabon, the new fad is spreading and catching on fast. Just last week, Ali Bongo was kicked out of power in Gabon. What prompted the coup was the recent election held in that country in which Bongo was declared the winner for a third term. The election was indeed, not free, fair, and transparent as the media and members of the international community were shut out from monitoring the poll. Despite the fact that he recently suffered a stroke and should have left the stage as his health could no longer cope with the rigors of the office, Bongo stubbornly clung to power, but the military coup effectively ended his family’s 56-year hold on power in the former French colony. It is not surprising that people have taken to the streets in major cities across the country to celebrate the takeover of government by the Khaki boys.
Now, many of Africa’s sit-tight leaders are beginning to fear that coup may spread to their ‘relatively secured’ enclave and are beginning to take measures to insulate themselves. In Rwanda, Paul Kagame has announced the retirement of 12 military generals as well as several soldiers, while in Cameroon, Paul Biya has reshuffled the military, moving officers to new positions in a bid to prevent a putsch.
It is worthy to note that the military is in no better position to lead than their civilian counterparts as they are not trained on how to administer a country. Most of the time, the military complicate matters whenever they find themselves in leadership positions while human rights of citizens under their rule became threatened.
The sad reality on our continent is therefore depressing to Africans who, with this trend, feel stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea, with the belief that this is not how God designed Africa to exist. With abundant riches forming more than 30 percent of the world’s natural resources, rich in both human and natural resources, Africans holding sterling records in all spheres of their endeavours and among their peers worldwide, the continent should never be so impoverished. In fact, Africa’s natural resources have earned her the description: ‘continent blessed by God’.
Nigeria, the sleeping giant of Africa, is the sixth-largest producer of Crude Oil in the World. It also has other untapped natural resources such as gas, coal, gold, and bauxite. Botswana is the world’s leading producer of diamonds (by value), the majority of which are gem quality. The country alone boasts of 35% of African diamonds. Beside these diamonds, gold, nickel, soda ash, and copper are mined there.
South Africa is a nation with a huge, diverse mineral potential. It is notably world number one in the production of chromium, manganese, platinum, vanadium, vermiculite, and number two in the production of ilmenite, palladium, rutile, and zirconium.
Every mobile phone contains coltan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s largest producer of it. It is one of the highest producers of diamonds and copper in Africa, with respectively 34 and 13% of the total production from the continent. Its mineral deposits are estimated at $24 trillion.
Namibia has an annual income of which a quarter comes from uranium receipts. It’s diverse mining industry is on the rise, with significant sales increasing year on year.
Mozambique is a major player in African aluminum production, with 32% of the total. It also exploits gas and coal. Zambia is the main producer of copper on the continent and is believed to house between 65 and 77% of the copper supply. Uranium is the most commonly used material in the nuclear power industry for power generation, and Niger’s uranium represents 44% of the continent’s supply. Its exports represent 40% of the country’s total.
Again, Zimbabwe has the second largest platinum deposit in the world. Its rich lands are 60% made up of ancient rocks, industrial minerals, mineral resources and base metals. Egypt is predicted to be one of the most powerful economies by 2030, Egypt owns major gas fields in the Mediterranean. The country has made structural investments in various sectors, including power generation, and the establishment of numerous industrial zones.
Guinea is renowned for the richness of its subsoil, which contains iron, bauxite, diamond, gold, uranium, petroleum, phosphate, and manganese. It alone would cover 95% of the continent’s bauxite production. It has enormous potential estimated at 40 billion proven tonnes of reserves.
Ghana has about 15% of the continent’s total gold production, and ranks second behind the Rainbow Nation, South Africa. It’s subsoil is also full of manganese, bauxite, and diamonds. It is also the second largest cocoa producer behind Ivory Coast.
One could go on and on, yet, majority of Africans remain poor. Years after becoming independent nations, several African countries are now been held down by their own, unable to utilize God’s given wealth for the benefit of their people. Where good leaders emerged like the late Thomas Sankara, they usually didn’t last as imperial world leaders and former colonial masters ensured that they were taken out of the system so that they would continue to exploit the natural resources in Africa. Their modus operandi is looking for weak leaders to prop up whom they support while they continue their exploitation of the continent. The second scramble for areas of influence in Africa is presently ongoing among the United States of America, Russia, and China. But I believe that God’s design for Africa as a rich and prosperous continent would be fulfilled, if not now, but in the near future.
See you next week.