By Mathew K Jallow
It is an historic failure of epic proportions, which began gradually, but steadily metastasized into an abominable culture. Africa, after half a century, continues to agonize over the painful inability to shake off the vile image of the continent as the cesspool of incompetence and obscene levels of corruption. The universal perception of Africa as a continent stuck in an undeniably pathology of moral and ethical bankruptcy, has reached the pinnacle of absurdity, with disastrous results. In spite of Africa’s vast resources, small and medium level investors, with excess capital to plow back into the global economy, have largely declined to touch Africa, even with a ten foot pole. Africa’s prodigious corruption, lack of foresight, and administrative failures are only a part of its fatal failure of leadership. In political terms, far too many of Africa’s leaders have had to be removed by the use of force, which spawned the pathetic rise of military rule and plunged the continent in political and economic darkness for decades. From South Africa to the southern edge of the Sahara, and from Madagascar to the Cape Verde Islands, the haunting laments of the African people still echo unyielding, growing louder and more desperate as the political and economic failures become more entrenched and the manipulations of the democratic processes are rewarded with periodic sham elections. Nowhere are the muffled echoes of political and economic catastrophe as shrill and as persistent as in the Gambia, Angola and Equatorial Guinea, where political and economic greed supersedes the public interest. The notorious tyrants, Yahya Jammeh, Eduardo dos Santos and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, have turned their countries into their personal fiefdoms, and imposed autarchies whose mindless blood-letting and intolerable oppression have set them apart from civilized society. In all three countries, the usurpation of political power and the absence of freedom are absolute, making their imperial presidencies quintessential oxymora, unique to African.
The sobering reality of Africa’s crippling tyrannies, and their abuse of power, in the face of desperate need for political change, brings into sharp focus, both the evolution of African despots and the challenges imposed on individuals and institutions to bend their focus towards moral conscientiousness. The inability of these three African leeches to surrender power, fosters the reptilian cruelties that have become the hallmark of the continent’s political barbarism. It is the manifestation of intellectual small-mindedness and moral deprivation; a cancer that afflicts so many of Africa’s political leaders. The nagging feeling of Africa spiraling out of control and descending into political anarchy and economic collapse, is never too far from the collective mind of its people, yet that sense of hopelessness and frustration ignores the continent’s multi-dimensional political discourse. Quite often, the images of the continent as representing a window into the mind of its people, deliberately overlooks the pockets of excellence that deserve Africa’s reverence, and this deliberate omission is often steeped in racial undertones, narrow-mindedness and the dark vein of racial bigotry. The portrait of African politicians as excessively greedy and power hungry, though largely true, has a few notable exceptions that invalidate the sweeping generalization of the continent’s political character as monolithic. Increasingly, a vocal minority of African leaders is beginning to emerge from the shadows, and conscious of the steep climb to self-redemption, are, by word and action, defying the stereotypical notions of the continent’s incurable political sycophancy. Clearly, Africa’s spectacular failures and dive into violent poverty, often punctuated with political ruthlessness, forms the foundation of the bruising adversarial relations between Africa’s ignorant political demagogues, and its highly educated moral minority.
The distrust between Africa’s educated intelligencia and mediocre oligarchies has come to a stalemate, where relentless political dissidents have delegitimized regimes that spurn the idea of conceding political power to the people. Africa’s blunders are plentiful, yet the spirit and the sage of Nelson Mandela, leader the moral minority, lives on in some of the new crop of leaders, sons and daughters, moved to honor the spirit of Madiba. For, just when the challenges seem so grave, and the impediments to sane political leadership appear insurmountable, the dynamism of change hardens the political resolve and compels the moral consciences of some leaders to display the true character of what it means to be an African. Africa’s post-independence history is replete with incompetent leaders, whose criminality is made for the political mayhem that grips the continent. But this year, a level of discipline has been scribed into the psyche of African politics, and it is more than a mental thing; it promises to help change the cannibalization of African politics by showing the way to good corporate governance, devoid of greed, corruption and familiar administrative incompetence. And even as Africa’s senile octogenarian political leaders make a complete mockery of African politics, three leaders, Senegal’s Macky Sall, Nigeria’s Muhammed Buhari and Tanzania’s John Magufuli, are championing radical changes to the character of Africa’s political systems. The combined impact of what the three laudatory leaders are exploring, in order to tackle the greed, corruption and excessive state power, reflects the geography of the minds of true leaders, in an age of political awakening and economic inclusiveness. Africa has languished in the pits of political and economic darkness for too long, but, now, its three embodiments of change, Senegal’s Macky Sall, Nigeria’s Muhammed Buhari, and Tanzania’s John Magufuli, are charting a new course, and cultivating a new attitude, for a continent full of promise and political systems fraught with man-made calamities. But real change is coming to Africa; one country at a time and Africa salutes President, Macky Sall, President, Muhammed Buhari and President, John Magufuli, as they carry forward Mandela’s unquenchable torch of freedom and human dignity.