Monday, June 13, 2005

Leadership: The Problem with Africa

By Kwaku Duah Berchie

Ok, I admit it. I am going to break my cardinal rule and write a piece though I promised myself I was not going to do that until I graduate from school on the 18th of this month, June. I went to Ghana for sometime, and was very impressed with the way the country is heading. Development is everywhere. More on that later. People are now willing to take chances, and the population is gradually realizing that we hold our fate, future, and destiny in our own hands.

My reason for writing this piece is twofold. The first is the perception that the west has about Africa, and the second being a special that I watched on the ABC news network on June 7, 2005.

Fellow Ghanaians and Africans, it saddens me to say that in spite of all the great things we have in our various countries and the African continent, the western media always shows the very negative and unpleasant things they could find. There are plenty of these to be found, unfortunately. I blame this on our leaders. When I say leaders, I mean the political, legal, regal, and vocal leaders. At a time when the rest of the world is shouting about globalization, Africa is conspicuously missing from the list. The west only sees the continent as an abomination. Unnecessary tribal rift and bitterness are tearing the continent apart. Tribal sentiments are so high to the extent that Africans are willing to purchase ammunition (guns, grenades, bombs, etc) from the west, kill and maim each other, put a whole population at risk to starve top death, and create further chaos and destruction. Take the cases of Liberia, Ethiopia, the Congo, Zaire, the Ivory Coast, and Somalia as a guide. In Sierra Leone, it has been found that the country’s riches in diamond could create multi millionaires only if the right leadership and management are put in place, yet, what did we do? We started a tribal civil war, used the nation’s resources to buy weapons of mass destruction, killed and maimed each other, and turned innocent kids into drug induced killers. Who did we buy the weapons from? The west. It is about time we see the light. I took the trouble to record all CNN could offer in both the Liberian and the Sierra Leonean crisis. The lesson I learned from those footages was that, Africans are willing to spend billions of dollars on weapons in order to satisfy our hatred for each other. We give this money to those in the west, then after all settles down, the west uses a tiny fraction of the profits they made out of our purchase of the guns to send aid to the “suffering masses of Africa”. I am not by any means faulting the west over this issue. What I am saying is that in order for Africans as a people to move out of our dark ages, our leaders need to change their way of thinking. Tribal hatred is killing Africa. How many times are we going to hear philanthropist from the west singing “We are the world?”

Last night, June 7, 2005, a very popular U.S actor “introduced” once again, the plight of Africa to American T.V viewers. The moral of the story is that Africa is in desperate need of help from the west. Africa cannot survive without handouts from the west. Sadly, this is true. The actor showed the U.S audience Ethiopian children who need just $ 16 (sixteen dollars!) per year in order to go to school. He also showed the faces of AIDS, death, and homelessness. I felt so bad about the whole situation that I almost wept. How could a continent endowed with so much human and natural resources be so hopelessly managed to the brink of extinction?


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