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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

‘Africa South of the Sahara’ is a derogatory phrase that makes me sick

By Lord Aikins Adusei

The monumental failures on the part of African leaders have given birth to the phrase 'Africa South of the Sahara' and the leaders seem to be happy with that phrase. 'Africa South of the Sahara' and her sister 'Sub Sahara Africa' are derogatory phrases that make me sick but Black African leaders have accepted the them with all the negative connotations they carry without reacting to challenge them.

The phrases in their proper sense refer to a part of Africa which does not count in global politics; a toddler in everything important in the world, a backward part of the continent that continues to stand still while the rest of humanity is moving forward both technologically and scientifically.

Africa where leaders are morally bankrupt to criticise one another and where leaders have great ideas about how to rig and win elections, kill journalists, stifle press freedom, freedom of speech and association but have not the slightest idea on how to fight chronic poverty and end decades of wars that continue to devastate communities, towns and cities.. Africa whose leaders prefer to steal from their countries and bank their loot in foreign countries instead of using the money to build roads, hospitals, railway tracks, irrigation facilities, schools, electricity, housing and other social and economic infrastructures for the development and benefit of their own people. It symbolizes Africa where natural resources are a curse rather than a blessing.

It implies Africa where an illiterate soldier with a gun in hand can easily become a president of a country tomorrow. Examples are Yahyah Jammeh of Gambia, Moussa Camara of Guinea, Gaddafi of Libya, Joseph Kabila of DRC, Mamadou Tandja of Niger, Museveni of Uganda,Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz of Mauritania, Al Bashir of Sudan, François Bozize of Central African Republic, Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Valentine Strasser of Sierra Leone, Sergeant Doe of Liberia, and Kolingba and Jean-Bedel Bokasa of Central African Republic.

It means Africa whose people live in darkness despite 365 days of sunshine and availability of solar technology to convert the sunshine into solar energy.

Africa that has not learnt anything from its colonial experience and whose leaders continue to dance to the tune of Western and Chinese rhythms at the expense of their own development.

The meaning of the phrase refers to a part of Africa which can be and is being recolonised by China and its rival competitors in Europe andNorth America through their multinational corporations. (Have you heard of Africom, a project of the US aimed at establishing military bases across the continent to pave the way for total recolonisation of Africa?

Africa whose leaders can be bought by multinational corporations with some few thousand dollars and allow multinational corporations to plunder their resources without any accountability. Have you heard how Mabey and Johnson bribed Ghanaian officials and built bridges that led to nowhere?

It denotes Africa which is so poor in economic, social and political sense despite being rich in natural resources and hard working people: an Africa which is so poorly governed, whose leaders are corrupt and lack the capacity to plan and to initiate any programme of development on their own without being told to do so or helped by outsiders.

It signifies Africa where infrastructure decay is the norm, where rural life is nothing but a condemnation to abject poverty, hopelessness, misery and frustration.

It refers to Africa where ethnicity and tribalism are exploited by corrupt dictators and opportunists bringing a wave of negative tendencies of cronyism, nepotism, corruption and conflicts in its trail. It implies Africa where politicians are happy to exploit the ignorance and illiteracy that have enslaved and prevented its people from taking their rightful place in the world community of continents.

The phrase also indicates Africa which is both economically and politically fragmented, have no common foreign policy, and no economic, immigration and agricultural policies and are without a mouth in world affairs and whose leaders see no wisdom in unity. It means Africawhich is so militarily weak and technologically paralysed to defend itself against external forces, their ideologies, philosophies and cultural pollution.

Egypt a purely desert country and a member of 'Africa north of the Sahara' recently sent food aid to Uganda, a country rich in minerals, soil, natural lakes, rivers but whose leaders see no wisdom in employing irrigation technology that could be used to increase food production to reduce hunger.

The phrase also signifies Africa which continues to beg for and depend on foreign aid despite sitting on huge natural wealth. It means Africa which in spite of its cash trapped economy its leaders continue to siphon at least $148bn annually into their safe haven accounts in foreign countries notably Switzerland, Monaco. Instead of money flowing from rich countries in the global north into poor one in the global south including Africa, it is the rather the other way round, an act that defies any economic wisdom.

It stands for a continent which continues to depend heavily on natural resource exploitation as the main economic activity and which sees diversification as unimportant despite the dangers of depending on raw material export.

It represents Africa where women are treated as second class citizens, denied political representation and are coerced and used as sex objects and commodities by those in power. Africa where child bearing is a matter of life and death, where pregnant mothers die of preventable causes of deaths; where so many children die before they reach the age of five; where child labour and child poverty are the norm, and where both rural and urban children grow without proper education, healthcare, food, shelter, clothing and without future or hope.

It also means Africa where economic hardship put people on death roll and cut short young bright lives. Africa where there is no mortgage, safety net for the poor and the aged and where owning a house or a car can be as daunting as climbing Everest. That is the true meaning of 'Africa South of the Sahara' which the leaders have accepted without a fight, and without doing anything to change the situation by tackling the problems that have given birth to the phrase.

These phrases are being applied to Africa and its people because of the sabotage activities of the leaders, their poor human right records, their economic failures, their corrupt life, their lack of commitment to fighting poverty, and improving the overall living conditions of the people. It is therefore time for the people of Africa to rise up to challenge that derogatory phrase by getting organised and standing up to the leaders, by demanding accountability and probity, and ensuring that the dictators who have spent decades in power doing nothing are shown the door now.

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