- Category: ARTICLES
- Published on Sunday, 19 January 2014 16:17
- By J. Nhinson Williams
Despite unlimited natural resources and wealth, resilient people and a growing promise as the new frontiers, Africa is at a cancerous crossroads politically, socially and economically. And unless we (be it African-Americans, Europeans of African lineage, and those in other parts of the world) all engage Africa, the continent is closer to total decline and barbarism.
There are never ending wars, trans-generational poverty, and persistent social and economic strives, deplorable governance system, dangerous corruption, and widespread theft as well as mismanagement in most parts of the continent.
Every day people, in one African nation or the other, are in fear of their lives, and on the move either as refugees or displaced persons. There have been tensions, wars and civil conflicts in the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Somalia, Uganda, Chad, Libya, Ivory Coast, Senegal etc. Even as we pen this publication, the idiots in Africa’s newest country, South Sudan, are killing their own people because of power greed and absolute stupidity. In some other African nations, military takeovers and suppression are common phenomenon. The economies are all either crumbling or struggling irrespective of the numerous natural resources and wealth the continent posses. Nepotism, tribalism, open-ended and widespread corruption of public funds have become synonymous to governing. The result is massive attempt by young Africans to migrate to Europe, and for those who can, in the United States, Canada and any where they can afford to go. What we see is disheartening, especially as young men and women die crossing the sea into Europe for better life.
Africa’s problems are also pathetic, but equally unique. As such, the continent regresses while the rest of the world progresses. Africa’s problems are particular dismal because enlightened individuals of African descent have neglected the continent; and exclusive because by such rejection, the criminals therein take charge and use their might to steal public funds, mismanage the economies, and commit atrocious acts of endless wars on their own people, as we have seen in South Sudan in recent weeks.
Many African despots and corrupt leaders deposit stolen funds and resources in Swiss and Middle Eastern banks. And in ninety nine percent of cases the funds are never recovered. For instance, the late Congolese (Zaire) dictator, Mobutu Sese Seku left billions of dollars and other assets in Swiss and other foreign banks when he died. So why Congolese children lack preventive healthcare, the funds and assets become the profits and property of those banks. The same applies to many deceased African leaders, dictators and politicians. Many, if not all of them, refused to let anyone, including their wives and offspring, know about their assets for fear that the secret will leak.
These problems can be mitigated if Africans in the Diaspora and people of African ancestry, especially African-Americans, engage and fully participate in the political, social and economic developments of the continent from afar. African-Americans must and should engage Africa, and participate in the continent’s political, social and economic renewal and growth. Failure to do so will not only relegate the continent to prolong misery, but puts it at the whim of dangerous elements, appalling and corrupt leaders, terrorists and rogue investors. No matter how American or European an individual of African ancestry may describe themselves; it is no rationale justification to disengage or ditch the continent of their natural origin to continuous crime, shame and exploitation.
Apart from the communal and moral thrust for why African-Americans in particular must engage their motherland, there is an indispensable natural relationship that makes their engagement imperative. There is also a psycho-social benefit if they engage and the reason is simple; when Africa thrives, it will provide internal pride to any African-American who appreciates his or her identity and self worth. When Africa fails, as many countries on the continent continue to do because of bad governance and poor leadership, we all directly or indirectly fail no matter what nationality or social status we retain.
As the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once put it, “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere”. In the case of Africa; wars, poverty, corruption, and shame on the continent do not just reflect on Africans therein. It equally reflects on African descendants around the world, whether they dwell in denial or not. It should also unsettle their conscience and shame every one of them that have the sway to engage and effect structural changes, but failed to do so.
African-Americans and Africans descendants in Europe should learn from the non-Israeli Jews in the Diaspora. No matter how American or British a Jew is; they do pay special attention to their motherland, Israel. There are a lot of Jewish Americans who have readily served or volunteered in the Israeli government as well as the Israeli’s military. Current Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emmanuel is said to be one. Many more have and continue to invest in the Israeli economy while others make it a duty to visit the Holy Land periodically in addition to establishing a strong voice for the state of Israel in every domain of American public and foreign policy. After all, this is not only a good thing on several levels; it is equally a reflection of self pride and collective identity for Jews.
First and foremost, the bond and engagement of Jewish Americans with Israel makes that country strategically important on the United States’ political and economic radar. Secondly, it protects Israel from unwarranted and untold attacks, and exploitation. Thirdly, it makes Israeli politicians and business executives as well as community leaders vigilant to behave and act accordingly. The result is Israel is not only a developed nation and sophisticated economy embedded with transparency and accountability; it continues to prosper democratically as well as maintains a position of strengthen internationally.
This kind of engagement is missing or non-existent from African descendants around the world, especially those in the United States, toward their motherland. It is time that African-Americans think this through and reconsider their inexcusable unresponsiveness to the continent.
African-Americans’ active engagement and participation in Africa will be consequential in a number ways. First, it will bolster their position and influence in American and European politics, foreign policy and economy. Secondly, it will give them influence and a role in developments in many African nations. Thirdly, it will generate a vigorous presence for them on the international stage, especially at the United Nations and in many international organizations that need the input and backing of the fifty-four countries on the continent in a number of global issues. Fourthly, it will keep African leaders, tyrants and politicians in check, especially when they know that their actions are not only monitored by the subjugated people in their respective countries, but by influential people of African ancestry abroad.
Skeptics may argue why African-Americans or people of African heritage in Europe. For one thing, African-Americans and Europeans of African heritage have innate connections and unbreakable kinship to the continent; whether some of them accept it or not, it is an undeniable and inconvenient truth. As such, when Africa fails it reflects not just on their kinfolk on the continent, it does reflect on all those with African lineage. In addition, African-Americans are not outsiders to the continent; they have the same rights to the continent like any other African. Like most African refugees, African-Americans did not leave Africa because they chose to, they were either forced to do so, or had to. No matter how uncaring some African-Americans are to the man-made calamities in Africa because of their new identities and social statuses, they cannot escape the reality that they are one way or the other, a part of the continent.
At last, the unconcerned and failure of African-Americans and Europeans of African heritage to engage the continent is morally unacceptable. It is critical that this engagement begins. It can start with one country after the other, beginning with Liberia and South Sudan.
by J. Nhinson Williams
Leader, Unite Liberia for Change