by Adrian Joe
Africa is a continent in the world map. It is the second largest and the second most populous continent in the world. Africa is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea in the North, the Indian Ocean to the South East and the Atlantic Ocean to the West. The continent is blessed with 54 fully recognized sovereign states which include countries like Namibia, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Eritrea, Madagascar, Algeria and Morocco. The word AFRICA originates from the word AFRI-KA, meaning “a sunny place”. According to Wikipedia, it is believed that Africa, particularly the Eastern Africa is the origin of humans. Africa as a continent suffers a great exploitation from the Europeans. The continent was firstly partitioned by the European powers such as Britain, France, Belgium, Portugal e.t.c at the 1884/85 Berlin conference which subsequently paved way for them to take full occupation of the continent. The European powers established different steps in order to capture the Africans, for instance, France introduced policy of assimilation and association in their various colonies while British introduced indirect rule. Faced by this exploitation, Africans although benefit from the policies these Europeans introduces because it gives African citizens the opportunity to be educated but at the receiving end, the Africans are the major losers in the sense that most of their natural resources were been taken abroad to develop the industries of the European powers.
After a long and terrible experience of colonization and the independence of India in 1947, nationalist movements erupted and they embraced the spirit of independence. This action was also spear-headed by Resolution 1514 adopted by the United Nation which could see the end of colonization. Nationalist like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Nelson Mandela of South-Africa and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania exhale and started the crusade of independence. The year 1960s were regarded to be the years of African countries because 17 countries (with Ghana been the first in 1957) got their independence, though political independence in nature, and later that year 16 of them joined the United Nation. Furthermore, since the end of the cold war and the appreciation or practice of capitalism and globalization making up a Unipolar world, African continent has witnessed a great number of turbulent actions ranging from ethnic crisis, terrorism, deadly disease and politically motivated violence against the state. These issues need to be tackled in order to make the continent a peaceful and conducive environment for its citizenry to fully participate in the development of the continent. However, there have been many issues which are not satisfactory or needed to be addressed urgently within the African continent. Africa as of today is regarded as a “backward continent”, not because they can’t think or implement good and reasonable policies that would move the continent forward, but because of problems such as sit tight syndrome, corruption, and lack of technological knowhow put them in this quagmire. Some of the contemporary issues facing the African continent include:
- Bad, corrupt and autocratic leadership
- Xenophobia in southern Africa
- Migration in Northern Africa
- Terrorism and Ebola epidemic in West Africa
Let us now examine them one after the other:
BAD, CORRUPT AND AUTOCRATIC LEADER
Historically speaking, African countries are said to be bequeathed with bad, corrupt, and autocratic leaders. To buttress this point, those nationalists who fought for the independence of their various countries later became dictators who were after their personal interest and not the state centric interest. The likes of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and to some extent Julius Nyerere of Tanzania later became dictatorial. For them, they believed that their countries lacked the capacity to practice a democratic system of government which empowers the citizens to choose their leaders periodically; they instead opt for a single party system. The self will of those nationalists spurred military coups in various African states. It must however be noted that, of all the leaders Africa produced, the most respected and visionary leader among them is Thomas Sankara of Upper Volta now Burkina Faso. He is regarded as a revolutionist and a Marxist. In addition, bad, corrupt and autocratic leaders have invaded the continent among them include, Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast who wanted to hijack the political system, Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria who said and I quote that “stealing is not corruption”, Isaias Afwerski of Eritrea who has become a non-democratic and a human right violator leader since he assumed power, Pierre Nkiruziza of Burundi whose third term presidential bid has promoted violence in the country, and Omar Hassan of Sudan. None of these leaders has been able to pinpoint their achievement since they assumed power; they are majorly concerned with their personal interest. They embezzle government funds and build mansions and also siphon government money abroad while their citizens are getting poorer.
- XENOPHOBIA IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
Another issue confronting African continent is the xenophobia killings in South Africa. Although this is not the first time of this phobic killing, the recent xenophobia killing was instigated by the Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini who said it openly that “African migrants should leave South Africa for their citizens to get jobs, Another self acclaimed leader of the xenophobic killing who identified himself as MABUTUBUTU MASEKOSUMA KONGUGU who released a video and justifying his action by saying “you don’t know how we survive, you don’t know what it is for a fellow black person to be there unemployed”. Both the king and the sergeant have the same reason which is “unemployment”. But before this, what really struck my mind is the question that what really went wrong with the black man? Does this mean black people lack the reasoning faculty to think the way they ought to think? Analytically speaking, the unemployment issue cited as an excuse for this venomous killing is unjustifiable and uncalled for. It is unjustifiable in the sense that the largest industrial countries of the world have their own problem of unemployment. No country in the world is said to have it all. Why should the nationals of South Africa believe that the killing of fellow African citizens who had in one way or the other contribute to total eradication of apartheid regime and economy in their country is the best or suitable solution to their problem of unemployment? Frankly speaking, if South African jobs are being taken by foreigners, then the nationals or citizens of South Africa are damn lazy. Looking at it from another angle, we could even easily conclude that may be South Africans do not have the requisite or requirement needed to obtain or secure job for themselves, may be they are not the type that are educated enough to get the job, thus the government of South-Africa under Jacob Zuma could be responsible for this because the dividends of democracy have not been able to trickle down to the local level. To end this, citizens of a particular country must be well educated to make democracy a continuous system of government.
MIGRATION IN NORTHERN AFRICA
Another major issues confronting Africa is that of migration taking place in the Northern part of Africa, particularly Libya. Migration refers to the movement of persons from one country or locality to another. It should be noted that emigration is done throughout the world. There exist some reasons why Africans migrate from their country to another country among them are economic, political, demographic, socio-cultural and environmental factors. The migration of African citizens to Europe in which they pass through the Mediterranean Sea is what critics term a “suicidal mission”. About 1,500 migrant from Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda were said to have died while trying to cross to Europe to a small town in Italy called SICILI. Though, history has shown that there existed an agreement between the then President of Libya Muammar Gaddafi and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi over passage of people to Italy back in the 1990s, but will this continue on the African continent without adequate measure put in place to tackle it?
TERRORISM AND EBOLA EPIDEMIC IN WEST AFRICA
Terrorism and the outbreak of Ebola epidemic are also one of the issues confronting the Western part of Africa. Terrorism though a global phenomenon ought to be tackled within the affected states. However, defining terrorism is not a simple task, but most people recognize it when they are done. There exist numerous definitions of terrorism but I wish did like to use that of the U.S Department of state. According to the U.S Department of State “terrorism is defined as a premedated politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant target by sub national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.” Terrorism in West Africa started in the Northern part of Nigeria and the name is Boko Haram, a sect which is against western education and are after the creation of Islamic Caliphate, they later escalate across borders to other neighboring countries like Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Since its inception in 2009, the terrorist group has claimed a total number of more than 10,000 lives and many other people displaced, although there have been a comparative or tripartite effort by the affected states to put an end both at the local and international level, but all those effort are yet to yield a fruitful and desired result.
However, Ebola epidemic is another issue facing the Western part of Africa, although it is not new disease because it first broke out in 1973 in Guinea, near a river called Ebola were it gained its name. The affected states include Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone before it jumps border. The epidemic claimed many lives during this period. A comparative effort has also been put in place to curb the epidemic both at the international, institutional, NGOs and individual level.
Having analyzed or examine the problematic issues in Africa, it is pertinent to look at various or institutional approach to all these problems. One of the astute and widely recognized organizations in Africa is the African Union. From its inception in 25 May 1963, the organization has been trying its possible best to make sure there’s tranquility in Africa. The primary aims of African Union include:
- To co-ordinate and intensify the cooperation of African states in order to achieve a better life for the people of Africa.
- To ensure that all Africans enjoyed human rights and realize the standard of living.
- To ensure arguments and dispute between member not through fighting but rather peaceful and diplomatic negotiation.
With this in mind, one would be rest assured that African Union would implement them successfully in which they did to some extent, because they have been able to settle some dispute and peace keeping missions (Liberia and Somalia) I am not saying the African Union has been inactive since its inception, but less efforts or actions have been put in place to curb those issues discussed here. With reference to the xenophobia killing in South Africa, for almost two-three weeks, neither did the African Union intervene nor convene a meeting talk less of prescribing adequate and joint effort with the South Africa government in stopping this killing. In addition, SADC (Southern Africa Development Community), a regional organization chaired by the septuagenarian Robert Mugabe did nothing to intervene in the situation, like wise that of the migration in the Northern Africa. What these institutions refuse to understand is that once an African State developed a problem, it can easily spread across borders and this could be a major catastrophic problem to all other states. Take for instance, the outbreak of Ebola virus disease make some countries that share border with the affected states close their frontiers and even provide adequate scrutinization programmes for migrant from other countries. In view of this, the African Union been a widely and more vibrant institution in Africa should make strenuous and commendable effort to these problems in Africa. If these problems should germinate without their intervention, then African continent is in jeopardy. Also African Union should also work hand in hand with the United Nations in proffering adequate solutions to these problems. This would not only help the African Union, it will also provide them with adequate materials and personnel needed to execute in the coordination and implementation of good policies that will fast track the peace and development of the continent. We are Africans and we can do it again.