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Column: Our problem is that we know our problems


Africa has three major problems. One, we know what our problems are. Two, we know what to do with and about them. And three, we do not learn.

Here is how it looks like.

If you listen to people complaining about their situations or their countries situations, you understand what the problems are.

Just a snapshot.

Most people talk about lack of housing, joblessness, poor education, lack of or absence infrastructure. Some complain about continued dominance by foreign countries through investments and trade as well as loans. While others are just not happy with and about the way it turned out after independence.

Most leaders have said it openly that while we are independent in some spheres, we are yet to get our economies back. They have mourned about taking back the land and owning the means of production.

The leaders admit, through continued borrowing from so-called all-weather friends, that alone we cannot make it.

The list can go on and on. But the matter is that we know all our problems. These problems are not new.

Yet we do not do anything about them. Which is our problem number 2. If the leaders know that we are yet to take charge of our economies, what is holding them back from doing so? They are in charge of other freedoms. Can’t they use these other freedoms to claim the economies back?

The flag independence they control came through the barrel of the gun. People died and many others maimed. It was a rough and tough journey to independence. But they sacrificed everything. Today, decades later, we boast of being in control of one bit of our independence.

One would have thought that the next phase of our independence, that is, taking charge of the economy would not be difficult. That there would not be lives lost. That it will be quick and effortless.

Or we were all mistaken? And we are still mistaken? Is it because we have loans available to us?

We just do not learn either from our mistakes or the success of others. Take for example how every African country ends up where the other would have ended … in the mud. But still, you will find 10 other countries following suit and ending right down there … shattered.

Is it not that one failed state is one too many to live with? Is it not that one rogue leader is one too many to contend with? Yet we end up on the same heap with no redemption.

It is clear that our minds seem not to realise that we have failed. If we did then why have we not learnt anything?

And why do we complain instead of taking advantage of those we accuse of taking opportunities? Take the Chinese for example. Hard-working people. Business-oriented. Their government funds their projects in Africa.

If you did not know, the Chinese bring their prisoners to work on projects in Africa. That saves the government money. Yet we keep all our prisoners in jail 24/7. Feeding them. And wasting them away … even the sharp-minded ones.

There is an African proverb that says when a king advises princes, the orphan must listen in to learn. We are in that situation… orphans in our own countries. And we are not taking chances and advantages of those with knowledge. All we do is complain and grumble.

Most of us have accused our government of selling off economies but we do not suggest anything regarding taking over. Yet we become angry and bitter instead of being progressively proactive.

Let me end by quoting the Rev. William J. H. Boetcker, who lectured around the United States about industrial relations at the turn of the twentieth century.

  • You cannot bring prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  • You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
  • You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  • You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  • You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
  • You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
  • You cannot further brotherhood of men by inciting class hatred.
  • You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
  • You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
  • You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

*Wonder Guchu is the author of The Gods Sleep Through It All and other five books. He holds an MBA in Leadership and Sustainability from the University of Cumbria (UK). Currently, he is the Eagle FM station manager.


Wonder Guchu

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