Yesterday, I took a peek at the Africa is Rising myth or rather the whitewashed slogan aimed at simulating false daydream castles. Africa is riddled with a lot of issues among them poverty, dictatorships, natural disasters and lots of “artificial calamities.” Through all these issues, poverty and disease descend in like vultures on wartime carcasses. Poverty, malnutrition and perennial disease epidemics give Africa prominence in the international media than the rapidly growing Ethiopian economy.
Images of Negligence
In the 80’s, Ethiopia and the horn of Africa was stricken by a famine that roused the whole world into sending overwhelming aid. Thanks to the Ibrahim Amin Mo’s fearless photography, the world would not have known what was happening to the poor dying Africans. The international media ran photos of emaciated children and the aged. These photos have become a constant telescope in which Africa is viewed annually. They may be exaggerated, but, they reflect our negligence.
For how long has Africa neglected its people to poverty and disease? This dates back to the scramble for Africa era. The colonialist were more interested in advancing their agenda at the expense of the populace. Less can be said of the early Arab traders at the coast. After years of dependence on daily rations, the independent time citizens expected to be spoon fed to build their nations. The fight against ignorance, poverty and diseases has become a rat race. Three decades ago these three issues not only became a worry for the Africans but a cash cow of some sort to the leadership and the African elite class.
The rapid formation and registration of non-governmental organizations and relief agencies is alarming. Some governments have come to closely monitor these NGOs blaming them for extortion of foreign sponsors by purporting to be fighting poverty and diseases. A lot of aid is poured to ‘fight’ these three enemies of independent Africa. What is deceiving is that, Africa’s growth is being measured on the backyard of the amount of money that is donated to fight ignorance, poverty and diseases. Research in these areas is foreign sponsored. To some extent Africa has become the world’s ‘guinea pig’.
Africa has become one big begging bowl. Our head of states are hopping from one continent to the next carrying the bowl for donations from ‘friendly nations’. The begging has got a notch higher such that Africa is such a unique beggar whom the rich nations are ‘fighting over to assist’. This explains the west versus east leanings in donor findings of most of Africa’s landmark infrastructural and social projects. With such funding the poor Africans and ignorant donors are fooled to thinking that the continent is rising.
Fifty years later J.M Kariuki’s words that Kenya (Africa for this context) has become a country of ten millionaires and ten million beggars is more evident now. The difference now is that the ten million beggars have now grown to over 100 million impoverished children, mothers and the aged. The ten elite millionaires have established a dynasty of handful billionaires that pocket the African milk and honey.