|Pic: Robert Eilets|
Poverty, disease, impoverished, uneducated, corruption, uncivilized are some of the negative images painted of Africa in the past few decades. Granted development on the continent has been slow, but we continue to reiterate that these in no way reflect the true essence of what goes on in Africa or what the continent has been and is achieving. One of the main perpetrators of this image have been the political elite on the continent and their supporters in the western world. And while we are all hard at work to demonstrate a different side of Africa, there have been a string of "Coup d'état" (e.g. Mali, Guinea Bisau and Central African Republic) and violent confrontations that continue to impede those efforts.
Why do we continue to fight across Africa at the expense of our development (and here we do not refer to confrontations resulting from free public demonstrations e.g. North Africa or Nigeria in 2012)? Why do we not place 100% of our efforts, irrespective of our political and ideological differences, to develop our communities, countries and the continent as a whole at the expense of our need for violent and illegal confrontations?
We will not be able to answer those questions, but will attempt to show a different aspiration for the continent that is free from global negativity and internal violent and illegal conflicts.
This will be light and deviant from the complicated academic assessment of what goes on or fuels conflicts. It is not that simple to bring peace. There are complex processes and legal implications to all actions taken prior to, during and post conflicts. That is well known. But the fundamental premise of our assessment here is that it all comes down to the choices people make and actions taken by a collective populace in communities.
Africa has sooo much more to gain from being a prosperous, peaceful and hard working continent (collectively) than when it has pockets of conflicts. Consider this. This is one of the most resource rich locations in the world and that is poised to have the largest labor force (surpassing China and India together) by 2025 and that has seen consistent economic growth since 2001 despite the massive global financial meltdown in 2008 (whose ripple effects are still being felt today).
There is rich, fertile, virgin land; there are massive mineral, fuel and gas deposits that are continuously being discovered and those yet to be explored; the continent has the largest youth population in history for any part of the world, who with the right investments today can spell transformation of the continent and much more. So why have conflicts or why succumb to the trickery of external influences?
Negativity on Africa
The last thing we want to explore here is the negativity that continues on Africa's image. Far too long the image of the continent has been associated with everything dark ad bad. And as a result, the association the world developed with Africa is that of poor people needing every and any assistance they can give. Who is responsible is perhaps not important to discuss but rather who is responsible to showcase a different image more significant to address.
Africans have the same aspirations, capacities and the means to make of their lives what some parts of the world have. And they are already doing so. We are building economies, hospitals, schools, roads, lives and much more. It is not easy. There will be problems and challenges. The focus should not be on those problems, but rather on the successes we are having in the process. But yes, address the problems and challenges - address corruption, address poverty and injustices.
There are positive stories and there is progress in Africa. Lets reinforce them. Lets fight to develop Africa and not develop Africa so that we can fight among one another.