Reading about the potential of the continent, one would have placed Africa among the leading powers of the world. The resources are immense. Unfortunately, the equation of progress requires astute and mature leadership that operates within strong and vibrant institutions in order to reap the benefits of such resources for the people.
The development failure of most countries in Africa is generally a lack of good leaders that are patriotic enough to lead the country; rather the continent is infested with leaders that are being motivated by greed and greed alone. In worst cases, the height of naivety and irresponsibility demonstrated by leaders have had a heavy debilitating toll on the progress of states.
Such characters and behavior of leaders simply blow the wind out of the sail of progress and only breath out an air of general depression and poverty that lingers over nations and its peoples. Countries lose their respect, and their sovereignty is grossly degraded and sometimes compromised.
Where problems compound unabated, with massive systemic corruption underpinned by spiraling inflation and other economic woes, the ethnic card for disunity is openly played in the political arena.
A common trend, by some leaders, has been to try to divert attention from their immense shortcomings towards a common enemy – a tribe, the media and the opposition. Leaders fail to address issues of major concern to the population. Rather, the public is consistently fed with childish untruths and unsubstantiated excuses and accusations.
It is a politics of a lack of vision for progress and gross incompetence that is commonly reinforced by sycophants who have no meaningful strategy or interest to resolve the challenges of a nation.
The changing world of international politics, supported by the social media that record indelible independent evidence of atrocities and blunders committed by leaders and their security agents, should have been a useful lesson to learn from. Corruption, drug trafficking and violations of human rights have become international crimes that are now vigorously pursued and prosecuted internationally.
A local example of such international concern over such crimes is the case of some notorious members of a former state security institution in the Gambia that are gradually being brought to book in various countries – Germany, USA, Switzerland and Scotland. Countries like France and USA have independently pursued cases of corruption in African countries. Generally, the ICC has had a fair share of such criminals from Africa.
Presumably such cases of international interest and jurisdiction would have been good lessons to learn from by subsequent political leaders and members of security institutions in the continent. Unfortunately, the undesirable political experience of Africa, seems to be in a permanent state of ‘conditioned reflex’. Leaders and their security apparatuses seem to be wired in a certain way for greed, brutality and oppression. They seem to lack compassion and professionalism in dealing with society in general.
Is it that the mindset of most leaders and members of the security institutions is simply wired to be sadistic? Is it the training or level of maturity and mentality that betrays the lack of professionalism? Is it simple naivety that is exploited by sycophants on unscrupulous leaders in order to capture the state?
This may perhaps be called an evil mindset syndrome – especially for some countries that have had experiences of brutal state sponsored brutality just to see the same old or alternative security institutions meting out similar outbursts of brutality and intolerance upon its people.
Those who fought for justice and liberty in difficult political circumstances of their past only come back to lord it over the people in a similar fashion. Alarmingly, some individuals within such institutions who have had a taste of such brutality or fled from it abroad sometimes manage to be back in control only to sadistically implement the strategies of oppression of failing leaders. It is little wonder that progress has remained elusive for the continent.
History is filled with the strategy of failing political leaders diverting public attention away from the existential problems of the country. The approaches are similar – create a shocking national event and tragedy that will spawn public gossip and speculation, fabricate or implement a tragic incident to generate an atmosphere of fear and insecurity, point fingers of unsubstantiated blame towards the direction of an ethnic group(s), media and opponents with dramatic, childish and frivolous accusations to create a devil of blame. In most cases, the effects can be dramatic, but they are sometimes hilarious, temporal and ridiculed. The realities of the challenges of society always rub in.
Thus, the problems of Africa, in general, are compounded by poor and insincere leadership and weaponized institutions (mainly the judiciary, security apparatus and the offices for the administration of elections). Progress has been held back from its people by these circumstances.
For Africa to move forward meaningfully, the equation for progress and development must be balanced by and with the values of democracy. Chiefly among these are the independence of the judiciary and not its overt cozy relationship with executives, the professional disposition of the security and not an open display of hatred and threat towards the media and the opposition and an existence of a vibrant media and robust opposition parties and civil society and not a deliberate attempt to have them stifled and stigmatized.
It is not a favor from a government that these institutions should exist and are able to operate. Their existence and operation are an inextricable necessity for a truly functional and flourishing democracy that will be the engine of development.
The status of governance and democracy of a country generally reflects the state of mind of its leadership and the independence of its governing institutions, and by extension the rate of progress and the level development of a nation.
For Africa, development will always be elusive under the governance of greedy and selfish leadership and under the operation of callous and corrupt institutions. Unfortunately, this, indeed, is a sad and sorry state for some countries in Africa.
Just thinking aloud.