By Tabora Bojang
Dr Baba Galleh Jallow, a visiting professor of African history from La Salle University Philadelphia Pennsylvania USA, has said that the West are not entirely to blame for the misfortunes that engulf independent African states but instead the failure of African governments to renovate the geopolitical, human and natural resources of the continent in response to the challenges of sovereign nation-statehood.
Professor Jallow made this remark during a public lecture organised by the UTG School of Arts and Sciences held at the faculty of law hall in Kanifing.
According to Dr. Jallow, “scholars and researchers have tirelessly grappled with the question of why Africa remains stuck at the bottom of world’s developmental index and why a continent so richly endowed with human and natural resources remains trapped in seemingly intractable poverty and independence.
“There is no single factor that can explain these problems, however we can safely conclude that a fundamental explanation for Africa’s seemingly unending crises is the failure of the African nation-state system,” said Prof Jallow.
He added: “More specifically Africa’s crises are linked to the failure of African Governments to transform in a creative manner the geopolitical, human and natural resources of Africa in response to the challenges of independent nation-statehood and here in the Gambia Yahya Jammeh tried to justify his oppressive regime by calling himself a dictator for development.”
According to him, when independence suddenly “arrived in the late fifties and early sixties Africa’s new leaders inherited a state apparatus that was a carbon copy of the coercive, exploitative and domineering colonial states.
“The primary task of the new leaders which unfortunately they never manage to execute, was to transform this coercive apparatus into a citizen-friendly apparatus capable of meeting and overcoming the challenges of independence.”
“Since independence the African state has remained more or less an uncritical copycat state that engages in blind mimicry and neo-exceptionalism and practices a damaging politics of failure of underdevelopment.
“Unfortunately Africa’s postcolonial copycat state and its leaders also copied this culture of African exceptionalism from the colonial rulers. In order to deflect rising criticism over their human rights records and to tighten their stranglehold around the necks of the African people, they started proclaiming and practicing a sort of neo-exceptionalism, a new exceptionalism,” he said.
Dr. Jallow argues that whiles contemporary factors may legitimately be explored for clues to Africa’s abiding politics of failure and its attendant cultures of poverty and conflict, “useful pointers to the continents predicament are historically situated and to understand why Africa keeps failing we must begin by looking at the origins of African state as we know it today.”