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President Bassirou Diomaye Faye and the future of Africa

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By Madi Jobarteh

Any society in a situation of affliction yearns for deliverance. Africa is indeed in dire straits, and it is not an exception. A people in affliction always look out for a leader to lead them out of bondage. The election of Bassirou Diomaye Faye, and the story of Pastef and its quintessential leader Ousmane Sonko have indeed reignited hopes in many Africans that maybe this is the beginning of the second liberation for Africa when her people will come to enjoy real political and economic independence and wellbeing.

In his inaugural statement, President Faye remarked thus:

“On the African level, the scale of the security challenges and the many challenges that we face require us to show greater solidarity. I clearly hear the voice of the uninhibited elites who say loud and clear our common aspirations for more sovereignty, development, and wellbeing. Alongside my African peers, I reaffirm Senegal’s commitment to strengthening efforts for peace, security, stability, and African integration.”

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Verily I hear echoes of Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, and Julius Nyerere in this statement! Therefore, Africans across the continent and in the diaspora have a reason to be jubilant and hopeful when we hear these kinds of statements from no ordinary politician and political party like Diomaye and Pastef. Indeed, President Faye’s inaugural speech was no ordinary statement especially when he also noted: “Through my election, the Senegalese people are committed to the path of creating a just Senegal, a prosperous Senegal in a progressing Africa.”

Notwithstanding the many times African politicians and leaders came to betray their people, I wish that Faye and Sonko will be the beacon of hope and change that we so much need in Africa.

That politicians and their technocrats in Africa have failed is as glaring as the sun at noon. The current dire social and economic indicators bear testament to this failure. For example, a report by Oxfam in 2021 noted that West Africa alone is the poorest and the most unequal region in Africa where “the wealthiest 1% of West Africans owned more than everyone else in the region combined.” Both UNCTAD and the AU concluded that between 1970 and 2018, the continent lost two trillion US dollars through capital flight, “which is almost the annual gross domestic product of all sub-Saharan African countries combined”.

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This repulsive inequality, excruciating poverty, stinking corruption, and dreadful deprivation of the masses of Africans are caused by none other than politicians and technocrats in African governments. Aided and abetted by the African Union and its regional blocs such as Ecowas, as well as the unfair and unhelpful international system, African governments have become the epitome of bad governance and incompetence. These conditions are the basis for the widespread and gross human rights violations, the deadly irregular migration, and unending conflicts on the continent.

President Faye appears to be aware that business cannot continue as usual when he said:“To friendly and partner countries, I reiterate Senegal’s commitment and openness to exchanges respectful of our sovereignty in accordance with the aspirations of our people in a mutually winning partnership.”

Africa needs courageous, intelligent, and committed leaders like Bassirou Diomaye Faye if it is going to salvage herself. Are Africans ready to protect such leaders or, as Bob Marley observed, are we going to stand aside as they kill our prophets? Remember Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, and Amilcar Cabral!

The current state of Africa is inexcusable and unacceptable. If Europe or Japan could rebuild themselves into viable nations within 50 years of the end of that devastating Second Imperialist War in 1945; if Singapore can pull itself from a hapless tiny poor country into a First World nation between 1960 and 1990; if China could turn itself into the second largest economy in the world within 70 years, what justification does any African country has to remain wretched as they are?

President Faye must be reminded that he owes no obligation to both internal and external selfish interests. The stranglehold by local elites in Senegal and the exploitative control of Africa exerted by the West must be dismantled. The new scramble for Africa spearheaded by China and Russia must be halted. Africa needs a new voice; its own voice to echo the dreams of Cheikh Anta Diop, Kwame Nkrumah, Amilcar Cabral, and Patrice Lumumba. Senegal must lead the way by detaching from Western hegemony and in particular the unconscionable control and manipulation of France! The foreign scramble for Africa from the days of slavery to colonialism to the present must be shattered.

In this regard, it is pertinent that President Faye and Senegal lead a new path for Africa. This would require advocating for the overhaul of the African Union and its regional blocs. These bodies cannot and should not continue to be safe havens for dictators and corrupt presidents who wish to cling onto power at the detriment of their people. The AU and its regional blocs must be seen constructing a democratic and prosperous Africa and not to entertain tyrannical and corrupt leaders only to intervene when conflicts erupt. A case in point is the Senegal scenario itself, which if left to the AU and Ecowas alone, former president Macky Sall would have been in office until today. 

President Faye should vigorously without compromise pursue system change. As he noted: “I am aware that the results coming out of the polls expressed a deep desire for systemic change…I am committed by promoting the cult of work, the ethics of management, discipline, and love of the homeland to resolutely and sustainably put Senegal on the path to economic and social progress.”

These words must not only be upheld and not betrayed but Mr Faye must ensure that they are achieved. Since 1960 the masses of Senegal have endured poverty, deprivation, and poor social services. Yet Senegal, like the rest of Africa, is a highly endowed country with huge natural and mineral resources which continue to benefit a tiny bunch of local elites and foreign interests. This despicable trend must be halted and reversed so that the nation’s natural resources and wealth are protected and invested back into the people. Therefore, President Faye must uncompromisingly insist on and pursue transparency, accountability, and performance within the public sector.

In the final analysis the dire social, economic, and political conditions in Africa are unjustified. Africans deserve democracy, protection of human rights, quality social services and opportunities like everyone else around the world. The resources as well as the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve that prosperous Africa do exist within Africa. It is not just happening because the African politicians and their technocrats have failed to put in place unapologetic, pragmatic, and viable policies to uplift their people. Senegal and President Faye offer us that opportunity today.

For a Unified, Democratic and Prosperous Africa!

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