By Yahya Barrow
It is my firm belief that our situation is a result of our collective decision, action and inaction. Having said that, calling a spade a spade, and not a big spoon, we would agree that Africa and the African are the least developed in full sense of the word and in all indications. Where do we get it wrong or who opens the Pandora’s box for Africa? This article is a reflection and recollection of an African child who lives in a tiny African nation popularly known as the Smiling Coast of Africa – about the factors and actors responsible for our predicament.
Firstly, if the colonial demarcation and partition of mother Africa obliterates the socio-cultural ties and relations of Africans, yet serve as a reason and justification for hostility among Africans, then there exists a huge problem. If you don’t understand, ask an African who frequently travels by land to other African countries.
It was my first-time experience travelling to Bignona in Senegal. Fifteen minutes’ drive from Brikama, I found myself at a border community and I was confronted with a situation that I must change my Dalasi to CFA. This struck me hard: the same people with the same culture and last names having different identities and currencies due to the colonial border lines. Who said that Bignona, Bissau and Bathurst must not be a single country?
If Pan-Africanism isn’t an innate trait in the genes of every African, but it’s taken for an ideology that ought to be preached by few or even considered a label tagged on selected few, then there is something fundamentally wrong. Guess what? The Berlin Conference opens the Pandora’s box for Africa.
Politics is an indispensable aspect in every society. In Africa, most countries embrace multiparty politics. However, more often than not, subscription to these parties is largely informed by partisan considerations and not based on merits. Members are biased towards the party than the truth, and usually their sense of judgement is clouded by the party’s interest. Hence, the wrongs of the party are never seen or detected by members of that party. Objectivity in most cases is lost, and response to criticism is to attack personalities rather the content of the issues raised. It’s about the person who said it and not what’s said. Sound scientific judgements are neglected or compromised due to partisan sentiments. My case is that: multiparty politics opens a Pandoras box for us.
‘Banjul manni ka tumbuleh’ was the phrase our mothers sang for us when we cried as toddlers. Of course, there is no farmland in Banjul, but it’s about the imported rice that comes through the seaport. Those were the days when rice cultivation was the order of the day. Growing up in Jambanjelly, you want to know what I did best at the time? Ask Saul Bamba the good ‘Falli bailaa’ I used to be. The action-oriented and practical people my ancestors were enabled them to not desire the broken rice imported. Guest what?
Today, many are measured by their ability to buy that very bag of rice our ancestors distasted. We that should continue the trend were schooled so that we could do it better and in larger scale with minimal energy. But the irony is – school made us believe that becoming a farmer is the least expected from an intelligent person. And to give you a better grasp, we say “Balla taata ballo dema balla mang naa ballo mang naa”. If you struggle to grasp this Mandinka adage, ask N.S. Fofona and Uncle Touray would be listening.
Education should liberate people and not to domesticate them. But what if our study of Agriculture at school made us consumers rather than producers. Tell us. Perhaps it also opens a Pandora’s box. Let this stir a critical consciousness in all of us. It is said that “who controls the media controls the world”. I have no intention to contest or affirm this proposition but I believe who controls it has a special interest on Africa.
If TV set is a matter of must in every sitting room and there is no control as to what the minors and the young watch, yet expecting that whatever content they watch wouldn’t impact their morals and attitudes, then we are in a dream far from reality. If those who preach Allah and His Messenger are taken for extremists and termed barbaric, then our wish for a pious and religious younger generation is like trying to put off fire by adding petrol. If owning an Apple phone is the strongest desire for our minors and young girls, yet they’re ready to own one by any means, even at the expense of their dignity and morality, then the three cameras open a Pandora’s box for our society.