Kwaku Tano-Yeboah’s thoughts … the criticism of Africa by Africans

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I am a student of life, I am a member of the African diaspora and I am a Pan-Africanist – that means I love Africa and my African heritage and it does not mean that I hate people or anything of non-African heritage. As a matter of fact, I am a citizen of the diaspora and owe my training and development to my country in Europe.

Over the course of my short life on earth, so far, I have observed with very keen interest how Africans, particularly the African diaspora, are quick and almost eager to always slam African leaders for all the negative things that we hear about in the media. For a naive while, I was part of that bandwagon; it is as if we desperately want to see them fail again and again so we can say ‘I told you so’.

So that we can feel good about ourselves as being the special ones that God gave the wisdom to see the problems of the unfortunate others. So we sit on our high horses in Europe, America, Asia and everywhere else on the globe, outside Africa, to highlight the problems, denigrate our African leaders and paint our Africa very dirty in the countries we live in, perhaps to feel accepted.

But what I noticed after a while, a naive while, was that we provide very little solutions to these many problems of poor leadership that we very easily identify. I figured that perhaps, because of the remittances we send which is a great boost to the African economy, we feel entitled to criticise almost everything. And yes, we should be entitled to speak our mind, but when we criticise just for the sake of it without providing any solutions and support to addressing some of these problems then we only become hypocrites.

Yes, hypocrite is what I have observed majority of the African diaspora become. We see nothing good happening in our beloved Africa or we choose to ignore those when we see them. And even when we choose to comment on some of the ‘good’ we see, we do so sarcastically.

We challenge the ‘real’ reasons for the good stories – if it is not for political reasons, then it’s because someone (usually the proponent of the good story, his family or friends) stand to benefit from it; and that is why the ‘good’ has happened. How can we continue to be such doomsayers of our own heritage, just because we have some sense of security abroad and therefore we can ‘talk anyhow’ (just borrowing some street lingua from Ghana, my motherland).

A case in point, of such good African story, is the recent lifting of the partial lockdown on affected cities in Ghana (Accra, Kumasi and a few other high-density environs) by  President, Nana Akufo-Addo. Despite the salient reasons postulated by the President to have informed his decision, many ‘smart’ Africans are up in arms criticising his decision, enumerating unsubstantiated reasons to support their arguments.

I have observed the majority of the critics, again, to be members of the African diaspora, who believe that Ghana has been too quick to lift movement restrictions of the partial lockdown primarily because Africa’s ‘big brothers’ in Europe, America, Asia and elsewhere haven’t taken that first step, so no African leader can do so!

This is the singular summary to all their reasons for criticising the President of Ghana’s decision. They cannot believe his bold decision and cannot trust in his judgment as a LEADER to have the best interest of his people at the heart of his decision-making. Why? Is it because the African subconsciously lacks self-confidence in her own abilities to do right for herself, and, can only be confident in the decisions and handouts from foreign lands?

If the leader of any other country outside of Africa has taken such a decision, no one would have found reasons to criticise their decision. Because the scientific data and evidence they would give to support their decision must be right and it can be trusted, after all, they are ‘better’ than their African counterparts. Such defeatist mentality in some Africans, particularly members of the African diaspora, is very unfortunate.

Other critics are political opponents of the incumbent government and their supporters who have taken a political view of it for obvious reasons; their own parochial political interests. This year being an election year in Ghana, they must do their possible best to use any situation to turn people against the incumbent government. So, they would take advantage of a global pandemic to do just that. This is a global pandemic and no right-thinking political leader would jeopardise their own integrity to make hasty and foolish decisions just to bargain for votes.

So, opposition parties should lend their support to the incumbent to win the war against this pandemic, in the national interest, rather than take undue advantage to score low political points. Take a cue from the Labour party’s support of the incumbent Conservative’s strategy of fighting the pandemic in the United Kingdom.

I also have a problem with the ‘sell-out’ African journalists who always look to find some negative in a good African story and bring it out to the world so they can be hailed as ‘good’ journalists on the international scene. You do not see them try to propagate the good news to the world as much, because the international media will ignore it and they will not receive the accolades they desperately desire from them.

For example, the international media is not touting the very low infection/death rates of the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa as compared to the rest of the world but there are shouts about the success story of Germany, South Korea, Japan, everywhere else apart from Africa; is it because no one expects anything good to come out of Africa. But we have these ‘sell-out’ African journalists to thank for that, because they will help feed the doubt of the international media with self-critical commentaries.

I will not go into the scientific data and socio-economic evidence that informed the Ghanaian leader’s bold decision, to argue for or against them, because that is not the reason for my article. The reason for this article is to challenge the African (everywhere) to start believing in themselves and their leaders and to find ways of helping their leaders and those at the forefront of African development and emancipation to achieve these for Africa and her posterity. Rather than knocking ourselves at every opportunity to feel good about ourselves – I hope you see my drift.

What the Ghanaian leader has done is to demonstrate that Africans can assess their own situations in a scientific manner, specific to them and their environment, and make informed decisions that works for their own demography. He might get it wrong but at least he has shown some BALLS! Why don’t we rally around to try and support him achieve the best results he intends to achieve from his decision.

Perhaps, we would have found a success story that could work for the rest of Africa and the world at large. Africa would have shown leadership in fighting a global pandemic that is killing people, destroying economies, and disrupting international trade.

So I ask again, when will the African (those of her heritage) believe in herself, in her own abilities, in her own social and cultural systems, in her own economic science and her own scientific evidence to solve her bespoke problems. Rather than blindly use the sciences of elsewhere to try and work on her problems.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of fine-tuning needed on the African social and cultural systems and economic science but if we get to work on that, we will develop a bespoke AFRO-CENTRIC system that makes Africa prosperous. The issue is that, for years we have tried everyone else’s system and never given thought to how we can make our own unique (however strange) systems work for us and make us prosperous as a people.

Let us try that now! Because, I believe we have a crop of leaders who genuinely want Africa to prosper and not remain dependent on others for handouts. Leaders like Paul Kagame, Nana Akufo-Addo, John Magufuli, Mo Ibrahim, Strive Masiyiwa, Aliko Dangote, Mensah Otabil, Nicholas Duncan Williams, Tudor Bismark, Matthew Ashimolowo, Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, etc. These are examples of African leaders across the spectrum of our society – politicians, entrepreneurs, clergy, and religious leaders, etc. They are all influencing a paradigm shift and though they will make mistakes along the way, let us all support in charting this new course for Africa and her future generation.

>>>The writer lives in Birmingham, United Kingdom

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