Africa: Quo Vadis?

I wake up every morning and look at Africa in general and my Country Cameroon in particular and the questions always come up: Africa: Where are you going? What has gone wrong with all the aspirations of Africa’s great nationalists?


Is there anything inherent in the very nature of African governance and underdevelopment that makes development an impossible task? Myriads of religious, cultural, social-political and economic prescriptions have been offered but sadly none has produced any encouraging result. As a matter of fact, most of them have had negative results and some have even made bad situations worse.

Looking at David Moyes’s performance with Manchester United has really given me a clue to the problem. A man who has not won any trophies, no matter how good he may be, will find it difficult to motivate players who are used to winning.

Today, most people who talk about hunger and famine in Africa, will not recognise hunger if it struck them in the face.

Most people who advise Africa on governance issues do not know what it is like to live their lives under a ‘democracy’ like Cameroon’s where one man rules the country as if it were a personal estate.

Most people who are really concerned about the lack of democracy in most African countries happen to be people who do not know first hand what living under a dictatorship entails.

Most people who are experts on African security do not know what it means like to live in a place where everyday living is a battleground and war for some is the only existential reality.

The best experts on African Affairs, the best academic institutions dealing with African problems, the best conferences aimed at remedying the African plight, can be found anywhere but Africa.

Sadly, the only answer that will come from Africans will be a religious one – this in itself is borrowed and does not really fit into the African experience.

The great question of the day therefore remains: Do Africans really want to do this, or are we waiting for someone who does not have first hand experience to do it for us?

If Einstein’s statement that ‘the only source of Knowledge is Experience’ is taken to mean anything in this context, we can all agree that the best solutions to Africa’s problems must come from Africa and Africans.

There are no short-cuts – it is high time Africans become the architects of their own solutions rather than remaining as mere atoms in a mass.