About two years ago, there was an article by the NY Times, that featured Senegal’s celebration of their independence 50 years later. The 50-year celebration was to be observed by all of France’s former colonies. That was all good and well, the only disappointment was that the real celebrations were not taking place in Africa, but in France. Leaders from Senegal, Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mauritania, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad and Madagascar were all invited to Paris to parade their troops along the Champs-Elysées on Bastille Day, the national holiday of their ex-colonial ruler. Wouldn’t this strike one as odd? To celebrate your independence, you had to go to the land of the former colonial powers. That was a shame…one can only hope that Senegal still feels the brunt of that shame.
In the next four or so years, several other African countries were following suit in celebrating a whole 50 years of independence. Countries like Senegal, in building a huge statue bronze, wished to bring about pan-Africanism or they wished African Renaissance. However, since Africa is free in word and not in deed, one had to wonder why they were spending good-earned money on frivolities that would end up in dust.
But what is there to really celebrate?
The last fifty years have given little to celebrate about. Africa has been the epicenter of wars, famine, pestilences, and some very very bad leadership. The African is no better off than he was under the colonial rulers. The land is not his own, the food he produces is not enough to give him income, and the leaders he trusts to look out for his interests steal whatever little is left and puts it in an off-shore account. This is not to mention international players including governments that are in pretense of caring only to depress that African even more. And don’t forget the corporations who use him as means of cheap labor. – yet, he is INDEPENDENT. ( There must be some other meaning of independence other than being able to navigate freely etc).
Indeed, other than being alive, and having been well endowed with complex nature and beauty, the African has little to celebrate as far as independence goes. -maybe being a live is enough reason to celebrate?- It it not a total catastrophe off course. There are things to be admired (otherwise, it would be rather depressing). There are cities that have been modernized and they seem to be working with some sort of efficiency. This is to say that it is not all gloom, but for the 90% that is rather dark, there needs to be solutions. Sadly, while it would be entertainingly pissy to blame all of Africa’s problems on international players and the African leaders, the people are also to blame. It might be time to realize that Africa is not a monarchy, nor a family business. Africans have to take a stand, for the AU has miserably failed them. If the African man is to have something to celebrate about, it will be up to him make that happen.
Africans are known to talk about politics. In fact, in African societies or communities, politics embody every aspect of life. At the dinner table especially, Africans will gather and lament on political issues that affect their communities. They will come up with solutions that never leave the dinner table. At the of the day, nothing gets done and the next day, the dinner talk resume.
With new revolutions rising, and having seen the Arab Spring come into a fall too soon, maybe it is time to take the Dinner talk into action. Young Africans might need to really put their words into action or else doom is the word of the day.