This is a speech by Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, commonly referred to as Prof. PLO Lumumba, a Kenyan national currently the Director of The Kenya School of Law.
Africa’s Worst Tragedy: Economic Disorientation – A Case of South Sudan! When I look at Africa,
Many times, I ask myself, “What would happen if Mwalimu were to rise up and see what is happening?”
Many times, I would ask myself, “What would happen if Kwame Nkruma and Patrice Lomumba were to rise up and see what is happening?”
Because what they would be confronted with is an Africa where the Democratic Republic of Congo is unsettled. There is a war going on there. But is not on the front pages of our newspapers, because we don’t even control our newspapers and the media. As I speak to you, the Central African Republic is at war. But we talk of it only mutedly. As I speak to you now, in South Sudan, the youngest nation in Africa, the Nuers have risen against the Dinka. As I speak to you now, Eritrea is unsettled. As I speak to you now, there is unease in Egypt and there is unease in Libya, in Niger it is no better, in Senegal in the Casamance. In Somalia, is no better. Africa is at war with herself. This is what they would be confronted with.
They would be confronted with an Africa which statisticians and romantic economists said it is growing but which in truth is stagnated. That is the Africa they would be confronted with.
They would be confronted with an Africa, which Prof Mulama intimated in her presentation here is an Africa, which is suffering from Schizophrenia. It does not know herself. They would be confronted with an Africa whose young men and women have no interest and no love for their continent.
They would be confronted with an Africa where a young man and young woman are constantly humiliated at the embassies of European countries and at the United States of America as they seek the almighty green card.
They would be confronted with an Africa where young men and women from Niger, Nigeria Senegal, Mali and Mauritania drown in the Mediterranean as they seek to be enslaved in Europe. This time around, Africans are not wailing and kicking as they are being taken away to be enslaved. They are being seen wailing and kicking as they seek to be enslaved in Europe and America.
This is the tragedy of Africa. They would be confronted with an Africa where people have lost their self-pride. An Africa where Africans are not proud of their things.
An Africa where in the hotels of Dar es Salaam or Nairobi, even food has foreign names. When we fry potatoes, we call them French fries even when they are fried in Dar es Salaam. That is the Africa that they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with another Africa , an Africa that does not tell her histories. An Africa whose story is told by Europe and America – the CNN, Radio deutsche welle, radio France. That is the Africa they would be confronted with.
They would be confronted with young men and women who have no pride in Africa. When they want to enjoy themselves, they sing the praises of football teams from Europe and America – it is Manchester United; it is Arsenal; it is Real Madrid and Barcelona!
Not Yanga, not Mvulira Wanderers, not GorMaiah, not FC Leopards. Nooo. That is an Africa they would be confronted with.
They would be confronted with an Africa which does not enjoy its theatres and dramas. An Africa that celebrates Leorando DiCaprio
It Celebrates AnelinaJoli and Brad Pitt. An Africa that does not celebrate Genevieve Naiji of Nigeria, or Isa Dominic or Olou Jacobs of Nigeria.
It does not celebrate Bongowood, or Nollywood, or Riverwood. It celebrates Hollywood. That is the Africa with which they would be confronted. They would be confronted with African women whose greatest source of joy is cheap great been Mexican bean soap opera – la Fatrona, la merdamivena, the de rich de la cray.
Why must we remind ourselves of these realities? Because throughout out the ages, the battle has been always the battle of the mind. And if your mind is conquered, then you are going nowhere. And that is why in the ages of enlightenment, the great Rene Descartes said “Kijitohigo sum’ – I think therefore I am;
And therefore if Africans are to begin to make a contribution in their affairs, Africans must begin to think. But the question is: are we thinking?
We have universities in their numbers. Tanzania has universities including Dar es Salamm. Nairobi has universities as indeed Kampala as indeed South Africa, Johannesburg.
We have all these universities.
We have engineers. But our roads are not being made by Tanzanian civil engineers. It is the Chinese who are present in this assembly who are making our roads. So we have engineers who cannot even make roads. We have doctors whom we have trained. But when we are sick, particularly if we are of the political class, depending on who colonized you – if you are colonized by the United Kingdom, you rush to London. If the French colonizes you, you rush to Paris, if you are colonized by the Portuguese, you rush to Lisbon and if you are colonized by Spaniard, you rush to Madrid, Spain.
And recently because the Asians are beginning to get their act together, we run to India. And very lately because the Arabs are also beginning to get their act together, we run to Dubai; not withstanding that we have the Kenyattas hospitals of this country, the Mwimbilis of Tanzania, the Kiris-Honeys-Baragwonats of South Africa, and the Mama Yemos of Kinshasa in Zaire or Democratic Republic of the Congo. But we have no faith in our doctors. In the area of education, we also don’t have faith.
Our political class introduced something that they call free education.
But it is free indeed, free of knowledge.
Because they are so suspicious of those institutions, the typical African politician would not dare take their children to those schools.
Their children will be educated in the British System, in the America system so that when they graduate they go to the united kingdom, to the united states; not that there is anything wrong with those institutions but their agenda is wrong because our leaders long lost the script and often describe for whom they are, our misleaders.
But we are co-authors of our own misfortunes.
Whenever we are given an opportunity to elect our leaders, we are given a blank cheque. And if you permit me a little latitude, and if you give me a blanket cheque and you allow me to analogise and you say that I am given the blanket cheque to buy a Mercedes Benz, what we do is that when we are called upon having been so empowered, we buy what one calls a ‘tutktuk’ from India and expect it to behave like a Mercedes Benz!
How does that happen? Because what we do is to elect thieves; we elect hyenas to take care of goats; and when the goats are consumed, we wonder “why?”