By Kayode Ketefe
African continent is the most backward of all the continents of the world in all ramifications. Whereas Africa is the most blessed in terms of natural resources. As a matter of fact, all the other four continents put together would not measure up to what Africa boasts of in natural resources. Apart from that, the continent is blissfully shielded from extremities of weather, neither is it afflicted with geological disasters like earthquakes and volcanoes or seismic sea wave calamity like tsunamis.
A joke that underscores the irony of African situation has it that at the beginning of time, representatives of other continents protested to God Almighty about the apparent lopsided blessings bestowed on Africa.
“Your majesty, why is it that Africa has all the blessings, it has unlimited amount of natural resources, abundant sunshine, fertile land, energetic peoples and yet is shielded from the all vagaries of natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes etc?”
God Almighty grinned and remarked with his characteristic omniscient insight: “Why don’t you people wait and see the kind of leaders these people will have! Their leaders will be worse than all the natural disasters combined! In spite of their resources, ye peoples shall have it better than them. That is my formula for ensuring balance!”
Beyond the mirth excited by this ironic joke is the ineluctable truth – African leaders have been the continent’s nemesis! From the prehistoric times to the present, Africans have had the worst cases of dictators. Let us start with Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Right now, the Zimbabwean economy has completely crumbled with over 85 percent people living in grinding poverty, companies after companies keep closing down with the incidental job losses, yet the ageless Mugabe holds on to office with tyrannical fists.
Mugabe, who now holds the record of World Oldest Ruler, belongs to the last set of sit-tight rulers still holding to power. As debilities of old age sets upon him, the old fox is reported to be scheming replacing himself with his concubine-turned wife, Grace Mugabe!
Another sitting African leader is Yoweri Museveni. Museveni had begun his career as a popular President both home and abroad. As a matter of fact, his government had enjoyed widespread international support in the early years and he managed to put the Uganda economy back on the right track through adoption of the neoliberal structural adjustments scripted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
However, like all sit tight leaders, he gradually descended into despotism by muzzling the press and stamping on human rights.
In the period leading to the last February 2016 Presidential election, Museveni had launched a most comprehensive assault on the opposition. The leader of opposition Dr. Kizza Besigye, had been arrested for about three times and was briefly detained just before the election. Several opposition figures were arrested, tortured and humiliated while others were thrown in detention. In fact, Museveni turned the state police into a terror machine to shatter opposition’s courage and deflate its spirit. At the end of the day, he announced he had won the election for the fifth term!
How about Muammar Ghadafi? The Arab Spring that ousted Ghadafi from power started after the dictator had spent 42 years in power but he would rather unleash a civil war on his people rather than quit in peace. Ghadafi, obviously, was suffering from the worst strain of megalomania. How can you choose to plunge your own country into a civil war, claiming tens of thousands of lives, simply because you don’t want to leave office after spending 42 years?
Ghadafi loved blood! He was known to have personally presided over public executions of “enemies” like the killings of members of the Islamic fundamentalist Hizb-ut Tahrir sect, in the 1970s.
Africa has been accursed with sit- tight cum sadistic rulers in the persons of Houphouët-Boigny of Cote d’ivoire, who spent whopping 33 years in office; Jean Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic, who spent 13 years in office, metamorphosing from President, to President-for-life and finally, Emperor!
It was Bokassa who ordered his troops to open fire on defenceless school children leading to the death of about 100 pupils in 1979!
We have also had Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted during the Arab Spring after 30 years of misrule.
We have had the Champion of the lots in the person of Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, who at the height of his tragic reign, was fond of describing himself as “The Great Conqueror of the British Empire, the King of Scotland, the Leader of Africa, the Lord of the Sahara Desert and the Power over all the animals, fishes and other creature in the Atlantic Ocean! His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal, Alhaji, General, Dr. Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE!”
This megalomaniac scoundrel managed to pack into his eight years rule the worst human holocaust in the whole of Africa and history will always avail him an infernal role in the affairs of Africa. How about Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo? Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Waza Banga! Aman who pronounced himself President for Life, unilaterally renamed his country, and created a one-party state in which all power was concentrated in his iron hands. He embezzled an estimated sum of $15 billion US dollars during his 32-year rule. His country’s currency was grossly devalued as inflation shot like into Congolese sky, the peoples were impoverished, children were malnourished, economy was epileptic but all these did not stop Mobutu from regular Concorde-flown shopping trips to Paris.
We are still having self-conceited and self-serving leader in Paul Biya of Cameroun, (and of course Mugabe and Museveni) who is now in his 34th year in office, using all sorts of antics and tricks to perpetuate himself in power.
If there is anything to be learned from all these, it is that good governance supersedes all other factors and ingredients in the national prosperity mix. Oh God, why don’t you now take away Africa’s natural resources and give her good leaders?
Kayode Ketefe may be followed on twitter @Ketesco
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