Dear Student Leaders and Members, Presenters across the globe, the African and non-African Diplomatic corps represented, Colleagues and all other Participants, I greet you all. I am highly delighted to be part of this year’s NUGS-China Conference on Africa Beyond Aid in the context of the SDG4.
I have titled my rather brief presentation: THE AFRICAN PLIGHT: UNDERSTANDING THE ROOT AND CHARTING A COLLECTIVE SOLUTION
As we start off this year’s conference, I like us to put ourselves in perspective as a people of the African continent, where collectively we have come from, up to where we are now, and think of how we can assume a collective rebirth into a global giant like the others. I am therefore going to put us as Africans into our psychological imperatives and see how best we can break off from the shackles that hold us at bay and forge into a true liberation.
Africa was a prosperous continent, peaceful and flourishing with ancient civilization. In fact, we learnt from our history books years ago that civilization started in Africa. Writing started in Africa. Indeed, even today Ethiopia has its own alphabet for its language, different from all others. There were Universities in Timbuctoo, Mali, and elsewhere, particularly in the north. We know of how Egypt featured as a great world Empire. We also learnt of the Sudanese Empire and the Ghana Empire, all with their great kings and booming economies.
So, what happened to bring us to the level of degradation we find ourselves in today? Surely, something must have gone wrong somewhere along the line.
It began with the western slave trade which faded into the forceful partitioning and subjugation or colonization of Africa by the West from which conditional liberation were gained largely after the second half of the last century, that is, less than 70 years ago.
Indeed, the slave trade which was carried out with the forced or craftly seduced connivance of our chiefs and the then opinion leaders, took away our civilisation, our wealth, our learning/education, our personality and our real identity and replaced with the bogus Westernisation which happened during the colonisation process. We have had to struggle to be like the West in everything, even in thinking and mindset. But you and I know that an eagle cannot be made to play on the ground with a lion, neither can a fish be made to fly in the air like a bird; an impossibility indeed.
From the slavery process onwards, our destiny suffered, as we lost our very identity. We were confronted with a new reality of psychological conditioning, albeit confusing as it were. This psychological conditioning process has two main aspects, namely, exposure and practice, which may occur separately or together. When one is exposed to a phenomenon for a long time, one may imbibe key aspects of the phenomenon unconsciously and be able to put them into practice. When one practices something constantly one gets used to it and is able to practice it freely sometimes even unconsciously.
Through the slavery and the colonisation, as well as the post-colonial manipulations which have continued till date (intentionally or unintentionally), the African is constantly confronted with poverty, deprivation, hunger, disease, pain and anguish, such that those who are causing our pain are the very the ones who we think can give us something to survive on. Thus, we turn to them for the satisfaction of our wants. This has further led us to self-hatred, self-pity and self-denial among us as a people. We think we cannot be like them. We see ourselves as inferior creatures and they as super-human. We associate ourselves with weakness, inferiority and poor quality, while the white man or any semblance of a white man is revered.
We love seeing ourselves as belonging to tribes or small parties instead of seeing ourselves as being part of the bigger group – reminiscent of the partitioning of Africa. The effect of this is seen in our political structures, culminating in multi-party political systems where we are never satisfied with our political leadership and we constantly wish for a change which never comes, with one party always determined to undermine the other party, forgetting that it is the ordinary people who bear the brunt of such rivalries.
This is the root of our plight, ladies and gentlemen.
Do we have to blame anyone for our plight?
Indeed, what can blame do for us?
No; no need to apportion blame in our modern situation, because it will only fan the flame of self-hatred, brother-hatred, division, undermining of our political system, and the cycle of poverty, degradation and destruction will continue.
The only antidote I envision is to be united and deal with our issue collectively. We have all the resources: natural, human and the intelligence to do so. We need to accept ourselves and what we have. The scientific diagnosis has been done time and again; the researches have been conducted time and again; the recommendations have been made time and again. Our continent surely must be Beyond Aid and I strongly believe we can and must be. The sustainable development goal 4 which envisions an inclusive quality education for all by 2030 and which will itself plunge us into enviable heights of continental growth and development, can be truly achieved in Africa through collective operationalisation of recommendations such as we are going to hear during this conference.
I welcome you all to a very fruitful AFBA Conference.
Thank you very much and be on board, everyone.