“NO GOOD NEWS EVER comes out of Africa”, you have had naysayers proclaim of the blessed continent. And some of us from the land that God loves so much are sometimes the loudest. When a misguided loudmouth of a leader from another part of the world referred to Africa in terms so derogatory as to defy repetition, some of us took to the airwaves to justify such characterization. We are justifiably critical of ourselves, yet sometimes we take it too far as to foreclose the possibility of anything good coming from Africa. There is nothing wrong with self-criticism, but condemnation is something else.
Before anyone starts to enumerate the many misdeeds of Africans, be assured that it is easily recognizable that we are the land of wasted opportunities; land of heartless leaders, and followers who oblige such leaders. We are the land of extreme religiosity, yet lacking in authentic charity; a land on which the creator has bestowed all that is good, but frittered at the altar of greed and selfishness. It is where we sell our interests and the future of our children to evil men for less than a mesh of porridge; where some take a very small part of what belongs to us, and use it to buy us out of the abundance that is ours.
Ours is a land of child soldiers engaged in killing before reaching the age of comprehending the real meaning of life and of death. Our rich soil is deserted by inheritors fleeing to till less fertile earth in strange lands. Billionaires in the midst of abject poverty, mansions owned by swindlers and guarded by men armed with guns paid for by the swindled, abound. Regular spectacles are limousines accompanied by long line of escorts, meandering through roads they refuse to fix, chasing other road users into the bush as they speed recklessly along. And there are pastors feeding fat on the sweat and blood of church members as well as Maraboutsin fat turbans,driving fat cars, owning fat bank accounts.
We seem to have forgotten how we used to be. More than sixty years after a people was introduced to the philosophy of abundant life for all, newday leaders are preaching a callous gospel of stomach infrastructure and practising a dubious policy of modulated salary payment. Elsewhere in Africa, wise men stay in power, refusing to let go until disgraced out. The 85 years old Wiseman of Cameroon is in his 36th year as president. Not long ago, 92 year old Wise man of Zimbabwe was forcibly eased out of power after ruling for 37 years, seven as Prime Minister and 30 as president. Nigeria’s Wisemen don’t stay for that long, but they sometimes come back to power.
Yet there is hope.
A few recent developments attest to hope of better days ahead. A government headed by a former military commander, supported by a legal luminary must understand security and the rule of law. So when men of the Department of State Security, DSS, allegedly invaded the national assembly, the whistle went off, appropriately and promptly. Within hours, the headship of the department was summoned to explain such major threat to national security. While politicians are still busy pointing fingers here,there and everywhere except at their guilty selves, Alhaji Lawal Daura was summarily separated from the office, he so, flagrantly abused.
Good news also from the Congo where Joseph Kabila, has ‘accepted’ not to be on the ballot in that country’s impending presidential elections. Former commander of a band of child soldiers during the guerilla warfare that led to the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko, Kabila was 29 years old, when he succeeded his father Laurent Kabila in 2001 following the assassination of the elder Kabila. Seventeen years and two election victories (2006 and 2011) later, Kabila remains reluctant to vacate the presidency just as many all over Africa before him. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit and the saints of Africa have intervened to persuade President Kabila (the protestant husband of a Catholic wife)to relinquish power peacefully. If Kabila does not run in December, he would become the first Congolese leader to peacefully relinquish power; a good sign for Africa.
Could there be a greater joy than that caused by the action of Alhaji Abdullah Abubakar in Nghar Yelwa village, Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau State? When his fellow Muslims, suspected Fulani Herdsmen, came to his community to kill Christian settlers, Alhaji Abdullah did the unusual. At the risk of his Mosque being razed and the pain of losing his own life, Imam Abdullah sheltered more than two hundred Christians from the slaughterers. The Imam later told newsmen that the land on which the Mosque stands was given to him free of charge by Christians How many people remember previous acts of kindness?
Abdullah is not alone. Two years earlier, Salah Farah was killed by Muslim militants who intercepted the bus in which he was travelling in Northern Kenya. Salah bravely kicked against the militants’ instructions that Muslim and Christian passengers be separated so Christians could be killed and Muslims spared. For his insistence that there would be no such separation, Farah himself a Muslim, was shot by the militants and later he died of his wounds. While the number saved by Abdullah and Salah may pale in significance to the number killed daily by militants, their actions evoke hope.
Thank God for these little signs of hope in a climate populated by sit tight misrulers; lawmakers who jump from moving police vans and hide in trees, governments who shield corrupt allies and persecute rivals; followers who hail thieving representatives, professors who kneel before polytechnic graduates in quest of political power; men and women devoid of conscience, strangers to shame and silenced by their willful collusion with those who bring pain to the land.
Africa will survive them.