Wednesday, July 26, 2006

(In)Dependence

(In)dependence :
The Journey so far:
After being set free by his task-master, one African slave is said to have pleaded with his master’s spouse to intercede on his behalf that he should remain within the confines of the estate. Fact is not that he has no place to return to or does he not have relatives to receive him back into his ancestral home. He had simply gotten comfortable with his state of servitude and cannot contemplate fitting into any other environment whatsoever. Vincent NNANNA

The same can be said of many African countries. Our colonial masters conceded to granting us independence after some protracted battles or dialogues with our forebears. It is on record that no African nation got her independence on a platter of gold. In some cases, lives had to be sacrificed among other dehumanising experiences. Knowing not what the future portends, our inexperienced pioneer politicians had inadvertently conceded to agreements that carried the ‘enslavement clause’ on our behalf. It is this conditionality that now accounts for the myriad of neo-colonial tendencies that seem to clog most of African democracies.
As we are becoming more conscious of the need to be completely independent, the need arises as to how best to completely disengage ourselves from the strangleholds of our former colonial masters.
A debris-infested stream can only be sanitised from the source. It logically follows that for us to break the jinx of colonial enslavement; we have to go back to the drawing board. It is not imperative, though that all countries of Africa must of necessity try to be independent just for the sake of it. Certain options have to be considered against the odds. The first question to ask is what was the interest of the colonial masters? This implies knowing what resources – human or natural – that attracted their presence in the first instance. One could ask what alternative resources there are at the present moment and how much of external or internal resistance there would be against the quest for independence. This consideration is very vital as it has been discovered that at the root of every clamour for a restoration of the status quo (that is returning to the pre-colonial era), are some highly placed members (aborigines) of the country in question. Most of these neo-colonialists are known to have in one way or the other been benefiting from the exploits of the ‘masters;’ and could not see the possibility of enjoying the same privileges under an independent dispensation. Getting to know whether there exist the needed manpower and technology to manage the situation and the resources profitably will not be a bad idea. In the absence of such variables, by all means, remaining attached to the master would be fundamental to the continued existence of any given colony. In that case, a colony should think of how much longer it can afford to remain attached while planning on long-term cessation strategy. Otherwise, it will be foolhardy to negotiate for independence when one does not know what to do with it.
If we must tow the line of secessionism, however, while back at the drawing board one needs to properly negotiate for total and uncompromising independence. No royalties. No appendages. No bi-lateral co-operation or military support strings should attend such negotiations. To be truly independent, a nation should have some level of national earning power and well-trained human resources that should form the nucleus of her Gross Domestic Product. Rather than have ourselves perpetually tied to the apron strings of colonial powers for reasons of economic relief, African countries should seek to initiate inter-regional or trans-regional cooperation and exchanges whereby the richer countries would extend every manner of assistance to the not-too-rich ones; uniting in one grand brotherhood.
To be able to harness their resources properly, the spirit of patriotism should be inculcated on the citizenry. This demands reciprocity on the part of government. That is to say, a citizen ought to have good reasons to be proud to swear allegiance to the country that affords him succour. Ethnic, social or religious and other forms of discriminating structures should be dismantled. Above all, freedom of expression and respect to fundamental human rights should form the bedrock of the country’s existential code.
Experts say that technology cannot be transferred. But we also know that it can be acquired. Therefore, in order to ensure sustainability, a nation should be liberal in despatching her citizens on scholarships to other developed countries for the purpose of acquiring skills in various fields pertinent to the future development of her resources – human or mineral-based.
Alongside this strategy, it should encourage private sector investment by putting in place investor-friendly policies that will encourage individuals that have abilities to embark on healthy entrepreneurial activities that will in turn contribute to the economic well-being of the nation at large.
A policy of heavy taxation of private or corporate investors has been known to be counter-productive. It has led to so many cases of fraudulent practices aimed at circumventing the established system. On the other hand, some foreign investors have tried to shy away from investing into the country even when there seem to exist some other attractive parameters such as a peaceful environment or a Freeport policy. It has to be acknowledged that not all countries do have mineral resources, but granted that no country is built on the sky; one would expect that the soil ought to be the first place to conquer for the propagation and development of her economy. This places agriculture at the top of the list. As the debate or genetically modified (GM) cropping rages on, there have been evidences of bumper harvests deriving from experimenting on this new technology. Records have shown huge foreign exchange earnings accruing from GM flower export by Kenya and Zambia. Fears are rife that some Asian countries will soon cease completely or trim down their import of raw materials from Africa because of their success in GM crop production especially in the field of cotton. Their complaint is that African traditional farming method yields meagre results and is slow in arriving.
A great percentage of African human resources are wasting by reason of lack of skills acquisition. Many people could not benefit from the fortune of knowing the four walls of any educational institution – be it primary, secondary or tertiary. A lot more of our abundant human resources have found harbinger in foreign economies where the pastures are greener. Others who have some skills cannot gain employment either in government or in the private sector. Micro-finance institutions are not helping matters on account of rigid and impossible demands from potential entrepreneurs.
The last thing any sensible human being can do is watch the hands of death try to snatch him of his right to exist. A cursory peep into the prison yards will unfold some trend of confessions from the inmates across the continent. Majority of the prisoners consist of petty thieves who had to steal to keep body and soul together. The other category that is on a recycling list is fraudsters who have chosen to unleash their venom on the affluent members of society who they hold responsible for their misfortune. One other class of armed bandits has the same reason as the fraudsters, but they carry their anger to the extremes by choosing not to be lenient with the society at large. Their revenge is known to be disproportionate.
Before we drift farther into anarchy, let African governments device a means of making every citizen not only seem to feel but apparently feel a sense of belonging. The hierarchy of fundamental human needs should be respected by ensuring that the average citizen has a roof over his head, can afford some clothing and at least a square meal per day. Unemployment scheme should be introduced whereby a near-accurate data of every unemployed citizen is registered. This data would serve as a bank or grid for manpower development according to individual abilities and interests. Micro-financing should be decentralized to ensure that deserving investors from even the remotest corners of the country can draw there from and be accountable to their local peer monitoring team.
It is certain that this exercise, if religiously implemented, will result in drastic reduction in crime rate and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Such a nation cannot afford no to be independent.

2 comments:

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