MY AFRICA

first_img“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.”Amílcar Cabral (1924 – 1973) To be exact, my Africa is Liberia, is Sierra Leone, where I was born and where my ancestors are from. I would have loved to write you a piece of hope and the progress that’s measured by how well businesses are performing and how well the rich few eat. But my reality is based on the great need of the many, the community and how poorly they eat, if at all. By right, my Africa should be the leaders in Africa in terms of development, progress, arts and sciences. But the reality is far from this truth. The Athens of West Africa which produced so many of the early teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, native missionaries and administrators for the entire region is now a place where the paper our diplomas are printed on is worth more than the education received. This is where people buy their education from teachers, lecturers and professors who are willing accomplices, sometimes even the solicitors, of such an unholy enterprise. This is a place where lecturers don’t publish but copy published materials, then sell them to students as pamphlets. Our primary and secondary school students don’t have textbooks, but study from notes taken in class. How well these students take notes is a matter of grave concern. This is the land where we used to speak the Queen’s English. We spoke better English than the English yet today college students and lecturers can barely speak correct English or write it. Today, college students pay people to write their dissertations and theses or cut and paste from online publications. Asking primary, secondary school and college students to spell or pronounce simple words or do simple calculations is a difficult task. Today, if you speak English (not our language, but still the language of education and the textbooks we read), in public, people will say you are trying to be different, think you are better than them or scoff at you as being a showoff. How did we get to this state of affairs? There are two main reasons for this. First, as a result of the continued deteriorating economic situation, thousands of educators have left for greener pastures in the region, mainly to Gambia, Ghana, andNigeria, on the continent, and further afield. The wars didn’t help either as the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness led most of the remaining few to leave. There is certainly no discounting the hundreds of thousands more, potential educators and contributors to the development agenda, who left for the same reasons. Today, the lack of space at government schools to educate a growing population has led our governments to drop the standards on who could teach, where schools are situated, and the number of students per class. There is a school on every corner or backyard with barely any space for students to walk or play. Everybody is now an educator providing services meant to be in the purview of the government and qualified teachers trained in the science of teaching. The second reason for this state of emergency (as it truly is because we know from the Western experience and from countries like Botswana, Cape Verde, China, Cuba, Ghana,Venezuela, and many more, that education is a way to lift people out of poverty and to aid in the development process) is that African governments don’t appreciate educators and do nothing to aid research. They fear that seasoned and dedicated educators and researchers will expose their shortcomings so they don’t encourage them. Since Fourah Bay College and the University of Liberia were founded in the early and mid-1800s in Freetown and Monrovia respectively, not much has been done in the way of more universities and colleges. For this reason, our students don’t have an interest in pursuing education, especially in the arts and social sciences. The ones who have such degrees work for nongovernmental agencies and international research organizations for a pittance instead of doing their social duties to teach and call our leaders to order by critiquing and exposing public inadequacies. Our children love their teachers. Here, teachers are truly revered. Sadly, we do not have enough qualified teachers. And where we do, they are so focused on earning a living wage that they sell grades to meet that need because they are not paid well. My Africa is a land of great wealth where the overwhelming majority is poor, poorly educated and susceptible to die from treatable diseases; a land where people dress and look good wearing secondhand clothes but with empty pockets and barely any food at home. It is a land of great ignorance, for the leaders like it so. A place where people would tell you that fruits can cause malaria and that cassava leaves can cause typhoid. This is a place where people are fearful of each other and believe that witches rule the day and night. My Africa is a place where people believe everything is a lie because they have been lied to for so long and live a life of lie where things are very bad but people pretend ‘it’s all good’. This is a land where unsanitary practices are not frowned upon, where people fall sick to diseases from such practices so much so that there are pharmacies on every corner, but you won’t find one pharmacist in sight. It is a land where, as children learn from their parents and community, we have learnt from our leaders that to be corrupt is the only way to move ahead here. If a man serves in public office and doesn’t come out rich at the end of his tenure, he is considered a fool: ‘The money was there for the taking but he didn’t take it!’ My Africa is the land where the rich exploit the poor and the poor exploit each other; a land where everything has a price, especially the law and education. It’s as if we are deaf, dumb and blind… What do you call a rich nationWhere the overwhelming majority is poorPoorly educated and susceptible to die from treatable diseases?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nation of lawsWhere the law is broken with impunityBy the same people entrusted to uphold and enforce the law?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nation Known for lies and corruptionWhere disorder is the order of the dayWhere mobs dispense justice far away from the Temple (of Justice)?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhose leaders make dealsWith their pockets and stomachs in mindWhile the needs and interests of the people take the backseat?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere extractive deals are madeWhere foreign companies get a larger percentage share than the countryWhere land is leased to foreign countriesTo grow food for their citizensWhile landowners can’t feed theirsAnd always seeking handouts to do so?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere after 168 years of underdevelopmentWhere after 168 years of successive governments ofCrooks, thieves, leeches, and foolsKeep voting in leaders cut from the same cloth?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWho doesn’t stand up to its leadersWho don’t call them to order or bookEither through civil unrest, protest or the ballot boxWho sit down quietlyWhile being robbed in broad daylight?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere people vote along tribal lines and not political platformsWhere political platforms are built on the backs of the peopleAnd become castles in the sands of time?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere effective public administrators (Broh)Are forced out of officeBy a miss-poorly-and-uneducated mob screaming for justice?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere everything has a priceWhere your rights can turn to wrongIf the price is right?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere everybody wants to get richBut hard work is not preachedWhere everybody wants to go to America“Or anywhere else but here”And leave the work to be done hereIn the hands of those responsible for our underdevelopment?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere you can’t tell the differenceBetween a pastor, imam, government minister, teacher, police officer and a thief?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere the youth know more about sportsSports heroes and celebritiesWhere they know more about get-rich-quick schemesThan they do about life, health, their condition, books and school work?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere hope seems goneWhere the weak stay weakAnd the strong and educated become pawnsIn the hands of the rich few?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere things are badVery badBut the people pretend or live like ‘it’s all good’Where one can fail an exam but pay a teacher or professor to passWhere parents pay principals and teachersTo pass their children to higher grades although they failed to pass the lower ones?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere teachers, police officers and other civil servantsAre paid a paltry sum not enough for a living wageBut are expected to do their workWhile senators and representativesWho don’t bring any development or jobs to their regionsMake an immoral sum when compared to the average citizen?DEAF DUMB AND BLINDWhat do you call a nationWhere women head more households than menBut are mysteriously missing or underrepresented in public leadership and offices?DEAF DUMB AND BLIND “Seek ye first the political kingdom and all things shall be added unto you”…Kwame Nkrumah (1909 – 1972)Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more