Betty Akiny, (Kenya, UWCM 2010-2012)
The saying “there are no worries in Africa” is a phrase known world-wide, at least to all who’ve given a thought about the Black continent. Essentially, there are now too much to be worried about that we no longer consider anything problematic; instead, we opted to live exuberantly like nothing has ever happened– sounds like a mundane and useless observation, but the truth of the matter lies in the undiscovered revelations known only to the natives. The innocent citizens have had to put up with adversities created by their own chosen leaders for decades. It’s this patience that has made Africans to be widely recognized as people of great fortitude.
Dating back to the pre-colonial period that saw the continent thrive in sheer decentralized yet peaceful and more collaborative governments responsible for its the subjects to the colonial era that ushered in the western systems of governments wit well-defined central administration. The coming of the white man was the beginning of the war for democracy and self-governance as the Africans was enlightened and their eyes opened wide enough to see the evils of this white domination. Although superiority complex seemed to deem their hopes, they put up a good fight and eventually their cry was heard.
However, the post-colonial period has been one hell of a time in this magnificent continent. We fought for the end of white minority rule and even now when we already have the law in our own hands we are still fighting. Political upheavals have become the second name of Africa; never satisfied by anything. Of late there has been radical evolution in politics. The crisis can be summarized into two major issues: it’s gross corruption and greed for power. The graft war has been fought but it never seems to end. Our leaders are so engrossed in corruption that they have developed a chronic myopia that prevents them from seeing beyond bribery.
Recently, there has been a series of power-sharing ‘coalition governments’ after mortifying chaotic elections where rigging and other election offences are celebrated. It all started in Kenya in 2007 when we held the presidential/parliamentary elections that were characterized by immense irregularities. In one night, the so-called electoral commissioners did a total overhaul of the results and produced strange shocking results that made Kenyans go bananas. Unexpectedly, the “president” was sworn in immediately after the results were announced. Usually, inauguration is a big national event celebrated by all citizens; but in that year, we had a different taste of democracy. Everything was in jeopardy and chaos that evening of the inauguration. The same wave seems to be spreading really quickly to other nations. Hundreds of innocent Kenyans died and many are still displaced today.
Barely a year after the chaos in Kenya, Zimbabwe was in the shoes of Kenya. Tsavingrai and Robert Mugabe almost locking hands as they grappled for power. As the wise men say, when two bulls fight, the grass suffers. This appears to be the new trend in this holistic continent. Look at what’s happening in Ivory Coast. Laurent Ggabo and Outttara seem top have special interest in the power sharing deal. Everything in the country is now a mess because apparently no one won the controversial elections held in November 28th 2010. From then onwards, every day in Ivory Coast is a doomsday. Abidjan city is no longer the busiest hub in West Africa.
What happened to transparency? Why is human ingenuity such a hard master to deal with? Why is it too difficult to grant the citizens the rights they deserve? They come out in large numbers to exercise their democratic rights and they choose their leaders but in the end no one wins! This triggered a lot of questions about what happens in the dark; away from the public’s eyes. The Ivorian crisis gets worse everyday, not even the appointment of Kenyan Prime Minister as the mediator is proving fruitful. Or maybe Raila Odinga the African Union envoy to Ivory Coast was the wrong choice? He was in the scandal in 2008 during the Kenyan unrest and maybe Ggabo has never taken him seriously. Threats of forceful ousting from power according to the ECOWAS ultimatum doesn’t appeal to him either.
Just last week, Tunisians were on the streets. The demonstrations were harsh yet justified. This proves that we are tired of watching greedy politicians trample on our feet without us complaining. Egyptians have followed suit, and predictably a big revolution is going to take place. It’s time we face the truth and condemn the demon that leads us to be used by politicians to perpetrate violence among us. It is a pity yet a big shame to the biggest authorities in Africa. The war is not over and is not about to end until we discover that there is more to power than just having the title “President” or “Head of State”. It’s time we embrace fairness, call a spade a spade and a spoon a spoon; completely bury the ideology of power-sharing when we can actually be more mature and deliver valid results that mandate the rightful leaders to take our continent to another level.
My cry is to all the young people out there. This is our time; our moment to show our potential. We cannot stand by and watch our continent be drowned in the ocean of adversities. Let’s preach change and take actions. Actions speak louder than words. You are the change that you desire to see, take up the challenge and get down on your tools. We are the light of our own destinies, the candles for change are in our own hands, it is your challenge to keep it burning.