Though the meaning of the word Africa is slightly debatable, all theories on the word’s origin lead to one conclusion. Africa means “a land without cold and horror”. This is a revelation many would dispute or find ironic based on the current state of affairs. However, when finance experts and business people from around the globe look to Africa they see the sunshine and dollar signs on every square inch of resource-rich terrain. Africa may have more than her fair share of conflict, disease, corruption, poverty and the list goes on, but she is also the New Frontier. Not only does Africa have good prospects for a bright future but we are poised to leapfrog ahead of many developing regions if the majority of us adopt the right attitude.
Africa is the continent with the youngest population in the world. A young population not only presents vast economic and social development opportunities but also creates room for ideologies to be changed. It is far easier to ignite the thirst of the young and set the blood of our youth to burn with passion for the motherland. It is the youth that can form the bridge from the current status quo into the future which generations past may never even have dared to imagine. Nevertheless, this will not occur if we as Africans and residents of Africa do not take it upon ourselves to be authors of our own development. If truth be told, this continent will not rise from the ashes as a result of foreign aid and multi-national corporations. We are not going to see widespread growth by looking beyond the borders of this continent for help, at least not without paying dearly for it in the long run. Too many present day governments are enslaved to debt from years past, yet they hardly recall what the money was spent on or why.
Corruption is a menace we cannot ignore and mismanagement of public funds by politicians and the elite few is, sadly, common practice. If we as Africans do not put our own house in order, visitors will happily do it – in their own way and for their own benefit. For decades, African governments have been put through economic policy reform regimes which often lead to the same thing – international money lenders getting even more out of the deal. I am inclined to think that loan sharks are not only backyard – they come in all shapes and sizes. From where I stand, the reality is that the world system tilts in favour of those with more political and financial muscle. I do applaud all the developmental growth made possible on our continent by financial aid institutions. However, the question that begs an answer is “At what cost?”
I could go on and on berating tales of injustice done against Africa but refuse to believe that Africa is just a victim. We are not just some kind of game that the East and the West play during tea breaks before returning to more important matters. The best way to build a muscle is through exercise and if we as the African continent are to ever become an audible voice, a force to be reckoned with, we better start putting in the hours…blood, sweat and tears. Exercise is a process involving sacrifice, diligence, patience, consistency, endurance, discipline and faith. And above all, the strong belief that the vision of a continent “without cold and horror” is an attainable reality.
Without cold if her people are constantly working. Without cold if her children consider one another and keep each other warm. Without cold if brothers and sisters dwell in unity without prejudice. Without horror if, instead of plundering and killing, we each learn to honestly earn our keep and resolve conflict amicably.
Yes, many of us may be angry at leaders who gather all, leaving the masses out in the cold but if we as the citizens of Africa, unite against everything that divides us for that one common purpose, standing tall will not just be a distant possibility or a borrowed dream. I am not advocating for an airy-fairy-happy-ever-after-fairy-tale but for a land where we have reasobably acceptable standards of living, where our vast natural resources benefit Africans as much as they benefit the rest of the world. A continent of people willing to walk that long rocky uphill mile so that when we get to the top, we can proudly stand tall and say “We did it”.
I long to see a land where we have our own dream, the African dream. And when the African muscle eventually develops into something formidable I would like to think it shall be called “Africanus Primus Fonterra”. Simply put, Africa will be raising some serious dust!