Recently, as part of an academic assignment at school, I was engaged in an intellectual debate with a few colleagues. We were seeking answers to the roots of Africa´s problems. It was an interesting discussion for me. Shockingly, the majority of my colleagues subscribed to the idea that the major cause of Africa´s social-political and economic problems was the legacy left behind by the colonial masters. As far as they were concerned, the colonialists ruined Africa for good. For the record, they had some strong arguments to support their claims. I do not intend to go into that.
Africa is known as the problem continent. Indeed, the problems are legion — Poverty, diseases, famine, poor leadership, religious conflicts, ethnic clashes and corruption are a few of them. With each passing day, the problems increase. For long, the economic and social underdevelopment of the African nation has been blamed on white colonialists who exploited the land and left Africa bare. To this day the blame game continues.
Africans are usually quick to blame most of their problems on the evils of colonialism. We sometimes blame the violence on the borders colonialists created that ignored ethnicity. Many African nations have been independent for four decades. If colonial borders were a major problem, how come they haven't changed them?
Colonialism cannot explain Third World poverty. Some of today's richest countries are former colonies, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Some of today's poorest countries were never colonies, such as Ethiopia, Liberia, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. The colonialism argument is simply a cover-up for the failings of African dictators and people.
As long as Africans keep bickering about the past without focusing on the future, African people will continue to suffer. Pointing fingers at the colonial masters won't change the fact that the majority of people in Africa are living and dying in horrible conditions. The Europeans colonized Africa about 400 years ago. Right now, Africans are in trouble because they cannot manage their own problems. Instead of brainstorming and finding solutions to their numerous social and economic problems, the people hold out a begging bowl to the west in one hand, while punishing the remaining white people in the land with the other. (Does Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe and the Zimbabweans come to mind?)
We are responsible for our problems, but we prefer to blame others rather than taking a good look in the mirror. Fine, the colonialists were a bunch of bunch of greedy no-gooders, but if truths must be told, the self-interest of early colonialists pales in comparison to the personal greed of African leaders today. Those who blame Africa's problems on colonialism must not forget that the experience was not unique to Africa. Generally, the Asian countries that also experienced colonialism are doing fairly well. So what has Africa, or to be more precise, its leaders, been doing for the past 40 years?