After independence: the demise of the African.

Periods before independence, much of enthusiasm and real hope characterized the activities of the African, such that, in most cases, they were blinded by the spirit of unity and focus. There was a constant relation between the few elites and the masses. However, just after independence, these young nation states suffered untold violence through military interventions. Thus, in this paper, I would focus on some selected African States, and prove the demise of the African after independence.

For this is the truth, one cannot deny that usually before independence, there arises local political forces (of course, many are political parties).One of such parties was The PartieSolidaireAfricain- which garnered mass support from the rural areas. Particularly, in the 1950s, there was a rather sudden rise of political parties in the D.R. Congo- more than ten of such parties pursuing the quest for independence- led by evolues. These parties restored the lost ‘VOICE’ to the Congolese. Thus, they visualized the future through the creation of institutional representation. Resilience was the spirit of the people; they, however, pursued a nonviolent campaign strategy, and, of course, the followers strongly adhered to that call.

One thing characterized the movement: they were discerning. Typically, persistent and popular protest moved the Belgian government to organize elections in 1959, and the Master’s trick was simple: organize elections to take the relevance from the radicals’ lips by appeasing the people with a moderate puppet government, and erase the calls for independence. Their rule was “Only men can vote”. However, The Parti Solidaire Africain fiercely urged its members and the Congolese people to boycott the elections, by not registering and not participating in the elections. And they succeeded, despite several attempts to arrest leading members, even from other political parties, particularly ABAKO. And results from the elections proved that Congo was ungovernable, and deciding against a bloody and possibly drawn out and politically costly affair to make the Congolese comply, like the war in Algeria, the administration chose to cut the increasingly unprofitable colony, Global Nonviolent Action Database says.

Thus on January 20, 1960, the Belgian administration invited members of 13 different parties- 96 different Congolese- to the month-long Brussels Round Table Talks.  Here, the Congolese reiterated their demand for immediate independence, even though the Belgian government still preferred a process spanning three to four years. Mounting a united front and completely unwilling to back down, the Congolese got their demand granted. What a joy to the broken-hearted! What a joy to the elderly, and the women! At long last the battle had ended, and all the streets were filled with jubilant Africans, hoping that their dignity and identity would translate into prosperity. So it came to happen that June 30 was set for independence, and May was set for the general elections.

Such event was admirable and most welcome, especially considering that the Belgians never prioritized creating adequate elites who could run the country. And this was evident in the bad education policy of not developing the human capital of their colonies, including the Congo. Thus, greater was the efforts of the icons of independence! Yea.

However, after independence, a deeper rift erupted between the leadership and the masses. What changed? The PartieSolidaireAfricain broke along the true disparity of power and influence that existed all along between the elites and the masses and between the different ethnic groups. And the issues at stake stemmed from ideology, power difference, and ethnicity. But why did these differences not linger the struggle for independence? Why could the differing groups cooperate in that elegant style to win power? I assert it is an issue of ‘leadership’!  And so the inevitable doom surfaced…and hence the untold hardship and curse: the military, the Force Publique, rebelled and mutinied against the new government and threw the Congo into complete crisis on every level. Hence the demise of the African!

Today, the Congo has a population of around 65.71 million, with a GDP of, say, $17.20 billion. And 2010 data indicate that inflation is 85.1%.

 Many seek answers to why African leaders sought independence only to slap the hopes and aspirations of their citizenry. Was it an ‘unnoticed blessing’ to have the WHITE rule us? And why did we never realize their ‘usefulness’ until their departure?

In Central African Republic, the political economy and environment were no different. In 1946, Barthelemy Boganda became the first elected representative to the French National Assembly. He later relentlessly pursued a political campaign that won his movement, the Social Evolution Movement of Black Africa, a majority control in the Territorial Assembly, in 1957. And that, indeed, was a splendid achievement, having laid the political foundation to achieve independence. However, in March 1959, Boganda passed away, and David Dacko took over the baton.

Early 1960, Central African Republic gained independence from slavery, hard labor, misery, imperialism and economic hardship. However, in a sharp contrast, David relied heavily on the French for assistance in trade, foreign policy, security and defense, and he deepened nepotism and corruption as he created many offices to reward his supporters. He worsened the plight of the ordinary country man by increasing salaries of his officials, thus draining the national budget. In 1962, he banned all other political parties except the MESAN, the party he inherited from Boganda. The years that followed saw nothing other than unnumbered coup d’etats, lasting till the end of 2013.

How can such disrupted economy ever thrive? Investment, trade and foreign relations got tainted, translating into mass poverty. One cannot fathom how such a rugged economy could inspire confidence and hope and safety. Thus, unless there is peace and tranquility, death shall reign, even over the wealthy, hence the demise of the second African.

My conclusion on the uprisings in most African countries including Ghana, is that, after independence, the leadership lacked pragmatism and cooperation between themselves and the masses, not forgetting the opposition who altogether helped fight colonialism. Hence the unrest! If pragmatism and cooperation defined the vision of the new African leaders, Africa would have thrived in prosperity and stability.

 THE AFTERMATH OF SUCH BLISTERING DAMAGE, TO A LARGE EXTENT, AFFECTED OUR CONSCIENCISM: THUS,

 

Africa: racism & skin bleaching

It is estimated that approximately 100 million women across Africa have either bleached their skins or at least have considered the idea of “skin toning” in the course of their lifetime.

 It may come as no surprise that the West African region records the highest prevalence rates of  77%(Nigerian women) with their Togolese, Ghanaian and Ivorian counterparts following closely. According to WHO, the manufacture of skin bleaching agents is now a$10 billion industry. Why is this the case and why has the practice of skin bleaching gained popularity among Africans since the 1950’s when skin lightening products were introduced onto the African scene? It is my personal belief that the colonial mindset may have contributed to the lighter skin craze to some extent, but it cannot be blamed entirely for the disturbing degrees of self-loathing exhibited by Africans and people of African descent. The “light skin” epidemic transcends black women of all socio-economic classes, from American celebrities like Nicki Minaj, to the Nigerian billionaire tycoon down to the homeless kayayoo at the Makola market. Personally, it makes me sick to hear black people complaining bitterly about racism and how non-black people look down upon them. I believe that racist white people are justified to an extent in thinking that black people are inferior to all other races.If not, why is it considered an achievement when a black person marries a white person? Why would a Ghanaian mother bleach her day-old baby’s skin just to elicit pleasant comments of “obroniba” from visitors? Why would most African cultures charge brideprice according to the shade of the bride’s skin? Why do some black men purchase skin lightening creams for their women, and, finally, why do black girls mostly edit their pictures to assume lighter skins? The general idea that the lighter a woman’s skin the more beautiful she is, has impacted the African psyche so much so that respectable Nigerian banks formulated a marketing strategy in 2011 that included hiring only light skinned women as bank tellers  to attract more business. Guess what? The customer base of these banks did swell considerably as was predicted! For a continent that struggles to feed its citizens, importing billions of dollars’ worth of bleaching creams clearly shows what the African’s priorities are.

Gone are the days when the African had his own standard of beauty which included ringed neck(Akan),long neck and limbs(Masaai), full figure and round face, to name a few. In today’s Africa, the ideal image of a beautiful woman is a light-skinned one who is slim even among the highly educated who can list a thousand and one reasons why one should not bleach her skin. Nowadays, educated Africans say that their desire to have a partner with light skin is simply a preference and not proof of the fact that they consider dark skinned Africans as ugly. I challenge anyone who believes otherwise to conduct an experiment by just observing the trends on television, in workplaces, schools etc. I personally believe that no African girl is born feeling inferior to anyone because her skin is dark, but as she grows and observes the preferential treatment society, especially school teachers, give to white and mixed race students or their friends with lighter skin, feelings of inferiority set in and by the time they are old enough to afford bleaching agents, the time is ripe to join the “beautiful ones”.  It is a huge advantage to have light skin in Africa because it comes with lots of privileges (see Oprah’s student selection scandal in S.A).

 To conclude, it is my opinion that the abstract concept of “A unique African identity that Africans are so proud of”, only surfaces in the presence of non-Africans and during intellectual discourse. We can do way better to heal our psyches from the damaging effects of Africans discriminating against fellow Africans because of their skin colour.

THIS BLOGPOST WAS AUTHORED BY:

FELICIA AKYAA OWUSU, AMBASSADOR TO TANZANIA, AND

SHEDRACH AKESSE GYENI, AMBASSADOR TO THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

 

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