This edition of AfricanPod is about a free lesson for Africa from the British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
The United Kingdom has a complex.
It is geographically part of Europe but has never quite felt comfortable being fully immersed in the European Union. The British find the idea of being dictated to by EU bureaucrats in Brussels to be deeply offensive. As a result, agitation for self-definition and self-determination has been growing for decades.
The clearest sign of Britain’s disdain for European supremacy over its national affairs is that the United Kingdom decided to keep its beloved Pounds Sterling as the national currency, rather than adopt the Euro, currently used by about 20 nations across Europe.
Nearly two decades into the 21st century, British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken the fight to the Europe, threatening to leave the Union unless all the countries making up the Union agree to see the UK as having a special status.
David Cameron’s success depended on leaders of 27 countries in Europe unanimously accepting unprecedented demands that violate EU’s principles.
The demands include:
- a declaration that the Euro currency is not the only official currency in Europe, that the Pound Sterling has a special place
- that Brussels makes an explicit statement that Britain will be kept out of any move towards a European superstate
- that Britain is allowed to unilaterally reclaim power from Brussels on foreign policy, trade and finance
So facing strong and influential leaders like Angela Merkel of Germany and French President François Hollande, David Cameron spent more than 24 hours negotiating with extreme brinkmanship. He threatened what has been called Brexit – or British exit from the European Union.
Europe buckled, and Cameron got what he wanted for Britain.
As successful as David Cameron’s venture against Europe was, some in Britain want to go even further by voting in June 2016 to remove Britain out of the EU altogether. Maybe David Cameron is wrong, but that is beside the point.
Here is the point: David Cameron’s stance is a lesson, or even lessons for Africa. Some or those lessons are:
- You must not wait for others to build a bridge for you
- You must thoughtfully make your own case
- Take a stand for yourself, because no one will do it for you
- Define yourself – don’t wait for others to define you
Regardless of the ultimate outcome of the British argument with the European Union and results of the referendum in June 2016, there is ample proof that the UK wants to keep its destiny in its own hands.
The same cannot be said of African leaders.
They have carved a solid image of being incompetent and never finding the path of success similar to leaders in Europe, America and Asia.
Across the length and breadth of the African continent, leaders in gleeful ignorance shamelessly look up to the rest of the world for endless assistance.
They have no idea how to build bridges into the future. They have rather practiced the art of begging, and perfected it.
Now, their ability to survive depends on the extent to which they can beg. They have allowed themselves to be defined directly and indirectly as a charity case.
The leaders lack the ability to make their case as a continent that is mature enough to feed itself, resolve its own various issues in handling trade negotiations, security and economic policy.
Of course, centuries of colonialism and its sad consequences are undeniable. But also undeniable is the real possibility of using the pains of the past as a reason to build a different reality and progressively blot out the mental shackles of the past.
But many who call themselves leaders in Africa have allowed a victimhood mentality coupled with sheer incompetence and lack of imagination to take a firm hold in their lives.
Leaders have had their sights so low that practical aspirations of growth and development is not a concern. They are unable to think of anything besides their own comfort and ego.
Instead of making substantial difference in the lives of people they seek to govern, they rather selfishly lock horns with others in a vicious competition for power.
Once they grab power, common sense is quickly replaced by a mindless urge to impress poor people with the opulence that comes with public offices they occupy – think of big presidential palaces, expensive cars, presidential jets and meaningless and expensive global travels.
Hopelessness is perpetuated for years along with unfulfilled promises until the approach of another election. Then the complex deception is recycled all over again.
The result is all too clear. Africa falls far behind in every facet of development – health, relevant education, food security, finance, trade and technology.
There will always be some room for some hope, but that room is infinitely small, compared to the open fields of opportunity that has been thrown away again and again.
African leaders are too drowsy in their incompetence to learn and apply. Even a free lesson from David Cameron and Britain will be lost on them – quicker than you can say “Brexit!”
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