By Toney F Mendy
Given the backdrop of the increasingly multifaceted leadership crises that the continent of Africa continues to face, in contrast to the character, personate agitations, and somewhat purposeful leaderships of immediate post-independence governments of the continent, one can only wonder who is in charge of bleeding Mama Africa today.
The other day, the question of how European colonial powers left the continent and, on whose hands, struck me. “We gained independence … we are in charge”, I thought, ardently endeavoring to persuade myself.
Neither my love for the continent, nor the pride of my Africaness, nor my respect and admiration for some of the great visionary contemporary leaders of the continent could save me from violently disagreeing with the thought that came independence, WE are truly in charge of shaping our destiny as a people.
One cannot say, certainly not me, that the African is liberated, except if liberation should ordinarily mean the absence of repressive physical domination. However, such should not genuinely be the narrow perception of liberation which a people literally trapped in gutters of subjugation should adopt to themselves.
The need for Africans to give meaning to independence has been and continues to be a subject of numerous scholarly considerations and political rhetoric. Those interested in the true liberation of the continent must take a new approach by highlighting and speaking to the factors of leadership crises that almost declare our independence worthless.
Among the blunt self-inflicted psychological factors, that Europeans attempted to use futilely to justify their inhuman history of the Transatlantic-Slave-Trade, colonialism, and imperialism was/is the (mis)conception that Africans cannot govern themselves.
If these claims were to be gauged per the ‘ability’ of the average leadership of the continent, they would absolutely be right about the general lack of “ability” in the leadership to govern and to lead their people in the manner so required and desired but save for the unconventional truth that “the minds”, and “interest” of the majority of these leaders are else were, in the West. If anything, the appropriate satirical descriptive term to associate with them is colonial clerks. Colonial clerks, positioned in colonial structures to serve the interest of the colonial or neocolonial masters… politely, against their people, race, and continent.
There is need for all to appreciate the sophisticated nature of the colonial and imperial enterprise to distinguish the factors in play, and why the continent continues at the state it is. The first assignment of the colonial ruler was to destroy native institutions that best reflect the culture of the Africans. ‘Culture’ as used here infers to the ‘totality of the life of the people’; as argued by Walter Rodney, the great foremost assassinated pan African thinker.
What followed the destruction of the African governance structure was the imposition of the colonizers’ alien system much of which contradict many fibers of the makeup of our societies. They used few ‘colonial clerks’ (and this includes ceremonial chiefs) as aids to completely institute a brutal exploitative racial- political rule.
In the final phase, when colonialism began to lose its shine, they left physically but installed puppets, colonial clerks only to rule the continent through these colonial clerks. Thus, these colonial clerks, while they are supposedly statemen, the fairest extent they are truly statemen ends in the dramatic imitation of their colonial masters but are mostly, truly puppets-agents of Western imperialists.
Like all puppets, they are fed and filled with the “ideals and principles” of the European/neo-colonial masters which were tactically designed to empower the continuous domination, and impoverishment of the continent.
While impoverishment, frustration, and underdevelopment compound among the political subjects of the continent who desperately yearn for honest and reliable leadership, they continue without sympathy to govern in service of the “ideals and principles” of the neo-colonial forces, reflecting the same, and sometimes characters worst than the colonial powers.
The scary shadows of European domination, it seems, not to have left the continent. It continues to spread and multiply within the monuments of western domination like our education system, Western media, Bretton Wood Institutions, and other extractive institutions such that even the leadership of the continent is overtaken and managed by and from Washington, Buckingham Palace, Paris, Saudi Arabia, and lately China.
It cannot, therefore, be said that the African leader is fully in charge of the continent. The cancerous tentacles of imperialists forces have spread throughout the continent, in our political and economic system, in our education system, in our elites, and in the leadership of the continent. In a word, what is in question is the psyche of many professed leaders of the continent in power. Consequently, one should not wonder when our leaders give the impression that they care about us, while their actions and decisions are constantly made in favor of the West. It is the West influencing, deciding, still!
A new and vigorous approach to the problem of the leadership of the continent is needed. The time has come when the psyche of our leaders should be a principal concern to all of us. We must be examined their psyche. And I dare say in any instance, colonial clerks, should be no option for the entrustment of power. They are colonizers.