Those are my catch words from President Barack Obama’s stunning speech in Ghana, although he dwelt on many issues reminiscent to Africa’s endemic and systemic problems. Unlike other past American presidents, Obama seems determined to face the reality by giving African potentates a bitter pill to swallow.
Before becoming US president, many African strongmen such as Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia) and Teodoro Obiang Ngwema (Equatorial Guinea) were darlings of the US, thanks to enhancing the exploitation of Africa’s resources. Things seem to have taken a new turn with Obama’s promise of change. His “Yes We Can” slogan seems to have started working. Yes, Africa can be a good and prosperous place without thieving dictators at the helm. Yes, we can kick dictators out of Africa’s political landscape.
“No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers”, Obama says. He speaks as if he lives in our streets where the police force protect and promote crime. He speaks as if he lives in our state houses where thieves-in-chief steal public money.
Tanzania, my own country, is the fifth giant when it comes to mineral abundance but interestingly, the country is fifth on the tail as far as poverty worldwide is concerned. Small countries with fewer resources like Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda outshine Tanzania.
“Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That is the change that can unlock Africa’s potential”, Obama adds. Many African mumbo jumbos cannot like this. It is like carpet-bombing them. They have always preached rule of law and good governance even when they govern tyrannically.
Telling African chronic thieves to stop stealing by their volition is as good as telling the monkey to stop stealing maize. What needs to be done is to categorize crimes involving rulers and their cronies stealing from public coffers as crime against humanity. Most Africans lose their lives to corruption than wars. Genocide in Rwanda claimed over 800,000 lives. In Darfur, it has claimed over 200,000. Malaria that is curable, shall our rulers stop stealing from the public, is killing many more people than all genocides put together.