Opinion
Western paternalism: A mileage of distortions and falsehoodPublish Date: May 06, 2014
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By Asiimwe Stephen

Africa has in the recent history been a dumping ground of externally manufactured blueprints to initiate modern economic change.


Since 1940’s after the World War II and formation of IMF & World Bank, many development economists in the industrialized countries have been consumed by the passion to unearth the cause of under development in the so called “Backward Areas”.

Is the problem of Africa a false start? Leadership question or imperialism, together with policy makers and other practitioners in those countries. The economists were concerned with issues of poverty, misery, low levels of income, low productivity, general economic stagnation and conflicts that they said characterized Africa. Therefore, compared to industrialized countries, relative affluence and material prosperity, many development economists sought to formulate strategies and produce blueprints to activate economic growth in Africa, streams of models were thus put forward.

However, many of these models were based on concepts, assumptions and theoretical underpinnings alien to Africa’s indigenous values for traditions. Not even the fundamental aspects of those traditions were considered in the blue prints. The argument has been that Africa lacks an entrepreneurial culture, a scientific temperament, visionary leadership and rational; calculation necessary for economic advance. Another school of thoughts insists that indigenous cultures are fundamentally flamed in this sense until these draw backs were redressed.

Africa will continue to dance to the “tunes of mother or father” colonial masters. In 2007, Ghana reminded us of the value of Pan Africanism while celebrating 50 years of independence, the country’s founding father, Kwame Nkurumah Osagyefo (the dreamer) played the most active role in the 1963 creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) since renamed African Union (AU).

Mr. Nkurumah Osagyefo (the dreamer as the Ghanaians called him was the first African leader to address the UN general assembly in New York. He was the first to introduce and popularize African dress (promoting culture) and the first to openly tell off the so called super powers. In his address, the Pan Africaist leader promised Africa a new face and warned intruders of distortions and falsehood.

His generation of leaders, the likes of Madibo Keita, Senghor, Chief Owolowolo, Nyerere, Kenyatta, Lumumba, Ben Bella, Tom Mboya etc. had to struggle to pull the African minds together for development and their mission and vision was clear the only problem was; what went wrong? Was it a false start? The big powers today talk about democracy, good governance and a free corrupt society.

The former prime minister of Britain Tonny Blair and hiss government harassed  Robert Mugabe, called him all sorts of names and said his coalition government is a hoax, today his predecessors David Cameroon an Nick Clegg are struggling with coalition government, we are only waiting to see whether it will be better than that of Mugabe, what is all this bulluhaha? Today Uganda faces all the treats for homosexuality Act, but trying to forget buggery act and an apology delivred by Gorden Brown in 2009 on behalf of British government.

All initiatives have almost been attempted if not tried e.g. the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP’s) imposed on Africa by the biggest bullies (IMF& WB) was seen as another effort to rationalize Africa in the western sense, while the package itself has many elements which are commendable and received support from many African thinkers or elites, it remains so defective that its long term effectiveness is highly questionable, of course Africa needs reforms but of what shape, form and substance?

There is a need to review these projects in order to have a link with wanainchi, otherwise they can only remain good for international and regional workshops and seminars. The western world has attributed its spectacular economic success to the role unfettered market forces have played this regard, the liassez faire system and the free market solutions that it generates have received robust theoretical justification from the seminal contributions of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. The former propounded ideas on the former workings of the right mechanisms, the benefits of specialization and exchange and the growth of productivity, while the latter articulated theories of comparative advantage on the basis of natural resources endowments. Has Africa run short of ideas and thinkers and have resorted to photocopying or lack of planning?

Although most African leaders are surrounded by consultants from developed countries keen on furthering interests of their states, Africa as a continent has also produced enough experts, strategies and sizeable number of visionary leaders who can now propel development of their countries, and Africa will stop being the crying child of the world.

The writer is a Pan Africanist and Member of Vision East African Forum

 

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