- Jo M. Sekimonyo
Even with the incredible amount of information and tools at hand, Africans have yet to dissect impartially what has caused the African Union (AU) to be unable to “speed up social process for the economic integration of the continent“ or “to achieve greater unity, cohesion and solidarity between African nations”. The sin is the same as that of its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) dissolved in 2002 which has pathetically failed to "guarantee that all Africans enjoy human rights" and to "raise the standard of living of all Africans". Their structures make them symphony orchestras whose refrains are the least relevant to the desire of Africans to be modern competitive.
Mr. Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been crowned the African Union chair for 2021.
As far as the AU is concerned, politically, the verdict is mixed on the ability of Mr. Tshisekedi to serve as both a good maestro to eradicate the absurdities in Central Africa and Ethiopia and raise the tone, with a certain rigorism, to condemn the appetites of other head of states to prolong unnecessarily their stay in power such as Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso who is president of the Republic of Congo since 1997 and was president from 1979 to 19922 , Field Marshal Idriss Déby Itno, who has been President of Chad since 1990, or Mr. Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni, who has been President of Uganda since 1986, even though they are all social and economic poisons beyond the borders of their nations. As the entire globe has made a model for the third world the one who came to power in 2000 after being among those who unblocked a social bottleneck in Rwanda in one of the bloodiest ways and then becoming a new one by potentially remaining in power until 2034, we shall ask ourselves where would Mr. Tshisekedi find the audacity to call Mr. Paul Kagame to order?
It must be said that these African dictators seem to have lost sight of the fact that Mr. Olusegun Matthew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo could have done the same in Nigeria, but the second time in power he did quite the opposite, and so did Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in South Africa, who categorically refused to and quite after one term, both in the interest of strengthening social development and long-term economic certainty of their nation and Africa.
On the social and economic front, no sane African expects Mr. Tshisekedi to solve the puzzle of Covid-19, as he is still unable to have a coherent national plan against the global perils activated by the pandemic. Beyond the erroneous slogan of his circle of what is claimed to be the DRC's return to the world stage, Africans expect instead not just the Congolese head of state but all the new Emery Patrice Lumumba and Valentin-Yves Mudimbe, in other words the new Congolese moralists, to demonstrate the Congolese's ability to stir Africans on a new path, as in the past.
In this crusade, the first step is to highlight the fact that the pitfalls that hinder major initiatives sponsored by African tyrants such as the African passport, the unified currency, the transcontinental highway or the dream of the United States of Africa are the same on the hope that the Congolese will be a positive key factor for Africa socially and economically. In order to schematize complex strata, we need to break it down into four easy-to-digest points. Each one is attached an appropriate remedy.
Just as what happen to Africans in Europe, immigrants from elsewhere are discriminated against and even violence in the African country because of the irrational creed of "preserving social and economic privileges", which are delusions, for indigenous peoples. To asphyxiate this phantasm, the establishment of a “continental minimum wage” would open more opportunities for social and economic mobility on the continent.
Nationality in Africa, which is defined for the most part by belonging to a tribe whose existence is indicated in a colonial register, constitutes "emotional barricades" within and between Africans’ nations. To decolonize and humanize what it is to be African by deviating from tribal or religious primitive instincts, instead of the "jus sanguinis" according to which citizenship is determined or acquired by the nationality or ethnicity of one or both parents, the "jus soli" (land law), the right of any person born in the territory of a state of nationality or citizenship, should be the only principle on the entire African continent.
The frustrating reality of unprepared generations piling up against each other is another key factor that overshadows social and economic developments across the continent. In a marketplace of ideas, democracy, it is dangerous and sad that political maneuvers rely on the ability to create chaos or tribal belonging instead of the coherence of a social and economic proposal. The "lack of commitment to pass the baton" is driving young minds like Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known as Bobi Wine, in Uganda as elsewhere on the continent, to seek a political seat with a skewed purpose in social and economic terms. In addition to a consensus around the retirement age and salary that would increase dignity as well as social and economic mobility on the last chapter of an existence, the culture of "two-term" limit should be applied to all elected positions across the continent.
The last proposal requires a longer introductory configuration. The “economic short-sightedness” in the African mind extends the notion that debt is a mortal sin. But by 2020, global debt will reach a record $277 trillion due to the insanity of pandemic spending in developed economies. While the African continent's debt is barely more than $2 trillion, or 1 percent of the world's debt, the United States itself has more than $27 trillion, 10 percent of global debt, and China has $6 trillion or 3 percent of global debt. When it comes to France with just over 62 million inhabitants and Italy with 60 million inhabitants, each carrying a national debt of more than 3 trillion dollars, which is more than the debt of an entire continent of 1.3 billion inhabitants.
It is to be noted that a high GDP does not mean that a nation produces more goods. The debt / GDP ratio hides the fact that developed nations heavily, directly and indirectly, subsidize their services sector as a result of over-efficiency trap. As a result of the oxycodone of the masses, people there have mutated from being over-consumers to shoppers.
Global debt data paints out the dark irony that poor countries are the least indebted while the rich have a staggering national debt. And instead of repaying some of their debt, developed countries continue to pile up debt to preserve the way of life of their citizens. Therefore, to wipe out more than half of the world's debt, Africa must brandish a Debt Relief Program for Highly Indebted Nations that consist of crediting $1 trillion to every national account. Assuming the balance is positive, 25% should be spent on infrastructure, an additional 25% on social programs, and the rest on subsidizing the increase in the universal minimum wage to $2 an hour. The dizzying details and consequences should be for another discussion.
In the 21st century, the motivation in synchronizing the AU must not make Africa a glamorous tourist destination or a vast land and its inhabitants ripe for ruthless economic exploitation or inhuman social experimentation. This should be an opportunity to reimagine what it is to be African, what the African experience is, and especially what an African is worth.
Still, there is a moral imperative for the entire African continent to recognize the role it played during the slave trade and sincerely apologize to the descendants of those who were hunted, captured, not castrated, beaten, broken before being auctioned to coldblooded Persians, Arabs, and Europeans. And this regardless of what happened to these vile African merchants and their descendants later!!
Jo M. Sekimonyo