Africa’s Real State of Affairs

Speech by Prof. Patrick Lumumba

When I look at Africa, many questions come to mind. Many times I ask myself, what would happen if Mwalimu were to rise up and see what is happening. Many times I will ask myself what will happen if Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba were to rise up and see what is happening. Because what they would be confronted with is an Africa where the Democratic Republic of Congo is unsettled.

There is a war going on there but it is not on the front pages of our newspapers, because we don’t even control our newspapers and the media. As I speak to you the Central African Republic is at war. But we talk of it only mutedly. As I speak to you now, in South Sudan, the youngest nation in Africa, the Nuwera have risen against the Dinka. As I speak to you now, Eritrea is unsettled. As I speak to you now there is unease in Egypt, as there is unease in Libya. In Niger it is no better, in Senegal in the Cassamance, it is no better. In Somalia it is no better. Africa is at war with ourself. This is what they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with an Africa which statistician and romantic economists say is growing, but which in truth is stagnated. That is the Africa that they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with an Africa which, as Professor Mlama intimated in our presentation here, is an Africa which is suffering from schizophrenia – it does not know herself.

They would be confronted with an Africa whose young men and women have no interest and no love for their continent. They would be confronted with an Africa where young men and young women are constantly humiliated at embassies of European countries and the United States as they seek the almighty green card. They would be confronted with an Africa where young men and women from Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Mauritania drown in the Mediterranean as they seek to be enslaved in Europe. This time around, Africans are not wailing and kicking as they are being taken away to be enslaved, they are seen wailing and kicking as they seek to be enslaved in Europe and America. This is the tragedy of Africa.

They would be confronted with an Africa where people have lost their self-pride. An Africa where Africans are not proud of their things. An Africa where in the hotels of Dar es Salaam or Nairobi, even food has foreign names. When we fry potatoes we call them French fries even when they are fried in Dar es Salaam. They would be confronted with another Africa, an Africa which does not tell her story. An Africa whose story is told by Europe and America – the CNN, Radio Deutsche-Welle, Radia France.”

That is the Africa they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with young men and women who have no pride in Africa. When they want to enjoy themselves they sing the praises of football teams from Europe and America. It is Manchester United, it is Arsenal, it is Real Madrid and Barcelona. Not Yanga, not Mufulira Wanderers, not Gor Mahia, not FC Leopards. No, that is the Africa that they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with an Africa which does not enjoy its theatre and drama. That Africa celebrates Leonardo di Caprio, it celebrates Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The Africa does not celebrate Genevive Nnaji of Nigeria or Rita Dominic or Olu Jacobs of Nigeria. It does not celebrate Bongohood or Nollywood or Riverwood. It celebrates Hollywood. That is the Africa which with they would be confronted. They would be confronted with African women whose greatest source of joy is cheap Grade B Mexican soap opera: la patrona, la muher de me vida.

Why must we remind ourselves of these realities? Because throughout the ages, the battle has always been the battle of the mind. If your mind is conquered, then you are going nowhere. And that is why in the age of enlightenment in Europe, the great René Descartes said “Cogito ergo sum.” I think, therefore I am.

And therefore if Africans are to begin to make a contribution in their affairs, Africans must begin to think. But the question is, are we thinking? We have universities in their numbers. Tanzania has universities including Dar es Salaam. Nairobi has universities as indeed Kampala, as indeed South Africa, Johannesburg. We have all these universities. We have engineers, but our roads are not being made by Tanzanian civil engineers, it is the Chinese who are present in this assembly who are making our roads. So we have engineers who cannot even make roads. We have doctors whom we have trained, but when we are sick – particularly if we are of the political class – depending on who colonized you, if you are colonized by the United Kingdom, you rush to London. If you colonized by the French, you rush to Paris. If you are colonized by the Portuguese, you rush to Lisbon, and if you are colonized by the Spaniards, you rush to Madrid, Spain.

And recently, because the Asians are beginning to get their act together, we run to India. And very lately, because the Arabs are also beginning to get their act together, we run to Dubai. Notwithstanding that we have the Kenyatta hospitals of this country, the Muhimbilis of Tanzania, the Chris Hani Baragwanaths of South Africa and the Mama Yemos of Kinshasa in Zaire or the DRC. But we have no faith in our doctors. In the area of education we also don’t have faith. Our political class introduced something that they call free education, that is free indeed. Free of knowledge. Because they are so suspicious of those institutions, that the typical African politician will not dare take their children to those schools. Their children will be educated in the British system, in the American system, so that when they graduate they go to the United Kingdom, to the United States. Not that there is anything wrong with those institutions, but the agenda is wrong because our leaders long lost the script and ought to be described for who they are – our misleaders.”

But we are co-authors of our own misfortune. Whenever we are given an opportunity to elect our leaders, we are given a blank check. And if you permit me a little latitude, and if you give me a blank check and you allow me to analogize and you say that I am given the blank check to buy a Mercedes Benz, what we do is when we are called upon – having been so empowered – we buy what we call a tuk-tuk from India and we expect it to behave ike a Mercedes Benz. How does that happen? Because what we do is to elect thieves. We elect hyenas to take care of goats and when the goats are consumed, we wonder why.”

Advertisements

African Art corner – Victor Ehikhamenor

Victor Ehikhamenor is an award winning visual artist, writer and photographer from Edo State, Nigeria. He draws influences from traditonal African motifs and religious cosmology. Learn more about him and see his work at http://www.victorehi.com

Past Time of the gods
Past Time of the gods
Yesterday and today waiting for tomorrow
Yesterday and today waiting for tomorrow
Woman Wrapper
Woman Wrapper
The Rainmakers Dream
The Rainmakers Dream

Yorubas Contribution to Civilization

In this video, Prof. Brimmy Olaghere gives an account of African history and the contributions of the Yoruba people to Africa and the rest of the World.

2

Among some of the most interesting information shared includes:

  • The pyramids were originally created in Sudan, not Egypt.
  • W. E. B. Du Bois was instrumental in the creation of the African Development Bank (ADB)
  • All languages used in Africa are derived from Yoruba
  • The Yorubas are the originators of the alphabet
  • The people of China originally migrated from Plateau state in Nigeria
Quote

Global Ankara Trend: The Colorful Fabric Revolutionizing International Fashion

From the streets of Lagos, to countless boardrooms, to catwalks all over the world, the Ankara fabric has proven to be so versatile that it is now recognized on the global fashion scene. A number of celebrities have been spotted in Ankara ensembles on red carpets globally. To many, the Ankara fabric has become a wardrobe staple already.

80a642d14f0468d7736bae0bbe7626d2

The fabric is used to make a growing number of fashion items; bags, shoes, dresses, jewelry and countless accessories. This development has led to a change in the general perception of the Ankara fabric worldwide. According the article Fashion Reborn: Blends of African outfits from Ankara, by fibre2fashion “Destiny of the ‘once before’ cheap Ankara fabrics, have undergone a magical transformation. Elegant creativity of the designers has made it a preferred choice of the rich and celebrities.” The African print fabric has metamorphosed from cultural attire to a glamorous wardrobe must-have and right now the spotlight is on Africa.

 

beyonce

This Ankara trend has impacted the West African economy in a lot of ways and thus, the Nigerian economy. In the mid- 1980s, there were around 180 functional textile mills in Nigeria. The mills employed approximately a million people, this accounted for more than 60 percent of the textile industry capacity in West Africa, empowering millions of households across all geopolitical zones of Nigeria. This however changed shortly as the sector crashed into an industrial abyss. During this period, the number of textile companies dropped from about 180 to almost zero. This was revealed by an article on Nigeria’s textile economy titled: Nigeria’s Textile Industry on a Rebound?.

thCAB862CY

However, in recent times, the sector has rebounded. The number of functioning textile companies has risen once more to 25. While the industry may not be at its former place of glory, a steady incline can be noted in the growth of the industry which is largely due to the current global Ankara trend.

The rise in the demand of the fabric which was not too long ago considered to be a fabric for the poor or restricted to cultural festivities due to its brightly colored patterns and relative low cost, has led to a corresponding rise in the production of the material. Also, aside from the lower priced brands, a lot more textile factories have started producing the Ankara fabric in more appealing and sophisticated designs.

Furthermore, due to the ready availability of Ankara in the local market, it has become the preferred choice of fabric when making custom designed outfits. What was once considered to be a local market has grown exponentially to meet the increasing demands for the fabric worldwide. African designers and their Ankara designs are now sought out in all the echelons of the global society. The Ankara fashion industry has proven to be a veritable goldmine in these ways and many more.

Solange

A lot of Ankara fashion shows spring up daily all over the global fashion scene. One of the more noteworthy ones is the annual Ankara Festival hosted yearly in Los Angeles, California. The festival or AFLA as it is commonly known was created in 2010 with the goal of increasing the visibility of African Culture through fashion, Arts, music, dance, and food. The festival aims to showcase Modern African Designs in African Print (Ankara), established African and African inspired designers, young up and coming designers, providing them a venue to showcase their abilities, and develop their entrepreneurial ambition in the international fashion arena. Another notable development is the Ankara Invasion. This has been adopted as the collective name for the current global Ankara trend. Different items fashioned out of the Ankara fabric are now spotted in places where it was once viewed as unsuitable.

As Duro Olowu -a Nigerian fashion designer- said, “For a long time, there was a sense that this was limited to Africa but now it has become global. Combined with an awareness of social responsibility, it makes for a powerful statement.” Countless international designers have launched various new designs revolving around the Ankara fabric. Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Eley Kishimoto, Jean Paul Gaultier, Diane Von Furstenberg, Gwen Stefani, Dries van Noten, Kenzo and Paul Smith among others have included items fashioned out of Ankara fabric in their recent collections.

5EXU6F5

A lot of renowned celebrities have also taken to this fashion trend. Beyoncé Knowles, Rihanna, Fergie and Kim Kardashian to name a few, have adopted the Ankara fabric and have been spotted in daring designs using one or more fabrics. The rise on the trend isn’t restricted to celebrities alone. A lot of foreigners who have seen the designs at work, on TV or even at school have joined the movement. It is not uncommon to find people wearing the fabric who may not even know the traditional name. The fabric is commonly referred to in these circles as “African Print”.

The overnight explosion of the use of Ankara fabric on the global fashion scene is perhaps one of the most notable fashion trends to have emerged from Africa over the last couple of years. The Ankara fabric is one that is very versatile and constantly evolving to meet today’s fashion fads. Hence, one may go as far as saying that the fabric and the trend have come to stay on the global fashion market.
beyonce-aliciaSource: Ventures Africa

#AFRICA – Inside the Continent’s New $14bn Social Media Industry

 

SocialMediaWeek

 

Source: Ventures Africa

“Africa is projected to have the largest working population of any continent by 2020 according to a 2012 report by Euromonitor International. With the steady rise of its middle class and increasing income levels, internet usage across the region will only increase, making it potentially the largest social media growth market in the world. Businesses ought to take note: Africa is trending, and they should definitely follow.”

http://www.ventures-africa.com/2014/06/africa-inside-the-continents-new-14-billion-social-media-industry/

Video

Blitz the Ambassador – Make You No Forget ft. Seun Kuti

I have said it before and i’ll say it again. Mainstream Hip hop/ Rap has been on the decline for many years now. Thankfully, there are still many artists breathing life into the game.

If you don’t already know about Blitz the Ambassador, now you do. He is a Ghanaian-American hip-hop artist and visual artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Check out this dope track from his album, Afropolitan Dreams. (available on itunes)

What Africa Needs – Part 1

What Africa Needs – Part One: TRADE NOT AID

After taking some time figure out what I wanted my first post to be about, I came to the conclusion that I want to address what I feel are some issues holding the continent back. I also wanted to use this opportunity to give my opinion on what I think some solutions are. The goal is to spark something within someone (or myself) that will eventually result in some of these issues being further addressed and hopefully resolved. Another goal is to vent my frustrations. Ha! With that said, I present to you, Part 1 of a 5 part series entitled “What Africa Needs”.

africaaid  
Part ONE: Trade Not Aid:

“Trade Not Aid” is a popular phrase used by proponents of the idea
that instead of giving ‘free money’ to Africa to fight poverty and
hunger, donors should support job and business creation through
foreign direct investment. Dont get me wrong, not all aid is bad. I am
not referring to emergency aid given in situations like a natural
disaster. Nor am I referring to donations given to help a child go to
school or clothe an orphan. My sister actually runs a non profit,
Change A Life Africa (www.changealifeafrica.org) that is focused on
providing disadvantaged children with a quality education. I have seen
the difference such organizations can make and I applaud and support
them.

The type  of aid I am referring to is government to government aid. I
feel it is time we realize that this type of assistance is not only
the least effective in terms of poverty reduction but it is also
destructive. It is stunting the growth of a middle class that is
needed to spur economic growth. Zambian-born economist and author of
the best seller, “Dead Aid,” Damiso Moyo states that “Over the past
60 years at least $1 trillion of development-related aid has been
transferred from rich countries to Africa. Yet, real per-capita income
today is lower than it was in the 1970s, and more than 50% of the
population live on less than a dollar a day, a figure that has nearly
doubled in two decades.”  If this economic development model is
CLEARLY not working, why is it still being used? Why is it being used
in Africa only? China moved 300 million people out of poverty in 30
yrs. India has approximately 300 million people in its middle class.
They did not achieve this by relying on aid to the extent that African
does today and has for the past half century plus.

A serious issue is that African governments are now relying on this
aid  as a source of income like a welfare recipient waiting on their
monthly check, instead of looking for alternative means of revenue
generation. Some say that aid promotes government corruption because
the funds are just moved to private accounts abroad. I am certain that
this happens a lot of the time,however, that is not the only issue.
Even where there is no corruption involved, you have a situation where
African governments are relying on western countries to provide the
people with goods and services that they should be providing e.g
education, healthcare, infrastructure etc. Who will respect a leader
that does not care for his own people? That is a huge reason why
African ‘leaders’ get zero respect in the global community. They are
looked at as beggars. You are sitting on priceless natural resources
that can be traded, yet you beg for money from countries that are in
actuality, broke themselves. But I digress…


June_13_Selling_land_for_AID!
Another issue is that aid does not create a meaningful amount of jobs
or opportunities to start and grow a business in Africa. Aid also
comes in the form of goods donated. Why not invest in local producers
of these goods or invest in a manufacturing plant to produce the goods
that are being shipped to Africa? This is a sure way to spur job
creation and invest in a local business instead of flooding the market
of charity goods that will put local producers out of business.There
is no way to reduce poverty if there are no jobs or means for
individuals to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors as a means to increase
their income and start to create wealth for themselves. Therefore, if
there is no middle class to drive the economy you are left with a
situation similar to that in Nigeria where there are extremely wealthy
people and extremely poor people with a few middle class citizens
sprinkled in the middle. I’m sure you can see how this would also lead
to an increase in crime, whether its fraud or good old fashioned armed
robbery.
foreign aid1
The good news is, in recent years due to the slowed economic growth in
Western countries, the amount given in aid is now slowly reducing.
Now, more than ever, the focus has turned Africa, not just as a poor
desperate continent in need of help, but as a place where Western and
Eastern countries need to do business in order to survive. This in
addition to business friendly policies in African countries  has led
to economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. This performance boost is
attributed to rising investment in among other things, natural
resources and infrastructure. China, for example has invested almost
$30 billion in Africa since 2012. According to the consulting group,
McKinsey&Co, “natural resources, and the related government spending
they financed, generated just 32 percent of Africa’s GDP growth from
2000 through 2008. The remaining two-thirds came from other sectors,
including wholesale and retail, transportation, telecommunications,
and manufacturing. This growth acceleration has started to improve
conditions for Africa’s people by reducing the poverty rate. But
several measures of health and education have not improved as fast. To
lift living standards more broadly, the continent must sustain or
increase its recent pace of economic growth.”

This to me is proof that we do not need handouts. What we do need is
to be taken seriously as players in the global trade market. We have
the resources, we have the talent and we have the potential. What we
need to do now is phase out aid and continue to increase the amount of
trade deals and investments that help move the continent in the right
direction.