|Bottle-necks of Development in Africa (Habitat)|
Corruption is a serious cancer in Africa and it is eating into every aspect of life- and- into every socio-economic groups. The misery it brings to ordinary Africans and the opportunity it provides to non Africans to exploit Africa is reminiscent of the exploits of the Slave Trade. To-day's African leaders are comparable to the African slave barons who facilitated the capturing and the selling-off of millions of their fellow blacks to distant lands where they were subjugated into slavery, only today they are subdued within their own borders.
In the City of Nairobi for example, corruption has enabled the grabbing of open spaces which are essential aspects of a good urban environment and a good quality of life. In these open spaces are mushrooming huge villas, community centres, temples and sports complexes for exclusive members of communities who thrive because of such corruption. This process has effectively segregated local people whose members are left without such public facilities because they are different and poor, never mind that they are the indigenous citizens. In scenes only reported in countries where black people feel threatened, African children have been shot dead by armed police reserves who are defended in law courts and set free. In one such case in Nairobi, a police reservist who shot a street boy six times and then spat on him before throwing his body into a ditch-was released when his lawyer effectively argued that the policeman shot in self-defiance!
So, as we speak about commodities and communities it is important to be concerned about justice. What is the truth about Africa's international debts? When does stealing become a crime at the international level? Perhaps when the truth around the secret financial transactions in Africa is revealed and finally exposed, the world will be as shocked on how Africa was economically crippled, as it is dismayed, when it now comprehends the atrocities of the trans-oceanic Slave Trade or the Jewish Holocaust in Europe during the second World War. So much burden is being placed on the Africans by the international community and the African leaders appear incapable of protecting their own people from such exploitation and indebtedness.
If it is a crime to kill half a million people in Rwanda in 1994, it should be a crime to steal millions of dollars from ordinary Africans, thereby causing the death to millions of innocent people through sustained hunger and malnutrition, lack of adequate health care, and inflationary prices which make it impossible for millions of Africans to provide their families with basic needs . Why is this type of a crime tolerated by the international community? Why is the victim to blame while the culprit goes free and lives in comfort?
Africa is more than its leaders and more than the political and economic interests which influence decisions about her. Concern for Africa ought to be concern for the African people and for the future generations of Africans. Those who are cooperating and protecting stolen wealth from Africa should not be protected by global public opinion which wishes to pretend that this is the way Africans do business. Perhaps there should be an international code of moral responsibility to make those who steal from the public and those who keep and protect such stolen wealth responsible for the economic insecurity they cause to the affected countries, in about the same way ethnic wars threaten peace and security of people in Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, Kenya and the former Yugoslavia . Those who are responsible should be tried for crimes. Perhaps it is time there were economic crimes against humanity. Besides that, such stolen wealth should be retrieved and returned to the creditors. This could be a great economic humanitarian intervention for Africa! And it could be one way of alleviating poverty and under-development in that part of the world.
Sometimes it appears like these ills are tolerated because they happen in Africa. The US, the World Bank and IMF would not have tolerated such financial and economic mismanagement during the reconstruction of Europe and Japan after the World War Two and they would not have ignored a mismanaged Europe and Japan and call it a European or Asian burden.
Marginalizing and ignoring Africa in her times of crisis raises these questions because it is contrary to the ideals and the principles which the United Nations, World Bank and IMF were founded upon. Various forces which shape human history and destiny have placed other regions of the world in similar predicaments. The world's reaction was not to marginalize or ignore them. They were genuinely assisted with the necessary financial requirements and technology. And it was not just technology transfer for consumerism. Africa may have many reasons to blame herself, but the world is not innocent about her. I think that there is need for new approach to business and international trade which puts people before commodities and before profits.