Friday, 1 April 2011

What next for Us?

No doubt some of you may have noticed a political slant in the last few weeks on this blog. Part of my thoughts have been inspired by a book I was reading- The State of Africa by Martin Meridith which gives a brief history of the first 50 years of independence for African states. If you like history as much as I do you'll definitely enjoy the journey like I did. I've done a few movie reviews in the past so now it's time for an amateur book review...

Though the book is written by a British author it's not a condescending as you would think, it just details what happened in our continent over the last half century or so. Starting with the oldest member of the independence club Ghana with it's famous leader Kwame Nkurumah and ending with the goings on of the early 21st century. What's interesting to note is the numerous revolutions that have happened starting with independence which had so much promise- Africa finally in the hands of Africans. However in many countries those dreams soon turned to nightmares with the flurry of military coups which were quite popular during the cold war era with either Soviet or American support depending on their interests.

Many a time a revolutionary would come in with so much promise of ridding the country of the corruption of the past and handing over power peacefully. However more often than not the military leaders would end up being even more corrupt and adding other atrocities on top. A good example is Joseph Mobutu who was basically planted to deal with Patrice Lumumba who was considered to be an unstable socialist. In his first few years Zaire experienced growth under his leadership but he soon slid into corrupt and plundering ways and got his infamous name of Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga loosely translated as 'invincible warrior; cock who leaves no chick intact.' However one would take into account that the Belgians didn't invest much in the education of locals and when they left, the Africans were ill prepared to take over leadership. That may be true for them but even in countries with well educated people tsimilar things happened. It was like a case of same script different cast. Another point which blows the bubble of those who believe youth is the answer is that these coup leaders were young e.g Mobutu - 29 Gaddafi- 27

Due to this economic mismanagement by the 1980s many nations had become reliant on 'aid' from the west and with that came conditions which reduced decision making power. On top of food crises and tropical diseases the AIDS scourge also came to haunt us in a big way. We were basically running a very bad show. However there were a few highlights like the end of Apartheid in South Africa to smile about.

One statement which really hit home is the way African politicians have become 'ethnic entreprenuers' promising their communities all kinds of goodies once in power. We have seen the result of this ethnocentrism in Kenya after the last elections as well as other tribal wars, the most devastating being the Rwandan genocide. It's amazing how as people we focus on what makes us different so much.

I'd recommend the book to anybody interested in the history of our beloved continent

As I read I wondered what next for our continent will the youth take us to greater heights? We've seen them move governments in the North but now will we grow a new African order which will eradicate the vicious cycle of corruption and suffering in our land? Once again I talk to my fellow Kenyans, next year we have the chance to vote for leaders with vision and on a mission. I'm yet to see one who is articulating his vision as opposed to tearing into their opponents. The time is now, we can build a new future together for our continent!

God bless Kenya God bless Africa!


  1. Interesting...should try revive my reading habit I think. This has thrown me the gauntlet

  2. Excellent review. I'm a history buff, and I'll definitely get this book. I'm always very interested in how these leaders of today got to where they are and just how their ideals were sold to the masses back then coz it seems to me like they mutated into something else, and their followers adapted along with them.

  3. It's a very interesting read, highly recommended