Monday, July 15

Last Saturday, Senegalese President Macky Sall announced the indefinite postponement of the presidential election scheduled for February 25th. Another democracy deferred❌. What spurred this 11th-hour power grab?

This is another cork-up for the continent in a series of blatant setbacks.

Black History Month

The delay ironically coincides with Black History Month. A month-long celebration honouring African Americans’ achievements. While this commemoration is a Western concept that originated from the Negro History Week in 1926, it increasingly resonates across Africa as we honour the accomplishments of Africans worldwide.

Why are Africans influential in the West but terrible on the continent?

While we bask in Black History Month, it’s crucial to confront a puzzling paradox. Why do we Africans thrive in the diaspora while grappling with the basics on home turf?

Many Africans who have ventured into the diaspora eloquently highlight the tangible reasons behind their departure.

For instance, political appointments prioritise loyalty over competence. A survey conducted by Afrobarometer indicated that 56% of Africans believe that only members of certain groups have access to government jobs. Meritocracy is absent in public services. Bribery will get you seamless access to essential services. A study by Transparency International discovered that 43% of Africans paid a bribe to access public services.

We are educated, but our actions do not reflect it. We build mansions in waterways and construct cities without drainage systems. We amass wealth but cannot declare where it came from. We are religious but quintessentially corrupt. We exhibit double standards for not accepting LGBTQIA + but worship pastors who scam us through tithes and offerings. We do not call out our dishonest leaders; we passionately support them. We give elegant applause for unethical choices. The list is endless.

As harsh and oversimplified as it may sound, the evidence is in every nook and cranny on the continent.

The Anglicised African

Several years ago, a cousin of mine, academically bright with a commendable attitude, graduated from university. In his ninth year without a job, he secured a position through political party affiliation within a government agency. As a senior supervisor, he meticulously ensured that imported goods adhered to stringent domestic safety standards before reaching the public domain.

In this gatekeeper role, he methodically vetted all incoming products. Then, he saw an opportunity to make up for the eight years of nothingness.

He encountered foreign entities attempting to introduce products that failed to meet established quality standards. Leveraging his position, he did what he had to do. Within three years, he accomplished remarkable feats—buying a six-bedroom house, acquiring three new vehicles, enjoying regular international vacations, and paying for the best education money can buy for his three daughters.

However, in the fifth year, the political party he was affiliated with lost power. Anticipating the potential consequences, he emigrated with his entire family to Maryland. He underwent a significant career transition. He qualified as a nursing care aide working through snow, typhoons, hailstorms, and hurricanes. Within three years, he was honoured by his county for exceptional excellence in caring for the aged. His time overseas had reshaped his principles…

Why does our brilliance flourish abroad but face hurdles at home?

Back Home

On his first visit in six years. He said when I picked him up at the airport,

“You can’t do this in America. This is wrong, this is corrupt”. There was a cadence to his tone. It was refined; you would think he was born and raised in some affluent town in Atlanta. His complaint was about the high COVID fees at the airport.

Many fall into this category. After some time, in the West, they become the ethics police. They now understand that corruption is not just immoral but unjust to many. I struggled to keep up with my cousin’s American twang, but the few things I picked up from his protest was that people can change.

How? Just Do the right thing!

So, what accounts for the difference? Why is the average African ethically upright in the West but a crook at home? Why are we able to lead institutions with accountability, build dynamic economies and head educational systems with integrity in the white man’s land?

Don’t get me wrong. Millions on the continent would rather die or starve before they compromise themselves; excellence still resides here. But do you know these fine people? No, you don’t because we spit on their graves. We despise them and their sacrifices to keep the old ways of our ancestors.

Tiger’s Roar

Why are the same Africans on the continent accounting for less than desirable results? Let us take West Africa, for example. 90% of the region is WILLINGLY under French control. The rest, like Liberia, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and the big sleeping giant Nigeria, are just major…. You know the words I will use; I have been advised it’s not PG-13.

However, Ghanaians, Kenyans, Nigerians, Congolese and many Africans excel globally. Why not at home?

I am sure there are many possible reasons why Africans excel in the West but are mediocre on the continent. Some main factors may explain this, but I don’t think I am intelligent enough to understand or know these factors. Do you know? Do you care to share with ignorant people like me? Or is it, as my cousin said,

“Koo Bibini is incapable of managing his own affairs unless he finds himself in a system created, managed, directed, led and maintained by his white saviours.”?

Like Senegal’s election postponement, my cousin’s troubling journey symbolises Africa’s ongoing crisis. Are we ready to challenge ourselves as we commemorate our ancestors’ sacrifices this Black History Month?

This piece acknowledges the excellence of Africans everywhere. We can do better.


Akan (Twi): Koo Bibini – Negro

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