|Obama and Clinton Photo courtesy|
That one of the key stumbling blocks of Africa’s progress is its mindset is unarguable. This has come in the form of authoritarianism and the “Big man syndrome,” corruption, weak rule of law, irresponsibility, finger-pointing, unfreedoms, and feeble human rights. Against this background is African policy-makers’ inability to midwife their countries from within their traditional values and institutions as other ex-colonies such as
To let Africa face its problems head-on and begin hard thinking from within Africa’s sensibilities, Obama, and Mrs. Clinton didn’t promise any huge monies as George Bush and Bill Clinton had done earlier. They played more like therapist urging Africans to tap into their souls for solutions into their developmental challenges than play Father Christmas.
There was little new in the way of policy and no fresh proposals on trade or development aid. The signals from such
Democracy and progress
Obama’s visit to Ghana, and not to
“Well, part of it is lifting up successful models. And so, by traveling to
No doubt, Mrs. Clinton told Kenyans: “True economic progress depends not only on the hard work of millions of people who get up every day and do the best they can, often under overwhelming circumstances…It often depends on responsible governments that reject corruption and enforce the rule of law and deliver results for their people.”
As Nigeria and Ghana exemplify, the Obama and Clinton visits to Africa have revealed the fact that at issue isn’t oil or cocoa but values, democratic/governance values and institutions that will spur prosperity and help refine the illiberalities within African countries’ systems that have stifled progress for the past 50 years and made Africans the poorest people on earth despite the continent’s immense wealth. It is in such atmosphere that
The old enemy of imperialism is gone; the new enemy of Africa’s progress is anti-democracy, wobbly institutions, poor governance, weak rule of law, poor human rights, unfreedoms, and certain cultural values such as the pull him/her down syndrome that inhibit progress.
Gaddaffi and Obama
The jolting of Africa’s emerging democracies by Obama has created dim reactions from certain quarters in Africa, where autocratic one-party, military and near-military regimes and fake democracies form majority against the backdrop of cynicism and despair. Of
George Ayittey, of the American University, the only African among those invited by the US State Department to advise Mrs. Clinton before embarking on her African tour, has argued that, “The institutional tools Africans need” for prosperity in relation to the continent’s disturbing political history “are a free and independent media (to ensure free flow of information), an independent judiciary (for the rule of law), an independent Electoral Commission, an independent central bank (to assure monetary stability and stanch capital flight), an efficient and professional civil service, and a neutral and professional armed and security forces…Effective foreign aid programs are those that are “institution-based” and, as such, empower civil society. Give Africa the above six critical institutions and the people will do the rest of the job…Africa is poor because it is not free.”
Despite these stark realities, some African leaders like Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi still think military revolutions are good for
This not only insults Ghanaian pro-democracy forces that laid down their lives to help restore democracy, the rule of law, human rights and freedoms after years of Rawlings self-seeking revolution that caused deaths, killings, exiles, fear, paranoia, harassments, threats, unaccountability and massive corruption. By such misguided remarks, Gaddafi also insulted Benin
Obama and the Internalist victory
In either Obama or Mrs. Clinton, the discussion of Africa’s development from within traditional African values and institutions in relation to the known vexing issues of weak rule of law, undemocratic practices, unfreedoms and shaky human rights points to the rising philosophy of the Internalist School of Africa’s development. In all practical nuances, what Obama and Mrs. Clinton said has been said repeatedly before by the Internalists.
Generally wheeling around George Ayittey, a Ghanaian economist at the American University in Washington DC, the broader argument of the Internalists, against the long held Externalist School (or orthodoxy), is that Africa’s development challenges should be considered from “internal factors” just as it has been viewed from “external factors” that argue that “nearly everything that has gone wrong in Africa is the fault of some external factor - such as the lingering effects of the slave trade, colonial legacies, Western imperialism, unjust international economic system, and even earthquakes on Jupiter! The leadership was above reproach; they could do no wrong. They were saints,” as Ayittey explains.
From here the Internalists argue that, yes Africa’s development challenges have to be viewed from external factors but it has to be seen, concurrently, from “internal factors,” too. This means “internal factors” such as civil wars, corruption, tribalism, military adventurism, unfreedoms, undemocratic practices, despotism, poor human rights, weak rule of law, and certain inhibitions within the African culture that undermines progress such as the pull him/her down syndrome, the Big Man syndrome, and witchcraft as responsible for misfortunes should be considered. This makes the Internalist philosophy, in the long run, more of a centrist doctrine, dealing at the same time with external and internal factors that challenges Africa’ progress.
Obama acknowledged the Internalists position, as a counterweight to the Externalist, when he told Ghanaian parliamentarians that “We must start from the simple premise that Africa's future is up to Africans… I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world. After all, I have the blood of Africa within me, and my family's -- (applause) -- my family's own story encompasses both the tragedies and triumphs of the larger African story… colonialism wasn't simply the creation of unnatural borders or unfair terms of trade - it was something experienced personally, day after day, year after year… But despite the progress that has been made - and there has been considerable progress in many parts of
In making the case that Africa’s prospects are in Africans hands, Obama reiterated the Ayittey paradigm of “African solutions for African problems.” The sense here is that, yes, there has been colonialism; yes, there has been slave trade, and yes, Africa is marginalized in the international trade system, but how Africa creatively uses these experiences for progress will demand, argued Obama, what
The people of