Africa Must Arise

Published on 15th August 2011

Africa must be assertive                          Photo courtesy
Where else will foreigners go and get 'Red Carpet' welcome? Africa: The doormat of every race. It does not matter whether Africans have attended the most reputable colleges and universities in the world and they can attest to capable brain power.Their degrees more often rank low in terms of collateral value.

It is disheartening to see Africans play second class to everyone else. The continent is still challenged because Africans would rather listen to outsiders than themselves. Back in the 70s and up until the 90s, Nigerians laughed at whatever came from China, perceiving it to be  fake and an imitation. In the 70s, Nigeria was a giant. The country had within its borders notable corporations that included Datsun, Mercedes Benz assembly plant, Toyota, Leyland Trucks and Steyr among others. Nigeria, to show its desire for auto manufacturing, produced an indigenous automobile called Igala - a Volkswagen car, in partnership with Brazil. It was going to overtake Frances’s Peugeot as the people's car. However, due to sabotage from France in collaboration with unscrupulous Nigerians, the faith of Igala was nailed and it died. Once France saw that Nigeria is easy, it sold her a Peugeot plant in Kaduna, and Nigeria swallowed.

How did Nigeria kill a project that would have given her a respectable place in the world of commerce? Answer: Nigerians (and by extension Africans) are easily impressed by anything foreign and will sell their nation for peanuts. 

Other nationals flooded Nigeria because its economy at the time showed high promise. The largest telecommunication contract awarded in the 70s was done in Nigeria. The ITT contract saw giants like Motorola, Ericson, Siemens, and others, seek foothold in the country. Ajaokuta Steel Complex, with a brand new master planned town, was the largest steel mill contract ever conceived and initiated with land development. Nigeria’s currency, the Naira, was stronger than the pound and dollar.

As late as 1985 when I migrated to US, I paid N768.50 for my airfare; an equivalent of $1,280 then. Today, the same route costs Nigerians about N250,000 plus; as the Naira has been rendered valueless due to the 1980s IMF/World Bank prescription of SAP - Structural Adjustment Program that killed many African nations.

Until Africa goes beyond pettiness and begins to re-assert itself  by rethinking foreign relationships, the continent will forever remain a doormat. When national solutions are organic, nurtured and crafted along a sense that they are capable, and will not bow to anyone, pride as an immeasurable aspect of development will spur levels of energy to unleash desirable potential and outcome.

Africans often appear timid and yielding to foreigners, who gladly exploit the situation while pretending to love them. It's all about resource control and if they can do anything to get their hands on them, too bad for unsuspecting nations. What a Chinese or any other national for instance, will do and get away with in Nigeria, would a Nigerian to do the same in China, they would see 'fire.'

I went to college in Nigeria before migrating to US and when I arrived, I felt very good about my education. Nigeria is a sleeping giant. It's time it woke up and took matters regarding its development into its hands. China from the East is not the answer even though Nigeria has had long 'romancing-the-stone' relationship with the West. Africa as the flavor of all, will never emerge seeing love from all but loving herself less and laying down as a doormat.

‘East or West, home is the best’ must be emphasized. That the average Nigerian and African still sees value in a skin that is lighter than theirs is pitiful and awful. Black is beautiful, maybe in textile. But definitely not in the minds of those that scream this non-sense.

I am sorry, most foreigners and 'development partners' have nothing to offer Nigeria and Africa, except exploitation which is allowed when a people are asleep at driving their destiny. Some foreigners just collect data and when they are gone, write books which by design and default make them experts on Nigeria and Africa. How unfortunate!

By Ejike E Okpa ii
Dallas, Texas.

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