Urgent De-Schooling Needed for Africans

Published on 15th May 2007

One of the biggest challenges that Museveni’s commanders faced during their bush war, was not the opposing enemy fire but the belief in magic by recruited peasant combatants! Colonel Pecos Kutesa writes more time was spent teaching recruits about the difference between machines and magic; that a flying bullet headed towards the heart would not be stopped by amulets. The rest is history, from Kinjeketile of Tanzania to Alice Lakwena of Uganda. Let us sample some “juju” strategies below.

Listen to this: “Do we uproot our tea bushes and plant opium because it is more lucrative?” Arguments that allowing sport hunting in Kenya is similar to uprooting tea bushes and replacing them with opium are fallacious. The logic behind arguments for consumptive utilization of wildlife is purely to give incentives for conservation – similar – to the consumptive value put to chicken, goats, sheep and cattle. We slaughter poultry everyday, but their numbers keep growing because we value them highly. No wildlife owner will permit depletion of his wildlife stock by sport hunters when he earns revenue from the same.  Instead of increasing the decibels of emotions, we should invest heavily on getting local Kenyans understand how to maximally utilize the wildlife as a resource.

Listen…“ If multilateral trade talks collapsed, who in this room will engage my poor country in Africa in trade?” asked a cabinet minister in one of the World Trade Organization talks. According to this African representative, he can only trade with wealthy nations. Unless rich nations open their markets, Africa is dead! The same minister further sought foreign Aid to support his “free education millennium goals.” Aid from a country you want to compete with in trade? This is pure juju, the quest to turn business competition into philanthropy!

Explore what happens in non-juju economies; instead of Americans consuming real sugar from sugarcane, they consume sugar from maize/corn. Faced with a threat that Brazil might become the leading producer of Ethanol from sugar cane, America and other European countries are already producing corn based Ethanol. Our African minister has no time to reflect on why Americans should spend huge sums of money producing sugar from corn when Mumias Sugar Company would happily supply them. If they loved Kenya or any other African country, why are they investing heavily in products that our sun driven agriculture would provide cheaply? Back to the minister: Does he even supply his own market?  

A juju-economist says, “But Africa is poor, we have no market!” Where do the huge profits NGOs accuse multinationals for raping Africa come from…a poor market?

During the just concluded World Agricultural Forum, farmers from rich nations kept asking how and where they can invest in Africa; Africans participants on the other hand were busy soliciting for support. What does this tell you? Our elites have lost it. While the market (read common mwananchi) is beckoning the investor with his shilling; the elite have been made to believe that we are poor. Our elite need de-schooling to realize that the potential of 950 million cups of coffee or tea consumed by Africans every morning is a market. The aid mentality has ruined our perception to such a dangerous level that the huge market of people without proper housing, clean water, suffering malaria attacks and malnutrition among others is only seen by elites from wealthy countries. 

Where will the African investors get capital to do all this? De-school the banking system to move away from their loan zoning policy. If African banks realized that good ideas generate wealth, they will be shocked at how much they have promoted poverty in Africa by letting billions of dollars to be locked in the minds of African people. Developed countries are now financing Ethanol business…that would have been madness some years back! African elites must re-examine their belief in altruism and international trade.

This article first appeared in Business Daily, a publication of Nation Media Group

This article has been read 2,752 times