The plague of Africa

By Daryl Khanda

A land of beauty in people,
Colors in culture,
Resistance in actions,
A place where I first opened my eyes,
A place I call “Home”,
That’s where I’m from, the beautiful continent of Africa.

With its breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders, Africa is the second largest continent. It has 54 independent countries and it contributes to 50% of the world’s gold and diamonds. There is vast wildlife all over the continent and it’s home to the longest river, river Nile. From vast dense forests to the scorching dry desert, Africa has it all. There’s land. There’s sun. There’s water. There’s a good climate. I grew up in the beautiful city of Mutare, a land that is surrounded by an ecstatic range of mountains. The air stays forever fresh and the water tastes it’s purest; bottled water comes second. How beautiful my Africa is!

Africa as a continent has a sound foundation and potential for exponential economic growth. There is arable land for farming in most countries and all sorts of minerals are mined and found here. The ultimate source of energy, the sun, burns blistering hot for the most part of the year all over the continent. Rivers run from North to South and East to West. Africa is a continent that has it all, but nothing to show for economically. Back in the day, our ancestors used to solely rely on their personal skill sets for everything, they would hunt, farm and mine. Skilled professions emerged in society and there was a producer culture rather than a consumer one. I was hurt one of these days when I tried to purchase some home collectibles for my mum. The shop owner told me that they had to wait for a shipment from China. How had we gotten to such an extent? The collectible had wood, glass and brass, all items that we naturally and easily find in Africa. My heart sank, solely because I knew that my beloved economy survives on importation of finished goods, whilst we export raw minerals.

I have a controversial take. Colonization was the worst thing to happen to Africa, but a blessing in return. The exploitation of Africa still occurs in this modern era, on all its resources. From land, to minerals, to human resources. Colonization brought forth new ways of thinking and technologies. It also quickly got Africa up to speed with globalization and modernisation. One of the major drawbacks would be that of mental colonialism perhaps ? A lot people still live in the past and still blame Africa’s misfortunes on colonialism yet we have been liberated for more than one decade. Education is a tool that aids in progression, and that belief hinders us from accomplishing so much more. The belief that most of the population have; that education was a tool used to control the vast majority of the native population to abide by the colonizers rule is a wrong one. Or that we as natives are not able to build and cope with modern complex systems that the colonists made ? Is it our belief system or is it oppression from the liberators ? What exactly is the root problem of my beloved Africa?

Most of Africa’s population is in poverty, as shown by a fraction of the continent that survives on $2 or less per day, which is 70%. Most third world countries are found here in Africa and 24% of the continent have access to clean water. That translates to only 336 million out of 1.4 billion. Africa receives funding and support from the “western countries” to aid with the plague of poverty, and a few changes occur with most of that money being looted. The constant small incentive that keeps us complacent. It seems we’re used to being told what to do. We are used to someone doing something for us. Africa, a baby that seems not to have grown yet it’s the cradle of mankind. Whilst other countries build and grow, Africa battles basic sanitation, food provision and energy shortages. Infrastructure depreciation is the order of the day, a constant reminder I see when I walk down the streets. The seed of crime has grown everywhere, and corruption is harvested from its root. Cry my beautiful Africa, my beloved motherland.

The real plague of Africa is the expectation of hand-outs and lack of self-reliance. I stand firm with the notion that Africa is a continent that is richly blessed with a huge opportunity for growth. Resources are a stone-throw away. For instance, the sun we always have all year round. Mega-solar plants and solar technical developments should be the primary focus for Africa. The energy crisis that plagues Africa should be a thing of the past, as we have an unlimited supply of energy. We have rivers from every facet of our continent, hydro-electricity shouldn’t be a problem but yet we stay in the dark for the most part, since load shedding has plagued us. Large deposits of Uranium are also found here in Africa and I shall not mention the provision of coal deposits all over the continent. It hurts to know that we have so much wealth, yet we do not even realize it in the slightest. I pray that God one day heals our blind eyes.

Food shortages are actually a shocker, we have arable land all over Africa, with the exception of the deserts of course. Foreign countries own a chunk of that arable land, and great produce is exported overseas every year in megaton quantities. For the independent countries that “managed” to fend away the colonizers, not much fruit is being harvested. I won’t get into the details of that as the problem is prominent all over Africa. I used to love to indulge in sorghum-made pap (a dish), but that’s now the thing of the past as the crop failed the past 2 years. Our own staple, maize meal has been in short supply such that we are importing as well. I cry with my beloved Africa.

As we live on a continent with so many resources, we should be resourceful. We talk about indigenisation and better foreign policies for investments, why can’t we nurture such investors ourselves on our continent? Every first world country’s superpower starts with self-reliance, one’s ability to provide for oneself. Education is a great tool for modern civilization and growth, if used well. For instance, we have land. Let’s invest much in farming knowledge and make it accessible to everyone who wants it. Let’s have incentive programs and promotions that award those who perform well and allow them to run larger projects. Let’s have a structure and a system in place that nurtures direct economic growth for its people. Let’s build an environment that supports innovation and productivity. That mentality shift from a consumer to a producer is greatly needed in Africa. We have all the resources, then why can’t we use our own hands to refine them ? Imports should only be limited to resources and products we don’t have, not our resources that have been refined by other countries and sold back to us.

The story of Africa is a sad one as most Africans would rather leave their homeland to seek for better opportunities elsewhere. As Africans we deserve better for ourselves as well as for the generations to come. No one is going to come and save us, we have to do it ourselves. We have everything we need to change our predicament into something worthwhile and I pray and hope it’s just a matter of time till our potential actualises. Let’s try to address our issues head on. Let’s think long term and invest well in our youths, for they are the future. Let’s have a structure that has been tried and tested. Let’s have uncomfortable conversations about where we stand and the dilemmas we face. Let’s be brutally honest about the situation and start plotting ways we can better our nations and not be individualistic.

There’s so much Africa has to give to the world, it’s just a matter of time till we tap into that glory. The thousand mile journey starts with the first step. In my personal view, Africa has a long way to go. It all starts with awareness, then knowledge to unshackle ourselves from the bondages of mediocrity and poverty. Africa has brilliant minds and people bursting with positive energy. I love to speak about politics and African demographics with my uncles and relatives, especially some of them that left home and spread over our continent to seek more employment opportunities. They tell me about how resilient we are as Africans and hint me on some of the upcoming projects; an example would be the Gwanda Solar project in Zimbabwe. Things are slowly getting there, we all hope and we pray that change continues to come our way.

19 February, 2023