As Barack Obama’s tenure as US president nears its end, a few thoughts have been cropping up in my mind. In 2008 when he came to power, I and perhaps many other Africans were delighted that finally an African American, a Luo from Kenya, was going to be at the helm of the world’s richest country.
I erroneously thought that Obama ‘being one of us’ would use his position to improve Africa’s social infrastructure for the well being of Africans. I also believed that he would seriously deal with some African rulers who continue to trade untold suffering to their citizenry with impunity. Alas! I was misguided and wrong. By any standards, Uganda could have gained more from George Bush’s administration than it has from Obama’s.
This takes me to the fundamental point that as Africans, we are solely responsible for our continent’s destiny. We ought not to expect the West to do it for us. They too have their problems and interests to deal with. It is time to strongly seek for home-made solutions to our problems.
It is fashionable these days for some Africans to form NGOs with the aim of tapping foreign aid and donations. However despite the huge funding and presence of these NGOs in the country side, majority of the people whom they are supposed to serve continue to swim in poverty. It is said that much of their funding ends up in capacity building and salaries of a few technocrats.
Thus there is need to invest in changing the mindset of Africans and Ugandans in particular to believe that our destiny lies in our hands and not in donations. The change in mindset would help us to solely look at ourselves as being the only fulcrum of our continent’s development and transformation.
We ought to put ourselves in a position where we have no one else but ourselves to blame for Africa’s paradoxical mediocrity and continued economic stagnation despite the fact that it is the most endowed with valuable natural resources. The time of blaming our failures on the West due to colonialism and neocolonialism is long gone and the earlier we realise that the keys of transforming our motherland are in our hands, the better it shall be for us to go back to the drawing board and design a road map to take us to where we ought to be.
It’s time to stop overlooking ourselves and borrow a leaf from a few fascinating examples which show that with proper planning and mobilisation we can do wonders.