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Decolonization and After – What next for Africa?

Colonial rule is not entirely to blame for the African woes!

The proscribed wars of liberation in the world were received by mixed reactions. Some people thought it was too early for the colonial powers to surrender powers to the local leaders while some argue that it was a necessary evil to launch quest for liberation of the colonised. Both arguments are right. What matters is how one looks at it.

The colonization process did not have proper plan to develop the colonized. The Berlin conference of 1884/5 did not take into account the cultural values of the indigenous people but the interest of the European imperialists were more interested in how to conquer the world for their economic interests and gains. One of the gain was to find new territories for the sake of the badly needed raw materials. Well, history served them well. The giant beneficiaries were Great Britain, France, the Kingdom of Belgium, then Germany, and Portugal.

Along with economic interests religious groups also streamed into Africa with similar trend of partitioning Africa along European imperial interests. However, pre-colonial Africa also had its own social, political and cultural structures some of which were powerful. There were empires and kingdoms. There were politically organized groups with their leaderships. Africa was not a clean slate but part of the global humanity with its values and principles. Such geopolitical imperatives were not taken into account by the colonial powers. Reasons and motives of engaging in Africa were variant. Some were interested in settling in the new lands while some were just finding their way to the Far East and ended up settling in Africa. Later, full blow of imperial power over Africa came as an event to avoid already fight over foreign territories for expanding their economic resources. There was nothing to develop the values and cultures of the natives.

The category of people who argue that liberalization of African states was not supposed to occur peg their reason on the chaos, disorder, underdevelopment and non progressive realities commonly manifested in some states. All what happens after the departure of the colonizers has been imputed on failure to develop the political ideologies and prepare African leaders adequately to manage their countries. It was premature to quit the colonies. Some African states demonstrated division and failure ab initio. Africans in their traditional set-ups had many challenges and inconsistencies.

African nationalists and leaders that fought for independence or took over power became the worst oppressors of their people. Dictatorships, intolerance, and oppression. Same African leaders engaged in dividing their people, oppressing them and killing them. The best example is Congo. Mobutu planned to murder Patrick Emery Lumumba in a brutal manner using military tyranny. He murdered Tsombe, the president and all his cabinet in a stadium for him to take over power. Amin Dada took over power from elected leader, Milton Obote and became the most heinous and brutal dictator and tyrant in Uganda. Similar events occurred in the Central African Republic and the trajectory of African states became rather, a disappointment. Nationalist movements were turned into political parties and trends to wield more power. Civil wars broke out in Angola and Mozambique making the colonial states ungovernable. Lives were lost and both the colonized and the colonizer were disappointed.

Poverty, disorder, diseases, and ignorance became serious realities threatening the African states in which ethnic groups became serious rivals. Rwanda and Burundi sank into inter-ethnic killings that claimed even the life of a democratically elected president, Ndadaye in 1993. Such states sought military powers in order to stick to power. Regimes hijacked forces for their own evil interests. Rebels and guerilla fighting broke out among Africans who had celebrated the freedom from colonial rule.

Kenya, after independence in 1963, experienced another serious problem. The same leaders who struggled for the independence turned against one another on ethnic and ideological grounds. The state turned into greedy entity that adopted divide and rule system to control power over people. Totalitarianism and authoritatianism were adopted and the president was a small god. The president could annex lands and exappropriate public property at will using his presidential state power. Ex colonial Kenya became worse than the colonial time. Social and economic injustice. This followed by torture, extrajudicial killings, oppression, state terror, corruption, impunity and so on. One party rule became the abyss of a nation that just rejoiced over liberation. It became a question of survival for the fittest for Kenyans who could not see any hope beyond what the tyrant regime would give them. Politics of patronage and destruction of the opposition occasioned the country. Too much corruption and use of state power to achieve selfish gains of resources. Use of threat and detaining those who did not comply with the government was the order of the day.

Ex colonial state was nothing good for many as leaders decided to accumulate state wealth. L’E’ta’ c’est moi or the state is me, became the order of the day until Kenyans struggled for second liberation in 2010. Thanks to those who sacrificed their lives to liberate the state from the oppressors. So many died while so many were assassinated by those who were powerful enough.

Many African countries have not gained so much to come up with economic autonomy. Most of the African states fail to get economic freedom. Same states killed their competent and professional individuals in order to weaken the system more and more. Most African states are in debt and their economies are staggered by corruption and poor management. Politically powerful leaders prefer deploying their loyalists and use them for their own selfish gain. Some leaders made it their plan to divide the people in order to rule them. Only very few nationalists and leaders such as Mandela, Nyerere, and a bunch of others realized that Africa was going the wrong way. Most leaders did not differentiate themselves with the colonial powers.

South Sudan is now on its knees not because of the colonizer but failure to behave in a manner that would prevent the nation from collapsing. Struggle for resources and using such resources for selfish purposes are the reasons behind this bad reality. The international community has neither found the lasting solution to remedy such states.

The narrative that African problems must find African or home grown solution has been a serious illusion. African states do not love their own people. The consequence is the number of illegal migrants who seek to find their way to reach Europe. They find their home countries unbearable and life too frustrating. Going forward becomes tough and a kind of bad news for both the Africans and the former colonizers.

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About Peter Onyango

Dr. Peter Onyango O. is one of our main contributors. He is a senior law lecturer, a writer, a consultant, peace ambassador, and a researcher. He assists so many professionals, legal minds, and debaters with his skills and scholarly wealth! He supports children and village community as a way of giving back to community. He edits, proof reads, and publishes various articles for our page!

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