Thursday, 31 July 2008

Is Africa Intellectually and Literary Moribund?

A few days ago, I was musing on how African rulers went to Japan to the G8 conference to degrade themselves. I stumbled on a clue after one reader sent me an email contending that it was the right thing for our rulers to do.

I tried to imagine. How many current African rulers have ever written a book like the founders? I don’t see any! Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah and others wrote books. Others used to comment on papers eminently being Nigerians Obafemi Owolowo and Nnandi Azikiwe. Their books helped us to weigh and measure their intellectuality and vision altogether.

Where are new books written by the authors of this generation including our rulers? Famous and doyen African writers like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Fredinand Oyono and others are now exiting. Isn’t this the end of African Writers’ Series really?

I can see professionals abandoning their professions so as to become politicians. Thus,alas, like tomatoes, make easier and quick fortunes.Who could believe that professors like George Saitoti in Kenya would be used by illiterate Indian Kamlesh Pattni and Daniel arap Moi (former president) to ruin Kenya’s coffers on top of nearing the country to bankruptcy?

Currently, Gambian Yahaya Jammeh, is abusively using minister of health, Tamsir Mbow, a doctor by trade, to legitimize his nonsense on discovering a cure for HIV/AIDS.If Malawian former president, Bakili Muluzi, were well read and educated, he’d never waste time seeking re-election after wrapping up his two terms in office. Look at the type of rulers that Africa has. Muluzi is currently facing shame of trying to bribe a judge. But the same has a PhD that most African rulers are given by western universities so as to satirize them.

At college, our trainers used to tell us that education is for human emancipation. Being educated does not necessarily mean having certificates, but doing something for the human cause-to bring positive changes to the society one lives in. African has many slaves in spite of its many PhD holders. A beggar is a slave especially when this person answers to the title president, doctor or professor.

Our rulers neither write nor read. If they do, why haven't they brought changes? Most of the time they’re in banquets and trips abroad doing business. They’re ruling without philosophies and vision. In short, they’re but bluffing and fluffing. Those who ever tried to write have compiled their speeches. Benjamin Mkapa, former president of Tanzania did this.

Western leaders teach at universities when they retire or do work related to academics. I recently witnessed an ex-Chief of Stuff of Canada, Gen. Rick Hillier being appointed the Chancellor of famous university of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (MUN). Ask me where the retired chief of staff of Tanzania is.

Youths, who call themselves a new generation, are wasting precious time reading dirty things. Publishers, in the main, are attracted to porno-related works in lieu of serious ones. Currently, Tanzania has many more pubs than schools and libraries. Books are rotting in bookshops while the beer is a king that contributes a lot in the budget. They have reached a point where an MP asked the house to thank sippers! Yet again, Tanzania, one porno-tabloid sells more copies than newspapers.

I once witnessed demonstration in Dar es Salaam where Tanzanians were agitating that America should not invade Iraq.When Rwanda and Uganda invaded DRC, the same did not bother to take to the streets.

We have many economical refugees from Asia. They are living worthy life thanks to their connections with the high and mighty in upper echelons of power. But political refugees from neighbouring Burundi, Rwanda and DRC are being evicted! Nobody takes to streets for their cause! We recently witnessed xenophobic attacks in south Africa perpetrated against black Africans. Nobody pointed the finger to the same from Asia.

Had South Africans who perpetrated xenophobic attacks against their brothers and sisters been well read, indeed they’d not have dared this sacrilege. Africa needs to look back to the sixties and seventies when reading and writing was an in-thing. There is no way we can forge ahead without being intellectually well off.
Source: The African Executive Magazine, July 30, 2008.

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