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Can Africa turn to a new leaf in 2024?

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By Dr. David Matsanga in London 

I will always use my harsh pen to support Africa with solutions. But this time I was cornered by one of my own dot coms generation -my own last-born daughter. We sat in hotel lobby with one of my legal -political daughters waiting for great friend I had invited to meet us. 

But while looking for my phone to make an inquiry about the friends journey my used airline ticket dropped from the documents to the floor. My daughter noticed and asked me a very tough question: Why is traveling in Africa and to Africa very expensive than going to USA?

In the name of God, I was ambushed by own young 24-year lady who was not joking because she follows me of X spaces defending Africa. She wanted answers.

So, I had to recollect myself to start answering this Master of Law Degree daughter of mine from Kings College London. The world narrowed on me who always defends Africa even when I know that some things like wars are not worth it.

I told my inner self that to cool the anxiety of my tormentor seated across me , I had to use political science to what  is called in Swahili “Zima motto ” (extinguish fire ) because Christmas Season is dangerous in these hard times of Hamas/ Israel war .

I started by borrowing from African leaders the famous Hamas / Israel conflict slogan to cool down the waters. I admitted that as the world gears up for the climax of the festive season, one can’t help but realize how Africa is astonishingly a continent of many oxymorons and paradoxical juxtapositions.  

These big words of Shakespeare worked miracles and “zimadi motto” (extinguished fire) for a while. I started with the most apparent ignominy of the moment. I looked at aero plane flights and agreed that indeed it may be cheaper to fly outside Africa than to fly within some African countries using our very own airlines. 

I tell you sometimes it’s even difficult for an African to gain entry into another African country than a foreigner. I believe that Africa like any continent gas contradictions. But ours are worse than what you hear of.

Let me be brutal today on this subject. Exorbitant plane tickets and international travels aside, let me cascade the conversation to a narrower perspective in order to drive my point home. 

Africa is one of the biggest producers of mineral resources in the world. However, be as it may, the African people derive little if at all no material from these resources. We become beggars and give our birth rights to the lenders like IMF & World Bank that were created by USA after WW2.

For example, Eastern DRC is one of the leading producer of cobalt used in making smart devices like the iPhone, MacBooks et cetera. Do most people in the region even know how a laptop looks like? Barely so. Instead, they are embroiled in a cycle of a never-ending conflict, abject poverty and nauseating devastation.

Far West from Congo, however ridiculous it may be, Nigeria is one of the biggest oil producers. However, despite owning gigantic reserves of this black gold, Nigeria has been accustomed to perennial power outages, fuel shortages and other infrastructural deficiencies. There are many generators in most cities of Nigeria than anywhere in Africa. What an irony!

Further into the hinterland and the west of Africa, we have countries like Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Kenya producing massive cocoa and coffee which is exported to the Western world. 

However, paradoxically many people in these countries can’t afford the finished products from these produces that Europe exports. What a waste of value! If only Africa could learn the word value addition.

Lastly as I hit the homestretch, Africa is undeniably the hotbed of culture, arts and booming talents. We produce the best footballers, musicians, doctors, scholars and artists. In fact, the very first of the modern Universities was in Africa, around Timbuktu. 

Astonishingly, Africans thrive mostly in embellishing and having avid appetite for anything foreign. We have little money and want to prove our social status, we go for the western clothes, cars, experiences and even after stealing from public coffers, most African leaders want to invest in the West. 

Who bewitched Africa! When will Africa ever look inward rather than outside, when will Africa ever resolve to first consider it’s self before it enriches others? 

I wrote this article while flying over Africa avoiding hotspots of conflicts on the ground to reach Europe. These are my thoughts this festive season, Africa must break these systemic paradoxes and oxymorons that continue to exist. 

In short, my SHAKESPEAREN NGLISH of the 1960/70s threatened my daughter BUT she had a point here. I pray that Africa does the right thing by abolishing obstacles that make air travel in Africa and to Africa expensive.

Thank you

Merry Christmas and Happy new year 2024.

The writer is a Pan Africanist based in London, Political scientist & International Relations expert, studied conflict Resolution, a member of Royal African Society (RAS) Founder /Chairman Pan African Forum (UK)Ltd @MatsangaDr

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