Arts | Politics | Economy | Education & Sciences3 Sep 2014
© Dennis Matanda

A Call for Re-Colonization
28 feb 2007

Reading this article may upset the delicate sensibilities of some people who believe that Africa and the Africans therein are, in one way or the other, being fed the raw end of the carrot by white people sitting on thrones of supremacy.
 
Of course, if you are African and actually lose sleep over this diatribe, there is a chance that you are just focusing on your petty bourgeoisie education, on your sense of self importance or dignity or lastly, on the fact that you have noticed that white men and women live better lives than you. But we need to over come the compulsion to blame others for our misery or focus on the fact that slavery and colonialism were means by which the Western nations enriched themselves. We know this - and know that Western nations, still being buoyed by sweat of poorer nations, get richer and richer - and currently control more than 70% of the world’s wealth.

Wealth Since 1820
This, however, is not necessarily their fault. History and modern living was not designed to hand these fair skinned people the reins or keys to the rest of the world. Western nations were as poor as we Africans currently are until sometime after 1820. Sure - they had gone through societies and empires - but that did not give them more than a head start on the African nations they created. At least, African nations should have been able to come in a distant second in this race to development. Instead, Africans and many black people all over the world are living lives below their colleagues on the opposite end of the colour spectrum. And instead of rolling up our sleeves to work on the core and source of this misery, we seem to be more obsessed with fighting for rights we do not deserve or cannot sustain.

Looking for Solutions Outside
The open secret of Western society success has been cleverly passed over our heads. Why then, you may ask at this juncture, have we not absorbed this secret and turned it into machines for our benefit? The answer lies in the fact that we have all the tools and machinations to work towards success. The devil is in the detail and we are more prone to look for Saviours outside than within. The secret does not lie with constitutions and democracy considering that the British Empire had no written constitution for a backbone. What differentiates Britain and the other countries of the Western world - including a democracy which is not older than 300 years and yet is the most powerful country in the world - is something a little easier to understand. It’s in something called the institution.

The Birth of Plenty
In his unnecessarily detailed book, 'The Birth of Plenty', William J. Berstein gives a quick history of the world and shows us that suddenly, "… not long after 1820, prosperity began flowing in an ever increasing torrent; with each successive generation, the life of the sun became observably more comfortable, informed, and predictable than that of the father." He bases this sudden prosperity on four aspects which are: the rise and respect of property rights, the respect for intellectual property and encouragement of innovation, capital markets where entrepreneurs have access to sufficient capital to pursue their visions - and lastly, the important element where a society must be able to rapidly and efficiently move information and finished products.

King of the Mountain
To summarize this book, what Africa lacks - and the West has in plenty - is the power of institutions. Institutions, for the purposes of this article, could be defined as orderly, time tested and agreed ways of doing things within a community aimed at achieving consistent economic growth and development. Without these things, like a proper and effective national planning authority or independent revenue authority, Africa is doomed. Without institutions, arguments for an African renaissance are useless because of African leaders - aptly called 'Kings of the Mountain' by Dr. Arnold Ludwig in his aptly titled [in singular - please note] book. Because they stay in power too long, their lack of discipline or experience in management, these usurp institutional powers and focus all authority around themselves, their families and an inner circle of trusted assistants. An interesting part of the King of the Mountain talks of these leaders using their survival instincts and emotional parts of their brain to cling to power instead of their rational thinking brains.

Some Statistics
While all these aspects make for interesting reading, it’s important to illustrate the power of institutions - and how they have transformed Africans at different stages of their lives. Slavery, as an institution, produced some of the most amazing music in Rhythm & Blues, and Jazz - both multi billion selling industries. Going back, even further into time, black people built pyramids and a few more wonders of the world. A quick look into the present day will show that the army, another institution, produced a most professional black man - the Five Star General - Colin Powell who rose to become the first black American Secretary of State. On the African continent, an incarcerated man - another form of institution, Nelson Mandela became the South African phoenix and worldwide 21st Century icon of moral authority. More people would rather meet him than Bill Clinton or George Bush.

The Setback
I could go on to mention the different good black people who have come out of institutions - including Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, the Most Rev. Archbishop Sentamu - the second most powerful person in the Anglican Church and of course, Barack Obama - potential president of the United States. However, this could easily be countered with the hopeless institutionalized Africans who have done us injustice. Do I have to mentioned Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda?

The Recommendation
Because those leaders mentioned above are useless black people, I would like to recommend that instead of wasting our time and wringing our hands in helplessness while the rest of the world slowly but surely gets numb to our pain and leaves us behind even faster, we should let these good white folk come back to actually and effectively run our African countries and affairs. Yes - we know that white people control our budgets behind those curtains of donor aid and NGOs - but they give momentary power to uninstitutionalized Africans - who can, in less than a heart beat, do more damage to a good and viable project than 1,000 barracudas can do to a ton of succulent lean beef!

A White Man in a Powerful Black Place
With their natural nark for organization and respect for institutions, African businesses - which are deemed complicated - would be child’s play for them. If you want to see what I mean, come to Uganda and see what the Kampala Amateur Dramatics Society – KADS - has done to drama in Uganda for the past 60 or so years. They have continuously kept their organization going - and if you walked into their locked room in the National Theatre’s basement, you will see the organization, order and institutionalization of a small arm - amidst the chaos that is supposed to be the props of Uganda’s cultural centre.

To push my call for white people forward, explain to me how a man who dodged the draft, inhaled marijuana and had sex in his Oval Office could have been one of the most popular presidents in the history of the United States and the one who delivered a surplus budget. But Bill Clinton is white - and that is a good enough excuse and pressure on him to perform better than his black brothers. He did not need to do much. He just had to show up to office everyday - and then leave at the end of his term - without necessarily taking on the powers of other institutions.

Summary
Africa is a sad place. Uganda is even sadder. On the one hand, you have a very popular president stuck to a seat of power that renders him impotent because of how much power he has - and a nation of growing poverty, pain, suffering and standards of living while you have monies in their trillions of shillings sitting in treasuries. A white person could sort this out in a day. He would rise above the petty aspects and focus on making more money from more and more people having money in their pockets. He would see to it that if he were to drive out of his home, he would not be stuck in traffic jams caused by potholes, see to it that there was the best medical attention in the country so that he would not need to take his daughter to Germany to have a child, he would not bring himself to the level of the proletariat, serfs or petty bourgeoisie as he would not need to - having provided them with the atmosphere to work on their lives. He would be left to manage the country as best as he could.
 
© Dennis Matanda
 
Dennis Matanda writes a blog called 'Between a Rock & a Hard Place' (dennismatanda.blogspot.com). This post has been nominated in the category 'best post' in the '2007 Uganda Best of Blogs' awards (2007 Uganda Best of Blogs).


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Sites for this column:
Dennis Matanda's blog
http://dennismatanda.blogspot.com/

2007 Uganda Best of Blogs
http://jackfruity.blogspot.com/2007/02/2006-uganda-best-of-blogs.html


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