“All my people with me, they love me, they will die to protect me, my people.”
Those were the words of Libyan’s president Moammar Gadhafi at the beginning of the country’s ongoing uprising. As the revolt continued to spread across the nation, his rhetoric quickly took a menacing tone, as he added that the rebels were traitors, and they were to be punished and dealt with without mercy. Unlike the successful revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia that started the movement in that part of the world, Libyans are likely to be engulfed in a very difficult war for some time to come.
All this could have been avoided had Gadhafi simply stepped down. He has, after all, been in power for more that 40 years. The same can be said of Ivory Coast’s current political turmoil. The sub-Saharan country is engaged in a bloody civil war prompted by two presidential candidates, who each claims to be the victor of 2010 elections. Despite the general assessment of the voters, and the international community who declared the opposition leader Alassane Ouattara as the clear winner, President Laurent Gbagbo, who ruled for a decade, refused to step down.
Unfortunately, those are just additional examples of the inadequacy of the African leadership, and it’s been happening for far too long. Since the wave of independence in the early 1950s to early 1990s, Africa has struggled to establish a steady and proficient political system. The continent inherited many of the problems from the colonial era, and the tremendous influence of the powerful outsiders has also prevented a significant political shift; nonetheless, it is time for Africans to form stronger and better constitutions that will ensure a better future.
This should start with the eradication of longstanding regimes, as expressed by the modern revolts of the Middle East and Northern Africa. People are frustrated and miserable under those regimes. Libyan intervention was met with both skepticism and praise. The critics viewed it as another Western crusade for supremacy and control. Democratic powers have always promoted the concept of peace, and in the case of Africa, it has been a relatively complex journey for most states.
This leads to the belief that the implementation of a Western model of democracy may not be feasible due to historic differences, culture and general outlook on life. Not to mention the past liaison that left people more than cynical and wary of the West’s intentions towards Africa.
Honestly, people are more concerned about what is being done, than about who is doing it. Periodical elections are meaningless if the majority cannot access clean water, food or decent health care and schools for their children. Furthermore, a governing body should ensure the security and well-being of its citizens. On multiple occasions, Africans have experienced vast violations of basic human rights and carnage, perpetrated by governments appointed to protect them. Most of the financial problems on the continent can be attributed to the terrible and inept governance. Lack of good leadership has restrained Africa from competing economically; furthermore, the continent is exploited because of disorganization and abundant corruption. The potential of intellectual minds is immensely stagnated since they lack genuine support and institutions to help them accomplish great things.
Nelson Mandela once said, “I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses.”
All those are reasons to demand better governance, and start to envision a better future for Africa. With vast natural resources, a lively and rich culture, and the immense potential of the African youth, the continent can do much better, but nothing will change under the current governing bodies.