WE ARE #1POINT6BILLIONSTRONG
In a 2006 thesis titled, “Why has Asia succeeded while Africa has not?” John A. Morrell makes the all-important point that in East and Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa “at times of their respective independence movements or at the conclusion of their principal war for the foundation of the current state, they were at comparable stages of economic development and displayed comparable standards of living indicators.” He goes on to explain that their growth trajectories were similar up until a point where Afrika’s own dropped significantly in the 80s and 90s. Indeed, nations such as Singapore and Malaysia are illustrations of great growth that it seems has eluded Afrika for decades.
Afrika’s remarkable lack of growth in economic terms has been blamed on a large number of things over the years: poor infrastructure, inadequately trained human resource, inadequate foreign direct investment, over-involvement of government, corruption in government and on and on. Mocked and ridiculed by the world, even to the point of being deemed some kind of a nuisance with nations around the world malevolently dipping into their coffers to ‘help’ Afrika, the continent became encumbered by a very serious case of low self-esteem and low self-regard. So much so that generations of Afrikans were indoctrinated into the school of “let’s bash Afrika” and have been effectively doing so for decades, in word and deed. Joining the world in condemning Afrika to a kind of living hell.
At the same time, the World Economic Forum and so-called global elites have sat down to devise a direction that they plan to and have begun to steer the entire world in. Yet again, Afrika seems caught up in the vortex of their plans, without so much as making a stand for her needs or the needs of her sons and daughters. Mindlessly heeding their dictates in exchange for a few hundred billion dollars and years more of debt imprisonment for her people. The governments of Afrika seem to have been spellbound by some very dark forces indeed to keep being drawn deeper into the whirlpool of global domination over Afrika.
A 2016 article published on livemint.com asked the question, “Are China and India the new colonial powers in Africa?” Horrifying thought. I rather ask YOU the question, “Is Afrika dooming herself to an eternity of slavery and servitude to the world?”
Consider this, China has a population of 1.44 billion people, which is about 18.47% of the total world population. The nation struggled for decades to find the right economic model by which to raise its people out of devastating poverty. From 1949 when they were fighting to come out of the effects of decades of warfare, to a severe economic crisis they encountered following their fallout with Russia, to a famine that led to the deaths of about 20 million Chinese in the early 60s – to finding the right formula, making the necessary reforms and the resultant rapid and consistent growth which has now placed it as the world’s largest economy – yes, ahead of the United States of America. Not only that, but China owns US$ 1.1 Trillion of America’s debt. Second only to Japan who has US$ 1.25 Trillion. This is the country that faced colonization and imperialistic oppression from Britain, France, Russia, Germany and Japan – SIMULTANEOUSLY. And had to deal with America’s oppressive tactics as well. They shook off the mockery of the world at their human rights abuses, counterfeit products and became the outsourcing destination of the world and used that to build their economy to the point where it reached the top of the global pyramid. They are engineering their nation into a position of global domination – not to speak of what they are up to militarily. So, the China we all once mocked are enjoying quite a laugh at all our expenses – think of Afrika’s debt to China for a moment.
India is the 6th largest economy in the world – and that’s only because Covid knocked them down from position number 5. India is ahead of France and just behind the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, the US and China. It was under British rule until 1947 and – like China – experimented with various strategies for economic growth, trying and failing until in 1991, it hit just the right note and is now seen as somewhere between an emerging and a developed nation. Population? 1.39 billion, which puts it at about 17.7% of the global population.
What about Afrika?
Now to our beloved Afrika. Did you know that all sons and daughters of Afrika – including those on and off the continent and those who descended from our people who were sold into slavery total about 1.6 billion? That’s about 20.7% of the total world population! Over 60% of the population is aged below 25 years and it is expected (according to the ILO) that by 2100, 50% of the world’s youth will be Afrikan. That’s huge and amazing and something we can use to our advantage once we shed the lies we have been told and we have established and propagated with our own words and actions. Afrikan universities are releasing about 10 million graduates per year (2016 figures) and outside of the continent but because of a negative self-perception and perception of Afrika, about 70,000 skilled professionals emigrate from Afrika every year, so much so that more locally-born physicians are living outside of Afrika than in Afrika. In the health sector alone, countries are losing about US$2 billion in brain drain per year for Afrikans who were trained in Afrika, and yet they go and give their strength elsewhere. Afrika’s advantage, therefore, goes to the West or East. In addition to that, Afrikans who go to study in the US are said to be among the best-educated immigrants. Most Afrikans who go to study abroad often do all to take advantage of employment opportunities in their countries of studies, expecting that – upon their return home – they will not find any placement here. This sometimes is the case, but let me ask a most important question. Who said that employment must be their endgame?
Indeed, all around the world, standards of education have improved greatly in the last 40-50 years and as a result of these improvements in Afrika, there are hundreds of millions of skilled Afrikans available and ready to do what it takes to transform our continent. Despite what has been said about the quality of graduates from Afrikan universities being poor or irrelevant for today’s job market, I believe that it’s simply a matter of misplaced priorities. For, even a child who has studied up to primary school has more new information than the child who has never been trained and – as such – is in a great position to up-skill all those around them to the level that they reached – at the minimum. But, as we all know, the focus of the education and employment sector has not been to train people to understand how to give value back to their communities – but rather how to be useful minions powering the very system that has oppressed them and continues to oppress them mercilessly. Consider the case of South Afrika, where the strategy was to find ways to disconnect Afrikan communities from the land and their sense of communal living in order to gain workers for the mines. It was never about the welfare of the people, but rather that of the machine that powers the system.
Did you know that globally, over 350 million youth (aged 15-24) are said to be not employed, engaged in education or any form of training? That in 2012, the World Economic Forum called youth unemployment a ‘disaster’ and a ‘cancer in society’? These are the same people who are involved in ‘shaping’ the future of the world and they say to themselves that youth are a potential threat to the stability of the nations of the world. How does that sit in the same mouths that call the youth the leaders of the future? You must remember that they consider themselves to be elites. The top thinkers, industrialists, media houses, youth leaders, governments, financiers, educators and on and on and on – and they have not found a way to stem youth unemployment, the rate of which has not decreased since 2005? Somehow, it always seems to be a bigger issue that Afrikan youth (born on and off the continent) are unemployed, and oppressive and hateful things have been done to them to curtail their innovativeness, youthful verve and imaginations. These fake elites either have no clue how to keep young people engaged and focused on productive outputs, or they see them as a threat to their plans and are setting them up for something even more horrendous than we can imagine. Either way, it is clear they don’t have the answers that Afrika is seeking in the name of ‘development’.
It makes no sense to me that we would call our Afrikan engineering degrees outdated. Fine, maybe they are based on information and methods from the 60s – but, if combined with wisdom and the use of the internet (especially the “YouTube university”), our engineers can use those same degrees for good things, especially in communities that don’t even have basic infrastructure in place. If the youth can be guided to use things like TikTok not to shake their bums, but to create challenges using their pan-Afrikan networks that are geared towards positive social transformation in their local communities – things will change. If we can remind the youth that employment keeps them bound to that job/company/field as a source of income, but if they maintain a connection to the earth, they can always find ways to grow food and thereby be able to sustain themselves, without depending on employment – things will change. Who said that employment was the panacea of the world anyway? From everything we’ve seen, it clearly isn’t – or are you not aware that more unemployment is coming with automation and ‘efficiencies’ being put in place. But more than all of this, if we can remind them that the solutions to the problems in Afrika rest in their hands, if we can point them to their true identities, then their true purposes will emerge. If we can direct them to the passion to fulfill these purposes, then shifts and changes will take place. If we can show them that the ugly in Afrika is only there because we as a people have chosen not to do anything about it, but that it is time to change that narrative – and show them how to begin, then they can commit to finding a path towards shifting the reality of Afrika towards a better future that is genuinely free from slavery.
But we have to STOP putting down our continent and our people with our own thoughts, words and actions. We have dearly loved brothers and sisters who risk everything to cross the Sahara to go to North Afrika to try the Mediterranean crossing, in search of fake ‘greener pastures’ in Europe. Along the way, many hazards await them, including murder, rape, forced prostitution, robbery, extortion, bribery and even drowning. For the cost of an estimated US$ 5000? Why is it that they don’t know that if they have US$ 5000 it can actually be used to transform not only their lives but also those of their communities around them?
We have failed ourselves and we have failed each other. Our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who flee Afrika do so on the basis of uncomfortable political, economic and other physical realities on the ground in the continent. They flee in search of the lie of ‘comfortable living’ in America, Europe, Australia and Asia. They work hard in menial or top jobs, empowering the harsh taskmasters that turn against Afrika, effectively becoming pawns in the hands of those who seek no good for the continent. They send money home to Afrika, yes, but avoid the hard work of coming home to deal with the situation here, which could ensure that thousands of people do not drown in the Mediterranean each year seeking ‘a better life’. Which could ensure that their own children can find a better future here.
Afrika needs all her sons and daughters in order to make a genuine go of things. I’m not saying we need to be like India or China and try to be the world’s top economy. No. I’m saying that we need to rediscover the purpose of Afrika and fulfill that purpose together, as a people. That we need to consider that together, all 1.6 billion of us are so strong that we can make an impact that will ensure that Afrika finally lives up to her name and true position. The life-giver, the mother, the nurturer. And in doing so, we can restore sanity to a world that is in a frenzy of accumulation and blind psychopathic self-destruction. I’m saying that our path and that of the world intersect not at the point of greed, but at the point of the restoration of life. That is Afrika’s unique purpose and we are uniquely placed, all #1point6billionstrong of us, to make this happen.
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Chioma Phillips is the Editor of Msingi Afrika Magazine and the host of Msingi Afrika Television. Her hope is to see the Truth shared, with all who will listen, for the transformation of the people and the continent of Afrika - and the world. She believes passionately in the critical role that Afrika and Afrikans have to play on earth right now and hopes to ignite the spark that will cause them to see and believe who they are, so that they can live out their Truest lives for the remainder of their days.