Africa: Equity and Equality for all?

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For a meaningful democracy to flourish anywhere, there must be equity, equality, and fairness. More often than not, the terms equity and equality are used interchangeably, even though they are different but related. While equity, aims at providing individuals with the necessities for a good, healthy and productive life, equality, on the other hand, ensures that equity is achieved under the same conditions for everyone. In that case, you could argue that fairness is the sine qua none to equality.

However, the success of equality depends on the ability for all to start from the same place and need the same things. Yes, some would rightly argue that starting from the same place does not necessarily guarantee fairness. Take a good look at a typical situation in Africa. Some governments have started an ambitious programme of providing a free education, which would guarantee the same access to education for all irrespective of one’s social or financial condition. This effort must be applauded because it aims at guaranteeing justice for all, but when one considers other factors like the residential place, language, social background etc of all the pupils who are meant to enjoy the free education, one finds out that the programme, in reality, manages to promote justice, but not fairness. Do some pupils need extra language classes to have a free education? What is the language of this free education? Does it favour those who speak it? Must some of the pupils living in a remote village track kilometers to be able to enjoy the said free education?

But we live in an imperfect world, where no system is perfect. In the African political domain, one needs to start from somewhere. Typically, an average African is not asking their leaders to provide them with the same mansion their leaders live in. Nor do they aspire for the same Mercedes and limousines used by their leaders. No, far from that. African masses simply want existential acknowledgment from their leaders. They want their leaders to take the masses seriously. A mere provision of basic necessities like quality health care, education, food, security, backed up with some degree of fairness is what many African masses look up to their leaders for. Not rubbing the equality shoulders with their leaders – at least for now. In reality, you could say that African masses can be very simple and fair in their demands.

The question is, why is so difficult for African leaders to fulfill these basic demands of their people?

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