Proverb of the week: That which eats at you is within you

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Proverb: That which eats at you is within you.

Swahili: Kikulacho Ki Nguoni Mwako

Meaning: Often, our actions are borne out of our mistakes and flaws in our characters. Therefore, we should not always point an accusing finger at others. We should take the blame for the results of the actions we have taken.

Take a look at the mess Africa is in. Start with South Sudan. Go to the Central African Republic. Follow me to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Are you on your way to Somalia? Tired? Come on, the journey has just started. Yes, the rough, foggy journey created by our elected African leaders. So don’t dare complain you are getting tired. After all, you elected and or allow those leaders to be where they are today. So get your act together and follow me. Immediately! Come on…… What? I should hold on? Ok, you rest a bit before we continue our journey of discovery and reality. While you are resting, let me remind you of something.

As much as we would like to point an accusing finger at others and shift the blame to foreign forces or interference of other countries, for all the woes in Africa, we must not forget that flaws in our leaders’ character have made such an intervention possible. And inevitable. It all started with our elected leaders, from the local to the national level, who would be so fastidious to sacrifice the future of those that elected them. That flaw alone has resulted in the present African political predicament. Take a look at South Sudan. At the time of independence from Sudan, South Sudan the newest nation in the world produced 85% of Sudan’s oil output. Oil accounts for 98% of South Sudan’s budget, fetching more than $10 billion in revenue for the new country since the signing of the peace agreement with Sudan. Apart from oil revenue, before independence, the agricultural sector saw a 10.8 per cent growth. South Sudan is a country with one of the largest populations of pastoralists in the world; it is abundantly blessed with fertile agricultural land. However, like many African countries, where mineral resources were discovered, the government of South Sudan virtually abandoned the agricultural sector and concentrated on oil. The result is clear. Between 2000 and 2008, agricultural productivity drastically declined to 3.6 per cent from the 10.8 per cent growth rate, according to the World Bank. Despite the huge income from oil, South Sudan had to look outwards for basic food to feed its nation. Today, South Sudan relies on its neighbouring countries, such as Uganda, Kenya and Sudan (yes, the same Sudan that South Sudan seceded from) for its food imports.

Although, the government of South Sudan wants the world to believe it is making efforts to encourage Israel, the Netherlands, Gulf Arab states, China and fellow African countries to invest in the agricultural sector of the country, to boost the basic food production, one wonders how the government in Juba would achieve this task without first creating stability, security and eradicate corruption. Not even a die-hard investor would like to invest in a country where the returns of their investments are not guaranteed. Regardless, add the high transportation cost, sending farm products from the neighbouring country of South Sudan, intimidating inflation and corruption amongst the South Sudanese officials, you begin to understand why the prices of food in South Sudan have skyrocketed beyond the reach of an average citizen.

Can the present state of South Sudan explain the rationale behind the long decades of war it had waged against Sudan? Do the political, social, economic realities of South Sudan justify the death of an estimated two million people, who lost their precious lives following a two decade long north-south civil war? Eventually, having gained independence from Sudan, South Sudan descended into anarchy. Ethnicity amongst the same South Sudanese who fought Sudan became a reality. The same discrimination, fragmentation and neglects South Sudan fought against became the everyday reality amongst the newly born South Sudan. Suddenly, South Sudanese started seeing themselves along ethnic lines. Yes, we all know the influence of foreign forces in South Sudan affairs. We can easily point an accusing finger at them. But have we asked ourselves why those foreign powers managed to cause pandemonium in South Sudan? Today, apart from South Sudanese leaders, other countries, warlords and individuals are busy making millions of dollars monthly from the sweat and blood of other innocent South Sudanese. It is only when we do not put our house in order, that an enemy can enter it and cause mischief.

A house that is divided amongst itself shall not stand.

South Sudan has allowed itself to be divided. The coherent fibres that have been holding the unity of the country have been badly destroyed by human weaknesses. Those weaknesses and division effectively invite other foreign forces to South Sudan. Yet, the division could not have occurred, if not because of flaws in the characters of South Sudanese leaders. Ethnic consciousness. The human weaknesses.  Greed. Corruption. Selfishness. Nepotism. Are you still counting?

Before you start crying for South Sudan, you may as well reserve some of your costly tears for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Central African Republic, amongst others. We all know the atrocities Belgium committed in DRC. Only those who are allergic to history would not mention the dark role the US CIA played in the killing of Patrice Émery Lumumba of Congo. Still counting the foreign forces that created the mess innocent citizens of the DRC are in today? Those who hold only the CIA, Belgium and other foreign interests responsible for the plundering and unspeakable atrocities in the country, should not forget that some Congolese citizens were recruited, paid to do the dirty and evil works for the foreign enemies. Say a big hello to uncle Mobutu Sese Seko, wherever he may be. Yes, we are paid to fight amongst each other. Fight amongst brothers and sisters so that the foreign scavenger vultures can easily settle and prey on the near-dead country without being disturbed or harassed.

Is Nigeria an exception? Hardly not. The British legacy lingers disastrously in Nigeria. That British government is rich today is as a result of its naked greedy colonial and plundering past. Don’t forget the sacred bible the colonial Masters were holding in their right hands while using the left hand to steal with impunity as well as plant the perpetual seed of division amongst the natives. That must have been the White’s interpretation of LOVE their bible preaches. Yes, love, the basic summary of the preaching of the bible. They came preaching love but planted infectious hate.

For those who would argue that the discovery of natural resources comes with conflicts, take a look at Botswana, a tiny African country with one of the largest amount of diamond in the world. Today, it is also one of the world largest producers of meat, with more cows in the country than human beings. Thank goodness, the cow is not a natural resource, but rather an agricultural product. A smart policy choice, you would say. It is on record that the country is one of the very few countries that have successfully managed their natural resources equitably well without any major conflict since its independence from the United Kingdom in 1966. Is Botswana from a different planet? Hardly not. Its success can be attributed to discipline, honesty, integrity, accountability, you name them. These elements hardly exit among African leaders. An average Botswana has benefited from the presence of natural resources in their country. More than that, conflicts from external forces have been kept a bar. That hardly means that Botswana does not have a relationship with other foreign forces. It does. But the difference is that the country has set out an enviable standard, which others must abide by if they want to do business with this tiny African country. What has an average Nigerian benefitted from the huge oil depot in the country? Call me the “giant of Africa”!  What of our brothers and sisters from the DRC? Hello, my brethren in Sierra Leone? Greetings to the Angolans? Can you hear me calling? Can you please tell the world what you have benefitted from those natural resources God or nature has bestowed your various countries with? Tell us how your world is today? Your future? And that of your children?

If Botswana can be described as a success story, why not other African countries? A very simple answer: if we don’t first become disciplined and take responsibilities for our actions, we will open our vulnerable door for our enemies to capitalise on our weakness, come into our house and sow the seed of discord. Africa should, therefore, learn not to blame others if our enemies capitalise on our weakness.

That which eats at you is indeed within you.