Ruto is right; time has come for Africa to chart its own course


Sam Omwoyo (second left) with his fellow students holding Kenyan flag during Pride of Africa Asia Pacific awards, 2023. [Courtesy]

Africa has for long been called the land of whiners. Foreign leaders have come to the continent with their prescriptions to African problems while at the same time turning a blind eye to the mistreatment that Africa has suffered in the hands of the West.

From colonial legacy to the building of the West by African blood and sweat to the unequal trade that saw the West become industrialised and African institutions decimated and even extinguished. But Africa has been surprised pleasantly in past couple of weeks. An African voice has emerged that is challenging the old order that has precipitated underdevelopment in Africa. 

President William Ruto has finally taken the bull by the horns and is openly asking questions that others have been whispering in darkness. After the long night of oppression and exploitation by the West, first under colonialism and secondly under neo-colonial instruments, we must question if the global order is serving Africa.

By asking the questions, as he has been doing, Dr Ruto has demonstrated that Africa is no longer willing to live as a permanent victim of fate, an angry accuser and/or a fawning imitator of the West. By asking for a reset of the global financial system, Africa is saying that time has come to boldly live as a master of her destiny, not merely responding to fear.

An assertive Africa must question the pain left in the wake of the interventions by the Breton Woods institutions. For example, there is no single African country that emerged out of the structural adjustment programme economically stronger than it was before the interventions. The devaluation of African currencies simply weakened our purchasing power against the West. Since the creation of the United Nations, Africa has never had proper stakes in its management.

For instance, the fact that no African country holds a permanent seat at the security council can no longer go unchallenged. Gradualism as a policy of African integration as proposed by the Monrovia Group at the formation of Organisation of African Unity must now be discarded for history tells us that isolated African countries and leaders are easily cannibalised by the forces that have exported oppression, exploitation and brutality into our land.

As we talk about Agenda 2063, Africa must critically examine its education system so that it roots out the now deeply ingrained principle of capitalist individualism in our society. This is for two reasons. One, how it destroyed social solidarity that was commonplace in most African societies and secondly, how it promoted the worst of alienated individualism without social responsibility.

Now that the president has lit the fire under pan-Africanism, we must rally behind him even as the rest of the continent falls in love with him so that that we jointly press for the transformation of our history and systems.

As a matter of urgency, we must develop common currency so that intra-African trade is transacted without the help of the Americans. In Agenda 2063, we said that we need to silence the gun by 2020. But Sudan and Ethiopia have shown that that dream is still elusive. We must decisively act collectively to deter warlords from turning our continent into a theatre of war in pursuit of narrow interests.

That collectivity, the unity of purpose, is precisely what will change the disdainful stance of the West of African leaders trooping to western capitals like you would haul bags of sardines, into a respectful one where no western leader would wag a finger at us in the name of “choices have consequences”.

We must pursue African development knowing full well that its only possible on the basis of radical break with the international imperialist system which has been the principal agency of underdevelopment of Africa over the last couple of decades. I commend President Ruto for reminding the world that the sky would not fall if Africa reasserted herself as a first among equals in global agenda setting. 

Mr Kidi is a policy and governance analyst. [email protected]

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