Datum: 11.02.11 20:44
Kategorie: Welt, Kommentare

Von: Abdallah Salisu

Black History Month: Aid has done more damage than help to Africa

Youssou N’Dour, one of the world greatest performing and recording artists has a song called “Useless Weapons” on one of his numerous over a million copies selling albums called “Womat”, which in the Wolof language means Guidance. The song draws attention to how useless weapons are in the world in general and in Africa in particular. In it, he recounts the Vietnam War, the gulf War and many recent historical belligerences that have change the way we perceive our world. In another song on another hugely popular album called “Joko”, which is as well in Wolof and means “Migration from rural life to urban life,” there is a song called “My Hope Is In You”, which is titled and sang in English. One of the lines he sings says: “…drop your gun and go to school, do you hear me brother oohii? My hope is in you…I wanna watch your spirit touch the skies there’s so much more you can do…you’ll make it through, my hope is in you”. The analogy of the two songs and what is there to learn from these them is that there are two types of weapons. One is useless weapons and the other is useful weapons. A pen, a book and the time taken to read, these are useful weapons. Guns, tanks, bombers, machetes, bow and arrows, these are useless weapons. I am not the first person to note that there is a need for a form education that will lead to self appreciation in Africa and African communities in the Diaspora. Many have advocated this in the past and not a day passes that we do not get evidence of the fact that the issue is a disturbing one.

However, what led to choosing to render my part of the celebration this way is that, I contemplated for a while on what or how my contribution to this year’s Black History Month should be since I am not in Austria at the moment, until an opportunity came for me to address one of the prevalent challenges many African communities both on the continent and in the various diasporas face. But before addressing the topic, it is very important to clarify one thing. Some would ask what does such a symbolic Diaspora celebration of a milestone has to do with education issues.  Beside the fact that celebrations are often times to reflect on past achievements and a platform for tackling gaps left, the celebration itself marks the end of some of the horrible things that happened to African people simply because they lacked self consciousness and education about self. Moreover, this can be a way of restoring ties because since the passage of Diaspora civil right movement and impendence movement in Africa, the two have slowly lost the direct connection that once upon a time, linked them. Further on the same line, Pan-Africanism should not be seen as a thing of the past or a fading out nationalistic idea because it is alive and plays a key role in African development issues. Just to mention one example, in 2008, Pan-Africanist civil society groups pressurized the Economic Communities of the West African States bloc (ECOWAS), to, for the first time, come out of trade negotiations between the bloc and the European Union with one of Africa’s most successful trade negotiation outcomes with powerful world blocs since the formation of these states. These efforts basically yielded fruitful outcomes because at their gathering in the capital of Ghana, Accra on the 11 of august 2008, the pressure groups who felt they were well aware of what Africa needs, voiced their demands saying that even if ECOWAS leaders should come out of the meetings with good aid deals, regardless of what these deals are worth, it is a failure. With fourteen out of the sixteen-countries bloc making up ECOWAS democratized at that time, the leaders knew those demands will translate into pressure and even lead to loss of elections. These pan-African groups were able to convince the leaders of their countries to get deals, citing that trade with newly blooming economies such as China and India amidst economic crisis in Europe will bring more benefit to Africa than trade deal tied to aid. So education definitely is the key. For instance, Ghana has been hyped as one of the economies to grow more than 5% in 2011 because of its ability to harmonize its political and economic development in positive direction coinciding with its recently launched oil and gas industry. But Angola and Nigeria are living evidence of African states in top ten ‘hot’ commodity exporters still heavily dependent on aid. If a state lack the necessary expertise a ‘hot’ commodity will lead to conflict rather than translate commodity earnings into better living standards for its people.


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