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« Banks, Women, and Corporate Irresponsibility | Main | Agarachaa Must Come Back – to Aburi »

February 15, 2005

Where do we go from here?

Chinua Achebe: Not long ago, my attention was caught by a radio news item about Africa.  As I had come to expect, it was not good news, and it was not presented with, nor did it deserve respect.

It was something of a joke. This was the announcement of the death of President Eyadema of Togo whom it described as the longest serving president in Africa (or maybe the world – I forget which). Then it gave another detail: Eyadema had died from a heart attack, even as he was about to be flown to Europe for treatment. And it concluded with the information that Eyadema’s son would succeed him as president of Togo!

This event brought me once again face to face with Africa’s leadership charade. What do African leaders envision for their countries and their people, I wondered yet again. Have they not heard that where there is no vision the people perish? Does the judgment of history on their rule mean anything to them? Do they remember how a man called Mandela who had spent 28 years in prison for South Africa gave up the presidency of that country – a position that he so richly deserved – after only 4 years, and made way for another and younger patriot?

Why do African leaders choose bad models like Kamuzu Banda instead of good ones like Mandela? Have they considered how Mugabe has ruined the cause of land distribution by a quarter century tenancy in power? If Eyadema stayed that long because he was that good, why was there no hospital in Togo to attend to his condition? Did Eyadema who had given nothing but bad news to Togo since the 1960s imagine that the solution to problems created largely by himself would be solved by a dynasty of Eyademas? Which reminded me of another First Son, the son of the President of Equatorial Guinea seen around the world on television as he shopped extravagantly in Paris for expensive clothes. Unfortunately, he seemed no less a bum in the suits he was trying on, than out of them.

Africa has to get serious. I think we have fooled around long enough. And Nigeria, which has enough human talent and material resources to lead the way for the continent has been frittering away precious, providential time.

The Chinua Achebe Foundation Inc © Interview Series Project Nigeria: A meeting of the minds will attempt to transcend the present discourse of cynicism and pessimism concerning Nigeria by engaging some of the nation’s most distinguished and respected minds, in robust, intellectual, public conversations. The interviews we have planned are not intended to project the views and opinions of myself or my foundation or necessarily people who think like me. It will present the thinking of serious, independent-minded Nigerians who, like millions of their fellows in all walks of life and all corners of the land, yearn for the promise of a stable, safe, democratic, humane, and prosperous nation. The aim is to increase conversation among us and bring together the thoughts of reflective men and women on our condition and what we should do about it.

About the Foundation

The Chinua Achebe foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing international understanding about Africa’s vibrant intellectual and cultural heritage.

Chinua Achebe
Founder and Chairman, Board of Directors of the Chinua Achebe Foundation

Posted by Administrator at February 15, 2005 06:53 AM


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