Africa and The Blame Game

Kudakwashe Manjonjo
Harare, Zimbabwe
“Please may I have some fish” asked a certain young black man? In all his wisdom and knowledge the grey old white man looked at him and said, “how about I teach you how to fish instead so that you can catch as many as you want?” “Aaahhh, sir that’s a problem, you stole my forefathers fish and now I’m hungry and have nothing to eat.” The white man replied, “Are you saying you have no fish left in your home?” With a firm response he said, “no, but you took my fish!” 

The attitude of the black man has been personified as the African character by Chika Onyeani who wrote the famous book called “Capitalist Nigger” at the turn of the century. Onyeani argues that Africans have a psychology of blaming Europeans and the West for under-developing and keeping Africa in a state of attitude. “The blame game has become a permanent part of our lives.” 

Is it true though?  Do we as Africans blame all our failures and problems on non-Africans? One could be led to believe so. In academic circles, it’s always argued that one factor that affected the whole of Africa is colonialism, and most of the problems can be traced back to colonialism. The Berlin Conference of 1885 where Europe split up Africa like a chocolate cake had no regard of ethnicities-which has led to the ethnic clashes all over Africa. Colonialism had assimilation in which Africans were educated to live as white people, hence why most of Africa has lost its cultural values. 

With colonialism, Africa accepted governance systems that they had no idea how they worked, and that’s why there is corruption. Walter Rodney in his famous work called, “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” also argues that it was the capitalist system with the Europeans at the top, was the principle agency for Africa’s underdevelopment because they systematically siphoned resources from Africa.

That being the case and the examples given being very difficult to argue against, the blame game it must be noted, is not focused on what happened to Africa, but more importantly its reaction to the events. Just like the young black man, is Africa still complaining about yesteryear events?

Onyeani believes that it is. He says, “We are not men enough to accept responsibility for our actions. Africa needs to stop the blame game and accept responsibility for the present state of the black race.” Essentially that is what Africa needs to do; be in charge of its future. As it is true that the past directs or rather implies the future path, the ultimate truth is that our interpretation, beliefs and reactions to the past are what will in due course define the future.

And this translates to owning our own modes of production; oilfields in Nigeria being run by Nigerians, diamond mines in Botswana being taken over by an ambitious African youth, telecommunications cable lines being designed and developed in Kenya and solar energy technology developed in Central Africa Republic, being a leader in world inventions.

This will mean that ultimately, when the old wise white man offers us how to fish, we will learn and do it well. It is that day when Africa stops blaming the world for all its problems that it will be able to foresee that solutions can only come from within itself.

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