Ayittey replies, with some clarification:
I must thank all those who cared to respond to my request for comments.
I am sorry I cannot respond to each individual due to the huge volume of
responses, privately and publicly on discussion forums.
Many of the comments were excellent; for example, writing the piece in a
more serious manner and leaving out "doing the watutsi" and the
"entertainment" slant. Good advice.
There were some who disagree with many of my views but applauded the
efforts I am making and make some useful suggestions.
Unfortunately, there were some who could not resist the temptation of
taking a jibe at the MESSENGER, which disappointed me greatly. This
issue is not about me, Ayittey. It is about FINDING SOLUTIONS. We got
wars in Ivory Coast, Sudan, Congo, Uganda and many other African
countries. Peace accords have not solved these crises and people
continue to die. The civil war in Sudan has claimed more than 3 million
people; that in the Congo has cost more than 5 million lives.
Infrastructure is being devastated and economies collapsing.
Ayittey points that the Western approach to the resolution of these
African crises has NOT worked and that the vehicle used to resolve the
political crisis in Benin and South Africa can ALSO be used to resolve
the crises in Ivory Coast, Sudan, Uganda and other African countries. If
you disagree, fair enough, but please suggest a BETTER mechanism for
solving these crises. Sadly, better solutions were not offered. Instead,
it was "Ayittey this, Ayittey that" and why he left colonialism and
artificial borders out of his analysis.
Folks, to be frank with you, I believe that we (African elites) have
overplayed this colonialism/imperialism hand. It is a DEAD HORSE which
we keep over-flogging. It ain't gonna take us nowhere. We cannot explain
every African problem in terms of that paradigm. Colonialism,
imperialism or slavery did not compel President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory
Coast to break four peace accords he himself signed and uphold a foolish
policy of "Ivorite." Artificial borders did not compel President Omar
al-Bashir to impose the sharia and condone the enslavement of blacks by
Arabs in Sudan. (Neither Christianity nor Islam is indigenous to Africa;
both are foreign religions). Western imperialism has nothing to do with
chronic shortages of petrol (gasoline) in Nigeria. You will NEVER hear
or see me rail about colonialism and imperialism because I believe we
have OVER-USED them to conceal our own failures and shield brutal,
grotesquely incompetent and hopelessly corrupt African despots from
accountability. These "emperors", in my book, no longer have any
clothes. They are a huge part of our problem and we can no longer afford
to ignore the destructive role they have played in the ruination of our
continent. They betrayed us, they failed us, they brutalized us, and
they exploited us. Some of them are among the RICHEST in the world. The
colonialist/imperialist line no longer cuts muster with me, so I won't
waste time debating it.
We are deluding ourselves if we think Western colonialists and
imperialists are lurking around the corner, ready and waiting for a
chance to pounce on Africa and exploit it. Foreign investors have fled
Africa. For all of last year, they invested only a pitiful $5 billion,
which is less than Babangida's personal fortune of $8 billion. Compare
how much they invested in Singapore alone -- $12 billion. Aren't we the
ones who are BEGGING foreign investors to come and invest Africa by
drawing up all these fancy "investment codes" to ATTRACT them? Aren't we
the ones who are complaining of being "marginalized" by foreign
investment and the international community? When the AU, in its infinite
wisdom, drew up NEPAD, whom did it ask for $64 billion in investment?
THE WEST. Last October, the same African Union released a report,
claiming that corruption costs Africa $148 billion a year. What has
colonialism got to do with such massive scale of corruption? And did it
occur to the AU that if it solved the corruption problem it will have
MORE MONEY to invest in Africa than the $64 billion it is begging the
This is what gets my goat. We whine about Western colonialism,
neo-colonialism and imperialism and then go to the SAME neo-colonialists
and imperialists to BEG them to come and INVEST in Africa! Makes sense?
And the leaders who go begging are the same louts who have stashed
BILLIONS OF LOOT in Swiss banks. According to President Obasanjo,
African leaders have stolen more than $140 BILLION from their people
since independence in the 1960s. You see, these bandits won't invest
their loot in their own countries; yet they beg foreigners to come and
invest in their African countries. And while our treasuries are being
looted by unrepentant bandits, we have African PROFESSORS, scholars, and
intellectuals wailing over the HISTORICAL exploitation of Africa by
colonialists and imperialists! What happened to the over $350 BILLION
in oil revenue that flowed into the coffers of the Nigerian government
between 1970 and 2001? Oh yeah, the colonialists and imperialists
squandered the money that too. There will be serious accounting some