Anthony Agbali, a Catholic priest and Anthropoligist, writing from St. Louis, regards the criticism of the Sweedish Ambassador as extremist:
Africans have problems that are peculiar but not insurmountable. Africa's problems penetrate into a lot of sectoral crevices, but that does not mean that there are not some achievements, or that some of these problematic issues are not capable of being transformed. My problem with demagogues whose slant is often to denounce the credible and minute achievements evident in Africa is that they, like most of the bad leaders they write about and vilify with adjectives of hate, are not always much better. That again is an issue of giving and taking, and not enthroning oneself as a totalitarian pontiff with a claim to possessing the total and objective truths. The Swedish ambassador contributed what he sees as an achievement. I would think that as a foreigner to Africa, he possesses an outsider's instinct and perspective that can allow him to more typically address African affairs in cogent light. The fact that he is a westerner, and saying something alternate to the held view of the likes of Ayittey inevitable meant his being denounced. True, we do not want flatterers who would be saying what we want to hear. But looking at the African landscape, we know that certain changes have produced certain outcomes. Take the way the AIDS epidemic in Uganda has been stemmed by President Yoweri Musseveni we can say is a laudable African achievement, and even President Bush affirms the positive dimensions of his policies in that regards. In spite of the perennial leadership problem in Nigeria, we must state that President Obasanjo has done some positive things in the area of freedom of speech and the press, unlike his previous predecessors, and in spite of not been able to deliver fully on his democratic promises, have helped to show the economic dynamism of the Nigerian market environment, through his telecommunication policies that have helped the availability of GSM phones and market expansion. Yes, while income is low in Nigeria, and the rest of Africa for that matter, this kind of policies have translated into helping the business environment by creating some real opportunities, employments, and competitive choices. For instance, phone tariffs in Nigeria continues to be challenged as a result of such competitive drives. Now, the fact is that service industries related to this kind of businesses, are also likely to emerge, and create further avenues of critical opportunities. This is just an example. It might be argued that this has not taken away the massive spread of HIV/AIDS and reduced hunger. In some sense, even this rebuttal would not be totally factual. GSM, availability of IT media- Internet connectivity especially, can be utilized in creating awareness and education against diseases, help in enhancing research opportunities that are likely to foster real changes within and across polities in Africa. Further, while appeal to figures represent an approach of displaying intelligibility, one must remark that all these figures do not represent qualitative progression, nor do they reveal the entire picture of things. Yes, while African leaders are failing, and some continue to swim in the delusion of their utopia, some of the organizations from whom Ayittey quotes have confessed to possessing a partial vision of the realities of things in Africa, and even affirming their failures. At least, the IMF had noted this regarding its policies regarding Nigeria. Qualitatively, does all reality have to be factual, objective because the World Bank and IMF have said? Who writes their policies? What is their access to the real situation of things on the ground? Who constitutes the core of their researchers in Africa? How does painting a gloomy picture enhance their own institutional viability and continuous relevance? If the CIA can fail in its analysis of Saddam's Iraq with regards to the possession of weapons of mass destructions (WMDs), why must all and every institutions be absolutely trusted in their analysis of global situations? Even the UN can at times be self-serving as we have glimpsed from the corrupt practices and interests relative to the Iraq Oil-for-Food operation. Ayittey, as can be glimpsed from references in his many articles and books, is quick to analysis African problems using Western sources- newspapers, magazines- limiting his usage of similar African sources. Why I do not doubt his basic assumption and personal interests at analyzing the core problematic of Africa's majority incompetent leadership, his neoclassical analysis sometimes overshadow the basic realities on the continent and the social interests and agencies that orders them. Hence, I am saying that Ayittey, mainly predicated his political and economic analysis regarding Africa's social issues on porous sets of analytical assumptions that are too general and devoid of ethnographic qualities. Ayittey no doubt loves Africa, and has used his intellectual prowess to help to ensure the growth of Africa through using his imaginations, fervent creativities, and resources. However, is limited grounding in the ontology of African events deprive him sometimes of understand other perspectives that are as objective to their articulators, as much as he views his. On a cogent note, however, realizing the stating point of this dialogue, Ayittey and others, through their voicing and commitment to the African cause, indicate that Africa and Africans possess a certain kind of historical spirit (to paraphrase Hegel who denies Africa such spirits), that are surely to help revitalize Africa. The only sad thing remains, that many well trained Africans with such posture, often fail when they are included in the African political process, when given a chance to ensure the transformations that they once sanctioned (mainly as intellectuals). African intellectuals actually constitutes a problem to African development in the misuse of their imagination. Many have been unable to translate their educational and social capital (that includes exposure to western ideals and development) into political advantages. Hence, while Aggrey (written about by Bagundu) was such a great intellectual and beloved, many including Nkrumah thought he never used that intellectual genius toward an African political advantage, and affirmation of African ideals. Interestingly, we must note too that before Aggrey what is now Ghana in the 16th and 17th centuries (I guess) I am correct had already sent two Ghanaians to the Netherlands for education, who astonished the world with their intellect, taught in reverred universities, and at least one returned home to help the development of Ghana. How many of us can let go of our comfort in the West to contribute to the tangible development of our various African polities. I know all of us cannot do that, but many prefer their convenience here than to go rough it out in Lagos, Accra, Freetown, Nairobi, Dar es Saleem, Yaounde, and such places, not to talk of the other lesser known urban centers. We sometimes talk a lot but we have little commitment to the cause that we talk about. Fear of loss of privilege and status, virtually the same things that scare our politicians toward insecurity, sanctioning corruption, nepotism, and such vices also reduces many of us to truly confront the African reality and project squarely. For Africa to rise from its pit of hopeless, material and numerical figures are not what is solely needed. We, first as intellectuals and activists- or passionists (those with a passion)- must aspire toward moral integrity. Many speak because they want to be noticed, especially to be transmogrified from activists into political office holders, they seek privilege and power indirectly, they engage in desperate measures not true to any moral perspective or ideological value, but out of unbrittled self-serving interests. At times many are too tied to their class interests and the status quo, afraid of becoming Frankeinstein monsters out to destroy their creator. Such depraved ethics of being unable to transcend- to sacrifice for nation and others, to truly serve, and unaccountable is not good enough for Africa. Africa cannot be at its best with such irresponsible attitudes. While the West holds the fort of economic and social development, its advantages over the rest is embedded within the ethical processes sanctioned across the social sphere. The rule of law is as legal as it is ethical. The question is: How many African "rightists" could do what David, the brother of the unabomber, Ted Kazynscki did in pointing to authorities that the "Madman's Manifesto" was the work of his brother, as a way of helping his arrest? Or what the brother of the husband of the Utah woman, Lori Hacker, did to reveal what his brother confessed to authorities? Can we hold our moral ground to tell a member of our ethnic group in government that s/he is corrupt? Don't we often think our "home-boy" or "home girl" in government should steal from the national pulse to come home and build a mansion? Isn't that the ideal of development for most Africans when the looted fund from the national treasury benefit their people and area? African leaders have fared poorly, and they continue to do. The recent logic of the Obasanjo regime to raise gas pump prices, in a country with a low income, erratic in paying worker's monthly wages, and corrupt, rather than ensure availability to ease transportation of good and services across spaces indicate the nature of ignoramus in power, with limited views of ensuring spatial and economic growth. Yet, there is another dangerous dimension which often is not measured quantitatively. This regards the almost taken for granted view held by many Africans, outside of government that affirms and legitimate the right of office holders to public fund as if it constituted part of their private fief. How can such view be transcended or reversed, because right there is an index of future political failure? There is another attitude that is gradually evolving and taking over African consciousness, that no what they do arrogant bandits will try to steal power, and yet consolidate it legitimately. In their despair they are giving-in, despondent they are hurting but disempowering themselves, ever before trying to empower themselves. Such sense of disenfranchisement and disenchantment with the political process is critically dangerous.
I think it is here that one of the suggestion that Leonard Shilgba's initial article becomes vital, namely that religious organizations must become involved in the social process such as political education, and further I add that governmental agencies should partner with these institutions. Religious organizations are closer to the people than many State agencies are- or might claim. Without encouraging their direct participation in politics- given the potentials for direct conflict of interests and confrontation with competing interests (religious and political)- religious organizations can be empowered through regulated, standardized, and accountable funding to help their welfare, healthcare and education systems. In the colonial days, the colonial government did this with the mission schools. It worked, and it can still be modified, toward enhancing its efficient workability in other spheres.