Dr. Edward Kissi writes as an obedient subject:
Happy New Year! I read with great joy that some former heads of state are on this discussion forum. I was also pleased to note that 17 African governments receive mails from the forum. I should also think that there are many former African politicians who are also part of our deliberations on the forum either as readers of mails or contributors of ideas. Your Excellencies, it would be beneficial to the thousands of people in this discussion forum if you would spare some moments to share with all of us the experiences or challenges that you encountered in running the affairs of your countries during your tenure as heads of state or government or politicians directly involved in the making of public policies affecting your particular country.
As you well know, one of the unfortunate facts of political life in Africa is that former heads of state hardly write memoirs of their achievements and failures in office. I am still waiting to see and read the memoirs of former African heads of state such as Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam (Ethiopia) and Lt. (?) Valentine Strasser (Sierra Leone), regardless of the circumstances that brought them to power. Consequently, those of us who need such memoirs to assess what happened, and propose new pathways, are left with little more to depend on than our own sometimes emotional outbursts over what we see as stagnation on the continent, as well as corruption and ineptitude on the part of Africa's leaders---past and current. You might then appreciate the reasons why we have called you all sorts of names: vampire politicians and corrupt officials, to cite a few. Some of us have even gone as far as to characterize the states over which you presided as "predatory" and impugn your integrity in the process. We have attacked and questioned your character often from the comfortable corridors of European and American universities---far away from where you sat to make choices and decisions---good or bad. In many cases, we may not have been fair to you because of a certain lack of understanding of the challenges---domestic and external---that you faced in the administration of your countries. But, you may also understand our sense of despair from the many images of want and deprivation that we see daily in the Western media about Africa, the continent, and the specific countries that you administered. I understand that "lift yourself by your own bootstraps" is an exhortation that none would dismiss. But, perhaps, in the trenches of policymaking, that exhortation may pass for an emotional outburst and not necessarily a serious analysis of a problem.
I have some ideas about the causes of the many problems you faced and our people continue to face on the continent. I have thought about some of the solutions. But I have never run a state and never been in government. Perhaps, this is the time for some frank talk from you about the challenges that you have faced in running your multi-ethnic societies in a changing global environment.
Do not hesitate to share with us some of the choices you made that on second thought you wished you had never made or given another chance you would make differently. Here might be the opportunity to set the record straight for all of us. And, finally, do you think it is a good idea now to revive the thought of creating one super-state---a possible United States of Africa---out of the collection of 54 states on the continent? At a moment in time when the Europeans and Americans who undermined this pan-African idea, at the time of the Cold War, in the 1960s, are considering it necessary to create their own pan-European and pan-American institutions in the 21st Century, should Africa begin to move beyond an African Union political organization (a necessary first step) to a unified state structure with a common currency, eventually?
Thank you very much and all of us would be delighted to hear from you.