Obi Nwakanma refocuses the way we think:
Africa and many African intellectuals have been sucked into this fiction of a global world, in which the local and the particular are either dismissed as romantic, nativist or unsustainable. It does make sense, from the perspective of these promoters of what is now called "globalization", to join the rest of the world in its march towards progress and wealth. In many instances, Africa has been written off as the domain of corruption, disease, tyranny and mind-boggling poverty. A basket case fit only for the charity and the intervention of the world. Saint Geldorf would be immortalized someday as a champion of poor Africa, never mind that he hardly sees them. I am sure that corruption and tyranny exist in Africa. But the same exist in Europe and America, except that we do not call it corruption or tyranny. If any African head of state does what the Italian prime minister Belusconi does in Italy, he would be the subject of several international sanctions and conferences and exhibitions. Now, in saying these, I do not mean that Africa should be burdened with such characters. What I really wish to ask, and it must be excused as the question of one who is truly in search of real answers is: is Africa really poor? What is poverty? Who determines poverty? And what is the appropriate benchmark for determining poverty - real or relative.? I ask these because a real study of African societies will reveal that the retailers of the index of Africa's poverty speak completely in the abstract, and with values and methods so definitively flawed that we must begin to reassess these questions. Does the possession of the so-called luxuries of the west indicate real wealth? Is it possible that we can very well apply Amata sen's dictum that hunger is not and cannot be measured by the availability or not of food but by its distribution. In other words, is Africa suffering from structural rather than natural consequences: closed borders that restrict the movement of goods and people, the lack of sharing of markets, means of production, knowledge, etc. Africa suffers from artificial scarcity and not poverty, it seems. Perhaps, the solution is to go back to the fundamental benchmark established in the 20th century by those like Azikiwe, Nkrumah, Nasser, etc, who pushed for a pan-African co-operation, and the establishment of Africa's trade protocols, defence pacts, open borders, etc as the means by which to ignite a post-colonial African risurgimento. A lot of effort went into it, by the current global powers, to stop this incipient co-operation, especially the talk or the challenge in those years for the establishment of an African military High command, which would have mobilized against the various use of external methods to undermine progressive African governments. I personally think that the generalized notion of African poverty and the failure of its states is highly determined and widely propagated to underscore the the idea of African dependency as a natural fact of history, and to perpetuate the claim that Africa is only good for raw materials rather than finished products. Besides, I also think that the manufacture of African poverty sets the ground for the control of both its natural resources and its means of knowledge dispersal which makes a vast continent with a population of about 800 milliion people incapable of mobilizing a potential market to confront the rest of the world. Perhaps African governments should begin to discuss intra-African trade and the development of a pan-African economic zone, rather than enter into the global fiction. In other words, maybe Africans should, like the Chinese, close its borders, trade within, and develop its vast markets and industries first in order to enter into the global bargain for territory.