The only universities in Africa to feature in the WORLD’S TOP 500 institutions are all in South Africa, vestige of former home of apartheid … Recently, the Angolan government spent $35 million to mark President José Eduardo dos Santos’s 72nd birthday … Nigeria is not far behind in the creation and worship of strong-arm leaders because I was surprised to read of Buhari’s 74th birthday (or a number that should pass unnoticed by citizens of a serious country) being marked with visits to Aso Rock by the usual crowd.
At a time when most African kingdoms were thriving economically in the 14th century, much of Europe was famished and in the middle of civil wars. That was the time Mansa (King) Musa Keita I of the wealthy Mali Empire, 1280 – c. 1337, came to power in 1312.
While in power, Musa expanded the Mali Empire borders, annexing the ancient city of Timbuktu, reestablishing power over Gao for an empire that would stretch about 2,000 miles to include modern-day Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad.
The rest of the world caught wind of his great fortune in 1324 when he made the nearly 4,000 mile pilgrimage to Mecca. That voyage came with a whopping price tag!
Not one to travel on a budget, he brought a caravan stretching as far as the eye could see, … it was an entourage of tens of thousands of soldiers, civilians and slaves, 500 heralds bearing gold staffs and dressed in fine silks, and many camels and horses bearing an abundance of gold bars.[businessinsider.com]
On his stop in Cairo, he spent so much gold and donated so much money to various causes that he caused mass inflation that took years for the city to fully recover from the currency crisis! Imagine that!
From the 14th Century up to the present era, Musa may be the richest person of all time. How? He amassed a jaw-dropping $400 billion during his reign from according to a new inflation-adjusted list which suggests no one has ever been close to such wealth in history!
Today, there is a Mansa Musa, and the syndrome of self aggrandisement, waste, corruption and lack of discipline that would elevate the lives of citizens they rule over in every African leader but they’d rather none of such. Living lives of utter riches within and outside the countries they rule is the order of the day for just about every African ruler while the citizens of their countries wallow in abject poverty.
The worst and most pathetic aspect of it is the shamelessness these leaders show everywhere they go in the world often to go begging for grants or loans that are mere drops in the proverbial bucket compared to the wealth of their countries that they have cornered for themselves.
Nigeria, for example, has earned billions and billions of dollars – perhaps trillions – in oil revenues within the last 25 years, a period that actually started with the first Iraq war but the only things the country can show for that vast wealth can be found in the accounts of past and present politicians, top civil servants and their accomplices in the private sector.
Meanwhile, the country is on a binge borrowing spree just to meet salary payments even though the oil still flows albeit at much-reduced prices. Old borrowings were paid off with fanfare barely ten years ago but the new ones have perhaps exceeded the vast total of the old debts. Result?
Nigerians are groaning under the heavy weight of poverty caused by the usual corruption in high places despite the purported corruption war by President Buhari, a man who has disappointed the millions of supporters who believed they had finally chosen a person who has always had an aversion for the cancer that corruption represents. The “war” is not being worn because it is being selectively fought according to news reports, and the president has not be forthcoming on the list of those who looted, or how much each looter has returned as he had earlier promised.
Another – perhaps the final – opportunity lost to lift the country to its attainable position and give people of African descent everywhere a successful black-ruled country to look up to because until such a country arises, no African or person of color anywhere in the world, would deserve or get any respect. That includes the looters whose multi-million dollar multiple mostly-unused homes clog high-end residential cities of the Western world.
Right now, Nigeria’s education is in shambles as the government, despite its cries of dwindling foreign exchange, is willing to allocate millions in foreign exchange to holy pilgrimages while neglecting education and other development projects. The result is an educational system that has failed to live up to the old standards that used to see graduates compete well in top world universities as graduate students. To illustrate how talented Nigerian students are, most top colleges in the USA have Nigerian students doing very well.
Just this last year, Nigerians made history at Howard University 148th Commencement convocation in Washington D.C. when forty-three (43) of the 96 graduating Doctor of Pharmacy candidates were Nigerians, a whopping 44 percent! The evidences are there in the D.C. area where many Pharmacies have Nigerians – the accents AND names on their uniforms proclaim the fact. At the same commencement where President Barrack Obama (he holds a Law Juris doctorate) was awarded a honorary Doctor of Science degree, Nigerians were awarded sixteen (16) of 27 academic awards.
Nigerians in the medical professions are so many that the Association of Nigerian Physicians in North America is reported to have over 4,000 members and as vast are professional associations but the loss of human capacity through brain is hardly of any worry or concern to every government.
Africa as a whole is in big danger of remaining permanently UNDEVELOPED, not just under-developed because the countries are not allocating enough of their resources to education.
The only universities in Africa to feature in the WORLD’S TOP 500 institutions are all in South Africa, vestige of former home of apartheid: #151 – University of Capetown; #270 – University of Witwaterstrand and #371 – University of Stellenbosch.
Let’s think about that.
Where’s Mali, Musa’s home country today? He had all the opportunities to turn his kingdom to a pride of all African for generations yet unborn in his time but today’s Mali capital of Bamako does not show a country that was very famous in the past, and the country’s people live in sprawling poverty.
Recently, the Angolan government spent $35 million to mark President José Eduardo dos Santos’s 72nd birthday. In 2013, the president’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos, gave a personal loan to the government of Portugal when it was facing a credit crunch.
President Robert Mugabe’s birthday has always been marked by fanfare and celebrations, especially this year, during his 90th birthday celebrations, Zimbabwean media reported that the cost of the fete hit $1 million, in a country where more than half the population lives on less than $1 a day.
Nigeria is not far behind in the creation and worship of strong-arm leaders because I was surprised to read of Buhari’s 74th (or a number that should pass unnoticed by citizens of a serious country) birthday being marked with visits to Aso Rock by the usual crowd.
Isn’t same with Nigerian leaders of today? By any standard, Nigeria’s 170 million population should be among countries that in recent years has launched four satellites into space and now has a burgeoning space program.
Moreover, Nigeria is sitting on crude oil reserves estimated at 35 billion barrels (enough to fuel the entire world for more than a year), not to mention 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Nigeria pays her legislators the highest salaries in the world, with a basic wage of $250,000 (for each legislator), nearly double what British MPs or US Congressmen earn and many hundreds of times that of the country’s ordinary citizens.
Any wonder the ruling elite can afford luxury homes in Maryland, Florida, London or Paris in a society where 95 percent of her citizens live below the poverty line of $1.00 a day.
How did we find ourselves in this self-pity-sentenced situation? We all are accomplices; the leaders and the led. We sold our culture and identification for the embrace of foreign religion. Mansa Musa, in his bid to be a true Muslim had an entourage that is ‘long as the eye can see’, wasting his country’s resources by dashing gold to strangers to impress -that he is da best.
Today, we’re throwing away our culture and identity in the name of modernization. One of the Alayeluwas of Yoruba heritages left his kingdom to visit the ‘world’, was seen standing while the Yeye (his wife) was seated at a function (kind of abomination), seen walking the streets of New York like a scene from ‘coming to America’. He was photographed bowing to the picture of Jesus. Isn’t this Kabiyesi supposed to represent the same Ọ̀ọni that is said to be a divinity who does not bow to any god or anyone in Yoruba cosmology?
According to Yoruba mythology, the Olodumare/Eledumare created heaven and earth, sent Ọ̀rùnmila to create Ile Ife (The Earth). The first and subsequent Ọ̀ọnis were regarded as Igbakeji Òrìṣà, the custodian of all Irunmole and the Oodua race. So, where does his action leave our revered culture? Or the Olu’wo of Iwo, who was seen sitting on his throne wearing a tuxedo with jeans despite the fact that the people from the Western world that own the tuxedo would not be caught pairing jeans with tuxedo? If we continue to belittle our heritage for modernization, who do is to blame for the second slavery through cultural enslavement?
So how do we fix what we have broken?
First, we need to invest in education and research. Education will put people on a path towards good health, economic empowerment and employment. It will help to build more peaceful societies and will liberate us from dependency on government largesse. Ebola was going to wipe Africa from the face of the earth but for education and research, it was curbed and efficient researched treatment was administered to the relief of the world.
Lastly, we need to look inward by investing and protecting what is our heritage. Like India, China, Russia to mention but few, protecting their identities allows them to compete in the comity of the world with their unique identity. They are not seen to rush out for Aids or help from USA, they are fixing themselves to development.
There’re still gold (in material and human) in Africa just as they’re bedeviled by the Mansa Musas of today. Investing within will draw the world to Africa without any solicitation. The prosperity of Africa, particularly Nigeria, resides within; we just need to confront the Mansa Musas, that can take the country to its El Dorado and better still, to its self-described status as the “giant of Africa”.
Finally, here is a list of the ten poorest countries in the world as enumerated by the World Bank, all from the country where heads of state live more lavishly than, or at par, with those of the richest countries in the world.
Central African Republic
Congo, Democratic Republic
A fact to more than chew on.
For more information, including illustrations:
Djinguereber Mosque in Timbuktu [businessinsider.com]
MONDAY, JANUARY 2, 2017. 9:10 p.m. [GMT]