I read on the telegraph news website today that in a key note speech delivered by Barack Obama ahead of his state visit to Ghana.
He said, “I think part of what’s hampered advancement in Africa is that for many years we’ve made excuses about corruption or poor governance, that this was somehow the consequence of neo-colonialism, or the West has been oppressive, or racism. I am not a big believer in excuses!”
A Kenyan man himself it is welcome relief as a white African man to hear a Black man preaching the truth to his own kind. This slap across the face for the likes of President Robert Mugabe must clearly set aside Barack Obama as one of the few democratically elected leaders that has the guts to stand up to African bureaucrats’ and tell it like it is. No more of this blame it on the white man crap that you have so successfully spun for years as your excuse for outright greed, corruption and failure to govern wisely.
Yes admittedly colonialism created an unbalanced environment of trade, culture and freedom. Yes people were persecuted and struggled under colonialism. I regret that it was white men that caused such pain and suffering, but it was men of 100 years ago, not the children of today’s generation. Zimbabwe was a land with every opportunity to become successful. It was not destitute when Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980. Hell it was profitable and rich for the first 17 years of his rule. So how then is it the fault of the white man that it is in the state that it now lies? The last country in Africa to gain its independence did so almost 20 years ago. Zimbabwe has been responsible for its own demise for 30 years. As Mr Obama says, “Yet the fact is we’re in 2009. The West, the UK and The US have not been responsible for what’s happened to Zimbabwe’s economy over the last 15 to 20 years. It hasn’t been responsible for some of the disastrous policies that we’ve seen elsewhere in Africa. And I think it’s very important for African leadership to take responsibility and be held accountable!”
I wonder how that made Robert Mugabe’s bowls feel as he suddenly regrets having thick cut bacon and eggs for breakfast while his people scratch in the dust looking for a grain of corn to eat. I read some statistics on a website the other night that pointed out that Zimbabwe’s grain production has shrunk from 95% in 1990 to 3% in 2008, tobacco sales becoming none existent, industrial production falling to 5% of its 1990 mark and our annual GDP has shrivelled to a mere $2 billion compared with our neighbour Botswana topping out at $14 billion. Those are some pretty scary facts when you consider that so much could be lost in so little time. And the truth is now spilt for the world to see, and all to hear as Barack Obama tells Robert Mugabe like it is.
I am glad that at last someone has taken the plunge and confronted the African world and laid down the challenge. Sad as it is that we all know that his comments will be hastily swept under the carpets as politicians with worried frowns skulk in corridors wondering what it is that will come out of this rhetoric. An open invitation to Zimbabweans to write to President Obama. Wow. The most powerful man in the nation willing to listen to the poverty stricken few before he even talks to the Executive President himself. Mugabe must really feel uncomfortable as those eggs begin to repeat on him! God he wished he’d just stuck to his wheatabix.
It takes a big man to admit he got it wrong. It takes an even bigger man to admit he got it wrong and strive to put it right. Robert Mugabe is neither of those men. Instead he is a coward who has raped and pillaged his land and lead his people into starvation and abject poverty while hiding behind a lie. But the whole world sees now Bob. So let’s see what you are going to do about it now.