Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stirred up the lingering debate about Africa’s growing dependency on the West for aid and handouts after over 60 years of independence in sub-Saharan Africa.
The president rejected the idea that Africa needed support from the Western world to develop and challenged the continent to shun the act of regularly begging for aid.
“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent on the basis of whatever support that the Western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked and it will not work.
“We have to get away from this mindset of dependency. This mindset about ‘what can France do for us?’ France will do whatever it wants to do for its own sake, and when those coincide with ours, ‘tant mieux’ [so much better] as the French people say…
“Our concern should be what do we need to do in this 21st century to move Africa away from being cap in hand and begging for aid, for charity, for handouts. The African continent when you look at its resources, should be giving monies to other places…We need to have a mindset that says we can do it…and once we have that mindset we’ll see there’s a liberating factor for ourselves,” Akufo-Addo said during a joint press conference in Accra with visiting French President Emmanuel Macron.
The video of the speech went viral, not only for the confused demeanour of the French president, but for its timeliness in addressing the issue which has been the regular mantra of the continent’s freedom fighters and “total independence” advocates.
Young Africans who probably had not met the era of the founding fathers like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Léopold Sédar Senghor among others, questioned the current crop of leaders who regularly visit Europe and America to seek for aid.
Twitter user Yaw Bediako tweeted: “Now our scientific leaders need to be just as bold… stop letting donors set our research priorities and agenda.”
— Yaw Bediako (@YawBediako_) December 5, 2017
Ifedayo Adetifa disagreed and called for action instead of rhetoric: “Nope! First in line is for leaders to transform rhetoric to action. In this case, let’s have more domestic funding for researching sort out our training before we start addressing the speck in the eyes of donors!”
Nope! First in line is for leaders to transform rhetoric to action. In this case, let's have more domestic funding for researching sort out our training before we start addressing the speck in the eyes of donors!
— Ifedayo Adetifa (@IfedayoTiffy) December 5, 2017
For Kofi Amed, Ghana’s president should rather be cautious in making such speeches to avoid falling out with the west and its organisations.
“Such a laudable Idea but then again let’s remember what happened to Nkrumah Sankara and likes that took a stance against foreign aid and imf impositions on their countries . First of all West should stop meddling and take their hands of Africa . We can make it on our own.”
Such a laudable Idea but then again let’s remember what happened to Nkrumah Sankara and likes that took a stance against foreign aid and imf impositions on their countries . First of all West should stop meddling and take their hands of Africa . We can make it on our own.
— Kofi Amed® (@kofiamed) December 3, 2017
The debate has been ongoing since Akufo-Addo made the speech and thousands have shared the video on various social media platforms in support of what the 73-year-old leader said.
This is not a new statement from an African leader who is in the position to change the status quo. Rwandan President Paul Kagame, ousted Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and former Ghanaian President John Mahama among others have on several occasions called for Africa to look within to solve its problems the African way.
Kagame said in 2014 that: “For me when I am watching television and I find our leaders, who should have been working together all along to address these problems that commonly affect their countries, wait until they are invited to Europe to sit there. It’s like they are made to sit there and address their problems.
“What image does it give of Africa? In fact, the image it gives is that we are not there to even address these problems. We are there for photo opportunity. We are happy to sit with the President of France and just talk about addressing the problems. It doesn’t make sense…”
#Kagame blasts Africa leaders who run to the West to resolve the continent's problems
“We’re there for a photo opportunity. We are happy to sit there in Paris with the President of France and talk about addressing our problems. It doesn’t make sense“ – @PaulKagame #Kigali2014 pic.twitter.com/5FnEsiBDmd
— Caroline Kere (@carolinekere) December 5, 2017