For so long, Africa has remained at the mercy of foreign donors and the so-called “development partners” for survival – a situation that has reduced many African countries to vagabonds. Perennial hunger, poor infrastructure and lack of basic amenities have been the true nature of the African continent since independence.
But with the continued enlightenment of the African people, the narrative is slowly changing and more people are now yearning for a more developed, self-sufficient Africa. This desire to overcome the existing challenges has given birth to a new narrative of the African renaissance.
Many African leaders have accepted to pursue this concept, both individually and collectively. Here are some of the bold Presidents leading the dream for an African renaissance.
Paul Kagame, Rwanda
On many occasions, the Rwandan President Paul Kagame has boldly and openly questioned the discordant relationship between Africa and the West, taking issue with the way Africa continues to rely on Western “donations” for development. Speaking at the Wall Street Journal Conference in March, Kagame called upon his fellow African leaders to stop relying on foreign donations and start thinking about their own self-support.
“Maybe Africans might be pushed to learn a few lessons and do what they should have started a long time ago, which is to start working toward self-reliance,” President Kagame said.
On another occasion, the Rwandan President strongly criticized the world’s misguided view of Africa as a place where corruption and war are the order of the day, insisting that most of the major corruption scandals happening in Africa involve foreigners.
“Corruption is not African, it’s just corruption. People have developed a misconception that corruption is the way of life in Africa. This is far from the truth. In fact, in Africa when corruption occurs, it involves non-Africans…A lot of what happens in Africa, happens around the world,” Kagame spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.
Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana
Since he assumed office in January 2017, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has been a staunch proponent of the African renaissance, even criticizing the West for holding Africa hostage with donations and expensive loans.
In his recent speech at the V&A in London during the 60th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, Akufo-Addo criticized the world’s perception of Africa, questioning why a bomb attack in Brussels doesn’t necessitate cancellation of flights to Amsterdam, but a single explosion in Mombasa leads to travel advisories against flights to Kampala.
The 73-year-old President had in a subsequent speech warned his fellow African leaders against over-relying on the West for handouts.
“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,” he said.
Yoweri Museveni, Uganda
Although many people have labeled him as one of the worst dictators in Africa, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has often spoken strongly against the continued support and loaning of African countries by the West, insisting that the so-called support has been Africa’s main undoing. The 73-year-old President has been leading other African leaders to shift their focus to the East as a sign of defiance against the West.
“The other week we were in America and we discussed with President Trump and informed him that the Chinese help where we need help; that is infrastructure. Others [West] want to give support where we don’t need it. The Chinese are always focused on our priorities, which include infrastructure, technology transfer and tourism, among others,” Museveni spoke at a dinner held in Kampala to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe
Although he has been one of the most controversial African Presidents, the former President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has played a critical role in pushing for a re-examination of the African independence from colonialists, urging his fellow African leaders to adopt political and economic practices that will hasten the achievement of Africa’s long-held vision of development.
According to Mugabe, who once served as the chairman of the African Union, the first thing that African leaders must do to achieve African renaissance is to take charge of the continent’s natural resources.
“In other words, we should examine the issue of our independence once again. We have the minerals here, the soils, the waters. So, what do we lack? Bold leaders, of course. We must be man enough to say, no,” Mugabe spoke at a previous Ordinary Session of the AU General Assembly.
Although the effect of these bold statements by African leaders still remains to be seen, it is obvious that debate around African renaissance has brought a sense of optimism among Africans.