How do we break the increasing number of African population in poverty with our Ethnic political system? Africans always model political system to western countries that gave us Independence. But there are different types of democracy from that practiced in the United States to Scandinavian countries. Their capitalism only varies by the amount of socialism embedded to smooth the harsh reality of the survival of the fittest.
Social safety nets were needed to avoid revolts within live free or die states and cushion the hungry workforce. Yet, corruption is in every political system. Check, balance and in China’s case dire consequences up to and including death might have brought down poverty drastically. Unfortunately, in Africa where corruption is shielded by the cry of due process, rule of law and democracy; tolerance emboldened and increased poverty with unplanned population growth.
Scarcity of basic needs perpetuate poverty and it is the road to mass revolt. Bread and butter imported into our communities have become basic needs. Tell an African that in another 10 to 20 years they are going to produce the greatest number of poor people in the world. He would claim not in his family, village or state. Actually, right now while China and India have reduced the number of poor people in the world by planning ahead, Africans are still in denial.
While poverty has decreased in Asia, especially in China and India, Africa the so called richest Continent now harbors most of the poorest people and Nigeria with most people in Africa leading the way. Yet Nigeria is the place where the most expensive imported luxuries are celebrated everyday on the social media as gifts to spite others.
The only role this insensitive and outrageous taunting of the poor does is incitement, rushing and goading the poor to strike riches any means, known as do or die. It is now the leading cause of making money without sweat, by prayers, drug peddling; as long as there are victims for rituals and fetish sacrifices including their own relatives. So when you see guys spraying money with machines or turn the roof to money rain, you must wonder!
The difference between democracy and dictatorship is the oppression of the poor by the rich on one hand. On the other hand, is the oppression of the rich by the poor. But do not be fooled, each becomes a privileged class and entrench themselves in power until the table turns. The exceptions are those that have been kept out of power for centuries but given token representations on the table of the privileged to justify their goodwill.
African countries have tried each of these political systems except modifying their traditional rule like the Cabinet system of Oyo Empire. Since we have not got it right, regardless, instability and poverty are created within our Ethnic politics. Think of Sudan, South Sudan and Ethnic Parties within each. United States is where Electoral College decides who is the President and in Britain Party chooses Prime Minister. Even then, communist countries like China and Russia call themselves democracy because of direct election of presidents by their people.
Democracy has never been all that it was meant to be. While giving the downtrodden and the dispossessed some relief of choice, there are people that prefer money or security to the freedom offered by democracy. Freedom itself is nebulous since it is not practiced in the capitalist market. Their goal is to make maximum profit for shareholders that comes before common good. So as the rights of the majority become subservient to the minority shareholders, it trumps democracy of one man one vote. Markets does not give equal opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
One can then make the argument that the reason poverty and the number of poor people has increase in Africa and decrease in Asia has more to do with individual greed that can attract death penalty, not so much the party they join. A perfect example is the way individual members cross from one party to another in Nigeria. The fact that their followers continued to vote for their own enslavement indicated ethnic following, not the interest of masses.
Other people prefer security to freedom. As strange as dictatorship is to democracy, it takes strong iron hand to restore peace and security even in a democratic setting. No matter the method of governance between dictatorship and democracy, the will of the privileged in both communities prevails. One is the oppression of the masses by the upper class while the other is the oppression of the upper class by the lower class.
There is this disconnect between Democracy and Capitalism that people assuming freedom fail to understand. While Democracy deals with equal rights and access to privileges, nothing guarantees those in a capitalist society. Not even communist and socialist societies guarantee access to capital for production or investments. The drug companies typified the greed of capitalism by the difference in pay between those at the bottom and the top, their obscene profit to Chief Executive Officers and shareholders.
The rulers, whether from capitalist or socialist countries become the privileged. After all, it was the workers that overthrew the bourgeoisie in socialist countries and the bourgeoisie in capitalist countries rule over the people. Either way, the rulers further their own interest before that of the workers or the people by indoctrination and lately by info media war. The costs are borne by money that is donated for campaign and stomach infrastructure to shape personal interest disguised as national interest or ethnic.
The only factor that matters to our politicians, is individual interest. The party you chose is the one that satisfy your maximum individual interest. African politicians can actually shop around comparing contracts like a job or soccer salary offer before deciding which political party to pitch his tent. Ideology, class and manifestoes have become irrelevant. World’s largest population in poverty cannot be divorced from Party discipline that has broken down in many African countries in general and Nigeria particularly.
Tanzania is an example of a country that tried Ujama to be self-sufficient. This was contrary to world economic order that dictates where raw materials must come from and countries that must purchase or patronize finished goods. Even food that could be locally available must be refined, repackaged and distributed widely by making them appealing. The appeal could be by reorientation, baptism or outright capture of minds.
Bread, even in countries that do not produce wheat has become international measure of poverty. Capitalist countries need patronage of their goods and services. Therefore, they used every means to promote their brands for world consumption at higher prices as finished goods that can be produced with cheap labor and raw imported materials. Wheat bread has replaced stable food in most countries where they do not grow wheat.
How much ingenuity does it take to refine enough petrol in oil producing countries, produce corn beef, sardines, toilet papers or pencils locally? Venezuela is the new poster country for the poison of socialism. It used to be China, Soviet Union and little Cuba.
What is common in each of these countries is the push for egalitarianism that is subject to check, balance and abuse. Yet, the real problem is the lack of motivation, not only to produce more locally for consumption but reliance on outside goods and services creating scarcity of locally produced goods; poverty!
By Farouk Martins Aresa…
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