THE 2008 KWAME NKRUMAH MEMORIAL LECTURES BY a, THIRD PRESIDENT (1995-2005) OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA, UNIVERISTY OF CAPE COAST, GHANA.
6TH NOVEMBER 2008
Lecture Two: The 1st 40 years: A flawed Development Dependence Model
Introduction and Abstract
H. M. Osabarima Kwesi Atta II,
In the last lecture, I set the scene for Africa’s independence by exploring definitively what we were, where we were and what we had become at Independence – from slavery and colonisation to the raising of the Independence Flag. I ended the lecture by arguing that in view of that history, African independence was more of a near miscarriage than a normal birth, as there was hardly any serious preparation to ensure Africans would hit the ground running at independence.
This second lecture will also examine the ways by which the newly independent African States and their first leaders went about in those early years consolidating the nationhood, building national economies and raising social welfare, and the obstacles they had to contend with.
Internationally their new leaders appended their signatures to Charters and Institutions in whose founding they had not participated and over the formation of whose normative standards and values in international relations they had had no say – they simply were absent at their conception and inception, and their countries were inducted into deeply entrenched systems.
On the economic front, the new leaders sought to consolidate the base of the “national economies”, broadening the participation of a prospective middle class without fundamentally loosening and questioning the ties to the hitherto colonial metropolitan economies. Thus they tried to promote their economic development through increased embedment to the powerful economies, and what was later to be called the Washington Consensus as the predominant economic philosophy of the post Cold War era.
The Challenges of Nation Building
All changes, reforms and transitions carry with them the seed of instability. Independence of African countries also, by definition, carried with it seeds of instability. The most vulnerable spot is the grey zone between the old (colonial rule) and the new (self-rule). The old has not completely died, and the new has not yet taken root and forum.
The successes or failures of the first few years of independence depended enormously on the founding president. To be able to hold the new nation together such a president needed to be charismatic, strong, capable and honest. Both Nkrumah and Nyerere, among others, had these qualities. Nelson Mandela’s similar qualities enabled him to hold together a nation that for decades had been built on separateness (apartheid).
But going back to the 1960s, the first leaders had to contend with some formidable challenges. The first challenge was how to build nation states where before there were none. Oswaldo de Rivero puts this challenge in its historical context as follows:
In the majority of the industrialised states, national identity preceded the formation of the state authority. The nation, reflected above all in the joint emergence of a middle class and a market of national dimensions, formed the base of the modern state. In contrast, in most of the so-called developing countries, this sequence was reversed. The political authority—the state—emerged from the independence process before the nation, that is, before the development of a true bourgeoisie and unifying national capitalist economy. (De Rivero 2001:4)
The challenges of nation building at independence, and their impact on development, should never be underestimated considering that colonial rulers taught one tribe or religion to distrust another, and the policy of “divide and rule” was feeding on, and accentuating, ethnic and religious differences and antagonism.
One can only imagine the challenge, after decades of indirect rule and “divide and rule”, to unite the 250 ethno-linguistic groups of Nigeria into one nation-state. The views of two prominent independence era Nigerian leaders are instructive. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa from the North, who became the first federal prime minister of independent Nigeria, is quoted by Martin Meredith to have said: “Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs and customs and do not show themselves any sign of willingness to unite…, Nigerian unity is only a British invention.” Obafemi Awolowo, a prominent Yoruba leader said: “Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression.” (Meredith 2005: 8).
Both these comments were made in the late 1940s, but the feeling endured way into Nigeria’s independence.
Thomas Pakenham, the British historian, explains how the Belgians scrambled out of the Congo in 1960. He says: “Unprepared for party politics, the country (Congo) split along ethnic and regional fault lines. When the Belgians scuttled out of the Congo in July 1960, they had left the country well prepared for civil war and anarchy. The prospect of their departure from Ruanda-Urundi, though delayed for two years, had the same disastrous effect.” (Pakenham 1991: 678-9)
The challenge of nation building also required strong leadership, and other unifying forces. The first leaders had to symbolize the new nations, and had to be strong. It is easy today to accuse them of having been autocratic, or in other ways deficient in their democratic credentials. But this criticism has to be weighed against the imperative to literary hold the new “nations” together.
As Meredith notes, “As founding fathers, the first generation of nationalist leaders – Nkrumah, Nasser, Senghor, Houphouët-Boigny, Sékou Touré, Keita, Olympio, Kenyatta, Nyerere, Kaunda, Banda – all enjoyed great prestige and high honour. They were seen to personify the states they led and swiftly took advantage to consolidate their control.” (Meredith 2005: 162).
Today it is easy to discredit the words of Houphouët-Boigny when he said, “Democracy is a system of government for virtuous people. In young countries such as our own, we need a chief who is all-powerful for a specific period of time.” In those days, this was often common sense, if not imperative.
Despite the heavy odds against national stability that the founding fathers faced at independence, Africa was able to register considerable and admirable success – especially in terms of nation building. Constructing unity in the new polity was no easy task. Many of the states became independent in the eleven years 1957 and 1968. The British historian, Thomas Pakenham describes this period as follows: “The scramble out of Africa in the eleven years was pursued at the same undignifies pace…as the scramble into Africa more than half a century earlier. For one thing, these countries perceived that the race was to get out through the door before they we kicked through it.” Pakenham 1991:671).
Nation building is a continuous process. It concerns newly independent nations forging a unity from a diversity of ethnicities, cultures and religions. It also concerns old established states adjusting to population changes – such as the USA grappling with Hispanic immigrants and the UK with growing Muslim immigrants.
With regard to political governance early leaders moved to make the constitutions more democratic and representative. They broadened the electorate, improved the electoral machinery and formed governments that were substantially inclusive. This was progress, except that the reforms were undertaken based on governance principles, framework and culture of the hitherto “mother” country. There was the assumption that there were overwhelming similarities between the life expectations and social values of the former colonial power societies and the ex-colony societies. This flawed outlook was to be the cause of political instability in later years. For even if it raised the hopes and materials expectations of the new citizens, the system could not be sustainably implemented without substantial financial resources.
Many African countries could not be said to have had economies of their own at independence. Their economic link with the world was through the instrumentalities of the metropolitan economies. The acknowledged writer on African history, Basil Davidson, described their situation as follows:
“To these political difficulties on the road of stability, all of which were built into the situation on the day of independence, others of an economic and social nature were added. For what the new governments were obliged to take over.. was not a prosperous colonial business, but, in many ways, a profound colonial crisis.” (Davidson 1994:209).
Political and Economic Malnutrition
Writing a week after Tanganyika’s independence TIME Magazine noted that “The biggest immediate problem facing Nyerere is economic malnutrition.” Nyerere himself noted in the same issue: “Our policy is to make haste slowly, but it may be hard to sell this to the people. Freedom to many means immediate betterment, as if by magic. We are not magicians. But unless I can meet at least some of these aspirations, my support will wane and my head will roll just as surely as the tickbird follows the rhino.” Happily his support did not wane.
The malnutrition was shared by many other independent African states. That to-day they show profiles of national economies, with structures of indigenous economic ownership and financial management is a tribute to the hard work of African leaders in the first three decades of independence. Among the obstacles was the existence of comprador economic enterprises firmly directed from the metropolis. Another was the conditionality of metropolitan markets to allow in only raw commodity exports. Another and insidious one, was the adroit salesmanship by developed countries of the strategy of aid as the factor of development for the newly independent countries whenever they tried to mobilise robustly the strategy of self-reliance. Aid dependence has proved to be a serious constraint to possible post independence economic surge, as I shall show later on.
I must concede, though, that one of the greatest tragedies of post-colonial Africa was the use of power and ethnicity for personal economic gain. The other was the emergence of the category of leaders I describe to as tyrants and looters—the villains of postcolonial Africa. This harmed efforts at nation building, and ultimately led to political instability and economic collapse.
But miscalculation by African leadership also contributed to the slow down in the economic struggle for the betterment of people’s lives. Leaders were misguided not only by the economic strategy and philosophy sold to them but also, for some of them at least, by their acquisitive looting instincts on the one hand, and by the importunities of the cold war on the other. Oswaldo de Rivero describes this phenomenon thus:
During the Cold War, many of the unfinished national projects, euphemistically called ‘developing countries’, acquired strategic value…This provided them with room for manoeuvre, enabling them to obtain economic aid and political support from one of the two power blocs, and to finance their economic non-viability in this manner. This strategic subsidy allowed many countries to survive despite profligate economic policies and excessive state interventions and it allowed them to indulge in extravagant dreams. (De Rivero 2001:5)
This is undoubtedly a patronising appreciation. One needs only to recall that first generation leaders, notably Kwame Nkrumah and Gamal Abdel Nassar, were among the founding members of the Non-aligned Movement in the 1950s and 1960s which motivated the newly independent and developing countries to “decouple” themselves from the Cold War. But there is no gainsaying that military regimes retarded economic construction. Some of the coup d’etats and civil wars were externally instigated or influenced as part of the Cold War. Some were internal as leaders failed to keep independent African countries united. Some were a result of the crisis of unfulfilled expectations for the “fruits of independence.” Some were pre-emptive as people in the military feared for their lives or wealth. Some were manifestations of, or responses to, ethnicity in politics and commerce. And some were a combination of one or more of the foregoing. With the benefit of hindsight, the question should be asked: Were those military coups a consequence of bad leadership, or were they in fact the main cause of bad governance across Africa?
The outcome was that between the first sub-Saharan military coup d’état that led to the assassination of Togolese President, Sylvanus Olympio in 1963, to the overthrow of Mobutu in 1997, more than 70 coups had taken place in 32 countries over a period of 34 years; an average of two military coups each year. (Reader 2002: 667)
Nzongola-Ntalaja (2002) describes the Congolese experience in the following terms:
The negation of democracy and the popular will through Mobutu’s usurpation of power in 1960, 1965 and 1972, and through Kabila’s self-proclamation in 1997, were made possible by the external backing and/or endorsement that these actions obtained in the international community. For these external forces with a vested interest in the Congo’s enormous size, geographical location and bountiful resource endowment, it is preferable to deal with rulers who they can hope to influence and manipulate, rather than democratically elected leaders who are accountable to their national constituencies. (Nzongola-Ntalaja 2002:2).
There is no doubt that military coups are to blame for a significant part of Africa’s economic problems and poor record in terms of poverty reduction. Military coups not only disrupt economic activity at home, but certainly discourage Foreign Direct Investment. But the evidence also shows that the military coups were not always caused by bad governance and poor leadership; certainly not during the Cold War when most of the coups took place. At that time, a government’s democratic record was subordinated to where it stood in the East-West divide of the Cold War. This too has to be factored in if we want an objective analysis of Africa’s poor economic performance in its first 50 years of independence.
Fortunately, to-day, in the African Union family of nations there is firm commitment to avoiding civil strife and wars, to organise for both prevention and resolution of conflicts and to shun coupd’etats. In 2002 these conflicts numbered 22; they dropped to 5 in 2005 and now remain two volatile ones – Darfur in Sudan and Kivu Province in the DRC. There was a time in the 1980s when more than half the African governments were military juntas; there is only one to-day, in Mauritania. And by resolution the African Union will not accept in its councils nor treat with any leader who comes to power through unconstitutional means. But has the role of the military been thought through and harmonised as African states cooperation and integration is accelerated?
Africa is now awash with the rain of political multipartism. Multi-party politics, with the divisive tendencies they often spawn, and in the competitive environment of the market nationally, regionally and internationally, has brought into great relief the imperative of devising home – grown systems of government. More and more countries are putting into place efficient institutions and systems to advocate, economic and social life of our people and countries. A political culture is emerging which is characterized by tolerance and inclusion, participation, transparency, accountability, constitutionalism and the rule of law and a robust war on corruption. The result is a trend of political and economic management which is strong, resilient and capable outliving their founders and current leaders. In this evolutionary process the nature and role of civil society and non-governmental organizations needs to be re-examined to protect them from external diction.
These days African countries are criticised and nauseam for being unviable, failed, courtier, satellite, sycophant or corrupt states. I cannot emphasize enough the need for African ownership of the governance agenda as the indisputable realisation of the independence aspiration. Without such ownership, sovereignty and democratic legitimacy are questioned. It is the condition of self-reliant development in dignity. We must cease echoing Western self-serving prejudices. As the Ghanaian proverb states, “The chameleon says that others respect you if you respect yourself, and that is why it walks like a king.” It is time for African leadership to behave like the proverbial chameleon!!
Global Economic Imbalance
In trying to claim a rightful, respected and equitable share in the prescriptions for world economic development, the new African states mooted the project of a New International Economic Order. This was a proposal to remedy the fact that the existing international economic system favoured the developed (and largely ex-coloniser) countries of the North. In addition it was a recognition that the Breton Woods Institutions, established at the end of the second world war to stabilise and reconstruct the economies of the victors, was inappropriate and unresponsive to the needs of the newly independent countries. For the decision making in these institutions was structured to influence the flows of trade, capital and technology in favour of the North and to the disadvantage of the South.
The proposal was deftly thwarted by the dominant powers who proceeded to tout and oversell aid as the right strategy. Thirty-seven years ago (in 1970), governments of the developed nations agreed in the framework of the United Nations General Assembly to provide 0.07% of their Gross National Income (GNI) as Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to the developing countries. Only four countries have fulfilled this commitment – Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden.
In the first three decades of the second half of the twentieth century, which were the early years of African independence, African leaders looked to the World Bank and the IMF for development finance (especially on concessional terms) and for financial policy advice in planning and managing their countries’ economic growth. We forgot that these were not neutral tools of development. The resulting stress on their economies is now history: for these institutions operated to their founding purpose and mission, which was to promote and sustain the construction and prosperity of their founding industrialised members, most of them of the North.
The Albatross of Debt
Developed countries, bilaterally and through international financial institutions readily loaned African governments. Regardless whether terms of the lending were soft or commercial, the cumulative effect was gross indebtedness by the borrowing counties. When payments became due countries realised that they could only honour their obligations at the cost of reduced delivery of social and economic services to their people. In other words the payment pressure was anti-development. Unfortunately some of them succumbed to the importuning of the lenders to borrow even more to settle their debts, ignoring the African admonition as expressed in the Shona proverb that “A debt does not settle another debt”; and that of the Igbo that “A debtor who borrows to pay their debt is still a debtor”.
Many of the African countries became heavily indebted. The argument that these policies had led to unpayable debts did not find favour with their creditors. And some of the countries graduated into the new category of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCS)! From this morass emerged the strategy of the “Washington Consensus” to right the economies of embattled developing economies, which boiled down to trade and market liberalisation, privatization and the transfer of assets from the public to the private sector, reduction of public expenditure through cuts in social welfare, and deregulation. I must emphasize that in so reflecting I do not point fingers; rather I acknowledge that we participated in this saga. I must also confess to wondering whether African leaders had really any choice in decisions we made!!!
In his recent book, my country’s Central Bank Governor, Professor Benno Ndulu refers to the U-shaped curve of post-colonial economic growth in Africa. Beginning with average per capita growth rates of around 2% in the early 1960s, these rates rose to almost 5% by 1970 before declining steadily and eventually turning negative in the mid-1980s then bouncing back to around 2% in the mid-1990s. Between 1960 and 1973, 13 African countries had higher growth rates than the global average. These were Botswana, Côte d’ Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania and Togo. (Ndulu, 2007:35-6).
Let me repeat, I do not under-estimate the culpability of African leadership on the effect of policy choices, economic management and economic performance in Africa. There were instances of self-induced economic crises and failed experiments, in particular import substitution through ambitious industrialization, (e.g. Ghana, Tanzania, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sudan, Zambia) excessive nationalisations, and undervaluation of the role of agriculture. It is now recognised, and I personally advocated this during my presidency, that macro-economic fundamentals properly tailored to country peculiarities and specificities, are critical to economic reform and growth success. But in those years the prescriptions of the International Financial Institutions were unacceptably arrogant, unrelated to the situation on the ground and dismissive of their impact on people. In the last ten years there has been a marked effort on their part to review their remit, mission and operations, but that is matter for a separate discourse.
In the current decade in particular African countries have featured growth economies of up to 7. This development has been rightly lauded. But the acknowledged phenomenon of increasing poverty suggests that the benefits of such growth have not had the trickle down effect anticipated. Now with the global financial turmoil, increases in food and fuel prices, the prospects are for diminishing growth. Indeed the World Bank foresees Sub-Sahara growth slowing down to 6% and inflation increasing to 12% this year. It also senses in the making, volatile commodity prices and declining resource flows to Africa. Senior UN and Western Government officials too suggest that the “ripple effect” from the financial crisis would eventually force governments to cut back on the amount they actually donate to developing countries. All these are reasons that should force us to step up our vigilance and rethink our options and strategies for growth and development.
When within a decade it became obvious the strategy of aid was effectively a poor starter the prospect of Trade in place of Aid as the solution to development resources for developing countries was mooted and is now loudly touted. Whereupon we succumbed to the exhortation that we open up our markets to foreign goods and foreign capital in order to stimulate those sectors in our countries’ that would enable us to compete in the global export market. We signed the Uruguay Round of Agreements (URAs) on trade negotiations. I do not think many of us were fully aware of the risks we were taking in signing them. When these became institutionalised and enforceable in the new World Trade Organization (WTO) we have had to put in hard, exhausting work into the trade negotiations to try to redress some of the inequities embedded in the URAs – under threat of sanctions.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in his Neo-Colonialism
Africa is a paradox which illustrates an highlights Neo-Colonialism. Her earth is rich, yet the products that come from above and below the soil continue to enrich, not Africans predominantly, but groups and individuals who operate to Africa’s impoverishment.”
We ignored this, then and now, fact of life to our economic peril.
What we have discovered entering this twenty first century is that instead of industrialising and carving out a niche export market in the global value chain of production and exchange, much of the South, but especially of Africa, was systematically de-industrialised. Instead of becoming export competitive, we became trapped into our historical past as essentially producers of raw materials for export. With trade liberalisation, we in Africa even lost control over our domestic and regional markets to manufacture products first from the North, and then, during the last decade imports from mostly Asia.
The historical economic ties inhibited an early exploration of the potential for greater and more favourable ties with other developing countries of the South. Thus for example, Africa’s exports to the rest of the world declined from 7% to 3% between 1960 and 2006. Those between Africa and economies in transition declined from 4% to 1%. But exports to developing economies of Asia increased from 6% to 16% in the period, an indicator of the great potential. African countries need to increase the momentum to restructure their trade partnerships and strengthening links with the growing economies of Asia and Latin America.
Now that the paucity and unpredictability of Trade is demonstrably faulted as a predominant development factor, a new mantra, namely, Aid for Trade is being merchandised to developing countries!!
Movement to Cooperation and Unity
The most memorable and articulated belief and challenge in all corners of the continent has been that Africans would only be free when the forces of colonialism and apartheid were completely routed. Dr. Nkrumah gave momentous expression to this vision when he declared at Ghana’s independence that “Ghana’s independence is meaningless unless it is linked up the total liberation of Africa”. It is articulation of this vision which makes Dr. Kwame Nkrumah an enduring icon of African liberation and African history. Much as he rejoiced at Ghana’s victory in ending “the long, long night of colonial rule” and immersed himself in building the new nation, he recognised his country’s duty to step up its political and material support to the liberation movements in the remaining colonies and in apartheid South Africa. Previous speakers in this series of lectures have outlined comprehensively the breadth and depth of Ghana’s and Nkrumah’s engagement and contribution to the African liberation struggle. I do not want to plagiarise them.
But Nkrumah did not see the independence of the individual colonies and apartheid South Africa as an end in itself. He considered independence a tool for forging an African polity and an African personality. Such independence was expected to be the precursor to a United Africa. He foresaw a larger Africa of integrated ex-colonial states. He advocated the emergence of a continental government of Africa. As Africa became free more and more leaders accepted and professed this goal, although they may have differed on approaches to its realisation.
On both issues Africa has established a glorious record. The independent states lined up to form the Organization of African Unity as a first step towards continental government. It has now transformed itself into a little more active African Union, with instruments for promoting and monitoring peace and security, economic development and generally good governance. But more importantly, in addition to individual state support to the liberation movements, they empowered the OAU’s African Liberation. The Continent is now totally free of colonialism and totally free of apartheid – except for the disputed Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
The Profile in International Relations
I have always maintained that next to Independence the best thing to have happened to Africa was the end of the Cold War that had turned Africa into the battleground of East and West. In fact the end of the Cold War also helped to accelerate the dismantling of the apartheid regime in South Africa exposing the illegitimacy and deadly spuriousness of the West’s policy of “constructive engagement” with apartheid South Africa, and thus enabling Africa to be truly free.
Independent African countries were literally born into the Cold War. Decolonisation itself became part of the Cold War. The Cold War forced countries to look externally rather than internally at an important, defining moment of their history and formation as nation-states. With its end African leaders could not play one side against the other. Moreover they were now blatantly compelled to be held to the standards of political and economic governance of their government development partners and international financial institutions.
What happened in the twenty years between 1973 and 1993? We can try to find an explanation for this twenty-year decline within the continent, blaming African “Big Men”, wrong policies and poor governance. There is without doubt some merit in this explanation. But we can also be more objective and comprehensive, and look at the external context, including in relation to the Debt Crisis, the Structural Adjustment Programmes and the Washington Consensus.
However, the end of the Cold War has made African introspection possible. Africa has now learnt to come to terms with its post-colonial history. The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and especially the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) would not have been possible under the cloud of the Cold War. By focusing internally, it has now become possible for African leaders, under the auspices of the African Union (AU), to agree on a set of core principles, guidelines and values that can guide African governments towards improved leadership and governance for development, without the resentment that such a framework would have elicited if it were prescribed for Africa by developed countries. African ownership of the governance agenda is paramount.
On the international scene African countries need to work harder and more earnestly to harmonize their position with regard to relations with other political groups. There is recognition that the voices of the developing and the larger emerging economies ought to be more heard and respected in the Councils of the United Nations. In terms of numbers stronger emerging economy countries in Africa are invited to G8 Summits; but they have no clear mandate from the AU. At the joint African Union and EU Summits common positions emerge on the spot. At TICAD, Africa-India, Africa-China Summits there is the fearful impression that Africans are takers rather than givers, and that their agenda is ad hoc.
Nevertheless, in terms of political governance, economic governance, regional cooperation and integration, as well as self-ordained stability, Africa has much to be proud of in the aftermath of the Cold War. Kwame Nkrumah would have been pleased and would have applauded these very significant achievements. I am not sure, however whether he would not be dismayed by what I see as a diminished political will for African integration on the one hand and the slow, uncoordinated response to the importunities of our erstwhile colonisers and their economic allies.
The Call for Afro-Centric Leadership
My leadership experience convinces me that the following issues are critical for Afro-centric leadership if the continent is to make greater headway in growth, development and poverty reduction:
- The Afro-centric leadership capacity and ability to create and sustain politically stable and peaceful states, even as these states grow towards Union.
- The Afro-centric leadership capacity and ability to create and sustain stable and viable economies, in terms of their internal capacity for survival and their pursuit of South-South Cooperation alongside their engagement with a globalizing world.
The Afro-centric leadership that nurtures and ensures participation and sharing, not only of political power, but of economic prosperity as well.
· The political will to create and sustain Afro-centric democratic, responsive and accountable governments - both national and local - that bestow legitimacy upon any government.
· The imperative to focus on agriculture, food security and rural development as a cornerstone of poverty reduction efforts and Afro-centric development.
· Human development, including education and health (especially diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB).
· Afro-centric leadership to develop and facilitate skills for contemporary Africa, business environment, local entrepreneurship, and guarantees for the property rights of the poor.
· Investment in integrating regional markets and Afro-centric economic infrastructure.
Of these reinforcing factors for good governance, those of inclusion and participation are in remarkable deficit in Africa, with regard to policy space and actualisation, for women. The global view of women’s role is that they are oppressed and humiliated in modern African society. Nothing mirrors this image more than the portrayal of Africa as the hotbed of the culture of female genital mutilation, and rape as a weapon of civil war. However unfair and inflated this global portrayal may be, it remains a fact that certainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, women have very limited influence and power in political and state management. Rethinking and reforms are overdue to enable women have greater political participation and statutory empowerment – by election or appointment – to decision making positions. We must vigorously pursue the goal of seeing women and men participating on equal terms in determining the challenges facing our counties and finding their solution.
A major hindrance to the drive for human resource capacity building is the epidemic storm of HIV/Aids infection and related deaths, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is recognised as the epicentre of this global malady. Of all those living with HIV, about 22.5 million, or 68% of the world’s total, are in Sub-Saharan Africa. The region accounts for the same percentage of people newly infected with the virus, as well as 76% of those who die of Aids. This epidemic is decimating the existing trained and skilled labour force – from industrial workers to professional cadres and those in the uniformed services. We must now acknowledge that it is creeping into our formation, capacity building institutions, including high schools, vocational training centres and universities. In tackling this epidemic two thrusts are urgently outstanding. First, Africa must take the front initiative to research into its causes and transmission. Second, production of ant-retroviral ameliorating the life prolonging medicine. Such an AU, continental initiative should be the response to the image of this as an African disease.
The rethinking of Africa’s stance on some of these development challenges will be the subject of my final lecture. My clan name, namely Mkapa, is that of the tortoise, and the Nigerian ancestral wisdom enjoins me to believe that “The tortoise cannot make any progress until it sticks its neck out”!
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