AFRICANGLOBE – Many people expected great things from Africa when new independent African nations began to emerge from colonial rule in the 1960s, often headed by leaders who had been educated in Europe and America.
Unfortunately, what these new leaders brought back to Africa from the West were not the things that had made the West prosperous and powerful but the untested theories of Western intellectuals and ideologues who had taught them. Such African leaders by and large lacked both the common sense of the African masses and the technological and economic experience of the West.
The net result was that African leaders, full of confidence because of their Western education and the adulation of the Western intelligentsia, made their people guinea pigs for half-baked theories that had contributed nothing to the rise of the West and had contributed much to its social degeneration.
Poverty-stricken Africa could afford these economic and social disasters far less than the affluent West could. However, African leaders were not judged in the West by their results but by their rhetoric and their visions that resonated with the rhetoric and the visions of the Western intelligentsia.
Thus Julius Nyerere became virtually a secular saint in the Western media while he was driving the people of Tanzania deeper into poverty and tyranny. Nor was he alone.
Conversely, when Felix Houphouet-Boigny made the Ivory Coast an oasis of economic advancement and civil peace, he was either ignored or disdained. He was one of the few new African leaders with any previous experience in business or any understanding of economics. His successors have ruined the country.
Whatever damage European colonialism did to Africa during its relatively brief reign, that was probably less than the damage done later by well-meaning Western would-be saviors of Africa. Africans do not need to be treated as mascots but as people whose own efforts, skills, and initiatives need to be freed from the tyranny of their leaders and the paternalism of Western busybodies.