Should The West Be Blamed for Mugabe’s Devils? Another Sincere View

By Mwangi Mbogo

Monday, July 07, 2008

MwangiI personally get extremely upset when I read how 30 or even 40 years after independence we in Africa are still blaming the colonialist for our failings.

Ian Smith may have been a bad man. And maybe his henchmen were also bad and evil. Of course they left poor structures. Enhanced Structural Adjustment Programmes did everyone in. It hasn’t rained in a while. We’re all clear on that, and it no longer washes!

It was not Ian Smith’s troops that battered Morgan and many others to within an inch of their lives. It is not Ian Smith’s wife who is taking all the fashion capitals of the world by storm while her people are queuing for bread and milk. It is not Ian Smith who has single-handedly destroyed commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe with poorly implemented land redistribution policies. It is not Ian Smith who has been on the throne for close to 30 years, and done close to nothing for his people in that time.

MUGABE swore to defend the constitution of his country or some similar oath. MUGABE swore to lift up his people from poverty and to enhance their lives. MUGABE swore to offer leadership and a better life to his people. These things he has not done. We cannot continue to make excuses for poor leadership. We simply cannot. I want to imagine countries like Botswana went through the same kind of challenges – colonialism, ESAPs etc. But look at the quality of leadership there, and therefore the quality of life there.

Not too many years ago, in terms of human history, the Japanese were lambasted as lacking entrepreneurial spirit and lacking a good work culture. Germans were noted for being heavy drinkers and being uncultured and sloths. We can say the same kind of things about Indonesians, Indians and Malaysians. But their leaders cast a vision, rallied the efforts of the people around this vision at great cost and sacrifice to the nations, and 50-70 years later the results are manifest.

What have our African leaders done for us in this respect??

As we moan about colonial legacy, let us remember that countries like ours and Zimbabwe were colonies for no more than 100 years. India was a colony for over 200 years, with all the attendant poor structures and subjugation of the locals that follow with that. Where is India 60 odd years after independence? Where are we?

Bottom line, until we stop trying to blame others for our issues and put our hands to the plow, we’ll continue to wallow in poverty and the attendant self-pitying and blaming of others that come with it.

We need to stand up and take responsibility for our own destiny.

Mwangi Mbogo writes for the Monday Journal and He is a legal counsel and administration manager for a leading automobile company in Nairobi Kenya.