Liberty and Africa, the path to Freedom



By Adewale R. Bankole .


Liberty is the ability to live one’s life as one wishes while respecting the lives of others, “You own your life”.
In order to live, one must produce those things that sustain life. What you are able to produce or invent turns out to be your product, or "the fruits of your labour’’.
Your product is your property, which is the result of your creative thinking, your time and energy to innovate and bring unimaginable ideas to reality, which are valuables that can be exchanged with mutual agreement.
In turn, a good government will exist only to protect this liberty, "your liberty’’, not to redistribute wealth, nor to grant special privileges, nor to interfere with the lives of individuals. The government of a free country, properly speaking, rests not in its elected officials but in its laws.

This is usually known as "government of laws, not of men".

Taking it up from this premise, Africa more than any other continent has suffered most from the near absence of liberty. The distortion of African freedom dates back to the days of the slave trade and the colonial era.
The colonial period is gone and long forgotten; still many African nations have spent their post-colonial era trying various forms of failed government, including Marxism and military rule.

Of all the several effects of slavery, of which Africa had more than most, the slavery of the mind is the greatest and worst. Slaves don’t have the rights even to think on their own or to experiment with new ideas; slaves don’t own anything; slaves don’t invest or buy because they have been bought. This is the only effective method slave-masters use in retaining lordship over their subjects. Consequently, tyranny in modern governments is to some extent a carryover from the colonial era which is long over but has bequeathed a seemingly everlasting effect.

Tyrants and dictators have proliferated, especially in post-colonial Africa, not so much because of their ingenuity but because they operate an inherited hierarchical, repressive political structure, and have used it to oppress the people, limit enterprise, violate individual liberty and freedom.
Most African governments do not understand liberty and the dynamics of the market. Instead they believe, or pretend to believe some of the myths associated with it. For the few who understand, what they promote is “crony capitalism” – a system in which the national capital is little more than a gigantic pulsating hive of “rent-seeking” lobbyists, bureaucrats, consultants, hacks, and floaters, and in which public corporations were sold in corrupt closed bids to the “friends of government’’ in the name of liberalization.

To the people of Africa, globalization has meant little more than their "leaders" flying off to conferences – at the people's expense – in other countries. As I write this piece, there is breaking news that a new country, "Azawad", just broke away from Mali; Mugabe of Zimbabwe is in renewed nationalisation mode,  expropriating  privately owned businesses despite the mess and astounding negative growth and billion-percentage inflation the country recorded in the past years;  Boko Haram – a radical Islamic sect is threatening Nigeria's unity, with bomb explosions almost on a weekly bases in the northern part of Nigeria ; The north and south of Sudan were battling over the oil rich Heiglig region. These are sobering realities that threaten liberty and freedom in Africa.

All across the African continent there is barely any country today without issues centering on violation of individual liberty, property rights and economic freedom, which are the results of despotic governments.

Today, despotism has become the canker of African continent, George Ayittey in his most recent book titled Defeating Dictators: Fighting Tyranny in Africa and around the World (2011), he observes that “modern dictators come in different shades; races, skin colors and religions, and they profess various ideologies” . This notwithstanding, despots have a lot in common: they are leaders who are not chosen by their people and, therefore, do not represent the people’s aspirations. As opposition mounts against them, they refine their tactics and learn new tricks in an attempt to stem the tide of pro-democracy forces.

Men should seek their freedom, remembering that anything less places their survival on the emotional sentiments of men who have never permitted themselves to know the essence of liberty. Hence to win the battle for liberty in Africa, we must begin with intellectual freedom. Intellectual begins with the knowledge of the Truth. The Liberty of the individual is a prerequisite to the Liberty of the State.


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