Nigeria, Africa and the first Berlin Wall ~ Japheth J Omojuwa


At the mention of the Berlin Wall, all of you here will naturally have your minds cast back to the era of the cold war. Yes, that chilly war brought about the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 that has since come down. There was a Berlin Wall before the literal one. The partition of Africa right here at the 1884-1885 Berlin conference. 128 years later, Africa continues to let these walls limit its potentials. Last year African governments moved the process that’d have facilitated a free trade area to 2017[1] thereby again postponing a major necessity in its quest for inclusive prosperity. The volume of intra-Africa trade currently hovers between 10 and 13 percent[2]. This means Africa as a country while not being a major player in the global game of trade has also refused to be a player in its own field. In some cases, it is harder for an African to get an entry visa to the United States and Europe than it is to get one to some other African countries. Imagine if America’s 50 states had 13 percent trade amongst themselves. Moldova is one of the least free countries in Europe economically and it is no surprise it is also about its poorest. We cannot create wealth by closing borders against ourselves. It becomes even harder to do that when we don’t even have readily available markets for our final products. Some would excuse the inadequate infrastructure as one reason trade amongst African countries is exceptionally on the low. The reverse is actually the case. Africa’s limited infrastructure is as a result of lack of trading activities. If Africa trades enough with itself, the infrastructures will rise on the bridges of regular trade.

Trade is a disincentive to war. We cannot continue to throw our empty bowls before the West and expect that we will attain prosperity on their charity. We must endure the pain and pleasure of earning our own wealth and prosperity, and enjoy the fruits of our own labour. Easy come easy go like the speed it takes to find money meant for aid in Africa in the private accounts of African politicians and their cronies.


As citizens, Africans must take it upon themselves to champion the path of the continent’s prosperity. The era of leaving it all in the hands of politicians must give way to the era of active African citizens. These ones must not only add their voices to their government’s agenda, they must create their own agendas. More than ever before, African youths have the wherewithal, the tools and the opportunities to drive change beyond doing the norm. Mass protests were a novelty, but with Tahrir Square almost taking a regular spot on our TV screens, the novelty is far fading. We must be looking at better ways of dictating the tune of Africa’s development.

Nigeria must wake up to its responsibilities. Nigeria has too much potential in it any failure on its part naturally draws a whole continent back. We cannot continue to be held down by our giant delusion of being the Giant of Africa. That will not feed the over 112 million poor souls in Nigeria.


Being part of paper presented at the Free University, Henry Ford Bau ,Hörsaal C, Gary Str. 35, 14195 Berlin, Germany | Japheth J Omojuwa is Editor

[1] AU Plans Free Trade Area in Five Years #africa via @allafrica

[2] “Boosting intra-Africa trade” Issues Paper

Speaking of another Berlin Wall…