By Ohemu Godwin Pius
Many years have gone by, yet, I cannot forget one of the most inspiring poems I learnt in primary school about Africa, written by David Mandessi Diop. Like most of my classmates back then, I didn’t quite comprehend the depth of the message of the poem. But as I grow older, I have no greater dream but a constant longing for a new Africa.
- Africa, my Africa
- Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs
- Africa of whom my grandmother sings
- On the banks of the distant river
- I have never known you
- But your blood flows in my veins
- Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
- The blood of your sweat
- The sweat of your work
- The work of your slavery
Unlike the author of this poem, many of us know Africa. Many of us know Africa based on Africa’s narratives of poverty, disease, failed leadership and corruption. The name Africa conjures in the minds of many people images of pity, backwardness, hunger and ignorance. To some people, Africa is synonymous with conflicts and wars. But that is not my Africa. That is not the Africa of my dream.
Africa is a rich continent–rich in people and cultures; rich in natural and mineral resources. Africa is a continent of stunning natural beauty–of mighty rivers, lush green forests, and majestic mountains. With 54 countries and more than 1 billion people, expanding labour force, a robust economy, extensive oil and gas reserves, a largely unexploited petroleum downstream sector, opportunities in strategic sectors as agriculture, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, energy and mining, Africa is full of life, vitality, and vigor. She is a bright spot on the economic horizon of the 21st century–the hopeful continent for sustainable economic growth, investment, and growing democratic prospects.
- Africa, tell me Africa
- Is this you, this back that is bent
- This back that breaks
- Under the weight of humiliation
- This back trembling with red scars
- And saying yes to the whip under the midday sun
No, that is not my Africa. That is not the Africa of my dream. A land where three hundred and seventy-nine million people go to bed hungry–without food, without clean water, and shelter? A land where more than half of the 10 million graduates churned out of its universities on yearly basis are without jobs? No, that is not my Africa. A land that is a hotbed for malaria and typhoid, HIV & AIDS, conflicts and wars? A land with the lowest life expectancy in the world and the highest infant mortality rate? No, that is not the Africa of my dream!
- But a grave voice answers me
- Impetuous child that tree, young and strong
- That tree over there
- Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers
- That is your Africa springing up anew
- Springing up patiently, obstinately
- Whose fruit bit by bit acquires
- The bitter taste of liberty.
Yes, that is my Africa. An Africa springing up anew. An Africa that is healthy–free of malaria and typhoid, HIV & AIDS, and the outburst of epidemic diseases. The Africa of my dream is an Africa where life is better, richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.
I dream of an Africa that is hunger-free. An Africa that is the agricultural powerhouse of the world; the world’s food basket, where through industrialization and entrepreneurship support for youths and farmers, our arable lands are cultivated to feed the nations. I see an Africa that lacks nothing. A land where its dwellers are not plagued by lifetime destitution because they lead in production and are gainfully employed. I envision a land where the Children have not known malnutrition and are proud to be Africans.
The Africa of my dream is an Africa that is happy. An Africa with steady power-supply, good roads and healthcare delivery systems. I dream of a peaceful and secured Africa. An Africa where the period of election is a period of peace and shared interest in the prosperity of our land. I envision an Africa distinctively characterized by good governance, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. An integrated and prosperous Africa where there would be no need for weapons of war but peace and the pursuit of happiness birthed by good governance policies and infrastructural development.
The Africa of my dream is an Africa where the youths are educated, creative, empowered and employed. A land where its leaders provide tools and financing to identify and harness its people resources, build strong manufacturing base and through intellectual investments and human capital development, guard against the menace of brain drain.
The Africa of my dream is an Africa that industrializes sustainably. A land where no one is left behind, including women and young people in charting the way towards inclusive prosperity. An Africa that is not a permanent receiver of aids but a strong and influential global partner. I envision an Africa with committed and sincere leaders with success mentality; leaders who will take responsibility for creating transparent, accountable and credible systems of policy-making and law enforcement. I dream of an Africa that is blessed with people-centered men and women, who will, through faith and insight, conceive a picture of a developed and safe Africa and would wisely employ the continent’s resources to realize this vision.
The Africa of my dream is an Africa that trades with itself. A continent where all of its 54 nations see themselves as partners in progress and unleash economic growth through collaboration, healthy partnership, port reforms, modernized customs and border crossing; build resilient infrastructure and encourage economic diversification through inclusive and sustainable industrial development.
Finally, the Africa of my dream is not a third world. She is not even a first world or a second world. The Africa of my dream is the hope of the worlds. She is the torchbearer for her six siblings, the fountain of peace, justice, liberty and shared abundance.
This is my Africa.