6th March 1957, Dr Kwame Nkrumah declares the British colony of Gold Coast the first independent African nation south of the Sahara, and names it Ghana. It was the start of what Nkurmah called the “decade of independence” for Africa. He certainly wasn’t wrong. What followed was ten years of many African nations breaking ties with their old colonial masters. Many of them did so with the same Pan-Africanist ideology first popularised by Nkrumah himself. The ideology asserted that Africa’s strength lies in their unity and that independence of any one nation is meaningless unless it is inextricably linked with the freedom of the whole continent. Leaders such as Samoral Michel, Sekou Toure, Patrice Lumumba and Thomas Sankara seemed to have set Africa on a road that culminated in the the realisation of Nkrumah’s vision, a United States of Africa.
Of course this dream has still not been realised. Following the initial independence honeymoon period, almost all of the aforementioned leaders and their nations went through long periods of political, social and economic turmoil. Nkrumah was eventually overthrown in a military coup and later died in exile while both Sankara and Lumumba were assassinated without being able to serve a full term in office.
Nowadays the political landscape in Africa is far more varied. Whilst some nations such as South Africa, Namibia and Ghana can boast a growing economy and a stable democracy, the same cannot be said across the continent. Indeed 9 of the twenty most corrupt nations in the world are situated in Africa according to the UN corruption index.
No one could argue that Africa has achieved continental wide stability. However is the constant portrayal of Africa in the mainstream media as a backward continent, afflicted with rampant poverty, widespread corruption and disease not a little premature? Considering the oldest black African nation that was formerly colonised is not even 60 years old yet, it is clear that Africa, as always, is being judged by a different measuring stick. For vast periods of the last millennia huge parts of Africa, at the hands of either Arabs or Europeans, were ruled by a people other than themselves.
Freedom of speech, a stable democracy and a free press are said to be some of the major aspects of a free society. Is it therefore fair to expect Africa, in 60 years, to achieve what the west is (in my opinion) still very far from achieving after centuries of uninterrupted progression?
Below, Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, schools Mike Wallace on why the west are in no position to brand Africa as corrupt.