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It’s time for Africa to reclaim its pride

Pride, Africa, pride.

Africa lost its dignity somewhere, and all thinking Africans have to help this continent find it again.

We do not want to be the world’s problem child, the one with learning difficulties that requires every kind of pseudo-expert from abroad. We don’t want all our knowledge and technology to be imported and borrowed from others. We don’t want to be the dunce in the corner who can’t do anything by himself.

We don’t want to be famous for our wars and genocides. We don’t want to be branded by the events of Rwanda and Darfur. We don’t want to be haunted by the five million souls killed so far in that den of vicious insanity called the Congo.

We don’t want to be the world’s beggars. We don’t want to be the needy cousins, the pathetic mendicants who can’t look after themselves. We don’t want to hold out our hats in international gatherings, pleading for the world’s spare change.

We don’t want to be defined by our grotesque big-men leaders. We don’t want to be represented by evil cartoon characters with their convoys of limousines and their brutal security forces and their obscene fortunes and their refusal to leave their thrones.

We don’t want the word ‘tribe’ to be synonymous with Africa. We don’t want to be limited by the villages we were born in and the lakes we played in. We want to be a respected and valued part of the entire human race.

We don’t want to be known just for our bodies, the world’s supplier of human raw material. It does not help us a jot to be branded as runners, footballers and dancers. We must stand for knowledge and its advancement.

We don’t want to be viewed with distaste and suspicion when we travel the world. We don’t want to be the ones stopped in every security queue. We don’t want be the world’s ghetto-dwellers and its most despised underclass.

We don’t want the rest of the world coming to adopt our children. We don’t want pity, or concern, or sympathy, or charity. We want to earn our own money and pay our own bills.

Did that make you feel uncomfortable? Good! It is time many more felt the daily indignities of Brand Africa. Whether we care to admit it or not, the world’s perception of all things African is largely negative.

Pride, Africa, pride. We want our pride back. We want to stand as equals in the world. Enough of this second-class world citizenship. We want respect, and dignity. I know this need burns brightly in the heart of every emerging African. If you are an educated, ambitious, far-sighted African, then you must get involved, heart and soul, in the struggle to put Africa right. There is no bigger mission you need in your life.

So how are we going to do it? To answer that, we must first answer the question of why Africa gets such a bad press. Is it just a question of perceptions? Is it racism, exploitation, neocolonialism? Perhaps. But we would do well to recognise that much of what ails Africa is self-inflicted. We will not reclaim pride by managing the message better, or by spinning the story more seductively.

Africa cannot be resprayed better; a complete overhaul of its engine is needed. Equally, many of its drivers need to be tossed out of the window, for they have only driven it into the mud of indignity. And, most crucially, the manner in which we select and appoint these drivers must be reinvented.

So join me right here next week, to consider how Africa may stand proud again.

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