My dream for Africa

Phumlani Majozi writes on how the continent can dispel the world's disrespect for it

When Martin Luther King Jr. made the famous I Have a Dream speech in 1963, he dreamed of the United States of America where people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Today, one can argue that the United States has achieved many of Luther’s ‘dreams.’ Like him, I too have a dream; but mine is for Africa.

There is a sense of deep annoyance among Africans about how their continent is disrespected and patronized by some around the world. Although to some extent, this annoyance may be justified, however, rather than frown at  those who disrespect the African continent, it will be better for us to look within, and try to find solutions that will move Africa forward. Because let’s be honest, we have ourselves to blame for the mess that is the African continent.

What Africa needs to do rather than pay attention to those who disrespect the continent is to embrace and appreciate the principles that foster a prosperous society by protecting individual freedoms and respecting the dignity of everyone.

I dream of an Africa where its people and political leaders understand how individual freedom is fundamental to achieving lasting prosperity. It is by appreciating this virtue that Africa’s image will improve. But if governments remain defiant to upholding the rule of law and individual freedoms, it will be difficult to convince anyone around the world of Africa’s promises, not to mention beauty. 

Africans perish in the Mediterranean Sea, when they risk their lives in pursuit of better opportunities in places they believe their freedoms will be preserved. Clearly, Africans cannot be more fed up by the absurdity at which their leaders have embodied impunity and  have failed in creating a prosperous Africa. As such, any leader suspected of grossly violating individual rights or perpetrated crimes that have led to the hardship of a group of people should be tried before a court of law. There simply cannot be a better precedent for making African leaders responsible.

It is embarrassing to see many African leaders—who clearly and deliberately plunged their people into war because of power—fly around the world while millions of Africans live the consequences of these leaders’ greed every day. If no one brings these leaders to justice, it means we are indirectly neglecting their victims. How do we expect Africa to prosper with weak governance?

Poverty is the ultimate consequence

Unfortunately, the neglect of individual rights has contributed to the appalling increase in poverty across the continent. Politicians have failed to initiate sound economic policies to address this problem. Instead, they experiment with backward policies that limit the capacity of the market to provide solutions to serious economic challenges.

It is no surprise that most—if not all—of the African countries with bad human rights records also rank lowest in Fraser Institute’s Index of Economic Freedom, and are, as a result, amongst the poorest in the world. There is no way Africa can become a prosperous society when governance that upholds human rights is nonexistent.

Even Adam Smith made it clear in Wealth of Nations that peace, fair fiscal policies and a proper administration of justice, have to work in synergy to achieve economic progress. It is the reason why the most peaceful countries that respect the rule of law are also those that flourish the best economically.

I dream that in my lifetime, Africa will be free from the actors that have made it poor, and that someday, my dreams for this continent shall come to fruition. This is a continent with huge potential.

Phumlani M. Majozi is a senior fellow at African Liberty. His website is phumlanimajozi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi