The narrative in almost every African country runs on the same lines - there is widespread poverty for the majority of the populace. Life for many is simply an experience of making sure there is just something to eat by the end of the day. At the same time, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, such that reconciling such a yawning gap is a Herculean task. The rich have a lot to lose if everyone else benefits.
The roots of massive inequality in contemporary African society can be traced back to the epoch of colonialism. It was the advent of colonialism that set in motion segregationist policies, and the effect of these policies was to strip the black man of everything he attached his dignity and self-worth to. These policies severely disempowered Africans to the extent that Africans were economically naked. While all of this was being strictly enforced, the settlers got rich from the pains of the Africans. The way that an economy would be set up in a colony was to the effect that only the white man benefited. Here was a brutal form of capitalism that never cared about humanity at all. Riches were supposed to be determined according to skin colour. And the black man, to whom the superiority of the settlers' armies were a never-ending menace, could only resign to a miserable fate.
Colonial systems were set up on one premise - the white man must be rich, and the black man must be poor because well, in the intolerant views of these colonizers, a black man was not even close to being human. And that is how pathetic, frustrating and debilitating this was. The whole economic structure was an absurdity because the black man was not allowed to fully partake in the economic activities by European standards. The European settlers, who continued to flock Africa because of the continent's beauty and richness in natural resources, rushed to divide land for their own selfish and parochial interests. They took up the best, fertile land in Africa, especially in countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Kenya. As they took all the best land for themselves yet comprising of only a minority, the vast majority of black people were condemned to "reserves" and other "native areas" where the land was absolutely unproductive for economic gain. Such an imbalance resulted in the black person being totally divorced from the prospects of economic success, in their own land.
In urban areas, white people damned the Africans to the "ghetto." This in itself is a hotbed of everything, from positive to negative. They took up land in the more aesthetically looking places. In all this, they were just a minority imposing their whims on Africans, and unrelenting in their imperial drive. Many more European immigrants came to African colonies, and immediately soaked up the racist attitudes that prevailed.
Upon independence of many African countries, the glimmers of hope that once illuminated political landscapes have fizzled out. Many African leaders are unapologetic despots, who have caused further suffering for their fellow African brothers and sisters. They have failed to rectify the systemic wrongs brought about by colonialism, they failed to dismantle systems that exploited black labor, they failed to improve conditions for the black man.
As a result, sadly, there is overwhelming poverty in Africa. Our leaders have failed to rescue the black man.
The attack on the economic and social welfare of the Africans comes from the legacies of colonialism. And these are compounded by the failure of African leaders to lead economic transformations in their country so that the gap between the rich and the poor is reduced.
The undying hope is that one day a new crop of bold leaders who are inspired by principles will emerge from Africa and lead the continent to its supposed glory.
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