It’s great to have this positive outlook that things in Africa can and will change soon. And if possible, change in our lifetime. But my goodness, the whole situation inspires very little hope doesn’t it? I’ve been back for less than six months and the hopelessness is palpable and waiting at the door.
It’s there when I see children as young as six with their begging bowls walking around town. In northern Nigeria, these kids are called the Almajiri. It’s said that their parents send them to the city for Islamic school but their masters let them roam the streets to beg. Someone tried explaining to me that moslems are obligated to help them so it isn’t like they won’t have food. This is true to an extent, but kids shouldn’t have to beg or wear tattered clothes and walk around unsupervised around town at such a young age! What does this say anout a society that’s too preoccuppied to protect its most vulnerable? Even if I gave them money or food, there’s always the lurking rumor that their masters require that they relinquish whatever money they make. This is an age old tradition and there’s very little I feel I can do about it.
The hopelessness is there when you hear that the Nigerian government is spending N10 billion naira ($670 million) to celebrate its independence while children in government schools have classes under a tree. You’d think leaders in Africa would be shamed into action. They just don’t care. How else could you explain why African presidents, ministers and senators are some of the world’s highest paid government officials?
The system is so ingrained that people who want to do the right thing are seen as the enemy. And it’s clearer by the day that no one is interested in doing right by the people they lead.
This feeling of powerlessness is so debilitating and I’ve found myself slowly shutting down and shielding my eyes from how messed up things are around me.
It’s a management issue isn’t it?
It’s a leadership issue isn’t it?
It’s western oppression issue isn’t it?
It’s an education issue isn’t it?
It’s a lack of personal responsibility issue isn’t it?
Its all these and more and the only way to come at it is to do something. Say a prayer. Sweep a street. Pick up litter. Be unnecessarily polite. Sponsor a kid through a semester, year, the entirety of school. Adopt an orphanage. Write a song. Write a poem. Write a book. Visit more often if you’re abroad. Open your eyes and dream larger if you’re at home. Speak up against injustice however small and within the limits of your courage. But speak whenever possible. Get frustrated but don’t lose hope. Wear Africa, rep Africa, own Africa. Just do something.