Africa's Under development

By Pr Choolwe Mwetwa
Published February, 2017

Study of the causes of Africa’s underdevelopment has been a multidisciplinary interest. Sociologists, economists, philosophers, historians and theologians have all applied their minds to the question of Africa’s backwardness.

Awareness of Africa’s geography, topology and climate will suggest that these must have initially played their part in slowing Africa’s progress. It is unarguable that the retrogressive effects of slavery, colonialism and economic rape only dissolve over a long period of time. By design imperialism disorders its victims’ culture, identity and general orientation. Four hundred years after gaining independence from Roman colonial rule, Britain groped in despicable backwardness

Unfortunately for Africa, each of the stated forces of regression have ravaged all continents in varying degrees over the centuries, so they can only serve as a transient justification. It does not help matters that the tools for modernisation and advancement are now available to all who care to use them. The nagging question is why has Africa not exploited them?

Complicating arrival at an accurate diagnosis of Africa’s underdevelopment has been the failure to distinguish between primary and secondary catalysts of the underdevelopment. For instance, it is often proposed that poor governance is the problem. This includes lack of robust institutions, poor management of resources and reckless or corrupt use of power, summed up in leadership incompetence.

The question is why is this still the case in Africa? Even when institutions are installed and educated experienced leadership is assigned, why do things not get markedly better? Without a doubt bad governance is a phenomenal problem. I however contend that this is just a fin of the fish beneath the waters.

Deep in the waters swims the shark of African culture. So vicious is this shark, it thwarts good governance and all capacity to reform. To be clear, there is so much that is heavenly about African culture. The glorious life of social inclusivity and authentic care noted in the early church resembles African culture. Space holds me back from enumerating other aspects of this wonderful culture.