How much is the life of a typical African worth? Probably nothing. Yes, nothing! Or, at best, a buck; and that’s about it. The vast majority of Africans live in the margins, in utter penury. They are poor, beaten, exploited, damned and condemned. They are the dejected, the rejected, the hopeless, the abandoned, and the ill fated who mostly live in foul and inhumane conditions; they are the wretched of the earth, the perpetual miserables.
How did a continent so rich in human resources ended up being the most underdeveloped of all continents? Well, one need not look too far as corruption and brutality is a common currency in the continent. The history of modern Africa is mostly a history of excesses, gluttony, viciousness, and treacherous behavior on the part of the leaders and elites.
Equatorial Guinea has Obiang Mbasogo. Here was the fellow who, in 1979, violently took over the rein of government from his uncle, the sadistic Macias Nguema. Cameron has Paul Biya, France’s poodle and errand boy, while Congo-Brazzaville has the totally corrupt Sassou-Nguesso. And then there is Omar Bongo in Gabon. In spite of its glorious past, Ethiopia has been the bedrock of anarchy and of vile leaders. Uganda has never had a decent man at the helm of affairs, be it Milton Obote, Idi Amin, or Yoweri Museveni. Until he was forced to leave, Daniel arap Moi almost bled his people dry of their marrow.
Anywhere you go in Africa, the story is about the same: leaders who dehumanize their own people, snuffing the life out of their own, debasing men and women and children. Anywhere you went in Africa the story is the same: children dying from avertable diseases, people living in fear and in appalling conditions and uncertain about the future. Everywhere in Africa, the story is the same: leaders who ran their countries as though the country was their personal possession; leaders who stole and stole and stole and kept on stealing as though they would need the money in the valley of death; leaders who committed more atrocities than the colonialists could ever have imagined.
Sad, isn’t it what Africans do to fellow Africans; what African leaders do to their own nations; what citizens do to fellow citizens; what citizens do to their own countries — it is pathetic and wicked and contemptuous and cruel. What we Africans do to our people and our land and our future is quite shameful and sorrowful.
On a daily basis thousands of Africans lay waste to ethnic and religious conflicts. Nation-states are fighting nation-states, ethnic groups are fighting the nation-state, and groups are fighting groups for share of economic resources, political power, land and other political goods and services.
On a daily basis Africans are dying in high numbers in the desert and in the oceans — as stowaways in ships and planes and trucks — trying to enter Europe and other parts of the world in search of greener pasture. On a daily basis the police, the army, gangs and armed robbers kill thousands of Africans on the streets. Who is more dangerous — the army, police, gang members or armed robbers? No one knows and no one cares.
On a daily basis Africans are sold into slavery and servitude as girls young as 14, 16 and 17 are forced or lured into prostitution. They have no dignity and no education; their lives mean nothing! On a daily basis thousands of Africans are dropping dead like fowls and houseflies from the ill health brought about by water and airborne diseases, and from malnourishment. But more than anything else, thousands of Africans are dying each year from despair and abandonment. Their lives mean nothing to their governments. Nigeria is the greatest disappointment of all. What a sorry sight — a tiger behaving like an ant.
Americans treat their dogs and cats better than the Nigerian government treat her people. Dogs and cats are well fed, they have access to medical care and are loved and cared for and are protected. Not so in Nigeria where the vast majority of humans do not have access to well-balanced meal, to the courts, to health and life insurance, and to medical care, and quality education. Most have never been to the dentist. Never! Dogs and cats in the US have it made; while Nigerians have a life made in hell.
In Nigeria, it is better to die than to be sick. Why? Because Nigerian hospitals are mostly mortuaries-in-waiting. Day after day hundreds of people die on our highways and freeways. Not only are the roads bad and poorly managed, 65% of the vehicles are not road worthy. They are more like Iraqi made improvised explosive devices. Death traps!
In cities like Lagos and Port Harcourt, a lot of people live by the dumpster or refuse-mountain. Traders have their stalls by open and stagnant gutters. Meat and fish sellers’ parade their wares accompanied by houseflies and maggots and other disease carrying agents. How pure is the pure-water merchants sell? No one knows the amount of cancer causing agents we have in the food and water we drink. No one knows what’s in the air we breathe. What we eat and drink and smoke and breathe is gradually killing us.
And so when a neighbor drops dead, we blame the wizards. When our brother or sister develops stomachache, we blame the witch down the street. When we catch the cold, we blame our father’s second or third wife. When we suffer other unexplainable ailments, we blame our spiritual enemies. We blame others for our reckless life style. In years gone, the Europeans came to our continent to trade in humans, and in the process carted away our resources. Today, our own leaders are trading in human life and human dignity.
Who cares about you? Who cares about you Africans? Not your governments and certainly not the international community. Your political leaders and the elites are busy stealing your money, busy doing business with financial institutions in London, Paris, New York and elsewhere. They are busy appropriating your resources to their family members. What if we die? What if we die like chickens and musca domestica? What if we die needlessly and ceaselessly? So what? How much is the life of an African worth, anyway? That a country like Nigeria could not locate a crash site almost 24-hours after an accident tells you a lot about how the country and the government value her citizens…