It irks one’s senses when you hear people refer to Africa as a country. You wonder why this narrative remains given the abundant resources in terms of books and the internet.
so today, my (college) music professor referred to Africa as a country in the email he sent ???????????????????????? pic.twitter.com/h3UbEglPti
— rob (@_rocksss) September 19, 2016
The continent is diverse- there’s not much that tie Africans together beyond the land mass that house the various nations. Is it culture, language, history (how do we know? Since we take it for granted).
Just go beyond the Nigerian social media circle, to Ghana’s or South Africa’s and you’re out of your depth. The way social-media helps is the opportunity it presents in opening nations to others around them. (But of course, we spend it arguing on which is best, Nigeria or Ghana Jollof).
Within Nigeria, we have over three hundred tribes and languages. And even the major tribes (Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa) in the country didn’t share a similar history, until their amalgamation.
But all of a sudden, in the African narrative, the 54 nations (with agitating nations within them) get lumped together.
This is not a rejoinder on why Africa is not a country. This is the opposite- why Africa is a country.
Will this not upend the opening argument? No and you’ll see why.
So why say Africa is a country. Easy. Certain elements ring true across the continent that you wonder what cesspool we all drank from.
A few of these stand out, like autocracy, poverty, corruption. And by poverty I don’t mean to paint a picture of a naked kid, with big yellow eyes balls, bloated tummy and frail limbs. No, not that. I mean the disparity between the nations’ economic potentials and the reality on ground- due to inept leadership.
But it’s not limited to that.
President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo has ruled the country for 15 years, he came into office after his father’s assassination in 2001. His third term in office ends this year. And by the nation’s constitution, he can’t seek re-election.
So you’ll think, guess Obama isn’t the only one leaving office. No, you’re wrong.
Democratic Republic of Congo’s elections commission, a few days ago, petitioned the Constitutional Court to postpone the Presidential election scheduled for Nov. 27.
Corneille Nangaa, the head of the elections commission says, “(Voter list revisions) being currently under way, the commission found itself faced with an impasse and referred itself to the high court concerning this.”
Therefore elections cannot hold because the voter list would not be formalized before July 2017.
The President will initiate talks between his allies, the opposition and civil society to discuss the elections in light of the election commission’s submission, Reuters reports.
All indications show that the Kabila will be in office beyond his December mandate. And there’s violent protest against this in Kinshasha.
Six Presidential elections will hold throughout 2016 (oh, five since DRC is out). Three held so far- and they all share semblance with Kabila’s Congo.
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has been in office for 30 years. He was re-elected for a five year term in February. Yoweri scored 60% of the votes in an election overshadowed by arrests of politicians and allegations of rigging. Sounds Familiar? (Well, to an African it does).
Niger’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou re-elected for a second term in office after scoring 92% of the votes cast.
The opposition had called for a boycott. And its flag bearer was in France for medical treatment during the election.
On the surface, you think, that’s fair right? Well, remember when you were told not to take a thing for its face value?
“The run-up to the first-round vote was marred by violence between supporters of the rival camps, the arrest of several leading political personalities and the government’s announcement that it had foiled a coup bid”, Aljazeera reports.
The opposition flag bearer, Hama Amadou, was arrested in November “after violent clashes between security forces and party activists who had gathered at the airport to welcome Amadou’s return from exile in France”, News24 reports.
He was (briefly) released a few weeks to the run-up for medical treatment. And left for France four days before the March 20 presidential run-up- for treatment still.
10 months after his arrest seven opposition politicians arrested along with him were released from prison.
Zambia held its Presidential election in August.
Here’s how Washington Post reports it,
“August’s elections in Zambia were the hardest-fought in a generation. Opposition supporters clashed violently with incumbent party cadres and police.”
“Incumbent controversially limited free media before the elections”. Sounds famil…?
And Edgar Lungu, the incumbent, won for a Second term in office.
Ghana and Somalia are next. We can only hope they upend the trend.
While a few countries can’t be representative of the whole continent, you should note that this list shows all Presidential elections held so far in 2016.
If you look back to 2015, you notice a similar trend and it goes on and on. You might as well mix up political issues in these different countries during a heated debate and (almost) get away with it.
Africa is not a country, I agree. But the homologous issues that ravage the continent makes generalizations forgivable.