Africa: Where to Start?November 27, 2014

When the United Nations (UN) designated African Industrialisation Day on November 20, its intention was to help Africa in becoming a continent of developing nations (or many of them at least). It seemed like a pipe dream at the moment.

Apart from South Africa, no African nation is a member of the G-20. This represent the national economies that account for 85% of the Gross World Product. Chinua Achebe, the Father of African literature, would reveal the answers in his compilation of short stories, "Girls at War and Other Stories" (1972). Tribal wars, slavery, colonialism. The white settlers weren't to be totally blamed, as bondage was the norm when they first set foot in the continent. But they made the blacks inferior in every way. (This was depicted in Jean-Jacques Annaud's "Black and White in Color"). This was rather ironic, as some of the ancient civilizations once flourished in Africa; aside from ancient Egypt, there were Nubia (in Sudan), Aksum (in Ethiopia), Carthage (Tunisia), Sahel (in the Sahara region) and the Great Zimbabwe. Let us not forget that the first group of men came from this part of the world.

Many nations fought for independence. This was supposed to be the new beginning, but more burden came to the people. Dictators ruled for decades. Corruption was rampant. Recalling the colonial period didn't help at all. Despite of these, the UN had high hopes.

Nelson Mandela showed the way

In 1998, Mario Vargas-Llosa penned an essay about his visit to Robben Island. It was about seven kilometers off Cape Town, renowned for being used as an isolation for Africa's political prisoners. Autshumato, one of the first activists against colonialism. Murphy Morobe, student leader of the Soweto Uprising. Petrus Iilonga, Namibian trade unionist. Nelson Mandela was the most famous prisoner, an anti-apartheid revolutionary who lived in that flat isle for 18 years. He would change the course of South African history, as the nation made great stride during his five-year term.

South Africa hosted the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup in 2006, a first for an African country. It was an enormous cost, with no guarantee that there would be any return of investment. But FIFA, the international governing body of football, thought it was high time that a major sports tournament would be held in that continent. And it went well. The Olympic Games would be another matter, though. (Almaty and Beijing are the final candidate cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics after Kraków, Lviv, Oslo, and Stockholm withdrew their bids. This might prompt the International Olympic Committee to award the next games to cities that have hosted before.)

Disparity between rich and poor can be seen in many parts of Africa. This is expected, which the UN believe won't be the case in the near future. The continent has come a long way. There's no looking back.

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