Africa Awakened

February 20, 2012

The Economist, CNN’s GPS with Fareed Zakaria, The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, and so on have been putting Africa on the spotlight lately in positive ways. We also woke up recently to the news story that the Communist Party of China built the African Union headquarters and presented it to Africa as a “gift.”

The Economist had “Africa Rising” as its cover story in its December 3, 2011, issue. About early July in 2011, Fareed Zakaria of CNN’s Global Public Square had a show asking “Are the African Lions the Next Asian Tigers?” A February 19, 2011, editorial by The Guardian stated that “A fresh chapter is opening in Africa’s history” after two centuries of injustice. In its February 15, 2012, story on “Africa Rising” with a focus on Ethiopia, The Christian Science Monitor likened a scene in Ethiopia to France’s Bordeaux region or America’s Napa Valley, in reference to a new vineyard in Ethiopia that is owned by the French company Castel. On January 28, 2012, the Communist Party of China put itself on the spotlight in Africa when it unveiled a $200 million “gift” to Africa, the new African Union headquarters building.

In its December 10, 2006, analysis of East Africa’s ideological and strategic conflicts, Finfinne Times concluded that “... what appears to be on the ground today [in Ethiopia] suggests Ethiopia is on an upgrade commotion for the first time in a long time,” adding that its Renaissance “will have bearings beyond its borders.”

When compared with other regions of the world, Africa has experienced its swift episodes of social chapters in recent times. From its widespread experiences of slavery, colonization, proselytization, evangelization, independence, and civil war to its transformation, enlightenment, democratization, renaissance, scientific advancement, industrialization, and active participation at the global scale, much have occurred over a relatively short period of time.

Africa’s new chapter is being threaded on a delicate balance. We could argue that its rich resources and naturally strategic geographic setting may well be its source of both fortunes and misfortunes. According to the Guardian story, Africa has 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land and the largest reserve of untapped mineral wealth of any continent.

In its April 23, 2011, analysis, Finfinne Times attempted to draw a correlation between global “superdom” and Africa’s resources with a focus on the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and China’s leverages in Africa at the time of their competitions with the United States of America for global influence. Their latest attempts at global influence was clearly at display when the representatives of Russia, a progenitor and de facto successor of the former USSR, and China sided together at the United Nations Security Council and projected their opinions on the same issue regarding the activities of the leadership of the state of Eritrea in the Horn of Africa region and the protests in Syria. Of particular interest about the case of Syria is the fact that their opinions reportedly went against that of the Arab League of which Syria is a member.

Africa’s assured rising will not come from the interest driven help it gets from other states, much less from those that practice social governance that is antithesis to the democratization exercise in Africa for which many Africans have been struggling. Waking up to a $200 million “gift” in the form of an office building for a continent of over fifty member states from an anxious state in a different continent demeans the rich Ethiopian wisdom upon which the so called “gift” now stands. Why a continent that boosts to have over 100 of its own companies with revenues greater than $1 billion failed to build its own headquarters, how this “gift” was sought by the parliaments of its member states, why a state of about 1 billion people that reportedly gets its 30 percent of fuel needs from Africa wished to present this building as a “gift” will be interesting questions to deliberate as reports of Africa rising continue to be feature stories of the global news media.

As a political realist, Professor Yan Xuetong, a political scientist at the Tsinghua University of China, asserted in The New York Times that morality plays a key role in politics and sorting out the winners from the losers. He reached this conclusion after studying ancient Chinese political theorists and advised his country’s leadership that the central attribute of political power was morally informed leadership. Also writing in The New York Times, Cheng Li, a scholar at the Brookings Institution put it more bluntly and advised that the political risk the Chinese leadership is taking is overwhelming.

How the Communist Party of China wants to run China is its prerogative as is how Africa manages its resources.

What is clear is that the management of resources for continental to global benefits is an important consideration for those who have been struggling to bring Africa to a better level of development. In a February 11, 2012, story, The Economist suggests that there is a rising sense of resource nationalism in Africa although how this new connotation may be defined isn’t very clear.

What have become evident in the Africa rising narratives are a growing sense of democratic and economic success stories. These narratives being driven by Africans are a sign of Africans in action to bring their continent to a better level of development. The likening of African lions to Asian Tigers narrative followed a quip in passant on a public discussion forum that went “move over the tigers, the lions are coming.” The latest resource nationalism story from The Economist came after a short analysis by Finfinne Times about global “superdom” and Africa’s resources. That the struggle of Africa to overcome its underdevelopment, that this struggle is bearing meaningful fruits, and that these fruits are being appreciated beyond its borders seem sure signs of Africa rising. The success of democratization against dictatorship will assure the success of the trajectory of Africa's rise.

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