Whilst Europe’s media daily reports and comments on the fast developing migrant problem, and its leaders struggle to decide how best to respond, Africa itself remains strangely, sadly silent.
Yet, the continent has to be an awesomely awful part of the world with so many thousands of its people prepared to risk death in order to get away from it.
The probability is that the numbers who now risk drowning in the Mediterranean or dying of thirst in the Sahara will double, then triple and then, mind blowingly, will soon have to be counted in millions and no longer in mere thousands. Europe will not be able to cope with a problem of this immensity with Africa itself standing aside as if it is not involved.
It is because of Africa’s disastrous post-colonial track record that this emigration explosion is now happening. Yes, we can undoubtedly lay the blame on those colonialist countries which so cut the continent to pieces. And yes, so many countries of the world do chose today to lay the blame for their current failings on the past.
But there is at least one commentator in this part of the world who points to today rather than yesterday as a major cause of the problem – and to so many of its leaders who, he suggests, are self regarding sell outs who are unprepared to look beyond their own mirror images to try and create a continent from which its people do not need to flee but can live in security, profitably and harmoniously.
Is this not in fact the African dream? Undoubtedly many of its post-colonial leaders, sadly and easily massaged by outside powers, have worked to ruin the continent. But none of the others have yet expressed concern that the continent is haemorrhaging its youth who will eventually help to revive an ageing Europe instead of working towards the building of a new Africa.
Neither Africa nor Europe appears to see it this way. Europe, because it is yet to understand what it stands to gain from people who, by definition, are young, incredibly determined, and bursting with initiative and Africa, because it seems not to have the remotest glimmer of understanding as to what it is losing.
From how many African countries are these desperate people fleeing? The continent currently has 54 recognised states. How many of them, a half perhaps, are donating their youth to Europe because they have no use for them?
So we witness the mass flight of thousands and thousands of
The current posturing in South Africa regarding Al Bashir is a theatrical side show which serves only to demonstrate that even one of the continent’s heavy weights is still unable to grasp exactly where it stands in relation to the rest of the continent. But should it not be South Africa, so recently released from its historical torture which should now be standing tall and perhaps, with this country, launching, with the support of rest of the concerned world, the beginnings of a get-Africa-back- on- its- feet programme.
Our President, with such unusual credentials, could be the one to get this initiative moving. The challenge would be monumental. It would probably mean that Africa would need to be the recipient of something akin to the post WW2 Marshall Plan which enabled so much of devastated Europe to get back on its feet.
An Africa Marshall Plan would probably be infinitely more difficult to implement because such assistance could only be given to countries which boasted credible governments. If only few of those 54 African states were able to pass that test, the outlook would be dire indeed. In the upshot, however, whatever the offered support from outside, it is Africa which has to do it itself.
Which leaves this country with questions which need to be answered. Less harmed than other countries by the past, and blessed by circumstance and some degree of good judgment, it may be that there is a leadership role that it could and needs to play. It would be a gamble, and a risk. And the diplomatic skills required would be considerable.
Yet with SADC a start has already been made. With South Africa, Namibia and Zambia, and with Lesotho in the wings, there could be a beginning. But would South Africa resent a lead from this diminutive country or might it realise that this country could play a front-runner role which, at the moment, it might prefer to leave to others? This therefore, is the time to make a move. And it is this country which, distinguished so far by luck and good judgment, could, perhaps should, be the one to make the first carefully crafted move.