The botched dream: The African story of Hope turned into nightmare

History paints a picture of a tranquil Africa in the precolonial times . Various sections of Africa had their unique systems and ways of life and that was all. The Buganda of the present day Uganda , the Bunyoro Kitara of Uganda , the Shona and Ndembele in Southern Africa , the Ghana , Mali and Mandinka of west Africa among other territories that flourished greatly .

The African man depended on simple agriculture , pastoralism and hunting .Its evidents the peaceful nature of Precolonial Africa.

However, the white man learnt of the dark continent and soon set his appetite to plunder her massive resources and well , they succeeded putting 97% of the Black continent under his rule .He went to the city of Berlin and drew boundaries for the African people without the very little knowledge of the African. And that’s how we found ourselves within our present borders.

When the White’s Supremo rule entered the African , the locals were not jubilates leading to various uprisings and nationalistic movements ; and indeed we had Mau Mau in Kenya ,Maji Maji in Tanzania , The Adowa battle in Ethiopia , and many more throughout Africa. The local man was persistent in regaining his lost independence. The elites of the day formed Pan Africanism which eventually saw the White man succumb to pressure and bowed out of Africa .The British , French , Portuguese ,Belgians , Spaniards and the Italians, all called it a day in African politics and left Africans to rule themselves .

However , after decades of self rule , one question still remains eminent ,and that is if truly Africa is independent , if truly the African man is having control of himself , if decades after independence, the African man is happy that the dreams that had of the future Africa have been met.

And the genuine answer to the question is a No , the dreams of the African people at independence have been turned into nightmares with series of disappointments .Africa has remained the face of poverty , disease and illiteracy and violence ironically , this setbacks were the main agenda of the founding governments.

The main cause of all this is the poor form of leadership that has graced Africa countries. The democratic space in the continent is so thin ,allowing the rulers to exert their authority at will and even in some countries , the leadership is completely tyrannical.

However , it’s a wonder that most of this states have well written constitutions that have remained as beautification tools as they’re always overruled and what is spelt in them is rarely put into consideration. In instances where they prove to hard to be ignored , the political class simply changes the clauses that they see as stumbling blocks to their demands. Moreover , elections in the continent have remained mere coronations as in the recent past , no election outcome has gone uncontested , whether in the courts of law or in the streets .

The judicial authority has remained a lame duck under the influence of the government of the day , though on paper they seem independent.

It is true to say the dreams of the likes of Kwame Nkurumah , Jomo Kenyatta , Tom Mboya , Abdel Nasser of a better Africa that thrives politically , economically and socially have remained just mere illusions .

This is a case study of various democracies in the continent:

Republic of Kenya

After decades of dominion in Kenya , the British finally handed over the colony to its indigenous people .The ceremony was colourful marked with the clarion call from the founding father of fighting disease, poverty and ignorance .However , 56 years later , the three beasts still roam freely on the Kenyan people .

Kenya is an East African nation , located at the heart of the equator , with beautiful sceneries and nice landscapes such as the Mara , and according to archeologists , it is the the cradle of mankind . That notwithstanding, there’s a painful story behind all this great news . A vibrant economy marred with corruption.

So what exactly has happened since that day of independence that has prevented much progress ?

After independence , the founding government got into massive plundering of the nations resources making Kenya poorer than they inherited it .Services provided were poor , education almost unaffordable , healthcare became a reserve for the few . Political assassinations became the norm as any critic of the government was taken to where he belongs – eternal silence. Pio Gama Pinto ,being the first to face the wrath of the independent Kenya .Later on the likes of Argwings Kodhek , Thomas Mboya and JM Kariuki followed suit. The founding father also suppressed the opposition , banning formation of other political parties hence nobody , and absolutely nobody would question his style of leadership that was becoming dictatorial day by day .After 15 years at the helm of the nation’s steering wheel , Jommo Kenyatta , the founding father died , and in his olden days , as fierce battle to inherit him had managed to divide Kenyans as the Kikuyu mafia felt that they had all the reasons to produce the next leader , but in their disbelief ,Daniel Moi inherited the president , and just as he said in his acceptance speech , he followed the footsteps of the first government to the core .

Moi’s regime fully suppressed the critics , made Kenya a one party state , killed democracy and normalized corruption. Having all the policy makers in his side , the president had no hard time putting the country under his will . With the fall of Berlin wall and subsequent collapse of the cold war , democratic wave swept throughout the world , Kenya not being a spare .This forced the government to reluctantly reintroduce multiparty democracy.

However , multiparty democracy hasn’t achieved much as the ruling party tyranny continues to thrive. No presidential election in the era has gone uncontested save for the 2002 elections due to compromised electoral system and indeed it was in this line that the country was plunged into a Post Election Violence which left more than 1000 people dead and not less than 100000 displaced.

The New Constitution enacted in 2010 was crafted to reduce the powers of the president and at the same time introducing devolution .This was aimed at improving services for the common citizen and bring an equitable distribution of resources , however , things have not changed at all . The devolved units have created yet another avenue for runaway corruption. Just 9 Years into the new laws , talks of a referendum to amend the constitution to suit the political class is ongoing.

The country is also sharply divided along ethnic lines where politicians shelve themselves .This has remained the greatest challenge for a united Kenya.

It remains to be seen whether the dreams of the nationalists at independence day will be achieved, only time will tell .


Republic of Uganda

The East African nation at the heart if equator , endowed with much agricultural potential with bananas’ matoke ‘ being the favourite dish for most of its citizens.

Uganda, however ,has been embroiled in political unrest since her independence limiting her growth on the socioeconomic front , this being evident with her huge population living under a dollar per day .(below the poverty line)

So how exactly has Uganda’s political history been and how has it affected the economic scene overtime?

Uganda became ‘ free ‘ from the yoke of the British colonialists on 9th October , 1962 , with Milton Obote as the Premier and head of government . In 1963 , through unholy alliance , the king of Baganda kingdom , Sir Edward Mutesa got in power as a ceremonial president.

The unholy alliance , just as the name , never lasted long as political differences between Obote and Mutesa cracked it .This is widely seen as the genesis of the country’s crisis that seems never to end . Obote adopted a pigeonhole constitution which the Baganda didn’t accept , thus forcing Obote to storm the kingdom using the army , several were killed though the target , Edward Mutesa managed to escape .This saw rise in use of the armed forces in various operations , leading to fear on the citizens hence killing any kind of divergent ideas from those in power .

However , the reign of Obote as president never lasted long as in 1971 , an army General , Idi Amin overthrew the government . The news came in with much jubilation , however , what was awaiting was mystery. The country underwent terror during the reign of Amin. The democratic space of the country was literary killed and utmost dictatorship was experienced .In the period of 8 years , Uganda produced the highest number of refugees in the world , an evidence of the violence that the authorities exposed its citizens to .The economy was not spared either , the nation faced hyper inflation with businesses bearing the brunt of pathetic leadership . The government forcefully ejected the the entire Indian population in the country , and as if to applaud his deeds , Idi Amin was made the chair of African Union . And well , soon after , the curtains fell for this strongman , and just as he’d seized power , a coup threw him out of the coveted seat and Milton Obote was back fully at the helm of a nation on its deathbed. That was 1979.

Obote , however , did not live to enjoy his time at the top as local and international aggressions derailed him , all these at the expense of Ugandans and just as he’d seized power , he was overthrown in 1985 by opposition militia UNLA under the leadership of Tito Okello who become the president without any public mandate , just like all his predecessors.

Tito’s reign was unfruitful too , he was faced by rebellions especially from the National Resistance Army ( Movement) , under Yoweri Museveni and just months into office , he saw the door just like he came in .

The NRM managed to overthrow his government and Museveni sworn in as president . This makes Uganda one of the few democracies in the world that has president directly in power without the public mandate .

Museveni , once in power tried to revamp the dead economy and build a new nation , however , growth of democracy in the country has been met by resistance from his authority as he remains in power 36 years later , getting into the list of the of world leaders who’ve been in power for very long periods . His reign has seen the opposition being curtailed and any attempt to critic his style of leadership met with much hate . Even though multipartism democracy was allowed back in the acountry early in the 21st century , nothing seems to change as elections are marred with violence and protestations .The veteran opposition , Kizza Bessigye has tried unsuccessfully to get into the top office , and it’s believed that the presidential elections results are always doctored with . Latest entry of a pop star turned politician Bobby Wine alias Robert Kyangulani has painted a picture of a country struggling to accommodate the opposition. The politician has been meted with terror for his direct critics at the president. Uganda remains a young democracy and better leadership is inevitable but this will require the efforts of all the citizens of the country . However , for now , almost sixty years of independence has not yielded anything much inspire of the hopes and ambitions at independence time .

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC , as it is popularly known is an expansive nation bordering the Great Lakes and East Africa to the East and extending all the way to the coast of Atlantic . The nation is the only Africa’s that has two time zones . It is endowed by numerous resources ranging from minerals to agriculture . It also contains the Congo forests , an important source of rubber .This plus many other reasons obviously made the colonialists have an appetite for it and the luck of King Leopold of Belgium surely gave him this vast territory .

After decades of guerilla warfare in the forests , the Congolese wishes were finally granted , their freedom , independence and surely it was a new journey full of hope after an oppressive white man regime .

However , the hope quickly faded and the story of oppression continued , only this time , the oppressor was one of their own , a tale of the same forest but different monkeys.

30 June ,1960 was the day when Belgian Congo became Republique du Congo , with Patrice Lumumba as the prime minister . Just five days into independence , the army mutinied , setting the stage for crisis after crisis . Just a few days after that ,the Eastern provinces of Katanga and Kasai seceded from the central government forcing the authorities to use the armed forces to quell the growing rebellion and in most cases , the innocent civilians were caught up.

The government did not stand for long as Joseph Mobutu overthrew the government in September ,14th 1960 putting Lumumba under arrest .Lumumba was subsequently murdered and body dumped in a forest the following year .

Unrest and rebellion plunged the country until 1965 when the commander in chief , Joseph Desire Mobutu declared himself president for five years seizing control of the country .At the end of the five years , Mobutu clinged to power and decided to change all the English names to local languages , a way he termed as reducing the white man’s influence in the country and the country’s name was changed to Zaire , Mobutu himself ditched his formal name for Mobutu Ssese Seko .He remained toughly on grip , holding the opposition at bay and declaring the country a one party state .

At the time the Berlin Wall collapsed (end of the cold war), pressure was mounted on Mobutu to change his dictatorial style of leadership , in 199 0, he accepted a partial multi party system but refused to hand over power creating animosity in the country . Continuous civil and forces disobedience was witnessed weakening his leadership .

At this particular time , the Rwandan Genocide was taking place , and it is this genocide that created root for Change in the Zaire. In 1997 , warlord and rebel Launrent Kabila staged a rebellion in the forest belts . The fact that the country was fed up by the pathetic leadership of Mobuto gave his movement life has he had massive following .

It wasn’t long before he seized , in 1997 , he overthrew Mobutu , forcing him to exile and his death later on in Morocco , leaving a vast world class estate.

Kabila’s reign was not better .Increased killings and violation of human rights were the norm . Other nations on Africa turned their backs from DRC meaning Kabila had no support from any quarters within and out of Africa.Kabila was shot dead by his 18 year old bodyguard in 2001’and quickly after that his son ,Joseph Kabila took over.

The young Kabila , just like his predecessors , proved that had nothing meaningful to offer. He led under a transition government until 2006 when elections were held , the first of that nature in DRC after almost fifty of independence , and just like other elections , the results were highly contested as claims of massive irregularities followed.

Kabila stayed put for another ten years , and when elections were due in 2016 , Kabila extended his term leading to protests . Finally , elections were held in 2018 , and surprisingly , an opposition candidate , Tshishekedi , was elected the president , beating the ruling party , first of its kind in DRC .Kabila peacefully handed over power to the young Tshishekedi .

Hopes still remain high that the new president will change the dynamics of the country whose name as remained ironic to the true events taking place and more so , because his late father Ettiene Tshishekedi was a visionary leader who fought for the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

……….More nations will be discussed in our subsequent posts.

Lincoln Oyugi


By Lincoln Oyugi

Just as Isaac Newton died a virgin, I'll die a writer!

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