Ruto radical speech symbol of winds of change
For some reason, I had missed out on President William Ruto’s keynote address at the Third Pan African Parliamentarians Summit on Climate Policy and Equity in Midrand, South Africa on May 17. It was really unlike me, an avowed pontificator on what ails Africa, and what needs to be done to remedy the currently dire and worsening situation.
Ruto’s woke speech in Midrand not only caused a rare standing ovation at the plenary, but also a riot on social media. For once, Kenyans, and Africans by extension, forgot their political differences and parochialism, and galvanised around President Ruto’s sentiments. It means that Africa is ripe for transformation and genuine unity of purpose.
It was also good PR for Ruto, whose critics – including yours truly – had accused of selling out the country to the West and its Bretton Woods Institutions. The speech sounded straight out of Rwanda President Paul Kagame’s rulebook, who never misses an opportunity to call out the West for its hegemony and shortchanging of the continent. That was my President talking. Now, walking the talk is the real deal.
Africa continues to suffer from the perils of the West’s coercive diplomacy. In order to keep the continent docile and dependent on unproductive aid, Western powers have calibrated the economic, social, and even cultural development in a way that totally disadvantages the continent. Africa has been reduced to a beggar while it is the wealthiest globally in terms of natural resources. We are simply the mining field for the industrialised world.
The strategy has been to get these resources for a song and sell back finished products from the same resources at a premium. So, the West has interfered grossly in the internal affairs of African countries by sponsoring unfavourable regime changes and creating widespread instability, particularly in countries with the greatest potential.
Even as the continent has her own failings, the international community must now pay Africa her dues in compensation for social and economic historical injustices. One of the immediate concerns that should be addressed is the allocation of two permanent seats at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Going by the increasing voices of support even by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Africa must now play a bigger role in shaping the world. Addressing a UNSC meeting on conflict and food security in September last year, Africa Union (AU) Chairman Macky Sall stated that, “it is time to overcome the reluctance and deconstruct the narratives that persist in confining Africa to the margins of decision-making circles.”
Charity begins at home. Africa must now stop acting like a crybaby and grow up. For instance, the ongoing violent conflicts in various hotspots around the continent are a relic of a time when we were left rudderless by the colonialists. We cannot lambast the West for its harmful coercive diplomacy, but on the other hand portray complete ineptness in managing our internal affairs.
Moreover, Africa must fight corruption by all means necessary. Even countries like Kenya that have enjoyed fairly stable governance since independence have either been stagnated or devastated by grand corruption. One cannot fathom how some African leaders fight to death for power apparently with the sole purpose of plundering their countries dry.
Africans must also demand the best from their leaders. To make their lives better, they should elect leaders of vision and integrity. We cannot keep electing or appointing incompetent officers and people of questionable character to public office and expect ethics in our governance systems. Citizens must have the courage and power to disobey and oppose those not measuring up in managing their Exchequer and other national affairs.
— The writer is a PhD student in International Relations