If Africans can’t find solutions to Africa’s Problems then Africa’s Problems have no Solutions at all
Before Niccolo Machiavelli wrote his famous book ~The Prince in 1513, the norm in Continental Europe was that “Wars must be fought by mercenaries”. This means the European nations relied on foreigners who are skilled in fighting wars to defend and protect them.
In the Prince, Machiavelli asked: “what makes you think that foreigners will genuinely defend you?” In furtherance, he argued that mercenaries or foreigners fight for no other reason/incentive than the monies they are paid. By this, Machiavelli explained that if the only motivation for mercenaries to fight is the financial incentive, then a mercenary will only fight to defend a country only when he knows that he will have his life in the end to enjoy his money.
This means no mercenary will continue to fight to defend a country when that defense is at the cost of his life. For this reason, Machiavelli recommended to the European nations to establish standing armies filled with citizens and these citizens must be made to go to war to defend their countries whenever the need arises.
Why should citizens, rather than foreigners be made to go to war to defend the nations? Machiavelli posited that, whereas mercenaries have money as their main incentive to fight, citizens have lives as their insensitive to fight and defend their nations. As a matter of fact, when a citizen knows that he is fighting to defend and protect his defenseless wife, children, and parents at home, he will use his last blood to defend his nation as a means to protect these dear lives of his. It will, therefore, be hard for a reasonable man to preserve his life at war by allowing the enemy to run over him to destroy the dear lives he has left at home.
By taking this recommendation seriously, European nations have steadily grown very strongly since. In one of his military discussions, the French Napoleon Bonaparte noted that Machiavelli’s assertion is the single most important military strategy over offered in history.
Though, the focus of Africa’s development today may not be about organising army members and going to wars, yet, this advice from Machiavelli is still so important to us in our search for sustainable development path. The simple statement of truism here is that -we cannot rely on other men (foreigners) to develop our continent. Africa’s true development must be the duty of the African and not the responsibility of others.
We may not recognize but the fact is, yesterday’s mercenaries are today’s foreign investors. They have one intention and motivation. If mercenaries couldn’t defend continental Europe, then foreign investors cannot develop Africa. Unfortunately, Africans and our leaders have come to develop the illusion of keeping all our hopes for development in these new mercenaries. We then go around chasing foreign investors to come and develop our countries and continent rather than building and developing local capacities and innovation to champion our own development.
Like mercenary who will continue to defend a nation only when his life is not in danger, a foreign investor will only act like he is developing our continent when he has enough profits to take away from our countries. It is unlikely that an investor will have the interests of our future generations at heart or will compromise today’s profits for the benefit of the next generation. For example, a foreign road constructor will not choose to construct a road that will lasts for 70 years over a road that will lasts for 5 years if that will mean to compromise his profit up to 20% (because his main motivation is profit) but a conscious citizen will choose to construct a road that will last for 70 years over a road that will last for 5 years even if that will mean to compromise her profit by 50% (because her main motivation is the welfare of the next generation and not profit).
How can there be development when our countries are receiving as little as 10% on resources exploration by foreign investors on our continent?
My visit to Ethiopia gave me the greatest opportunity to learn so much about how development can be designed, supported, and executed internally on our African continent. I was surprised at how Ethiopia has been able to exclusively developed strong local financial system, telecommunications system, and construction and real estate system to push the country’s recent rapid economic growth. Surprisingly, Ethiopia now has many well functional Construction companies who are winning contracts and working in many East African countries including Kenya and Tanzania.
We must know that we cannot chase the development path of others and ever become developed. If we do so we shall forever remain a developing continent trying to determine our lives based on what have already done. After all, we will always wait on others’ innovations for our implementation.
To develop, we must look within, examine the problems in our society, and design internal solutions to address these problems by taking a close look at our own capacities. When we do so, we can walk into advancement by developing our own capabilities over time.
If Africans cannot find solutions to Africa’s own problems, then Africa’s problems can be said to have no solutions at all. After all, no free men have ever developed a foreign country except when they were slaves.
My name is Kwadwo Agyei Yeboah and I love Africa. You can always connect with me on Facebook to talk about Africa.