PART 3: MY AFRICA

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“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.”
Amílcar Cabral (1924 – 1973)

My Africa is a place of great delights, enough to fill the senses. There is land in abundance; not only land, but fertile land. We have a saying that: “Wherever you throw a seed, expect it to grow and produce.” Yet still we import a lot of our foodstuffs and textiles. You’ll find mangoes, plums, pineapples, nuts, and berries growing in such abundance that the fruits either rot on the trees or fall to the ground, and neglected long enough to become compost – yet we do not have factories converting these and many other fruits and vegetables into juice, or dried to be exported. Instead, they are imported from India and other countries. We have enough swamps and other wetlands to grow rice, but we depend on foreign aid to feed us.
My Africa is a place of history, too much history. It is a history rich in its diversity. There are stories of revered kings and queens, empire builders, great craftsmen, mystic poets and educators, foreign invaders and settlers who orchestrated massive holocausts. There are great and majestic sceneries, from white sandy beaches along the peninsulas to breathtaking mountains, hills, savannahs, deserts, and faunas to fill the imagination. Sadly, in my Africa, tourism and its promotion is a byword for failure and inefficiency in government enclaves. Cultural heritage sites are left in ruins and stand as great reminders of our material condition.
My Africa is still a place of hope; a place where we are encouraged to dream and aim high. We are shown pictures of great leaders from the past. Sometimes they even show us pictures of current leaders. But no one will mention to you that most of them were exploiters who instituted systems of governance and business practices that still have us in the lurch, wretched of the earth in an eternal debt trap to Bretton Woods institutions. Yet still we hope. This hope leads us to become a nation of traders who trade in everything imaginable, even human lives, especially the young. There are not enough jobs so from one end of the cities to the other, you see our people engaged in some sort of trade. Every house has a business on the front porch; even the backyards are not spared. Our city streets have become very small because of petty traders occupying sidewalks and other parts of the roads. So now we walk where the cars are supposed to drive. Yet we hope and dream for a brighter future, a better day and leaders who pay attention to the needs of the people. This hope is all we have. But even with this hope life is still a drag. For this reason, some wonder why dream when the reality in my Africa is so obvious…
They tell us to dream
They say a dream is the substance of life
They tell our children to dream
But how can they dream
When they can’t sleep
Up all night
Worried about how they’re
Gonna walk the hot streets With 100 Liberian dollars or 1000 Leones worth of market for their keep
If the children are our future
Then our future looks like
A poor and uneducated low wage earner
They tell our young men to dream
How can they dream
When they go to bed hungry
Because corrupt government officials
Steal the food out of their plates
And after four miraculous years of
Staying in and finishing college
They either come home jobless
Or find themselves under bosses
Who are either sycophants
Despots
Old enough to retire
Unqualified for the position
Or all of the above
If the young men are our future
Then our future looks like
An old corrupt and despotic sycophant
Who is grossly unqualified for the position
And is antithetical to the future of Liberia
They tell our young women to dream
How can they
When all men dream of is sleeping with them
Get them pregnant
But have no plans to marry them
If the young women are our future
Then our future looks like
Our children’s future
They tell our elders to dream
But they don’t have time to dream
They worked and worried all their lives
For next to nothing
But still did nothing
Only to die broke and brokenhearted
And leave us their nightmares
And the mess they allowed to happen and continue
If the elders are our future
Then our future looks like
Hamburger Hill
Friday the 13th
Nightmare on Elm Street
Full Metal Jacket
Cry Freetown and
Blood Diamonds
Our governments dream
They have dreams to stamp out corruption
To improve healthcare and education
To bring back the rule of law
To fix all the potholes on our roads
To have all the gutters in the country clean and running
To attract foreign direct investment
And to stimulate the national economy
Sadly
Successive governments have slept so much
They sleep walk
Not knowing whether they’re coming or going
If the governments are our future
Then our future looks like our past and present
I have a dream
That our children will grow up in homes
Where they’ll be allowed to be children
To play, laugh, and learn
Allowed to explore whatever
Their little clever minds tell them to
Without being abused
Deprived of liberty and freedom
Made to work on farms
Put on the streets to work
Or sacrificed to devils
For their selfish and lazy parents to succeed
I have a dream
That our young men will soar on wings like eagles
Into a perpetual sunset of possibilities
That they will take a hold of the political process
Be allowed to freely state their opinions
Encouraged to question the status quo
And where the need arises
To justly jail any and everyone
Who is a threat to life, liberty, progress, and the pursuit of happiness
I have a dream
That our young women will sit in boardrooms
As ivory pillars
That women will vote for other women
And that we will have successive governments
Headed by qualified women
They have
Under the harshest of conditions
Run our homes
Maybe if given the helm often
They’d make a success out of this rich nation yet
I have a dream
That our elders will step out of the way and retire
To some farm far away from the government and business enclaves
For the past 168 years
All they’ve done is run the rich country aground
We have no need for their corrupting inputs and influences
I have a dream
That governments will have platforms
And not use the backs of our people as such
That they will feed the people meat instead of bones
Give our people access into their dealings
That they will compete at developing the country
With successive governments
Surpassing the successes and achievements of previous governments
That our people will make a living wage
That education at all levels and health emergencies of any kind
Be free of charge
That we nationalize our economies and review every deal ever made by
This or previous governments
That any deals that is against the progress of Liberia
Or against the hopes and wishes of our national development
Be rendered null and void
I have a lot of dreams
I pray you have yours
And live your dreams
Walking them during the day

“Seek ye first the political kingdom and all things shall be added unto you.”
Kwame Nkrumah (1909 – 1972)

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