Africa ‘Worse Off than at Independence’

Dr. Thomas Jaye: “Our young people... have been turned into slaves in another African country,”

-UL commencement speaker says World Bank, IMF “are barriers to development in Africa” 

The Director of Policy Support and Consultancy Services at the Kofi Annan International Peace Training Center in Accra, Ghana says the euphoria, anxieties, and enthusiasm that greeted the struggles for independence on the Africa continent over sixty years ago, have yielded no fruits and those dreams and aspirations that greeted that period continue to remain elusive.

Dr. Thomas Jaye, who delivered the keynote message at Liberia College’s Commencement Convocation, the first of seven college-based commencements forming part of the 98th Commencement Convocation of the University of Liberia, provided a detailed analysis of the origin of the current socio-economic and security crises which has plagued the African continent. Making his point, he referred to cases such as the ongoing migrant slavery situation in Libya; the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and other sporadic terroristic attacks across the continent.

Over the years, Dr. Jaye, a Liberian intellectual, said though there are very few stable countries on the continent, “the rest have been caught in the barbed-wire of political turbulence, intra-state conflicts, electoral crisis, governance and leadership failure, economic stagnation, social decline and insecurity.”

In summing up not just his but many other Africans’ frustrations, Dr. Jaye noted that the continent is even worse off now than before independence. He told the graduates, “When we look back, we see that the socio-economic conditions of our people are worse off than at independence.”

The bulk of Dr. Jaye’s message was essentially a deep historical and self-reflection of how bad governance, corruption, greed, elitism, and external interferences have undermined Africa’s transition from colonialism to democratic governance and development.

Dr. Jaye, who said he was born right on the eve of African independence, a time many thought was promising, lamented that it is sad that even in the 21st Century, the African continent is still grappling with the story of slavery.

“Our young people, who are doing everything possible to cross the sea to migrate to a ‘greener pasture’ in Europe, have been turned into slaves in another African country,” he said. “Some are sold at $200 per person; others went through terrible ordeals including organ theft and being burned alive, and many have died while trying to cross the sea. This is a shame.”

Dr. Jaye blamed bad governance and leadership failure in Sub-Saharan Africa as some of the reason why African young and able-bodied men and women were risking their lives to cross into Europe.

Are World Bank, IMF Helping Africa?

The response to this question, to many, especially from the African continent, would be a resounding yes—this is because, as some feel, these Bretton Woods institutions give that public impression that they are all out to eradicate poverty and illiteracy as well as improve governance and through that, help improve the living standards of mankind, especially the vulnerable people, many of whom are on the African continent.

However, the Commencement Speaker sees things quite differently. He said another source of the on-going socio-economic crisis on the African continent and elsewhere has its roots in the policies of the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“These two Bretton Woods institutions that were set up to promote development turned out to be barriers to development in Africa,” he said. The World Bank and the IMF, he said, imposed strains of anti-development policies on African countries under the euphemism known as ‘structural adjustment programs.’ (SAP).

Dr. Jaye said he provided the brief overview of the world in order for the graduates to appreciate the enormity of the challenges confronting the world. “Fortunately, as graduates of LUX IN TENEBRIS and its oldest college, the Liberia College, you should be fully prepared as you walk out this graduation hall with your heads up high with faith in a brighter future,” he said.

He told the graduates that adequate academic preparation leads to a hopeful and better future, adding, “Education is Insurance for you and your future.”

The 2017 Commencement Convocation, in the words of UL President Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, who is presiding over her first graduation exercises, is unique for several reasons, including the fact that the University of Liberia was graduating its largest class.

“Today is a unique day, unique for a variety of reasons,” Dr. Weeks emphasized. “It’s unique for me; it’s unique to you and it’s unique to the University of Liberia in that this is the largest overall class that will be graduating from the University of Liberia overall, in that, there are over 3,400 students that will be graduating.”

She said the 98th Commencement was unique for her because it is her first as president of the University of Liberia. Dr. Weeks was inducted into office on September 13, 2017, as the second female president of the University of Liberia.

This commencement sees the largest number of graduates, 606 in total. The first graduate in 1866 from Liberia College was one person. And for 50 years the largest number of people that graduated from Liberia College was 11. The first female that graduated from Liberia College graduated in 1905 when it had the largest class over that 50 year period. This year, out of 606 graduates 401 are females. “And so for me, that is fantastic!” Dr. Weeks said.

Speaking to the graduates, Dr. Weeks said the University of Liberia is the flagship university in Liberia. If you go anywhere in the world the largest number of people who have graduated from university in Liberia will be from the University of Liberia.

“And when we go elsewhere for advanced studies, we always excel. And so I want you to continue to keep in your mind, as you go your various ways that you’ve come from a great university; wear that banner with pride. Wear it proudly,” she said.


  1. There were many countries that were colonized including Indonesia and Malaysia. Africa is still underdeveloped because of the corruption and greed of our leaders. Africans leaders are tyrants who oppress their own people. Africa has nobody to blame but themselves who steal to go and live the good life in the West. Was it the IMF that bought a $60,000 watch for Mugabe’s son when his people were starving? Or was it the West that bought over 100 vintage cars for the president of Equatorial Guinea son? Grow up and learn to take responsibility for yourself.

  2. My take on this issue is africans should start believing in themselves it is indeed a mental problem that africans feel that they cannot achieve anything on their own really mental colonization can be contagious.
    What we learn is that some leaders in africa steal from their own people to go and bank the loot in the western countries , and feel when they are sick they should go to the west for medication than spend money in their own countries .
    The other issue are laws which tailored to disadvantage the economies in africa the infrastructure that doesn’t allow for value addition to the products in africa a lot has to be done to jump this monumental huddle.

  3. I whole heartedly agree with Dr. Jaye that the World Bank and the IMF are real, ,real
    barriers to Africa development. Why do I say so? Because if they were not a real
    barriers to Africa development, Liberia in particular, they would not had helped Mrs.
    Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to be elected as President of Liberia; in view of the fact that the
    TRC’s Decision that Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was not qualified to hold [public office]
    in 30 -35 years. Liberia being a very long time supporter and one of organizers and
    founder should be respected and uphold to the letter. But when it comes to their
    former employees, they do not regard that their respective is a sovereign nation.
    As a result of whoever these bodies forced on a country are always left with huge
    troubles when they leave office in a country like Liberia now. In Liberia, President
    Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf messed with the transparency of our elections simply because
    she want an immunity when she leaves office, and CDC George Weah promised her
    that he will give her that immunity if he is elected. So, it fellows that about one or two
    weeks to the elections of October 10, 2017 she had private meeting the Elections
    Commission Chairman George Jerome Korkoya, staff and workers and instructed them
    that her choice is George Weah of CDC and the only way effect that was for them to
    allow only the young people to vote and turn away the matured, educated, experienced
    and legally registered to vote. That is what Korkoya commission do and did!

    Why service is unavailable?

  4. For too long, African countries despite their abundant wealth of natural resources have been too dependent on foreign aid. Also, African countries have the tendency to borrow excessively from the West and International Financial Institutions that have detrimental strings attached. Chronic borrowing makes it difficult for these poorly managed African countries to repay such astronomical loans.

    This habit of financial dependency (master/servant mentally) is corrosive to the development of Africa as a whole….as explained by a fellow African Economist born in Lusaka, Zambia name Dambisa Moyo. She worked for Goldman Sachs as a consultant and the World Bank for many years and obtained her Ph.D. in economics from Oxford University.

    In her book, ‘DEAD AID’, Dambisa Moyo talked about African countries over- reliant on foreign aid which is not sustainable. She writes, “In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development–related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse–much worse.” This is the same message Dr. Thomas Jaye is impacting on the minds of these graduates.

    She further stated, “The mismanagement of foreign aid sent from wealthy countries to developing countries has not reduced poverty nor has it increase Africa’s economic growth.”

    This overreliance on aid and excessive borrowing has trapped developing nations like Liberia in a vicious circle of aid dependency and corruption: by creating a cartel of government elites, market distortion and further poverty.

    Liberia and many African countries should wane themselves from this over-reliance on foreign aid, should wane themselves for the excessive borrowing of money that they are unable to pay back and copy the economic models of countries like Singapore and South Korea that went from once depressed economies to becoming highly developed economies. These countries do not depend on foreign aid for sustainability. They became self-sufficient by revamping their educational system to produce skilled workers; they curbed corruption; created jobs; encouraged entrepreneurship; rebuilt their health care system; encouraged savings and investments; rebuilt their infrastructure; and respect the rule of laws.

    If Liberia refuses to develop its economy by creating a suitable climate for foreign investment; refuses to develop its educational system to train skilled workers; refuses to develop its health care system; curb corruption; create jobs; strengthen the rule of law; refuses to develop its human resources; and if Liberia refuses to invest heavily in its infrastructure in conjunction with foreign partnership, no matter who is elected President of Liberia the foreign aid dependency and excessive borrowing syndrome will continue unabated.

    We need more cooperation and partnership (not Aid dependency) with the West. We need cooperation with the People of Japan, Singapore and South Korea to help train more skilled workers in Liberia……to reach a level of self-dependency and break the vicious circle of aid dependency as Dambisa Moyo stated. These policies if implemented with the full utilization of Africa’s natural resources will help Liberia and many African countries to reach self-sufficiency similar to that of these small oil rich countries like Qatar, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates.

    Yes indeed Dr. Jaye, because of massive corruption, aid dependency and excessive borrowing Africa is much-worse off today!!!

  5. One or perhaps the biggest problem is the African LEADERSHIPS’ attitudes. Africa’s leaders do not believe in spreading wealth. Thus Africa is a place of extremes. Few are extremely WEALTHY; while many others are extremely POOR. The African Elites take pride in seeing themselves surrounded by many poor people. To them, that’s prestige. We, Africans need to change the “Me Alone” attitudes. It’s a lot nicer to have many beautiful homes; than to have a PALACE surrounded by many slum- dwellings/dwellers. Yes! Indeed, we have the means in Africa. The biggest problem is distribution…


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