-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.