The National Security Advisor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dr. Henry Boimah Fahnbulleh, says there remains a leadership deficit in Africa inspite of the fact that the continent has been completely emancipated.
Dr. Fahnbulleh recalled that Africa during the early days of independence produced great leaders like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, who he said were men with vision who understood what Africa needed.
“Unfortunately, they were either overthrown or taken for granted, making it difficult for these men to mobilize their people. Since that time, Africa has experienced a drought of ideas.”
Dr. Fahnbulleh said, “Nkrumah proffered the argument that the independence of Ghana was meaningless without the total liberation of Africa.”
Fahnbulleh recalled that Nkrumah was the only African leader who had a deep understanding that the struggle in Congo (DRC) and the assassination of then Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, was tied in with the total liberation of southern Africa.
He said, however, Africa has had to bear the shame of turning out some of the world’s greatest buffoons (clowns, comedians) for political leaders. He named men like Jean Bedel Bokassa, former leader of the Central African Republic, who made himself an emperor; and Mobutu Sese Sekou of the Congo, as two such examples.
“The continent produced these people who have no idea about anything positive; they merely acted as gendarmes of foreign interests,” Dr. Fanbulleh said with disgust.
Speaking in Monrovia Thursday, December 12, Dr. Fahbulleh expressed his belief that after political independence, the next phase of the struggle he considers a highly important dynamic, is economic independence.
“Economic liberation cannot be achieved with a single social class, only the masses in their entirety. It can be accomplished through self-reliance provided by agriculturally based advancement and reproduction, it’s only the people who can defend whatever gains a leader makes,” he asserted.
Dr. Fahnbulleh said the economic deprivation of Africa is affecting every country on the continent. He used Liberia as a typical example where citizens in areas such as West Point, New Kru Town, and other parts of the leeward counties “live as if they are in the Middle Ages.”
“You can have political independence, but if your people do not have economic power that enables them to provide for themselves, then you remain a beggar nation,” he said, adding, “Your dignity is questioned, because you keep on begging and receiving aid when you have resources in your country,” Dr. Fahnbulleh explained.
“Those people you beg will either think that psychologically something is wrong with you, or you just willingly accept your status as a slave,” he noted.
Dr. Fahnbulleh said Liberia must build a middle class economy that invests primarily in its own people and their contributions to the nation. He said we have to create employment opportunities so that Liberians are involved in all sectors of the economy, whether in the oil industry when it starts, or on the plantation.
“Liberians ought to occupy a large market share of our economy; that is the only way we can go forward. We are not going to go to other people’s countries and remain cleaners and sweepers. The resources are here and when you invest, you employ your people, and then you have a greater stake within the system. The economic empowerment of our people is not something to wait for; it is something that we have to demand,” Dr. Fanbulleh concluded.