By Arrey Etchi Agbor-Ndakaw in Yaounde, Cameroon
The word Africa conjures a lot of images in the mind and ears of those who hear it. For some, it is a name that heralds feelings of pride and heartbreak; an oxymoron of the frustrations and joys that sons and daughters of Africa face daily. For others, it conjures images of suffering, hunger and what have we. This is thanks to the media especially western media which has done a fine job in portraying Africa as the forever Dark Continent, a land of untold suffering in fact, a land cursed.
This feeling is further exacerbated by sons and daughters of Africa who immigrated to the west in search of greener pastures and who have in one way or the other slowly but surely bought the idea of nothing good comes out of Africa. For sure, our leaders and their leadership styles lives much to be desired but it is very ironical that Africa produces almost everything that helps sustains the western world today be it raw materials or brain power, yet we continue to hear the talk of nothing good ever comes from Africa and as such lag behind.
Unfortunately, this mentality has been so ingrained into the system and psychic of many an African that even the consummation of home products is seen as inferiority; that if you have a brother or sister abroad who hasn't yet sent home a container they are viewed as lazy when compared with others. And how sad it is really when you see people fight over the things that come out of such containers.
For sure, I give credit to those who made the effort to send in genuine goods because they don't like their brothers to be duped constantly.
However, it irks me no end when people scrabble for used goods which some may even have been things donated to salvation armies and what other of such charitable organisations or when maybe someone thinks he or she needs to refurbish their homes and now Africa is the perfect dumping ground for those unwanted goods whereby they do a good job charging very high prices and people scrabble for it like the colonial masters of times past scrabbled for Africa.
The dumping ground doesn't end with such used goods being shipped en masse to Africa which in the process clouds the local markets and makes it difficult sometimes near impossible to progress because the competition is next to nil. The next and most painful of these is when, people leave Africa, some on government scholarships, once they get to their so called promised heavens, they vow never to come back but then on their dead beds, like Joseph of ancient Egypt, they suddenly feel the pull and want a connectness with Mama Africa. Their people are asked to transport their carcasses back to Africa to lie in the lands of their ancestors.
This has often and still makes me sad. We spend our lives, resources and man power to make things better for another continent but we see ours only as a dumping ground for refuse and rubbish waste?
I know people will be quick to say our leaders are so and so. Yes, every society started somewhere to be where they are today. I have often wondered, what if all the people especially the thinkers and movers of the west left the same way Africans are leaving en masse, doing precious little but talk! Talk! Talk! Sending back used products in the name of quality goods, and carcasses to fertilize the earth for more trees to grow and shipped back to the west to take it another notch up the ladder of progress while Africa continue to lack behind, remaining what the western media has always so graciously sold the forever dark continent; when do we see the light?
When do Africa start benefiting from her products and her gifted sons and daughters? When do we stop swallowing the now famous nothing good comes out of Africa and start thinking Africa has everything it takes and must not remain the dumping ground of unneeded waste from the West?
One thing we seem to forget is that no society grew over night without passing through some rough edges, through that fiery torment called change. The change must not however, necessarily be bloodshed. It began with the people accepting their worth, accepting to work for what they believe in and want their society to look like, acting on a vision of creating that so called perfect society and taking pride on that vision. Making Sacrifices. The fact is nothing good comes over night. When Africa will rise up to the challenging risk of start thinking differently and believing in their worth, accepting to work from scratch for long term results; refusing to constantly blame the powers that be but determined to take charge individually and collectively, Africa in general and Cameroon in particular will see the light of day and of positive change but until that happens, We are forever going to remain the dumping ground of Western Rubbish and unwanted waste.