Mission to Make Africa Great Again

Once Upon a Time… Africa was Great. Up until the end of the medieval ages, many great Kingdoms flourished across the vast expanse of land called Africa. The impact of many ancient African civilizations can still be seen today in many shapes and forms around the world. It is true that Homo Sapiens is believed to have emerged from present day Ethiopia, making Africa the cradle of mankind. Ancient Egyptians some seven thousand years ago, achieved so many engineering, scientific, and mathematical accomplishments that baffle even the best minds of today [Gerdes (2010)].

The art of writing, the hieroglyphics, the giant pyramids of Giza, the complex temples and tombs in Luxor, the mathematics of geometry and algebra, and the art and science of embalmment are some of the amazing bequeaths of the ancient Egyptian history. Scholars and architects gravitated towards the Kingdom, and Timbuktu, its capital, emerged as a centre of learning, commerce and architecture. The University of Timbuktu, one of the world’s earliest Universities, was built, and attracted many Arab scholars, such as AlSahiri, the poet and architect [Jeppie and Diagne (2008), Walt (2013)]. But the impressive contributions made by Africans in various fields including science and engineering were spread throughout the continent.

Emmanuel Akyeampong, a History Professor at Harvard, reports that an anonymous recorder on the voyage of the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Alvares Cabral, took note of Kilwa, off the coast of present day Tanzania in the year 1500: “This Island is small, near the mainland, and is a beautiful country. The houses are high like those of Spain. In this land there are rich merchants, and there is much gold and silver and amber and musks and pearls. Those of the land wear clothes of fine cotton and of silk and many fine things and they are black men” [Akyeampong (2017)].

University of Timbuktu Yet another sign of greatness and exceptional advances in pre-colonial Africa was the ability of its leaders to move markets as illustrated during Mansa Musa’s stop-over in Cairo on his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324. The Arab historian, Shihab al-Umari, who visited Cairo 12 years after King Mansa Musa, wrote: “Mansa Musa left no emir or holder of royal office without a gift or load of gold; he and his company gave out so much gold that they depressed its value 7 in Egypt and caused price to fall”. Yes, actions taken by an African leader, as far back as 14 centuries ago, could depress the world price of gold.

The continent is still well endowed with natural resources and primary commodities:

• Accounting for 90 percent of the world’s cobalt deposits;

• Accounting for 64 percent of the world’s manganese;

• Accounting for 60 percent of the World’s usable arable land;

• Accounting for 56 percent of the world’s diamond reserves;

• Accounting for 50 percent of the world’s gold;

• Accounting for 50 percent of the world’s phosphates;

• Producing 75 percent of the world’s cocoa, and

• Producing 60 percent of the world’s coffee.

But today actions taken by Africans no longer move major markets, even for resources they control. The world price of gold and other precious metals and natural resources are set outside of Africa. It is therefore no wonder that Africa earns less than 10 percent (i.e. less than 12 billion US dollars) of the 120 billion US dollars global cocoa/chocolate market despite the fact that it produces 75 percent of world cocoa beans; receives only 3 percent of the 3 trillion US dollars petroleum products market, while it accounts for 10 percent of crude oil reserves; and receives 4 percent of the over 300 billion US dollars global gold earnings, while accounting for 50 percent of world gold production.

Africa has natural resources like other continents, however, Africa is the least developed continent on Earth. The history of Africa shows that it was once prosperous. Africa was great before and therefore it can be great again.

We want to create forums in which we can trigger Africans to discuss ways in which Africa can reform itself for the betterment of its citizens. The first step is acknowledging that Africa is not a single entity: different cultures, different regions, different idiosyncrasies. The first approach would be to exploit Africa’s historical identity. Only the people of Africa can make it great again by being honest, disciplined and working hard.

Join the discussions and suggest ways to make Africa great again; join us by write to us on kinsmen.kfa@gmail.com