Thursday, 29 March 2007


As at least some of you might have noticed, my first article at Africanpath received almost immediately a response from Dennis Matanda, one of the site’s resident bloggers.
In my second article, posted today, I seek to address some of the issues raised by Matanda in his last and previous articles. In doing so, I deal with three discrete cases from African economic history, namely Ghana, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Again, you can read and comment it either Here or at Africanpath.

As at least some of you might have noticed, my first article at Africanpath received almost immediately a response from Dennis Matanda, one of the site’s resident bloggers.
In my second article, posted today, I seek to address some of the issues raised by Matanda in his last and previous articles. In doing so, I deal with three discrete cases from African economic history, namely Ghana, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Again, you can read and comment it either Here or at Africanpath.


Koluki said...

I've decided, for the purpose of this blog's record-keeping, to transcribe here the comments to my articles at Africanpath. So, that's what follows...

Koluki said...

In response to this two-part series on Africa's economic history


I had another look at your work today via the African Path newsletter and have read (scan read is more accurate) Part I & II of "Are We All Losing the Plot?". Your writing is some of the best work I have ever seen on the subject of Africa's post-colonial economic history and how it impacts present-day issues on the continent. You have presented this information in such a way that even people without an education in macro & micro economics can understand it and that presumably sets you apart from many academics who write on this subject.

I agree with you in that sub-Saharan Africa does not need any re-colonization by European or Middle Eastern governments and entities (historically speaking) but instead Africans must work and push even harder for the domestic and cross-border development and international support necessary for survival through the 21st Century and beyond. Fortunately some people who do not hail from Africa are learning a great deal more about who the "changemakers" and emerging leaders of Africa are___ in my opinion you can count yourself amongst that select group.

One thing that the everyone needs to keep in mind from a "historical perspective" is that time is running out for a lot of people and societies on Earth. Don't allow hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa to meet the same fate as the indigenous people of the Americas, who due to their inability to adjust to new threats and rapid changes were practically wiped out (>90%). Many of the indigenous people of the Americas of the 18th and 19th century are only one example of a group of civilizations that today can only be spoken about in "historical terms".

Black River Eagle"

March 30, 2007

Koluki said...



This is a brilliant article. One of the best I have read as a summary on the economics of Africa. I agree with you, posturing and wasting time reexamining recolonization does no one good. Dennis probably has a more romanticized view of colonization than most. All countries have had to go through growing pains and none of the successful countries consist of only one tribe but rather a collection of different cultures and sub-cultures.

Africa is growing and it is caught between two worlds. Traditional Africa with systems that actually worked quite well and the modern Africa (post colonial) where leaders have perfected two of the worst traits a human being seeking to elevate their position in life can have.

1. Begging. We beg for everything. No self-reliance or seeking lasting solutions to our problems. A government gets in place and designs ways to get more money from the West. We need to stop reliance on aid, writing yearly budgets that are financed to a great extent with money we don't have and pilfering public coffers. As a matter of fact, we should get rid of aid and try building self reliance, self discipline and good money management in both government and individual levels.

2. Blame game. African leaders are the best at this. Selling guilt all over the place. "Give us money since you colonized us. You owe us reparations" and a number of other stupids suggestions that don't do anything for us. Can you imagine teaching you child to extend blame to everyone but themselves? How can Mugabe blame the west while he has had close to 30 years to change Zimbabwe?

Until we learn to look at ourselves, hold our leaders more accountable and punish those who are currently getting away with bad governance, theft and human rights violations, we will keep spinning our wheels. The change we need will come from within Africa and within each and everyone of us.


March 30, 2007

Koluki said...


"Ethiopia was never colonized. How come they are caught up in such bad leadership and do not have systems such as those you point out in Botswana or say Mauritius.


March 30, 2007

Koluki said...


"Interesting economic analysis in historical perspective. I am now more interested in seeing how Mbeki, or his successor, will deal with his own land reform at home.


March 31, 2007

Koluki said...

Thanks, my friends, for your comments.

Black River Eagle:

I feel humbled by your appreciation of my work and glad to know that it can be easily understood by most, if not all, readers.
I particularly agree with you in that "time is running out"... so, I reaffirm here my call to all of us not to waste it even more in unfruitful pursuits, such as calling for recolonization.


I also agree with the points you make.
One particular issue that perhaps we need to look at more closely is the politics of aid, that you rightfully advocate we should get rid of. However, let’s not forget that the problem is not just of that who begs but also of those who give and more often than not seek ways and institutional mechanisms to perpetuate dependence as a means of political and economic control and “guilt alleviation” more than “poverty alleviation”. There we have a two-way route to face...
Another point that I think is of particular importance is that we can hardly move forward fruitfully in our quest for democracy if issues from the past still impacting so directly and heavily on the present, as can be observed today in Zimbabwe, are not effectively and expeditiously dealt with. There’s no use in trying to sweep them under the carpet as that will only, as is glaringly visible in Mugabe’s “shenanigans”, reinforce dictatorship…
And, of course, real change can only come from within each one of the sons and daughters of Africa, be they wherever they might be.


An appropriate answer to your question would require a deeper analysis than what I can offer in this space at the moment. So, what I would say as a shorthand is that if, as I point out in the article, “Botswana is perhaps the best example of how the problem of embeddedness is not at all insurmountable in Africa”, Ethiopia’s case probably is not the best example…


I’m also very interested in what South Africa will bring to the table in that front.

Cleo said...

I do not know if there is a deliberate plot against Africans. What I surely know is that there are certain nations, cultures and people that have been in power for a long time, understand power and hold it better than the africans!

Black Africa is headed in the wrong direction, if any. The leadership is extremely poor, aids, other diseases, wars and famine are devastating the continent.

It is crucial that sooner rather than later capable africans take on positions where they can significantly influence economical, political and social policies on behalf of the continent.

Black africans need to start working harder to establish meaningful priorities and get a more dignifying position in the globe.

There is a strong possibility that in the future the majority of the africans left do not become more than just entertaining "creatures for the rest of the world" confined to "reserves", so that they do not go completely into extinction like the American indians.

If we seriously work on it now, there is still hope for a better future for africans.

Koluki said...

Hi Cleo!

Long time no hear... how are you?

Let's say that a plot is a plot and it can only hold if those who watch it or are visited upon by it, or are plotted over believe it, uphold it and render themselves to it. In both senses of the word 'plot' we are using here.
Let's just not allow ourselves to be vitimised or vitimise anyone. Let's take responsibility for whatever is visited upon us, good or bad. Let's not feel powerless or let anyone disempower us. Let's be ourselves, own ourselves and what we've earned as ours throughout millenia.
Let's go, let's do that and the future will be ours to live!

Koluki said...

Recovering from an Intellectual Blow

Koluki, I finally got round to reading this article - and I can tell you that I have been blown away - completely. Having said that, you have made a case for the shifting of blame from the leaders of present day African countries to the history of their different nations.

But is that not the problem? How can a people who have been showed these examples not react to them?

How can we not look into history and 'force' our present leaders to do their good deeds?

Lastly, how can we not blame our current leaders yet they, like our historical leaders, are not attempting to be students of history or leadership?

That is the core of my argument. If we had leaders in the past, why do we have presidents today?

Again, your article is excellent - and I am bowled over.

By: Dennis Matanda

Added: April 19, 2007 12:39 PM

Koluki said...

Agree to disagree...

Dear Dennis,

To me this is really the beauty of our continent and our cultures: we can actually disagree on fundamental issues, yet manage (I concede that not as often as we would like to be the case…) to somehow at least try to understand each other!

Having said that, my friend, I must say that I am not trying to shift blames... If anything, I’m just trying to stress that the blame falls upon all of us when we ‘cease and desist’ and decide to render ourselves to “recolonisation”… I’m trying to emphasise the importance that each one of us has in this struggle to upturn the future of Africa, by fully taking responsibility for our roles, rights and obligations as citizens, not just as subjects of states that “are politics” and of politics that “are the state”. When you talked of “assassination of current leaders as a means of change”, I must say that I was very sad… because that’s precisely, along with successive military coups, what has been happening since independence was achieved in our continent without any real change coming out of it.
Is it a time for change? Yes, and we agree on that. How to achieve it? That’s where we so often disagree.

My point is to try to work on how and why we disagree about fundamental issues on which we agree in principle. And my attempt at answering that question centers on our role as citizens, responsible, entitled and accountable before our nations. As part of the building up of this fundamental concept and practice of citizenship, I believe that we will be able to institute and maintain democratic institutions that will take care of some of the worst current presidents in Africa and create the space for new leaders to emerge… all within a peaceful process.

That’s the core of my argument.

Thanks again for your frankness and honesty and for having been the sparkler of this healthy debate that can set an example for future discussions here at AfricanPath or elsewhere about the future of our continent.



Added: April 24, 2007 08:47 PM