Navel-gazing of leaders sees lofty ideals for Africa go belly up

21 March 2021 - 00:00

In a stirring speech to the National Assembly exactly two decades ago, then president Thabo Mbeki seemed to speak for an entire continent of what he called an "African century" in which Africans themselves would take the initiative in stopping the wars ravaging the continent, eliminating preventable disease, poverty and underdevelopment. In other words, a call for Africans to be masters of their own fate. The "African renaissance" became his catchphrase, a concept that now seems to have gone the way of the dodo.

"We march into the new era of the African century as Africans who have made the determination that this century will be 100 years in which we cease to be victims of our circumstances, but victors," he said. "We will ensure that wars, disease and underdevelopment are no longer seen as synonymous with Africans. We have an obligation to ensure that no African child should ever walk in fear of guns, tyrants and abuse; that no African child should ever again experience hunger, avoidable disease and ignorance; that no African child should ever again feel ashamed to be an African."..

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