Africans Blame Themselves for Weak Governance

By Jean De La Croix Tabaro, Rwanda Focus


More than fifty eminent scholars from different universities, government institutions and international organizations mainly from Africa gathered in Kigali on Saturday in a high-level conference on governance and democracy.

One day before the celebration of 50 years of independence and 18 years of liberation, Rwanda the Governance Board (RGB) organized this conference to help Africans assess 50 years of self-rule. It focused on the reasons that hampered good leadership, democracy and nationhood, development in all sectors, and the main conclusion was that Africa for the past half century has been a weak continent, mostly depending on aid, for which were to blame Africans themselves, colonialists and even some organizations.

The participants agreed that African countries and their leadership had often failed to use their opportunities and resources. “When we discuss our problems, we refer to America’s experience which doesn’t always match with ours and can’t therefore be applied to our problems”, said Andrew Mwenda, editor of the Ugandan newspaper The Independent, and one of the panelists.

Therefore, the participants agreed that instead of copying and pasting the western model, there were many examples to be found where homegrown solutions had provided the answer to Africa’s problems.

Rwanda was highlighted as one of the countries which had successfully assessed its problems and solutions in its culture. “The community work umuganda is very important for the social fabric”, said Margeret Zziwa, the recently elected Speaker of East African Legislative Assembly, who also commended other Rwandan initiatives like Bye Bye Nyakatsi, Gacaca Jurisdictions, the one-laptop-per-child program and the steps taken in democratization.

Colonialists were also blamed for taking African countries backwards, as explained by senators Augustin Iyamuremye and Tito Rutaremara, for example like reducing Rwanda’s boundaries, imposing forced labor, etc. Nevertheless, the participants agreed that the main causes for bad leadership do not lie with others, but with Africans themselves, and they should therefore assess their weaknesses and turn them in opportunities.

One of the ways to achieve that is regional integration, of which the East African Community was cited as a good example, and which constitutes a framework to address issues such as sustainable development, infrastructure, gender equality and others. In addition, speakers pointed out that such regional blocs can also help reduce African countries’ reliance on aid, by putting them in a stronger position to engage in trade with the donors.


Posted by on Jul 2 2012. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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