africa / Opinion / Politics / Society

Is Africa and Africans Cursed?

By IBé


As a Pan-African with afrocentric leaning, it pains me to even contemplate this, let alone verbalize it. But I believe it’s worth discussing, if not yesterday, then definitely today, in the hope that we won’t have to tomorrow.


Earlier this week, I was flipping through the Minneapolis Star Tribune when I came across a picture of two crying African children next to the caption, “Fighting – And Heartbreak – Spreads. Siblings wept as they looked for their parents in Kiwanja, a village in eastern Congo.” As I looked at the picture of these kids, one carrying the other on his/her back, with tear-filled face contorted in utter agony, I almost came to tears next to my American co-workers in our break room. The younger, perhaps two or three years old, reminded me of my two-year old son. Who will do this to an innocent child? I asked myself. The answer was in an inset picture of a nerdy looking man with an explorer hat. His name is Laurent Nkunda. This is the new Charles Taylor of Africa, the warlord of the latest disaster on a continent where disasters are always competing for the headlines.


These so called-revolutionaries, “freedom fighters”, will tell you they take up arms as a last mean to force cruel hands of the sitting government.  I’m not going to argue the merit (or lack thereof) of these claims; we each have our opinion about that.  What is clear is that when these men take up arms and give it to untrained fighters, most of whom are children, the innocent people, who are themselves victims of the inept and corrupt government, become the enemy. Instead of taking the fight to the state house, it’s as if they draw a line from that site to the furthest village and there begin their bloody bush path to destruction.  It almost makes you wish for the swift action of coup d’etats.


It’s a shame really. But it seems the story all over Africa since the pro-African euphoria of independence waned. War is everywhere on the planet, but Africa is the only continent that has had the word genocide associated with it at least three times in the last decade. If you broaden that to include conflicts that were/are just notorious for their sheer destruction, then add Sierra Leone to that, add Liberia to that, add Uganda to that, Mozambique, Somalia, and Angola. The list goes on.


Everywhere you turn, Africans are killing Africans. Unfortunately that is just one of many ways Africans are dying prematurely.  AIDS is killing Africans, malaria is killing Africans, dictators are killing Africans, famine is starving Africans to death. Anything that can kill a man is killing Africans en mass.


But dying is just one of many scrooges plaguing Africans. When we live, we live in poverty, we lack basic health care, we lack education, we lack good leadership, we lack opportunities, we lack vision, our dreams are stifled before we wake, our economy is considered good at levels unacceptable anywhere else, our environment is going to shambles, technologically speaking we are still in the womb when the world is approaching middle age.


The old rhetoric of blaming the White Man is old and played-out. Not forgiving him for his sin, we have got to move on. After 50 years of independence, we should be showing signs of progress. But for the most part, we are not. The few seem to be progressing only vis-à-vis the backsliding majority.


And it doesn’t look like it is going to get better any time soon. Because Africa’s best and brightest are everywhere but Africa. We are fanned out around the globe helping other countries advance, leaving Africa further and further behind. In other words, the hope of Africa is somewhere else, in the hands of western benefactors such as the IMF and the UN, but more importantly in the hands of those of us that are in the Diaspora. We try to keep the spirit alive and send the $100 and $200 change we hide from bill collectors, but this is a long distance relationship that is not going to survive on phone sex alone. When we die here, so does the light. As much as we would like our children to carry the torch, they won’t. They will be the Obamas of the world outside of Africa. And the circle continues.


So I ask again, is Africa and Africans cursed? Has God forsaken us? Why did we fall victim to slavery, to colonization, and now to the paralysis of our own hands? Some (including myself) will argue we were not always like this; that once upon a time we were at the helm, we held the admiration of the world. When are we going to capture a sliver of that light? Are we ever going to? When we were the most, did we do something so awful that God decided to punish us by making us the least? Maybe Adam and Eve being chased out of Eden is a metaphor about us. What was our apple? We are stranded and lost, the exile has been hard on our body and soul. God, we just want to come home.


16 thoughts on “Is Africa and Africans Cursed?

  1. Ibe, this is a very thought provoking piece. Im convinced God has a special place in His heart for Africa. Knowing that, we’ve just missed our flights on soo many things, I just truly dont know what the plan is. You know when all these foreign leaders and companies talk about the ‘world’ or ‘we have presence across the world’, Africa is not included. I saw the picture you’re referring to, it was so heartbreaking. Ishmail Beah wrote about his experiences as a child soldier-imagine, kids! I dont know when we’ll see that light, but I know its a long way away.

  2. The curse that has befallen Africans is that they do not believe in themselves. The solution to all of the problems plaguing our motherland is within all of us. I know it may seem idealistic but it is true. When it comes to War and Genocide the philosophy of being our brother and sister’s keeper is what we have to bear in mind. There is more that binds us together than tears us apart. That is also the solution to the spread of AIDS and HIV.

    I remember that a while back there was a huge famine and drought in Kenya and alot of families and whole regions were suffering. Kenyans donated enough food and supplies to alleviate the suffering without relying on any other people but each other. This is just a sample of what we can do when we take care of each other.

    Africans need to create their own path and stop following the path of the rest of the world. We have enough land and agricultural knowhow to feed ourselves, enough talented and capable medicine men and women to cure the illnesses that plague us and kill our children and enough capable warriors to protect us against those that seek to kill us off so that they can possess our heritage and home. All this and more is within our grasp if we overcome just one hurdle. Just one…… and that is believe in our ability to save ourselves.

  3. Pingback: Is Africa and Africans cursed? A response. « MinneAfrica

  4. Yes, yes, yes, WE are the solution. As long as we don’t forget that, there is hope.
    Susie thanks for echoing what I too hear (or don’t hear) whenever I hear “world leaders” talk about the world. It’s as if Africa is not on this planet. But hey, they ain’t gonna see us, until we make ourselves known to the sun.

  5. I like this article, but it says a lot of what I’ve been hearing for a while – “We are the ones we are waiting for” – not the next generation, but us. I am yet to meet an African in the diaspora who doesn’t want the best for their motherland. For whatever reason, there just seems to be some difficulty in getting the ball rolling. Is it a lack of ideas? Is it a lack of time? Are we too divided in our efforts? What gives?

  6. Well the more appropriate question should be “are africans and african countries independent today?”. I believe the answer should be No. Western powers are very much involved in this conflict (the Zaire one). Since its independence Congo-kinshassa has been kept weak by western nations in order to exploit its rich mineral fields. Nkunde is able to do what he’s doing through the financial and material help from Rwanda which is in turn supported by the United States, so Rwanda can act as a U.S proxy. In turn Kinshassa is supported by France, however corrupt or incompetent it may be, which explain why government troops commit all kind of atrocities themselves. In this conflict and many other conflicts around our continent, the white countries aren’t just observers, they are the major players

  7. Ahhh Tuan, my brother, its good to see you here. I like your input on this discussion. As much as I blame the African governments and the rebel leaders or Freedom Fighters as some may choose to call themselves, for the atrocities committed on innocent civilians during “war” time, the major influence of the West can never be ignored. So brother Ibe, I am sorry but I think that 50 years old rhetoric about ‘blaming the whiteman” is still alive and kicking!

  8. While I understand that the West had everything to do with the origins of our troubles I am completely against the ‘blaming the whiteman’ mantra. How easy it must be for these rebel leaders because they are the puppets of the ‘indominatable West’. I say we should deal with the rebel leaders and send a message to the West that we are finally ‘incorruptible’ and ‘united’. ‘Blaming the whiteman’ is what’s killing us, because it leads us to think that our enemy is to great to conquer, when that’s not the case. The enemy is next door.

  9. But then Nelima, your solution opens the doors to all kinds of new avenues, like for example- why “deal with the rebel leaders” and not “deal with the government officials”? Are we saying that by default they are wrong and the governments they aim to topple, are right?

  10. I was talking the rebel leaders with reference to Laurent Nkunda. Basically I’m for dealing with the local perpetrator as opposed to the foreigners. Well at least before we get to the West. It makes better sense when we fight in a united front than a divided one.

  11. But in no way are we saying that we shouldn’t fight the local enemies, but we should understand how things work to better fight it. I think to believe that we are cursed, will lead us to believe that that our enemy is too great to conquer and not “the blaming white people” belief

    By the way who cursed us? ’cause if it is god, then god shall be our enemy

  12. Africa cursed?? I believe we are not cursed, but have allowed greed to corrupt our land. Some of have the attitude of not caring about affairs that are not related to their family. I call this the “I don’t care” syndrome. Until we start to care about how to work together , our continent will continue to be poor and seem cursed. The dirty politics, power hungry dictators, and greedy leaders should not be tolerated because they belong to our tribe, family, or national party.

    Sure we do have some of our people studying or living permanently in developed countries who have also adopted the attitude of not caring about their home country because of various reasons. Some dont care because all their immediate family live with them in Uk, US.

    It is essential that we encourage fellow Africans to work together in finding solutions and implementing these solutions. We should not be concerned about being recognised , but rather think of ways to improve the image of the continent, AFRICA.

  13. Hahahaha Tuan, “Then god shall be our enemy” eh! That’s quite a battle to take up. I agree we need to understand the roots of our situation, for it is a very complex one indeed. I want us to fight efficiently so that we are not worn out, jaded and hopeless.

  14. Stefanie I hear you on the ‘I don’t care syndrome’. I think this syndrome can be halted (and reversed) by encouraging the youth back home to give back and volunteer in their respective communities. I remember my high school having a volunteer program with a nearby school for challenged kids, the program was not emphasized, but those who took part organized other events at school to help these kids and further raise awareness on mental disabilities. This cultivates that giving spirit, which can be very contagious. I have always been of the opinion that people who organize scholarships for kids back home require that the recipients partake in some community building of some sort. After a while volunteering becomes a necessary routine and not a chore. That’s how we begin to break down the ‘I don’t care’ syndrome.

  15. ha, my people, we are talking! Tuan and Cyril, trust me I’m 100 percent with you. And the question as to whether we are yet independent or not, we obviously are NOT. Behind every conflict in Africa, a western hand is at play. That is not even a conspiracy theory, it is a fact! Like brother Ameri Baraka says, who made the bombs/who made the guns/ who twist your mind? who who who?….
    But I’d really like us to forget this fact for an instant, because I believe it is the easy answer. The fact of the matter is, it’s not a white finger on the trigger. And that’s where I’m starting my frame of reference. If we don’t show them the willing trigger finger, (and I mean that in so many ways than gun) then they can’t do SHIT. At least they will have to show their face. So, then, why do we give them the finger? In other words, why do we let, yes we do, let them play us for puppet?
    This is how I see it, if you have your head screwed in right and rightious, no matter how much you need it, if somebody comes and gives you a thousand dollar and a gun and asks you to shoot your brother, the answer will always be HELL NO. Why are there always willing Africans ready to take the gun to their brother’s head? Why do we do it? Again, I’m not just talking about the physical gun. I’m talking about the metaphorical one.
    I can go on for more. But really what I would like us to discuss is our own responsibility. Because putting it on others (even if they are indeed guilty) it’s the easy way out, and it gives you the permission to not do anything. Let’s DO something: Say no to their guns, say no to their market, to their ideology….and make our own. At this point, independence is nobody’s to give us, we must TAKE it.

  16. To add my two cents here, I would say, no, Africans are not cursed. Africa as a continent is in fact blessed. It is easy to look at the scars we suffer and thereby lose hope. But these scars are, in fact, evidence of our blessing. In spite all of the suffering, we are not consumed. We are not wiped off the face of the earth. Look at Africa’s resilient and beautiful people. Look at the amazing odds we have been able to conquer. When you travel across Africa as I do, you run into amazing courage and undying hope.

    The other day I met a twelve-year old young man in Nairobi I will call Andrew. Andrew, like a few hundred others, is a victim of the post-election violence. Their family moved off their land and have not been able to return. There was no question that the experience hurt the boy deeply. Yet Andrew had the most amazing hope I have seen anywhere. He is bold and courageous. He dreamed of becoming a doctor some day. As he spoke of his faith in Jesus Christ, he demonstrated an indomitable spirit. Looking at me as though I was his older brother, Andrew had hope like I have not seen in the West. He had undying hope that God was with him and that someday his dreams will come true.

    Every time I see images of Africans as those depicted in the Star Tribune I am reminded of the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37). God asked the prophet a question: “Can these dry bones live?” I know, we have all been asking this same question about Africa. I have never forgotten the first time I stood before a cache of dry bones at the Rwanda Genocide memorial in Kigali. After I exited the memorial, a battery of local journalists rushed to ask me questions about what I thought and what I would say to the Rwandan people now that I was there as an international evangelist. Was there hope? Could such painful memories be erased or replaced by optimism and hope? Can Africa’s valley of dry bones live?

    I believe the prophet’s answer is accurate and applies to Africa too. “Thou knowest, O Lord.” Yes, Africa’s future lies, not with man but with God. Looking at God’s instructions to Ezekiel, it is obvious that there is a hope and a future for Africa. God said to the prophet: “Ezekiel, prophecy to the bones and they will live.” God is saying the same thing to those of us concerned or morning over Africa’s welfare: prophecy hope. Prophecy forgiveness and reconciliation. Prophecy brotherhood. Prophecy prosperity. Please, don’t hang year heads down or be downcast. There is hope for Africa.

    Instead of whining about Africa’s hopelessness, get engaged with the continent. Engage those warlords and government leaders with a positive message knowing that heaven is backing you up.

    I am not speaking of what I am not doing. I have been in the war zones of the Congo. I have stood on the burning hearths of Burundi and proclaimed hope and grace to the raped women of Kivu. But I have also boldly walked into the leaders’ offices and implored them to fear God and serve the people rather than exploit them. I do this because I believe there is a better present and tomorrow for Africa. I do this because of the undying spirit of the African child.

    I am persuaded that it is possible and I will not be dissuaded. I have been there. I have walked hungry, naked and been sent home numerous times for lack of school fees. Yet through God’s help I prevailed. How can you tell me that I am cursed or hopeless? I say “I” because at one point I was that child in the star tribune.

    “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…therefore we do not lose heart.”

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