Africa’s Elusive Quest for Development by M. Houngnikpo

By M. Houngnikpo

Matt Houngnikpo examines how family clash, monetary stagnation, political instability, poverty and underdevelopment have plagued Africa for many years. He argues reversal of the political, fiscal and social plight of Africa lies in larger regulations, stable governance, and, extra importantly, a brand new kind of African chief and citizen.

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Prior to colonial rule, Africans defined their identities primarily by their allegiance to a ruler or their status within a political community. Polities had interests in incorporating settlers and acquiring slaves to strengthen their productive and military capacities. Under colonial regimes, political communities were defined according to administrative, religious, and linguistic demarcations without reference to political allegiance. 22 A SYNOPSIS OF AFRICA’S PLIGHT 25 Although colonialism did have some positive impact on Africa, mainly the building of modern infrastructures, its negative consequences were so severe that the continent still continues to suffer.

52 Until African leaders take heed of that basic premise as they develop their policies, chances are they will make wrong assumptions with dire consequences, resulting in the betrayal of their continent. These leaders have demonstrated ingenuity in domestic politics by clinging to power for decades, often against the will of their people. They have succeeded in creating strong patron–client relationships, permitting all kinds of political gymnastics for the survival of their regimes. It is, however, difficult to assert that they have ever been concerned with the well-being of their people.

Europeans targeted then Asia and the Pacific Islands. While Russia’s intention to conquer Siberia and China became obvious, Great Britain aimed at consolidating its gains in India and moving into China, Burma, and Malaysia. French explorers made their presence felt in Indochina. The French Navy settled in Tahiti in 1842, and in New Caledonia in 1853. For several years, France and Britain concentrated their efforts toward the Far East and the Pacific. In the meantime, bolder Europeans were trying to make contact with Africa on behalf of their governments.

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