BY JOSEPH LISTER NYARINGO
South Africa has made us proud for successfully hosting the Fifa World cup for the first time in the African continent despite being only 15 years old. The Country surpassed Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Morocco, and Guinea who attained majority rule more than a half century ago.
What is unique about South Africa, whose grid in the global stage is phenomenal besides being Africa’s economic powerhouse, is treated with respected; and has better democratic and governance structures compared to the other 52 African nations?
Everything went so well during the World Cup matches- Security, infrastructure, accommodation, and the lighting systems were superb during the matches played after sunset; reminiscent of a developed country.
This success has given the World confidence to offer the African Continent an opportunity to host other international events without doubts.
The major question many in Africa and the outside World are asking is how a country which is only 15 years of majority rule got a node to host the most prestigious game on earth while Countries like Kenya being three years to clock a half a Century since we attained self rule, cannot host even the Commonwealth Games.
Kenya cannot measure up to the South Africans despite sharing same values and colonial history. Its sad indeed for us that at 15 years old, South Africa’s GDP is 10 times that of our Country.
In Zimbabwe, the story is even sad. Robert Mugabe inherited a robust economy from the British, but today the Country is a shell. The citizens cannot even feed themselves. They can’t take their children, while Mugabe whines; blaming Zimbabwe’s problems on the West.
South Africans suffered under apartheid for many years including the incarceration of Nelson Mandela for 27 years but despite this, the white minority leadership appears to have laid a strong foundation for the success of the rainbow nation.
Former President Nelson Mandela inherited a robust economy and firm leadership structures from the last white minority leader; Fredrick De-Klerk, and passed the same to Thabo Mbeki who was succeeded by Jacob Zuma. Its Zuma’s leadership which has shepherded the World cup to a successful end.
African Countries need to take stock of where they went wrong if they expect to be at par with South Africa whose successes is not only a shame to the Countries who attained independence after her but also a challenge.
What lesson did President Kibaki and PM Raila learnt when they travelled to South Africa to attend the World Cup opening ceremony in Johannesburg? They could have asked themselves why not Kenya because we are older than South Africa. Truly, in the next 20 years, South Africa will be far.
It’s a wake up call for all African leaders to urgently address mismanagement which has thwarted the forward movement. All forms of civil strife, corruption, economic mismanagement, and injustice should urgently be checked so that we can be at par with the rainbow nation.
If they fail, the colonial masters will feel the need to have stayed longer if South Africa’s success is something to go by; having liberated herself from white minority rule in 1994.
I don’t want to sound disrespectful to African leaders who took over after independence; but it appears like some Countries were not ready for majority rule. If colonialists could have stayed longer, perhaps things will be better than they are today in the Continent.
The challenges we see in the DRC, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, or Kenya, are all homegrown as a result of poor African leadership. That is why the recent celebration in the DRC to mark 50 years of Independence from Belgium never made any sense since the Country is riddled with poverty, illiteracy, human rights violations and violence.
Even Ethiopia, which defeated the Italians in the battle of Adowa in 1896 under Mennellik II, making it the first Country to avoid the scourge of colonialism, is bedeviled with many challenges.
The entire world was glued on television screens watching the world cup for the first time from the Continent of Africa. African Countries should emulate South Africa’s success story in order to compete effectively on the global stage.
(Joseph Lister Nyaringo lives in New Jersey, USA)