Title: Farewell to Poverty: Let There Be Light in Africa
Author: Modupe Onitiri-Abiola
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc. Pennsylvania, U.S.A
Reviewer: Adjekpagbon Blessed Mudiaga
here is an African saying that ‘nobody can run away from his shadow.’ It is based on this adage that one could appreciate the efforts of Modupe Onitiri-Abiola, the author of ‘Farewell to Poverty: Let There Be Light in Africa,’ who is one of the surviving wives of one of Africa’s legendary philanthropists, late Chief M.K.O. Abiola of blessed memories.
In the musings of the small but well loaded 32-page book, which the author use to honour her late husband and all great leaders of Africa who were assassinated due to their desires and efforts to make Africa a great continent, one could vividly remember the good plans her late husband had for not only the masses of Nigeria but Africa as a whole.
She is optimistic that “the light of glory will shine over Africa, and the continent will say farewell to poverty when there is the eradication of poverty, war, hatred, disunity, bad governance, corruption, injustice, inequality, ignorance, homelessness, diseases, hunger, immorality, fear, among other clogs hindering development.”
However, other things causing setback to the continent listed in the book include illiteracy, hopelessness, self-condemnation, foreign debts, neocolonialism, misappropriation of wealth, mismanagement of resources, instability, abuse of power, insecurity, abuse of human rights and destruction of environment, which the author describes as evil bondage.
Pinpointing the major reasons why the masses of Africa are suffering, the book offers that “it is a fact that a lot of resources in Africa have been taken away from the continent. It is also a fact that the remaining wealth and resources of the continent do not reach the populace in Africa.”
The author laments that the unfortunate reality is that most Africans do not know the value or the usage of their mineral, natural and human resources. She says “In my opinion, there are three sets of groups influencing and shaping Africa. The objectives and ultimate goals of the three sets of groups interested in the affairs and issues facing Africa are varied. The first is the ‘ignorant group,’ ignorant of the problems and issues facing Africa. The major interest of this group is to get total power, keep power, and stay in power for the sake of power… regardless of the will of the people… This group has no ability or desire to solve any of the crises and problems facing Africa.
“…the second group are the ‘selfish group’ who understands the magnitude of the problems and issues facing Africa…unfortunately, this selfish group of fortune hunters would rather not do anything because, solving the problems facing the continent is not economically advantageous to them… this group also works in collaboration with the ignorant group to perpetuate poverty and crises in Africa.”
The author identifies the third group as ‘the voice of the people,’ and ‘the great leaders of the people.’ She explains that “This group is of the smallest percentage. The group knows the problems and issues facing Africa… the desire of this very small group is to see Africa and Africans flourish. This group believes in using wealth and resources of Africa for the benefits of Africans.”
On this basis, she calls on Africans to wake up from their slumber and use the resources at their disposal to better their lives. This is a good call, but the average modern African is in bondage of neocolonialism by political hyenas, tigers, lions, tigresses and lionesses at the helms of political affairs. Most Africa’s socalled leaders are worse than the imperial masters that raped the continent’s human and natural resources directly in the past. It is very sad that ‘dog has been eating dog’ in Africa after the exits of the foreign explorers who made things fall apart on the continent for centuries. Therefore, the author speaks in the spirit of an angel-in-human-form, who wants the future of Africans to be secured by Africans with all the blessings of the continent’s wealth and resources.
In this vein, she canvasses for the true practice of democracy by genuine African leaders. “Bad leadership is due to the lack of love and the act of being indifferent to the plight of the people being governed. Bad leadership unfortunately flourishes on mismanagement of wealth and resources. A bad leadership always swims in corruption. A corrupt leader will become a dictator by abusing power and disregarding all forms of human rights. This is the reason Africans must be educated to be truly democratic; only the will of the people must exist and survive. The genuine government of the people, by the people, and for the people must survive in Africa for prosperity to perpetuate,” the author vehemently posits.
This is a very good prescription by the author to make Africa a great place for all Africans and others living in it to enjoy. But the issues raised in the book are not new to the hearings of many African leaders whose only area of specialisation has been incurable rigmarole in governance.
She also wonders why African countries continue to borrow from foreign financial institutions when the continent could take care of its people’s needs without foreign suicidal loans. “The act of bad leaders enslaving their people with foreign debts and poverty while the rich nations help the bad leaders one way or the other to perpetuate the evil act, goes deeper than theoretical financial explanation. I believe the situation is beyond what the eyes can see on the surface, because why should the leading nations be supporting a system of government that makes it impossible to repay the loans, and at the same time, oppress and degrade the people?” the author says philosophically.
The answer to her pondering is not farfetched. What has been happening in Africa simply means that the African masses are not yet free from previous international colonial slavery. The past imperialists simply use some selfish and dull-headed socalled African leaders to perpetuate the stealing of Africa’s resources even after several orchestrated independence from colonial rule. This is one of the things late Chief M.K.O. Abiola was trying to stop from continuing before he was stylishly and devilishly eliminated by those God knows best, during his efforts to actualise the mandate given him by the Nigerian masses through the June 12, 1993 election that was wickedly annulled. A school of thought is also suspicious that the western world were culprits in his death as a result of his call for reparation to Africa by the former colonialists, for all the evils they did to Africans during the eras of slavery and imperialism.
It is in the light of the immediate past paragraph that the author emphasises that “a great leader will provide employment to many young, unemployed graduates interested in agricultural sector. Jobs should be provided in the areas of food production, food storage, natural preservation, distribution and sales… developing the rural areas will discourage the migration of farm workers to over-crowded cities where there is high rate of unemployment.”
There are potpourris of several good prescriptions in the book. But such goodies which the masses of many foreign countries take for granted, while African masses give testimonies of receiving such as miraculous happenings in their life whenever they enjoy such basic rights by chance at their place of work or environment. The African populace has been reduced to the barest level of wretchedness by many evil politicians, to the extent that, when a mere sachet of water is given to them, they go to religious places to proclaim that God has blessed them miraculously. What a pity!
By and large, the author’s simple diction and prescriptive necessities to make life better for African masses are highly commendable. She writes with a deep passion as someone who has humanitarian feelings for the suffering masses, just like her late husband, who was the most detribalised politician Nigeria ever had. Perhaps, it is in the light of this, that she has choose to resurrect the true order of democracy for the benefit of Lagos masses through Accord Party, come 2015 for the Lagos State gubernatorial election. There is a saying that ‘nothing is impossible before God.’ Hence, may God’s wish be done in line with Modupe Onitiri-Abiola’s desire to put smiles on the faces of Lagosians in accordance with what true democracy entails, which are the meat and potatoes of ‘Farewell to Poverty: Let There Be Light in Africa.’