Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

Author:Ankomah, Baffour
Position:Baffour's Beefs

"It is not clear that [Africa] can generate its own salvation. It may be necessary to devise a form of neo-imperialism, in which Britain, the US and the other beneficent nations would recruit local leaders and give them guidance to move towards free markets, the rule of law and --ultimately -- some viable local version of democracy, while removing them from office in the event of backsliding" -- Bruce Anderson, columnist of The Independent (London), writing on 2 June 2003.

There is nothing so harrowing as to see a western writer consumed by nostalgia parodying himself because these days the "natives" of Africa have "ideas above their station", and will no longer carry Western explorers in hammocks to go and discover many a lake, a mountain, a river, a waterfall, even a people, somewhere on this "beautiful continent" of ours.

Poor Bruce Anderson. He must blame his parents. If he had been born in 1813 and died in 1873 like David Livingstone, he would surely have ridden on the shoulders of my grandfather, Nana Kwaku Twumasi, to discover the stream behind our village from which our ancestors had always drank.

How very sad that Anderson was not so lucky as David Livingstone. But that is his problem. Not ours.

Now, being a native and still kindhearted, I would make Anderson an offer he can't refuse: Since my grandfather is dead and Anderson is under 50 (from the look of his photo), my four brothers and I (pristine natives all) would volunteer to take our grandfather's place, and carry Dear Bruce in our chief's palanquin, not a hammock, to go and discover the hill that stands in the middle of our father's cocoa farm. He could call it Mount Anderson or Bruce Mountain since Queen Victoria has too many things named after her in Africa. He shouldn't worry about the name anyway, because it won't affect the knighthood that would await him in London. Arise Sir Bruce.

Was I angry when I read his piece? You bet! What was sickening was the sheer pretentiousness that he loved Africans so much that he wanted the best for us. So his headline was: "Africa Deserves Better; But Not All Of Its Problems Were Created By The West". Eat your heart out, Bruce Anderson. We can do without your condescension and patronising.

No African has ever said that "all" of our "problems were created by the West". We know the percentage we carry ourselves, and the percentage that the West (or in Andersonspeak, "the beneficent nations") carry. But if the "beneficent nations" would do...

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