Nigeria’s first female (former) finance officer, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, addressed the TED conference on the new Africa… She talked about the Africa of change, in which steps are being taken by Africans for Africans to make positive changes across all areas: government, economics, society, culture.
Her speech is inspiring, and full of concrete stats and facts. She’s very clearly someone who knows what she’s talking about, and is a highly intelligent and articulate individual. Only a real sceptic (or an idiot) is going to argue with her.
I have a real respect for her and all that she has achieved. As well as being a savvy business woman, she is also a mother raising very successful children. Her son, Uzodinma, is a Harvard graduate and despite being only 24 is also an award winning novelist. His book ‘Beast of No Nations’ about child soldiers in an unnamed African country is a must-read.
Anyway, back to the point in hand. It kinda amazed me that Dr Okonjo-Iweala even had to say some of the things she said in her speech…What she said was great, and totally valid, but I guess it just frustrates me that we needs stats, and facts and figures, and an acceptable face in order to prove to the world that Africa is a place that has some worth and value.
It frustrates me that anyone would actually believe that African countries really want to do nothing beneficial for themselves. It frustrates me that anyone who is able to think believes that Africans are just sitting at home, waiting for a handout from Sir Bob, Bono or the G8 to drop from the sky. It frustrates me that people can’t use their common sense to think that in a continent of nearly 1 billion people, there must be at least something positive going on!
Do we really need to convince the outside world that African people want to build business, fight corruption and invest in their individual country’s infrastructures?… It seems we do…but surely people are intelligent enough to realize that in a continent with 53 different countries in which people live, work, earn money and raise families there must be (even just by virtue of statistics) more than just famine, disease, civil war and corruption?!…It seems not.
It’s just bizarre to me that perceptions of Africa can be so skewed that regular people in the West who have unlimited access to information and education have so willingly eaten up such one-sided, unbalanced and damaging attitudes that have been given to them particularly through the media.
Or is it that it’s convenient and easy for people to believe these negative stories because it serves an agenda, a deep seated and long-sown belief about the capabilities (or incapabilities) of African people to look after themselves??
Dr Okonjo-Iweala makes a very pertinent point when she talks about the complicity of the West in supporting corruption by allowing funds that they know to be stolen to be kept in their bank accounts. It’s clearly in the interests of some Western countries to allow corruption to prosper, yet at the same time they bemoan how corrupt Africa is! Grrr!
Anyway, clearly there is a fight on our hands to reclaim Africa’s image and turn into one that supports the people and the continent. Respect to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and everyone else (including us bloggers) who are, through word and actions, doing that.
Check out her speech here: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/127