The Devaluation of African Academics in the West

21 Mar

By Nwanatifu Nwaco

In my travels and sojourn in the heartlands of the OECD countries, I have finally come to the paranoid conclusion that the mentally awakened African, will never be considered as a partner or asset in the the cause to steer African communities out of the political economics of underdevelopment. The African academic is only fit to be the mascot of school websites, magazines and organisations, all in the vile guise of giving the sponsors a perception of equality and multiculturalism. Education here is meant to create apologists for development agencies of states and not critics.

The default mode as guided by experience of an African academic is to criticize against the foul play ingrained in the development aid movement. This accounts for why only projects within the pre-conditioned schemes and agenda settings. There is no room for alternative initiatives. This system thrives on the ‘power of the purse’ thinking. Depending on what poverty means to you, material poverty is the default reality into which most persons of the so named developing world are born into. But common, are they really poor! I want to believe that the global political and economic system was designed with the intention of exclusion. Their failure to get at the core of it is not entirely to be blame on bad governance, but due more to the cooperation accords signed when they chose to become an appendix of this system. Globalization when exported to the developing world contains in it a fail switch.

The fun part is how does someone with no experience of poverty concoct remedies for the poor? Sustainable development is now the panacea being marketed but damn it, it sounds to me as though they’re being asked to be contented with the basics of life meanwhile others wax with pump and vigor in consumerism and materialism. When they’re poor, studies are done for why they’re so poor and when their economies begin to emerge, studies are still being done as to why they’re growing! In my deluded opinion, I think the world needs another San-Francisco Conference to set up a new ‘United Nations and Bretton-woods system’ as was done after the 2nd World War. I say the international system badly needs a shut-down and reboot! That’s what the New World Order means to me.

Damn some of these volunteers,journalists, humanitarians and development experts! If you can’t ‘save’ the Africans who braved 6000 Km of land and emotional distances to your door steps with concrete projects in mind and on paper about how to exactly uplift themselves and their communities out of the thrilling religion you’ve made of poverty and development, then something is seriously wrong with you when you ignore them and take off on the next flight to their homelands where you become instant celebrities to government officials and messiahs to nongovernmental organisations. Offered the luxury of accommodation and catering almost or for free. Greeted on their entrance or passage by singing and dancing women and kids as they take photo shots without consent for their aid donation posters and other advertisements. This is in contrast with what the African academic witnesses in the west, where they’re always scouted out by immigration officials and wouldn’t dare take a photo without consent.

Whereas all it takes a western student to become an acclaimed and certified ‘African Affairs Expert’ is a pathetic three months of well funded academic tourism in any African community of their choice, there are very very few or no examples where African academics in the West who have with the support of their classmates who by intent or accident constitute the most vital social capital network to unlock and harness to reality the alternative development schemes possessed by their ”third world classmates.” Instead the tendency and stance is mostly condescending, relegated and limited to social musings, as if all the African can do is to excel only at physical endeavors and sports, the liberal arts of music and dancing. The African academic guided by experience and conviction for change knows where the problem hurts most and how to remedy it. Too bad no one is willing to listen to them as it will compromise the multi-billion dollars development aid industry which is addicted to the Pornography of the Poor or to  Poverty and development pornography! 

When an ‘economic’ immigrant like me engages in discussions about immigration in Europe with supposedly liberal minds of Euro society, one is thrilled with admiration of the vigor with which multiculturalism and anti-racism is advocated and defended. However, immediately after local elections, one gets shocked with feelings of paranoia at how the far-and-right wing parties increase their representation in local government councils and the legislature makes you wonder if they rigged their way in or were actually voted by these same champions of integration. My question is if all these anti-racism demonstrations and sweet liberal pronouncements in the media are a charade or are people just being hypocritical when expressing their mainstream views?


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