Ugandan born Associate Consultant and part-time lecturer Elly Twineyo – Kamugisha opens up discussions on whether Africa was prejudiced by seeking democracy before growth.  Highlighting issues and questions that plague every African such as; why have we failed to capitalize on our abundant wealth and still remain the poorest continent? Years after so many of the countries have gained independence from colonizers, why are so many still holding out the begging bowl for aid? What has gone wrong?

With much detail he examines the role that external organisations and countries have played in the direction that Africa takes. Also under the microscopes are African governments, their policies, priorities and attitudes. His take that economic growth should be just as important, if not precede, the pursuit of democracy makes for interesting thought-provoking debates.

Q&A

Ugandan born Associate Consultant and part-time lecturer Elly Twineyo – Kamugisha opens up discussions on whether Africa was prejudiced by seeking democracy before
  • What prompted you to write this book?

I have read my pieces in the Africa press... and attended various meetings of African leaders and academia. They constantly blame colonization as the cause of Africa’s current poor economic performance (with the associated poverty and misery).

  • What has the response been to the thoughts you share in the book?

Actually, I am beginning to get supporters. Obviously some will remain firm believers in the old ways of seeing aid as ‘gold’. 

  • In your opinion, what will it take for us to move past the calibre of leaders we have now and to having courageous, committed men and women with a vision lead the country?

We need to begin to dialogue about the Africa and the future that we need. We need a new movement. Much like the movement those Africans mounted against colonialism, and apartheid. We need to begin to identify with progressive forces that see Africa as one that can and will succeed. In my view it may take around 25 years to achieve high levels of GDP or welfare and shed absolute poverty.

  • Do you believe, African countries can look past tribal differences and seek a common purpose for the betterment of the continent or is that a pipe dream?

This is possible. The problem is not ethnicity, (avoid using the word tribe. Why aren’t there white or Caucasian tribes?). The problem is leadership. These leaders lack a vision and commitment to their followers. Governments should be encouraged to start creating public awareness about patriotism or nationalism. Love for one’s country – not the ethnic group is paramount.

Nyerere got his country independent and up-to-date; we do not see ethnic factionalisation. Why? He was a nationalist. Actually, he was Pan-African. Myopic leaders use ethnicity as a ladder to the top. Once there, they use it to stay there whilst sharing the national cake unequally.

Land is a major issue in Africa. Zimbabwe has scars from it and South Africa seems intent on avoiding the issue, has any country managed to solve this thorny issue successfully?

Land is a thorny issue globally, knowing that you can’t expand mother earth. Zimbabwe politicized the land issues. Why wait this long to address a colonial mistake. Why not set up a compensation fund instead? Rwanda is trying to solve this issue. Let us remember that land is a private property. So it should be owned with its property rights (e.g. have a land title).

Uganda has now amended the land act in Uganda, giving the landlord and the tenant rights. None can sell without the knowledge of the other.

  • In South Africa we have a major issue with a failing education system, which is ultimately an issue when it comes to promoting growth – any advice you can offer the education departments in South Africa?

Yes. The Asian tigers developed after they embraced an education relevant to their conditions. And now? They export manufactured goods (Samsung, LG, Kia, Hyundai, etc). Deliberate promotion of technical education is key for South Africa. Also remember that high numbers of those educated poorly will not spur growth. I am available to discuss with authorities what it takes to link education to growth – industrialisation, export, and welfare.