Vol. XXI, Issue 4 (Fall 2014): Nigeria Students; Leadership; Ebola



Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor

Walton Brown-Foster
Copy Editor

Haines Brown

ISSN  1526-7822


Olayemi Akinwumi

Ayele Bekerie

Paulus Gerdes

Alfred Zack-Williams
(Sierra Leone)

Gumbo Mishack

(South Africa)



Jennifer Nicoletti
Academic Technology, CCSU

For more information on AfricaUpdate
Prof. Gloria Emeagwali
CCSU History Dept.
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT 06050
Tel: 860-832-2815


Table of Contents 


In this issue of AfricaUpdate we focus on Nigerian University Students and their interaction with media devices. The major concern is the extent to which the interaction with digital cellular devices, the internet and social media enhances their commitment and exposure to Nigerian culture. The authors confined their survey to Nigerian University students at Osun State University, Osogbo campus; Fountain University, Osogbo; and Adeleke University, Ede. These campuses are all located in Western Nigeria, in Yoruba speaking regions. The survey involved about six hundred students. Sadly, one of the co-authors, Professor Kayode Animasaun, passed away a few weeks ago. May he join the ancestors in glory and peace. We celebrate his passionate commitment to research in this issue of AfricaUpdate in this piece that was sent for publication in AfricaUpdate several months ago.

We have also included in this issue, a paper by Casely Coleman. Coleman’s focus is on the need for transformational leadership, to sustain those elements of growth that appear in some African countries, and to bring about more fundamental changes in those lagging behind. He posits that Africa must be ‘encouraged and supported to invest in research and development, and adapt and bring to scale promising poverty reduction programs and innovative initiatives’ in order to improve on overall performance and make an impact internationally.

We conclude the issue with a think piece on the Ebola epidemic by Ibrahim Abdullah. Professor Abdullah marvels at the string of coincidences surrounding EVD, Ebola Virus Disease - the hemorrhagic fever that killed about six thousand persons, in the countries of the Mano River Basin, by November 2014.

We extend our appreciation to the contributors to the issue.

Professor Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor

“Nigerian University Students and Media Synergy: A Celebration or Devaluation of Nigerian Cultural Identities?”

Kayode Animasaun, PhD. Associate Professor of Gaze and Creative Writing, Mass Communication Department, Adeleke University, Ede Osun State Nigeria

Alao E. Olatunji, Department of History and International Studies, Adeleke University, Ede Osun State Nigeria

To determine the extent to which media has contributed to the use, and abuse of some Nigerian cultures, a survey was carried out among the students of some tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Findings suggest that the media have to a great extent weakened the sanctity, sanctimony and credibility of some Nigerian cultures by diverting the gaze of the youths to cultures that are at variance with the esteemed values of Nigerians.

Generally whether in Nigeria or any part of the Globe, culture has to do with a people’s choice and use of language, beliefs, cherished values, customs and norms, which include dress codes, dietary acceptance, role delineations, knowledge and skills acquisition and exhibition. These determine the people’s identity and can be transmitted and retained through various media. In this article, therefore, attempts shall be made to discuss the facts of culture, identity formation, and the role of media in meaning or demeaning cultural gaze. We reflect on what is there for the youth to celebrate, and discuss whether these are being devalued by the cultural miscegenation that the various media tend to promote and disseminate.

The Concept of Culture
Through socialization, cultural values are transmitted from one generation to another, as they become part of the people’s lives. Brownie (2008) has attempted a categorisation of the various cultures available. He identified these as the dominant culture, subculture, folk culture, high culture and mass or popular culture. His categorisations are used in this study because they throw more light on how to appreciate the Nigerian culture that Nigerian youths may wish to celebrate. 

Brownie explains that high culture is perceived as superior. This is because high culture is seen as that of lasting artistic or literary value. It is aimed at small intellectual elites which mostly are the educated or upper class or those interested in critical discussion and analysis. It is set apart from the everyday life, it is special and to be treated with lasting value and part of a heritage which should be preserved. High culture products are artifacts, hard news programs and documentaries. Closely related to this is mass or popular culture and to some people, it is also low culture (Brownie 2008).

The concept of identity
The African youth is subsumed in the dominant culture of his location. Thus he or she is described first, according to his country, as a Nigerian, Ghanaian, Kenyan, Egyptian, Liberian, and so on. The credibility of the dominant culture would, however, be determined by the authenticity of the subculture. Each subculture has norms and values that fall within the dominant culture.

Empirical report on the effects of the media on Nigerian Youths
This study is intended to reflect on the effects of the print and electronic media, social media and digital cellular devices among some University students in Osun State Nigeria. These Universities are Osun State University, Osogbo campus; Fountain University, Osogbo; and Adeleke University, Ede.

Basic Assumptions
The study was carried out based on these assumptions,

1. Every student has access to the Radio, Newspapers and Television programs, be it news, drama, and documentaries about Nigeria and other nations;

2. Every student in these Universities is aware of and exposed to the new media and thus has unrestricted access to foreign media;

3. The media is a major retainer and disseminator at global levels beyond student local cultures.

4.  The digital cellular devices of the students, carry both audio and video information. As such they can watch drama, musical programs, read news, store information and transfer information to their peers, through these handsets; and relay the information from radio, television, newspapers and cable satellite programmers

Research Design and Methodology
Based on the above assumptions, a set of instruments was drawn out to determine the media determinants of student culture, based on the categorization discussed in the body of the work. In essence, the Nigerian university student is defined as those between the ages of 18 and 30. The Universities chosen have students from across the nation and some non-Nigerians.

A set of questionnaires was composed. Gender was chosen as a variable. The questionnaire requires information on the use of digital cellular devices by the respondents, and the ways that the media can affect the life style and the culture preference of the students.

The two research questions formulated are stated below:

Research Question 1: To what extent do Nigerian youths use digital cellular devices, the internet and social media in their communication?

 Research Question 2:  Do digital cellular devices and social media enhance the appreciation of Nigerian cultural values?

Instrument Administration
A total of two hundred and twenty (220) questionnaires were distributed in each of the Universities, making a total of six hundred and sixty (660) questionnaires in all. The questionnaires were distributed to randomly selected student respondents by the researcher. N accidental sampling technique was adopted. In essence, those students who were at the venue of the distribution and who volunteered to fill the questionnaire were given. At the end of the exercise, the instruments were gathered by the researcher. However, some of the subjects did not return their questionnaires.

Data Analysis and Discussion of Findings
Out of the six hundred and twenty questionnaires distributed, a total of six hundred were found usable for the study. The remaining sixty were either not properly filled, not completely filled or not returned. Section one of the questionnaire sought information on the gender of the respondents. A total of two hundred and twenty five (225) of the respondents were males while three hundred and seventy five (375) were females. This analysis is therefore based on the six hundred respondents that duly filled and returned the questionnairest.

Item by item analysis was done in the analysis of data. Responses were coded, added up and the percentage of response found for each item. The result is presented below.

RQ (1) To what extent do Nigerian students use digital cellular devices in their communication?

This research question was to find out the extent to which Nigerian students were familiar with the mobile cellular devices and how well they used these as a medium of communication.

The respondents were therefore asked if they browsed with their handsets. Two hundred 200 or (89%) of male respondents said ‘Yes’ while twenty-five 25, or (11%) said their handsets could not browse. Also 305 or (81%) of the females said Yes, while 70 or (19%) said their handsets did not have facilities for browsing. Finding here shows that the  majority of the respondents could use their handset for other purposes like browsing, watching television and other programs, record and play audio and video programs of their choice.

The respondents who said their handsets could be used to browse were given some social media sites they were likely to browse. They were therefore asked to underline the one they browsed often. Out of the 200 males that said they browsed with their handset, Whats Ap has 60 (30%) Youtube 50 (25%) Facebook 40 (20%), Twitter 25 (12.5%) and To go 25 (12.5%).

And, out of the 305 females that said they browsed with their handset. YouTube had 150 (49%), FB 50, (16. %), Twitter 40 (13%), Whats Ap 35, (12. %) and To go 30 (10%) visitors. All the students interacted with social media.

Not to exclude those who said their handsets could not browse and to determine the extent to which they interacted with their handsets, all the six hundred respondents were given item three, which asked:  ‘About how many times do you send texts in a week?’

Their contacts were graduated according to number of texts likely to be received per week by each respondent. The result is shown in the table below:

Table 1- Showing the number of times the youths receive text messages per week



6 – 10

11– 15

Above 16


5 (2%)

50 (22%)

72 (32%)

98 (44%)


10 (3%)

50 (13%)

115 (31%)

200 (53%)

Table 1- shows that 98 (44%) of the males received more than sixteen text messages per week, while 200 or (53%) of the females received more than 16 text messages per week. 115 or (31%) of the females received between 11 and 15 text messages per week. The findings show that the female respondents received more SMS than males.

And, to find out how many times the respondents send SMS per week, they were asked to choose between how often they sent text messages per week. The result is presented in the table below.

Table 2: Showing the range of SMS sent per week




7– 11

Above 16


10 (4.4%)

55 (24.4%)

60 (27 %)

100 (44.2%)


22 (5.9%)

40 (10.6%)

150 (40%)

I63 (43.5%)

The data show that the 150 or (40%) of the female respondents sent between 7-11 SMS and 163 or (43.5%) sent above 16 SMS per week. Also, 100 or (44.2%) of the males, SMS above 16 SMS per week. In essence, the females send more SMS than males, just as they received more than the males.

Both males and females used their handsets for various purposes according to the capacity of the handset: to play music, watch movies, record shows and events and send messages. For this section of the paper, it is necessary to stress the text messaging function and the importance of this to the language acquisition of the Nigerian students. SMS messages are not always written ordinarily like normal letters or notes. Abbreviations like k, for ‘okay’, ur for ‘your’, d8t for ‘date’ 9c 9t for ‘nice night’ and so on; slangs ‘I ginger ur swagger’ for ‘I appreciate you’; and short form of letters like Tryn for trying m kul, for I’m cool’ and such other expressions that convey intended ideas and messages are used commonly in Facebook, Twitter and so on. The implication of this is that the uses of formal English of the youth are endangered as they continue to practise the text messaging styles. This may have negative effect on the language understanding, expression and performance in examinations as most youths unconsciously transfer these informal styles of writing to formal written communication.

Academic excellence and oratory displayed by some Africans like Camara Laye, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Ngugu wa Miri, Meja Mwangi, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, T.M Aluko, Ayi Kwei Armah, Ama Ata Aidoo, Zulu Sofola, Dennis Brutus, Athol Fugard, Bessie Head and a host of others are recognised themselves internationally. The question is, can the youth that write tnx, for ‘thank you,’ 4rm for ‘from’, tomao for ‘tomorrow;’ soi or soyi for ‘sorry’ among others be said to be learning anything from the records these people have created? These stuttering phrases reflect an attempt to fit into the language culture of their on-line friends. What are these youths going to bequeath to humanity in the sense of academic culture other than language disorder in the guise of imitating some western accents.

Apart from the above, Nwagwu (2013) shows that some social media abbreviations or expressions used for chat and SMS messages have negative connotations. For instance, he posted a Facebook question on the meaning of lol that is always written when people who chat want to register amusement. While some said it means laugh out loud, majority said it means, Lucifer our lord. Though Lilian Duru, one of the respondents to the question posited that:

ROriginally it meant Lots of Love- in the days of letter writing but recent use in chats & instant messaging is Laugh out loud!

Another respondent Stanley Ibeku said:

...the acronym is devilish. That it is one of the many expressions used by members of a certain association whose idol is the devil.

However, the acronym was attributed to the Satanic Church and that it is another way of evangelising the church. This means that many users of such unknown acronyms may have inadvertently found their ways into cultic societies in their bid to team up in peer language usage.

RQ (2) Do these media enhance the appreciation of Nigerian cultural values?

The media are major avenues for cultural retention and transmission. Since most handsets have facilities to relay and retain audio and video contents, and since communication has been globalised and cultural globalisation has become a major factor of it, foreign cultural norms and values are readily made available through the cultural exchange that globalisation engenders. The major issue in Nigeria, now, is the erosion of the much cherished Nigerian culture. The media is therefore seen as a major source of cultural pollution in Nigeria, made  easy by the many complex handsets that have flooded Nigerian markets.

Six hundred respondents were asked ‘to list two Nigerian musicians you like.’ Their responses were categorised into Hip-hop, Religious/ traditional Nigerian, and combination of the Hip-hop and Religious music. Analysis of their responses is presented in the table below:

Table 3. Shows the musical interest of some Nigerian students


Hip hop

Religious/Traditional Nigerian Music

Combination of the two


200 (88.9%)

20 ( 8.9%)

5 (2.2%)


325 (86.7%)


5 (1.3%)

Out of the male respondents, 200 or (88.9%) said they liked Hip-hop music, while 20 (8.9%) said they liked religious or traditional Nigerian music and only 5 (2.2%) said they preferred a combination of the two. When the females were asked the same question, 325 or (86.7%) said they preferred Hip-hop, while 45 (12%) said they liked religious/traditional Nigerian beats, and 5 (1.3%) said they liked both. Admittedly there is also an emerging Nigerian Hip-hop musical genre.

Analysis of the data shows that the majority of both genders prefer foreign movies over those of Nigeria. For instance 200 or (53%) females respondents prefer American films and 100 or (27%) of them also prefer Indian/Chinese films, while only 75 or (20%) of the females prefer Nigerian films. On the other hand, 175 or (77.8%) of the males prefer American films and 15 or (6.7%) would like to watch Indian/Chinese films. The result shows that the female university students prefer foreign films more than the male students.

Table 4. Showing some Nigerian University Students’ movie culture




Indian/ Chinese


175 (77.8%)

35 (15.5%)

15 (6.7%)


200 (53%)

75 (20%)

 100 (27%)

The respondents were also asked to ‘name the type of food they would like to be served if they are invited to a party. All the youths were also asked to respond to this item. Their responses were collated and categorised into Nigerian and Other menu. Analyses of their responses are presented below.

Table 5. Table showing food preference


Traditional Nigerian



202 (90%)

23 (10%)


15 (4%)

360 (96%)

Knowing full well that part of a people’s culture are the types of food in a community, and knowing full well, also, that movies replicate the feeding habits of a people as reflective of culture, the youths were asked to list the type of food they would prefer if invited to a party in their locality.

These foods were categorised into Nigerian and “Other” menus. Analysis of the results showed that majority of the female respondents prefer “Other” dishes, while the males prefer traditional Nigerian dishes. For instance 360 or (96%) of the females prefer “Other” dishes while 202 or (90%) of the males prefer Nigerian diets. Specifically, some of the males listed pounded yam, fufu, gari (eba), amala, yam and beans and so on, and soups like okro and stew, ewedu and stew, ogbono, oha, egunsi and so on. And, the ladies would rather prefer salad, rice and ‘cole slaw’.

Also, the respondents were asked to mention the type of clothes they would prefer to wear to a party where they are celebrants. As usual, the responses were categorised into Nigerian and “Other” wear. Data showed that the majority of the respondents, across gender, prefer “Other” to local apparels. In other words, 360 or (96%) of the female respondents would prefer “Other” apparel and 125 or (55.6%) of the males would prefer “Other” apparel.

Table 6: Table showing dress preference of respondents


Traditional Nigerian



100 (44.4%)

125 (55.6%)


15 (4%)

360 (96%)

The influence of digital cellular devices and social media is becoming a major area of academic discourse. While some scholars have focused on the effect on language use, some have focused on the social impetus of it. This study however has deviated a little from these approaches. Findings have shown that the media has become a major instrument of cultural erosion as some users are gradually embracing foreign cultures which the medium is propagating over the most cherished Nigerian cultures. This paper is appealing to other scholars for a follow up to this study as a way to confirm or replicate this study.

*E-mail: tunji.alao@yahoo.com

This is a modified version of a paper first published in the JIARM. Vol 1.issue 8. 2013



"Investing in Leadership for Development of Africa
Casely Coleman

In this paper, we will argue that Africa, as a whole, is positioned for growth and development - based on a review of recent global reports as well as progress made on global frameworks for action on child health and nutrition. However, we will assert that sustainable development in Sub Saharan Africa is likely to occur when leaders in national governance invest and grow a critical mass of high potential and high performing transformational leaders.

Many countries across the South have seen rapid development, and their experiences and South–South engagement are equally an enabler to social and development policy and growth. Nigeria recently became the 23rd biggest economy in the world and the biggest in Africa overtaking South Africa.


At 160 million people, 80 million of those under 18, Nigeria’s population is equivalent to all other West African states put together and an economically powerful Nigeria is an enabler for growth. Ivory Coast, under the leadership of Alhassan Ouattara, is re-emerging as the prime investment destination in West Africa. The country has seen steady economic growth following a period of instability.


There has also been substantial progress in smaller economies, such as Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia etc. The Niger government has for example embarked on an ambitious program called 3N – Niger nourishing Nigerien which is the government of Niger’s response towards building resilience to address the chronic food insecurity in the country.


There are also numerous under - performing economies with horrendous statistics in terms ofi life expectancy and educational performance. The on-going ebola epidemic in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea would affect growth negatively.

IMF World economic surveys confirm that economic conditions in sub-Saharan Africa have remained generally robust despite a sluggish global economy. The near-term outlook for the region remains broadly positive with the exception of the above-mentioned countries. Most low-income countries are projected to continue to grow strongly, supported by domestic demand, including from investment. The outlook is less favorable for many of the middle-income countries, especially South Africa, that are more closely linked to European markets and thus experience a more noticeable drag from the external environment. The main risks to the outlook are an intensification of financial stresses in the euro zone and a sharp fiscal adjustment in the US–the so called fiscal cliff.

Environmental threats such as climate change, deforestation, air and water pollution, and natural disasters affect everyone. But they hurt poor countries and poor communities most. Climate change is already exacerbating chronic environmental threats, and ecosystem losses. Peter Grubbels’ study, Ending The Everyday Emergency (2012), concluded that building community resilience through investments in human development is the surest and sustainable way to help communities and deprived communities bounce back from the shocks of natural and manmade disasters.

The 2013 HDR Reports conclude that economic growth alone does not automatically translate into human development progress. Pro-poor policies and significant investments in people’s capabilities—through a focus on education, nutrition and health, and employment skills—can expand access to decent work and provide for sustained progress.

Defining high potential and high performing transformational leaders
Claudio Fernandez Araoz, Boris Groysberg and Nitin Nohira, in The Harvard Business Review (2011:76) argue that the effective management of the next generation of leaders encompasses series of activities. The first involves the establishment of clear strategic priorities which shape the way organizations and institutions nurture high potential leaders. The second involves the careful selection of high potential leaders, and the third requires how high potentials are developed, rewarded and retained.

Araoz et al. define potential as the ability to succeed in a bigger role in the future and capability to handle responsibilities of greater scale, scope, breadth and complexity. They make reference to the Egon Zehnder International basic model for assessing executive potential. At the inner core are individual’s motives which predict consistent patterns of behavior over time, which are highly related to what people enjoy and get energized by. Does the leader get satisfaction from seeing others succeed? Does the leader demonstrate passion for the wider common good over personal reward?

In Sub Saharan Africa there is need for a new generation of high potential and high performing transformational leaders who will be resilient, ready to take risks to innovate, not afraid of making mistakes and who do not feel insecure when having equally talented individuals in their teams; leaders who demonstrate stamina in pursuing a well costed and measurable poverty reduction program business plan. High potential and high performing transformational leaders always surround themselves with talented individuals who will challenge them and critique policy options for the common good.

Creating a Transformational Leadership Value Chain
n Sub Saharan Africa, power is unequally distributed, some individuals and groups have greater control over the sources of power and others have little or no control. Power is exercised through access and control over decision making and resources through social, economic and political relations between individuals and groups, notably the political elites.

Relative power is determined by gender, age ethnicity and other factors and perpetuated though institutions such as the media, education, legal regimes and even at the family level. We need transformational leaders who will build and transform power to promote justice, human rights and socio economic development if Sub Saharan Africa is to improve its rankings on the HDI.

Each of the sub Saharan countries has its own unique political and economic environments, and each presents its own opportunities and constraints. It’s a fact that governments have different levels of legitimacy and power, relative to civil society, the private sector and international institutions.

The issues affecting Africa require leaders who are technologically savvy and are able to quickly provide direction to meet new demands from an increasingly complex body politic. African leaders must be encouraged and supported to be transparent and publish measurable performance targets of national governments that clearly show the country’s development vision and poverty reduction programs and policies. The population must be able to experience, at first hand, a clear link between the actions of government to the country’s development strategy, and empirically verifiable results that address poverty.

African leaders must be encouraged and supported to invest in adapting some of the proven methodologies for assessing executive leadership potential in HR ie rigorous assessment and development centres, and competency- based selection tools, reinforced by result- based performance management systems.

Our leaders must start with a committed core of high potential and high performing transformation oriented individuals; create a vision that is supported by a leadership regime that defines decision rights; create space for innovation and a mandate to replicate proven policy initiatives and programs; apply dashboards to measure the contribution of each ministry of the executive arm of government; and define the measurement for  human development with a focus on the outcome and impact that improve the lives of the citizens of their country.

The HDR report depicts opportunities and challenges. It confirms the reality that the migration into big cities in sub-Saharan Africa challenges the capacity of social safety nets, and livelihoods, and shifts the characteristics of poverty and need. There is also increasing inequality, and broadening of gaps in opportunities for children and the youth in low income urban areas. The continued inflation and volatility of food and commodity prices are building up tension and facilitates conflict over land and access to food.  Investments in people are justified not only on moral grounds, but also because improved health, education and social welfare are key to success in a more competitive and dynamic world economy. Africa must be encouraged and supported to invest in research and development, adapt and bring to scale promising poverty reduction programs and innovative initiatives that are making an impact in other countries. There is abundant evidence that very simple health project models such as positive deviance behavior change and nutrition programs help to address malnutrition in children. Targeted timed counseling has helped to reduce maternal mortality and facilitate safer child deliveries. Leadership is the key towards sustained growth and progress in Africa. We have positive stories of transformation in some of the   African countries. With solid investment in leadership capability by African political elites, there is potential for sustainably resilient economic growth and prosperity.


About the Author:
Casely Ato Coleman is Country Director for Plan International, Sierra Leone and a Human Resources/Development Practitioner. He has a B.A. in Political Science (University of Ghana); MPhil in Public Administration ( Bergen, Norway) and M.Sc HR ( London School of Economics, UK


Ebola: Where we are and where we want to be”
brahim Abdullah

Is it coincidental that the so-called Ebola humanitarian crisis---dubbed global complex emergency by the West—is unfolding on the upper Guinea coast, the site of intense activities during the European slave trade? Is it coincidental that the upper Guinea Coast, or precisely the Mano River Basin, which includes two Pan-African state projects, Sierra Leone and Liberia, are at the center of this so-called humanitarian crisis? Is it coincidental that these two nation-states—Liberia and Sierra Leone— just emerging from a brutal civil war lasting more than a decade, and bringing life to a complete halt, cannot cope with the Ebola epidemic because of their broken institutions? Lastly, is it coincidental that Guinea-Conakry, where the Ebola scourge allegedly started, has the singular distinction of being the African nation that rejected De Gaulle’s offer of integration with France, which eventually unravelled the French colonial empire?

The above layerings—thick descriptions - do not arguably speak to any historical conjuncture in particular. What they do is that they foreground, by way of backgrounding, the issue of context in understanding what has been dubbed a monumental crisis of global proportion by those who always claim to speak for us in their language: the ubiquitous West!

There are at least two fundamental and complementary moral levels at which we can begin to make sense of the current situation. Again not coincidental, the President of Sierra Leone contacted Mr. Ban, the UN CEO, asking for help on 25 May: a date permanently penned in the calendar of African patriots wherever they may be. 25 May entered African history as a shameful compromise wrenched from the progressive forces from above by the internal enemies of African liberation under close watch by the West. 25 May was therefore not a victory for progressive forces in Africa. As if history was trying to mock the Sierra Leonean President, CEO Ban of the UN refused to budge even as Koroma kept on bombarding the CEO with phone calls regarding the ebola issue. CEO Ban’s decision to ignore President Koroma’s calls,  raises fundamental questions about independence, dignity, survival and nationhood in our neo-liberal 21st century.

Why would an independent nation-state in Africa continue to depend on external support from the UN when history has shown time and time again that the UN is not the global all - nation organization that its advertisers make it out to be? Do we need to recall its role in the Congo? In Somalia?  In Rwanda? Lacking the wherewithal to tackle issues of daily reproduction, the decadent power brokers of the nation-state in Africa have increasingly become dependent on the West and their multilateral institutions for virtually everything. This dependence, now bilateral - now multilateral; continue to shape relations between Africa and the West as the neo-liberal economic machine becomes the only framework within which solutions are sought. But this internal dialectic, concretely related to the external dialectic, is profoundly about ‘governance’ and the failure to deliver the proverbial fruits of independence. Like the nationalist paradigm before it, the so-called struggle for second independence has failed to take us to the Promised Land.

How revealing that the response  - silence should be read as a deafening response -  to Koroma’s plea was not a UN mission to save what the West now call the ebola pandemic in West Africa. As a throwback to the history of yesteryears, the three countries are to be rescued by their respective colonial patron. The British embraced their Sierra Leone creature in the same manner in which the French cuddled their rebellious and prodigal contraption, Guinea -  Conakry. To crown it all an African-American President, Hollywood-style, dispatched ‘boots on the ground’ to distant Liberia to continue the work of the American Colonization Society of the nineteenth century.

If the internal dynamic is profoundly about ‘governance’; the external dialectic is also about ‘global’ governance particularly as it affects Africa’s relations with the outside world. That an imperial rescue mission had to evolve as the preferred form of Western response to the so-called ebola crisis begins to undermine the deception about the UN and WHO as providing the necessary wherewithal to make robust intervention a reality. Both the UN and the WHO are dependent on funding from the imperial citadels. Starved of funds they just cannot function. Much more important is the use of the UN architecture as cover for imperial ambitions. The UNDP, UNIDO, WHO et al. operate or are in business because of the US. Similarly,  organisations like WHO, UNDP, UNIDO serve the interest of those at the imperial citadels through funding and control. Like the UN, WHO could not intervene in a timely manner, not only because they have funding problems, but precisely because the organisation’s hemorrhagic fever department had being dismantled after the SARS scare in 2008/09. Why dismantle a department that exclusively serves a disadvantaged region of the world, in an outfit that is supposedly designed as a global institution? Here again, we confront the vexing question of governance and its corollary: democratization and accountability.

Ebola has come to signify all that it is wrong in the current world order. It is a metaphor for neo-colonial machinations, internally, as well as imperial dominance globally. Ebola is about governance and democratization at both the internal and external levels. This underlines the moral imperatives of participation, consent, and inclusivity. Internally, leaders and their minions empowered by top down constitutions sanctioned by the neo-liberal West are incapable of delivering. Externally, the extent to which so called global institutions—the UN and WHO— are controlled and dominated by those whose activities/interests run counter to our collective national and continental interests, these problems will continue to hamper our forward march. It is not enough to raise these issues only in times of so-called crisis. These issues should perennially be on the menu.

Ibrahim Abdullah
Freetown, Sierra Leone

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