Empowering Women: How Africa can win the war against itself, By Okey Nwamadi

Tuesday March 8, was International Women’s Day! In Africa, it should be a day of soul searching: this is 2022, and so much is happening on the world stage. It is a good day to carry out a SWOT analysis of our continent which Europe described as “the antithesis of civilization” and painted the most horrifying pictures of our common intelligence in their literature, art and economics.
A sordid illustration is Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” – an allegory of discrimination that centers around Marlow, an ‘irresponsible’ European sailor and his journey through the Congo river. Like the title, this book saw Africa as the heart of darkness, but what Europeans must know is that our civilization has grown way beyond the narrative of Marlow “frightening natives away with the mere whistle sound from the steam engine of his ship”. Africa has evolved. We are currently at the vestiges of sociocultural and socioeconomic emergence.

So, on a day like this, we have to look intently at the capacities of Africa, especially the women who constitute over 50% of Africa’s population which currently stand at a little less than 1.4 billion people. In one of my recent books, “Is The Future Female?” I made a case that “Africa looks exactly as it treats its women: neglected and abused.” The fastest and most sustainable path to prosperity in Africa is to empower women. The resources and potentials of Africa are sufficient to empower its citizens, but we are largely blind to the opportunities we bestride.

Data in public domain reveals that Africa is a continent of 54 sovereign states and constitute 17% of the world’s population; it is responsible for 9.6% of global oil output, 90% of the world’s platinum supply, 90% of the world’s cobalt supply, 50% of the world’s gold supply, 75% of the world’s manganese supply, 35% of the world’s uranium, 75% of the world’s coltan and more interestingly, has 54 votes in the United Nation General Assembly. These are the factors that make Africa interesting to world powers, but regrettably, we have not exploited the abundant blessings of God in Africa. We are mentally lazy and bewitched, thereby unable to harness the resources overflowing in the continent.

For every African that relocates to Europe, America or even China, there are two expatriates that move to Africa. China has over 10,000 companies operating in Africa. There are over 600 American companies in South Africa alone. The EU, America, and China all have strong economic interest and military bases in Africa. Unfortunately, Africans relocate out of desperation or education, and lose their identity in the West (which could be a subterranean plot to depopulate Africa with excellent minds). On the contrary, expatriates in Africa have no interest in the people or their values. They are focused on their respective agendas, which more times is built around economic and political exploitation of opportunities.

The Americans say, “Africa is a continent of the future … we need to make the best of its potentials.” It is speculated that by 2050 the population of Africa will double to about 2.2 billion people, majority of which will be young people under 25 years. Any wonder I advocated in my book that leaders in the continent should seriously look into the plight of the girl child and women in Africa. A pan African consciousness has been a recurring theme in my writings. In another book, “Legend of the Lost”, I looked at circumstances that will lead to the emergence of the United States of Africa; a strong force to adequately engage other world powers, to the benefit of the continent and its people. African leaders must strengthen conversations on integration before it is too late.

So as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s have a commitment to dismantle barriers against the development of women in Africa. Every cultural, social, religious and economic discrimination against women should henceforth be viewed as sabotage against sustainable development in Africa. A greater percentage of Africa’s over 600 million women cannot continue to be ignored and abused, while we nurse ambitions of greatness. We have passed the era of praising one or two women and using them as testimonies of goodwill towards women. What the continent needs now is a holistic plan to educate every girl child, economically empower urban and rural women, as well as create sustainable structures for women to emerge as leaders in business and government. In the words of Joyce Banda, the former President of Malawi, “the seeds of success in every nation on earth, are best planted in women and children.” Unfortunately, these are the two areas that African development is deficient, robbing itself of a future and hope. My message to women is that they should rise and seize the opportunities presented by the world for them to stimulate, engage, and utilize their inherent power towards the development of Africa. As it is in other instances in history, women can become the catalyst for Africa’s development. I

Okey Nwamadi is the author of: ‘Is The Future Female?’

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