There is more to lack of cleanliness and hygiene in African cities than the usual suspects of city residents strewing rubbish about and the city fathers seeing nothing wrong with that.
That is certainly a problem, but there is more.
Clothes. Shoes. Utensils. Plastics.
Debris of all sorts over the pavement are peddled as second hand goods in almost all African towns.
Things that look like they were never washed, or brushed or dusted all their miserable lives.
And citizens of all ages rummaging
through these piles of filth, trying to sift through the unseemly collection, looking for whatever looks like it
has fewer lice and other pestilences.
Across Africa this is the sight you are made to behold wherever you go.
The business of secondhand
clothing is booming.
Initially,these items were only sourced from charitable outfits,mainly Churches that donated them to help the poor in our midst.
But as of today,it is Mega business thing minting millions of dollars for businessmen who rummage all over the world and ship them in containers.
They say they are helping the poor stay decently clothed.
But they are killing our textile industries among other things,and the jobs that obtain from these industries,as well as cotton farmers and other cottage industries in Africa.
They are no longer to be found
in our cities only.
In the smallest towns, villages even, used clothing and other items are very popular.
Popular because they provide a means of subsistence for the hawkers who sell them.
And popular because they furnish our people with cheap items that, if new, would cost them and arm and a leg.
This state of affairs speaks to the extreme poverty and helplessness that our people have been plunged into.
Fifty years after Independence, the African people have been
impoverished to alarming levels; they have been turned into beggars.
It’s an indictment of failed
policies and ineffectual economic plans.
It’s hardly surprising.
At Independence, most of our
countries embarked on ambitious economic plans aimed at adding value to political independence.
Before long, these plans fell through for a variety of reasons.
One was the lack of skills.
After a long colonial night,
our people did not possess the skills required to make these plans work.
When we managed to skill a good number of our people, they were lured away from their countries, to go and graze in better pastures.
Corruption, nepotism and the self-interest of those we called leaders was another factor.
Rampant corruption and nepotism prevented factories from functioning.
When leaders treat state-owned factories as their own to dispose of however they like, it is one way of
ensuring their demise.
When what leaders care about
is to have relatives and cronies employed and to receive factory freebies, they no longer care what
becomes of those plants they milk.
With all those inefficiencies, state-run factories were run into the ground.
The textile industry was allowed to disappear, with some plants
vandalised in broad daylight in areas crawling with security personnel.
The rule of the tragedy of the commons is that when things are owned in common, everyone thinks they are the concern of someone else; this means they have no particular mourner when they are killed.
Most of these industries were parastatals run by Government.
But we all become mourners in our different ways, including when we find our men and women wearing
intimate things that have been worn by someone whose hygiene we can’t even imagine.
The risks we expose ourselves to are simply staggering.
Meanwhile, all this means also that we are exporting our jobs to China, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey and
Those who send us finished products
made from our raw materials are beneficiaries of jobs we eschewed here at home when we exported our
raw cotton, cashew nuts etc.
We’re as used as the clothes we import.
In this situation, what is so surprising about the jobless growth we are experiencing?
It is simple.
You either use your raw materials to make your home factories run and create jobs, or you export your raw
materials and help other nations take jobs that should have been taken by your people.
And then, of course, your youth become increasingly restless and engage in crime.
Because of the factories you never built or you killed, now you must
build prisons to contain your youth.
And when the youth are fed up with being herded into prisons for no particular fault of theirs, they start
listening to people who promise to provide self-esteem.
Through the barrel of the gun.
When you kill your factories, or neglect to build them, you are inadvertently supporting Shabaab or Boko Haram.
In reality, you support terror, even
if you don’t know it.
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®