As a citizen of the most beautiful continent in the world, the second largest and second most populous, I am writing to tell you that I have had enough, we Africans have had enough of your corruption. We are sick and tired of you waging wars against us for your own personal gains, enough of you abusing our basic human rights to freedom of speech, expression, association not to mention our social and economic rights. You deny us access to things that citizens of every other continent take for granted: food, water, electricity, education.
There are one billion of us and only a handful of you, yet you succeed in waging war against us. The majority of us are hard working and have never seen or picked up a weapon in our lives yet you somehow manage to equip militias, drug-infused crazed men who then abduct our children, rape our women and decimate our villages. You play with our lives as though we were merely pawns on a chessboard siding with countries who you feel will further your personal and political interest at the expense of our country's wealth.
We are frightened of our own security forces; our police are so poorly paid that they make a living extorting the little money we earn from us. We are not safe as we drive our own streets, as our children play in their own backyards unaware of who may have received a bribe in exchange for our liberty. When your military harm us, there is no redress, no criminal case or civil one for that matter, we lose a life and the trigger-happy soldier moves on with his life, with impunity.
You are so quick to condemn your peers, leaders in other countries who you have been warned by Western powers to be vocal against, yet are you any different....really? You accept a democratic process, yet when we as a people exercise our political franchise, you ignore our choice if it means you will have to cede power. You subvert legitimate governments, making coup d'etat a phrase that is far too familiar to many African children. Even when we plead with you, when the outside world pleads with you, you refuse to see reason. You are prepared to kill us when we exercise our right to protest peacefully, our young men lose their lives for merely chanting slogans or carrying placards so we stay at home instead and pray for peace even if it means that you will stay in power for 30 years. We are willing to trade democracy for peace because we've seen the devastation that war causes, but surely even you can see that this is too high a price to pay?
Oh and please don't tell me about the White man, I am tired of hearing about the White man meaning Western powers. You revert to arguments of race as though this will resolve all our problems yet even when we take the White man out of the equation you manage to collude with others who seek to oppress us. Rather than trading our children for weapons to the White man, you trade our minerals to the Chinese for billions of dollars which you then handover to the Swiss for 'safekeeping'. The real oppressor is you, not the outside party, because let's face it, they don't owe us anything - why should we expect altruism from a complete stranger?
You on the other hand promised us development when you were campaigning, instead you developed your personal wealth - buying houses all over the world, contributing to other economies at our expense. You try to create your own personal dynasty, appointing your brother or son when you feel that power may be slipping from your hands as though no one else were fit to govern our country. We have a saying in krio 'If ose nor sell yu, trit nor go buy yu' - loosely translated this means that if those closest to you (in your home) do not betray you, then strangers (in the street) wont be able to do so. It all starts with you our dear leaders.
I am tired.....we are tired and we don't know how long this cycle of wars, corruption, human rights abuse, rigged elections will continue to plague our continent. We would love to bring our children up in this breath-taking continent of our's but we realise that there is a personal risk which given the choice, so many of us are not willing to take. We've seen friends and family lose their livelihoods in a second because of a change of leader or another coup d'etat or another war against the unarmed and innocent. We want change but we do not want to keep on losing our lives especially if that change will not be guaranteed at the end of the bloodshed.
So many of us believe in a higher power and sometimes this is where we find solace - we reason that things will have to change one day! We hope and pray for good leaders surrounded by good politicians with the political will to unite with other African leaders and promote our interests as a continent. Unless and until there are more inspirational African leaders than corrupt ones, our continent will continue to be plagued by the same issues. Unless our neighbours are at peace, there will always be a risk for us. Until your peers accept the will of their people to choose their government, there will always be the chance that when your turn comes you will be no different.
A wise man once said "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively". That wise man was called Robert Nesta Marley.
So I ask you African leaders, when will you start affecting those around you positively?