I recently read that the United Kingdom offered Zimbabwe money for education after the Zimbabwean government indicated it had no money to fund schooling for its less privileged children.
While the gesture is welcome, as children, whom we often describe as innocent to appeal to our emotions, won’t miss out on school, here lies our problem, as Africans in general and Zimbabweans in particular.
For all their generosity – whatever the intentions – I believe western governments should stop sending such aid to any African government. Our governments should be able to find money for such things as health and education without having to beg from anyone – that is their responsibility.
If our governments cannot fund such basics, then what are they good for and why are they still in power?
Coming from Zimbabwe, terms like “defending our sovereignty”, “fighting imperialism and neo-colonialism” have become national anthems and rallying calls. But what good is sovereignty when we can’t fund our own students? What good is the fight against neo-colonialism and imperialism when we go to the same so called imperialists and colonialists to beg for money to fund our education?
We have lost our voices singing the motto “African solutions for African problems”, yet at the slightest hint of a problem, we run to Britain begging it to solve our education problems. Utter hypocrisy.
These statements have become nothing but hollow nationalist slogans that are not worth the podiums they are chanted from.
A year ago, our mines minister told us that we won’t have to beg again, money from diamond revenue will fund all our needs, including education. Barely 12 months later, we are begging Britain, our supposed coloniser, our worst enemy that is supposedly pushing a colonial agenda and the embodiment of all things evil, to fund our education. I find this astounding.
If Britain is seriously the imperialist that we have been made to believe it is, then we have given it a blank cheque to re-colonise us, as they have a direct to our minds through the money they are giving us for education.
While we should be grateful to Britain for funding our education, such funds help mask the problems and stop us from asking the questions we should be really asking our leaders and this takes away our agency as citizens.
While the aid is welcome, the downside is that it has helped our government hide its shortcomings and until that aid goes, we might never know where our problems lie. When the politicking starts and when elections are due, our politicians will remind us how many pupils they enrolled in schools and how well our education is doing, but they won’t tell us that this is not not of their own doing.
On our part, we will vote for them, no matter how poor they have been in public office, because such funds from western nations have helped disguise most defects we have, and this cycle will continue until Kingdom come.
I am not a big fan of donor aid, and this might not be a very popular stance, but at least in critical areas such as food security, health and education, we should be funding ourselves not looking for external solutions.
Donor aid helps paper over our shortcomings and my biggest worry is what will happen when that aid is suddenly withdrawn. At some point we have to be responsible and stop behaving like an overgrown child that is refusing to be weaned off its parents (read former colonisers).