‘Don’t blame colonialism for A

‘Don’t blame colonialism for Africa’s problems’. Bonang Mohale

Africa’s leaders should stop blaming colonisers for some of their problems and take responsibility for their own bad decisions.

‘Don’t blame colonialism for A

Well one thing’s for sure, Bonang Mohale won’t be winning any popularity contests any time soon; but then again, as the chairperson of Shell SA and former president of the Black Management Forum he’s likely got a very thick skin by now.

Speaking at the Africa Energy Indaba, Mohale said that African leaders “have no right to blame colonisers” for their problems.

He told delegates at the Indaba that the continent’s leaders have failed to live up to the idea of the ‘Rising Africa’ the world had a few years ago whereby the 21st century would belong to Africans.

 “Africa’s problems have nothing to do with our resources. We can trace it down to a lack of management, planning, leading, coordinating and organising,” Mohale said.

He made a point of mentioning that despite colonisation, the African continent has a wealth of natural resources – more so than most of the rest of the world –, but that poor management has meant that leaders are unable to take advantage of Africa’s vast wealth.

According to Mohale, the whole ‘Africa Rising’ dream is just that, a dream, because of the choices Africa has made.

 “We only have ourselves to blame.”

“The reality is that in the days we have been free, we have seen some exponential improvements as well as draconian repression. Africans in most countries out of the 54 are poorer today than they were when we were not free,” he said.

As you would expect, some of what he was saying didn’t exactly sit well with the audience and one member accused Mohale of being Afro-pessimistic. To this he Mohale responded with:

“If we are not self-critical, then other people will do it for us. If we say it ourselves, we hold ourselves accountable. Let me continue on the pessimistic front.” 

Despite his sobering position on Africa, Mohale is also looking for solutions to the problems the continent faces and works closely with the South African government to that effect. Some of his solutions include focusing on solar, wind and hydro-electricity  which he says African governments have done little to exploit.

 “The best solar project is in Germany, where they get three months of sun. We have labels of the Dark Continent, even though the wind blows rigorously, but we are not harnessing it enough.”

Mohale then took aim at some of the continent’s larger power utilities, including Eskom, for their dismal management; including poor maintenance plans and reaching their full potential by capitalising on diverse power sources.

He added that African leaders need to refocus and get back to the basics and a clear vision for Africa.

“We have had nine economic plans, yet none of them were given enough time to gain traction. We also need space to put our best foot forward and not remain beholden to a bush (guerrilla warfare) leader. Then we expect these people to assume the cockpit of a Boeing 747 full of people and fly them from OR Tambo airport to London for 10 hours,” he said.

“When leaders are elected, they need to use that office to put our best foot forward, and not use it to pay back their cadres.”