The Horn Of Africa States: Is It Enough To Throw Bones To The Region? – OpEd


Gaetano Mosca was an Italian theorist of the 1920s. He was astonished at his country’s society at the time and noted that a small group of politicians, academicians and, in general activists, were involved in the Italian politics. They were not in the same party but in different parties with their own specific ideologies and visions. The only thing they shared was their involvement in pushing the nation’s agenda, but in their own differing directions. He noted that this was not in Italy only but prevalent throughout Europe and even in the Americas. These small groups generally supplied the national leadership of any country. He described them the “Activists.” 

Maximilian Karl Emil Weber or just Max Weber, a German sociologist, of the time, took the notion further and noted that these small groups of people made their living off politics and actually became “the state” themselves. These small groups of people share the advantages and disadvantages of being in the political stage. Some of them were in the media, while others were serving in the academic world while still others were sitting at the front desks of politics, becoming the nation’s leaders. The latter would include those who run for the presidencies and the premierships of countries.

Only one primary requirement could not be breached and that was the need for public debate and competition without shaking the whole setup to a complete breakdown. The People of the Horn of Africa States and hence its leadership appear to have the same setup and infrastructure today except that they have not accepted the debating of issues, and hence contention and subsequent competition without violence. They have not learned either that when it comes to dealing with the foreigner from any quarter, differences have to be put aside and they still continue to disrupt the process of governance, when one party is holding the leadership, while the other contenders remain the opposition to the “ruling party.”

In the Horn of Africa States, they say that “a fool does not get off a man he has just pulled down” and they also say that “a fool would know where he fought but not where a reconciliation occurred.” Both are important in the sense that those who win the leadership in these present days in the Horn of Africa States region, do not know that they have won, and that they are the leaders of both the supporters and the vanquished. The opposition does not know either, that it is time to move on and wait for the next cycle of elections. And this where the Horn of Africa States is failing. This opens a wide gateway for the foreigner who rain havoc on the region, through what they term as the “AID” or humanitarian missions, but which really is toxic and never helpful as claimed.

No wonder the elite or the activists or in a nutshell the politicians of the region remain out of touch with the realities of their world. The region is a target like the rest of Sub-Sharan Africa, which the West and the East powers do not want them to get up or develop, for they need the mineral resources of the region and usage for free of its strategic location and waters. The game is to show the elite of the region that they are doing something for the region, and so we almost hear all the time, throughout the 365 days of a year, this call for humanitarian aid for the Horn of Africa States region, and this has been going on over the past three decades. We are moving on to the fourth decade. 

This is no more than just throwing off bones to the region just to save a few and let the larger numbers die of foreign induced hunger and starvation. The humanitarian mission in the region, much diffused in major TV networks, would not alleviate the devastating recurrence of climate change and/or human-induced trouble and hence starvation and hunger in the Horn of Africa States. This has been the case for the past thirty odd years and every year, the call for aid and help to the region becomes shrieky and louder. Is this truly humanitarian or is this related to other ulterior motives beyond the claimed humanitarian support for the region? It is known to the world and especially to those who extend the help that this could be addressed differently. Most of the aid and assistance does not even reach those for whom it was intended. It is consumed in the form of administrative costs and other logistics. Most of the so-called aid, in fact, is not aid but processes that assist other nefarious activities, neither good for the region nor source countries.

The region has vast mineral reserves and vast agricultural and marine resources. Wouldn’t it have been more beneficial for the source countries to invest in the region and hence create employment for the youth of the region? They would have made profits and returns much larger than the amounts they spend on the humanitarian missions they embark on, which does not even fully reach the victims of climate change and foreign-inspired conflicts or the mercenary wars in the form of terror groups that bedevil the region. Don’t they say in the region that a tree told an axe, “You would not have cut me, if there has not been a part of me in you”? The proverb indicates that the foreigners would not have been able to play havoc in the region if some of the citizens of the region have not been helping them. Basically, there are those from the region who, on meager and small payouts, sell themselves and their countries. 

It is perhaps high time that the Horn of Africa States citizen realized that foreign aid or humanitarian missions are unworkable and devastating the economy of the region. It prevents the regional governments, however weak, to work with their populations. State governments of the region rely on this so-called humanitarian assistance and hence do not develop their local infrastructures even if they were not as strong and as durable as they should be. The governments do not carry out developmental processes with what they have – mining and mineral extractions and local transformation of these resources, at least in the form of unfinished products. They do not assist their citizenry to develop and promote their own food production through sustainable means such as digging of wells and canals for irrigation, all of which do not really need foreign assistance. 

The region owns large water surfaces and can handle resourceful fishing for local consumption and such processes do not need foreign aid. The region owns vast lands, and is it inconceivable they cannot produce their own food, in this twenty first century, when they have been tilling these lands for thousands of years? It is obvious other factors are at play such as corruption engineered from outside. Corruption imported and encouraged by many foreign countries and their local recipient-citizenry in the Horn of Africa is a disease designed to keep the region underdeveloped and hungry and it is up to the citizens of the region not to accept the bones thrown at them from time to time and that have been more regular these past few years. They should be wary of the blame game on El Nino and El Nina, natural forces that occur in the Pacific Ocean. These forces were always there, and the Horn of Africa States region was able to survive in their presence. The region discovered foods endemic to the region such as the teff, the enset and the coffee and many other local foods native to the region. They tamed the camel to survive in the harsh weather of the region thousands of years ago. They can survive on their own, should there be no aid and the carrier NGOs. Why can’t they do so today? It is our belief that they can but only if they do not accept the bones thrown for them.

Dr. Suleiman Walhad

Dr. Suleiman Walhad writes on the Horn of Africa economies and politics. He can be reached at [email protected].

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