Those that tarnish Africa’s image

Africa is seen as an impoverish continent the world over. It is seen as a war-torn continent inhabited by corrupt, barbaric and savage-like people. This prejudice is constantly reinforced by the attitude of some Africans at home and abroad.

There is this disheartening trend that I have noticed recently. It is phishing ― this is the criminal practice of luring Internet users to provide their personal information via emails or the web. It always results in fraud or identity theft. Yes, I accept the fact that such criminal tendencies are common sight on many continents, but Africa’s is different and agonizingly too much.

Personally, I have received hundreds of such emails but astonishingly, one thing stood out from the phishing, they were all from Africa ― Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Mali Senegal, Burkina-Faso to mention some. I silently kept wondering why Africa? Why is it that no one is from Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America or even Australia? Why Africa especially West Africa?

One such mail came into my spam box on August 18 with this title, “PLEASE, VERY URGENT!!!” from Mr. DiagoDani with the email address Hear him: “Dear Friend, Greetings to you today. My name is Mr. DiagoDani, I am a banker by profession. I work in one of the reputable banks in Ouagadougou, Burkina-Faso West Africa. My reason for contacting you is to transfer an abandoned sum of $10.5 million to your bank account. The owner of this fund died since 2006 during the Iraq war with his Next Of Kin. I want to present you to the bank as the Next of Kin/beneficiary of this fund. Further details of the transaction shall be forwarded to you as soon as I receive your urgent reply indicating your interest. Have a great day. From Mr. DiagoDani” (sic).

People like this have punctured Africa’s image in an unimaginable fashion. Killing the continent’s reputation and dragging every African into a cesspit. Africans are among the most searched people at any airport; they are even mocked and laughed at racially. While there is no research to show that phishing is part of the problem, I believe that it has contributed in no small measure. I must state categorically here that it is only a cheat or a greedy person that will want such transactions; so, I don’t care when such people moan of being defrauded. We believe candidly that the continuous sending of such mail from African countries is battering the image of the continent.

Phishing is not alone. There is money laundering, corruption, drug trafficking and untamed insecurity in some cities in Africa. What image will the world have of Africa when some of her leaders launder public wealth to other countries? How will Africa be perceived by others when contracts are inflated? Insecurity is one thing that is killing investment opportunities in Africa. While her leaders globetrot in the name of seeking foreign direct investment, their countries are in dire need of security. How can a rational investor invest in an insecure climate? Africa does not need to beg investors; it is genuinely an investment heaven if her leaders do the right thing. When things are in order, investors will be rushing and begging. Take a look at South Africa ― investors are rushing in because they have a better environment compared to others.

We interviewed South Korea’s former Prime Minister Dr. Chung Un-chan recently. The interview was for the AsiaN Network but I was astonished or embarrassed during the interview when Dr. Chung declared to me, “Oh you are a Nigerian? I was there in 2010 during your 50th independence celebrations. That day there was a bomb blast at the venue and three people died some meters from me.” After the interview, I asked him what his thoughts were about Nigeria. He honestly said, “Nigeria is a young country with so many young people. Nigeria will come up soon because some ministers that I saw there were quite young and looked smart and intelligent; but one thing I noticed is that corruption seems to be tolerated in the system, if that is not corrected, Nigeria will fall back.” Those who bombed Abuja that day will not have known the image they created about Nigeria to others and yet we want to develop, we want investors to come to Nigeria. It does not work that way.

Africans among the diaspora, like those back home, are also doing their part of the problem. They tell all sorts of lies to get asylum overseas. The Nigeria-Biafra War of 1967 is still used by Nigerians seeking asylum. Now there is Boko Haram, and for every bomb that explodes in Maiduguri, Kano or Yobe and so on, someone has seen something he or she will use to seek asylum, declaring him or herself helpless. They conjure all kinds of scary stories that make their benefactors feel that the continent is in a perpetual war. Some others evade tax, engage in credit card stealing, transfer other people’s cash and even outright armed robbery.

These are the people who are killing Africa’s image. Their wicked acts are bringing reproach to others and the continent. The truth is that we behave the way we want to be perceived. But to those that destroy the image of Africa, they have to know that what they do will harm them some day. Like Shakespeare said in Hamlet, they should know that, “Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles.” <The Korea Times>

Uwalaka Temple U.B Intern Reporter

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