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Africa's Real Risk For The Future: Brain Drain

The best and the brightest, those with real vision for the future, are more likely to leave their native African countries that continue to be mired in short-term fatalism, corruption and lack of development.

Photo of a street in Masina, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Masina, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Deni Dilolo


Sixty-six years after Ghana became the first independent country in Africa, the continent continues to struggle with the same problems. There is a lack of a development plan, and the way of life remains "living as you go" — a lifestyle with no plans, no goals and no legacy.

Live today, eat today, without looking at the long term — unless it is another United Nations program that aims to fulfill a Western agenda with no prior local understanding, analysis or context.

Several already well-known problems include lack of water, basic sanitation, lack of respect for individual and civil liberties, corruption and the uneven rule of law that exempts rulers and public administrators from criminal responsibility.

But the biggest problem is the loss of intellectuals and leaders. This brain drain is a result of the following factors: a lack of appreciation for local citizens, and their persecution when they respond and bring to the table discussions about specific problems.

One constant that we can see in all African countries is the lack of trust in our own citizens. It seems to arise from several centuries of slavery, colonization and then political control through international help. Therefore, the European’s opinion is like the Bible for Africans: everything that comes from the “white” man is correct. One cannot doubt, nor can one question, the opinion of the West.

Hope in our citizens

Africa has lost hope in its citizens being able to solve their problems without European or Western help. It is a culture that comes from presidents, ministers and directors — and it is holding the continent back.

Furthermore, we are the only group motivated by money and individual instant gratification, not by the generational power of the group. We are not motivated by loyalty, integrity or leaving a legacy. You can steal millions, misspend it in the West and with the West, but we still have no power in the international arena.

This non-belief in the African individual means that, in exchange for crumbs, there is easy betrayal between brothers, with the help of external forces to assassinate capable emerging leaders: Thomas Sankara, assassinated by Blaise Compaoré in 1987, and Patrice Lumumba by Mobutu Sesseseko in 1961 — and also internal weaknesses like the massacres of national intellectuals seen in Angola in the 1970s, and in Congo Brazzaville and other West African countries including coups and rebellions.

In the struggle for survival, we see the chilling images from Lampedusa of the would-be African immigrants arriving in Europe; and more recently, images of fellow citizens dying in the forests of South America as they travel to the United States in search of a better life.

Believe in the ability of African people

In his book PowerNomics, Claude Anderson argues that no community or group develops by expecting help from another group. Europeans help each other, Jews help each other; Asians, Arabs and Latinos all practice “powernomics.”

African countries will not develop or improve their status if they don’t change the current paradigm, in which they seek solutions from non-Africans. It is not aid, loans or credits that will change Africa, but rather the belief in the ability of African people to "do."

No country is built or developed by foreigners, unless in the form of neo-colonization or annihilation of native citizens. Every country can only be properly developed by its citizens, full stop!

If, on the one hand, these African rulers go in search of loans that sometimes have no gain for citizens, it is these same rulers who pursue independent thinkers and leaders who could contribute to the solution of the continent's problems.

Soon, these intellectuals and leaders are forced to move to Western countries with their “know-how."

Africa, stop persecuting your own children, leaders and independent thinkers. It is certain that among these activists, journalists, civic actors and citizens in general there are people who have a far deeper and wider vision than simply thinking about the present.

Let's think of plans for Africa that will last beyond our existence. Only then we will begin to develop now!

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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