Lessons African Leaders most Learn from COVID-19

Lessons learned from the Corona Virus Pandemic

By Wazeh Nicoline Nwenushi |March 19, 2020

Countries all over the world should strive to invest their human and material resources in developing their countries and building their resilience. The outbreak of the COVID 19 has been declared a global pandemic with huge human, political, economic, social and gender equality consequences on all the affected countries.

Most of our African Countries have paid lip services to their development. The insincere promises of our political elites to develop our countries and the continent generally touted as a priority on their campaign agendas has caught us in this era of the fight against the corona virus.

Some African politicians over countless decades have gained pleasure in the misappropriation of our national natural resources, crackdown on individuals and civil societies who dare criticize them, arbitrarily imprison and execute their opponents. They have been qualified absentee landlords who travel abroad to treat even common colds and do their shopping. They have preferred to send their children to schools overseas than to build schools to educate all the citizens with the same entitlement to the resources they greedily and unduly stockpile for themselves and their families.

Most African countries depend on Foreign Aid in the form of Official Development Assistance (ODA) either as bilateral or multilateral funds from individual “friendly” countries; United Nations or the World Bank for the pseudo development of their countries. These “Saviour” countries including China, USA, France, Italy and others are today overwhelmed by the death toll and the political, economic and social consequences of the corona virus on their citizens and economy.  All the countries of the world including even the mightiest have been hit beyond imagination by the COVID19 virus and their human and technological limitations uncovered.

The huge human casualties registered by countries may mean they need to invest more in training and capacity building of the citizens. In countries like Italy, this may mean incentivizing the younger generation to consider having more children. From a political perspective, leaders may want to secure subsequent mandates from the electorate through making certain concessions including reconsidering their diplomatic relations bilaterally and multilaterally especially in the form of finance and technical assistance.

Economically, countries have promised to exonerate citizens from some consumption taxes like rent, electricity, gas and others. Others plan to inject trillions of US Dollars to revive the different sectors of their economy including air carriers and banks. many countries have halted the issuance of foreign visas and completely closed their boarders. The extended lockdowns have gross economic impacts on countries including estimated budget deficits and plummeting world economic development projections.   

From a social standpoint, the health facilities and infrastructures of many “Saviour” countries like China and USA have proven insufficient and inadequate to contain the COVID-19. Social projects in other areas have been suspended and all energy directed to the fight against this pandemic.

Looking at the impact of the corona virus from a gender perspective, women and girls bear the brunt like in any other disaster outbreak.  The International Labour Organisation (ILO) acknowledges that globally women perform 76.2% of unpaid care work, as much as three times than men. Many schools have been closed around the world due to the corona virus pandemic, a massive shutdown which according to UNESCO leaves many parents especially women with little or no choice but to take off time or to work from home while caring for their children. Development projects aimed at gender mainstreaming are generally disrupted during such health emergencies thereby undermining or even completely nullifying milestones in achieving gender equality.

The above human, political, economic, social and gender equality consequences of the COVID-19 on all the affected countries imply that, our “Saviour” and “Friendly” countries are now overwhelmed with their own internal issues. Charity, they say “is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it”. Injurious charity on the guilty African countries is epitomized by their inability to travel to these foreign paradises for treatment and shopping, which are also the fiscal anchorages for our embezzled funds destined for the construction and development of the African continent for all of us. Subdued with devising internal mechanisms and strategies to cope with the virus, it is unlikely that our “Saviour and Friendly” countries can still reach out to us. Closing their boarders and halting the issuance of foreign visas clearly indicates that we have all become vulnerable and abandoned to ourselves to face an illness that we neither have testing devices nor adequately trained personal to cope with it. “C’est chacun pour soi” (each for himself). The African rich biodiversity and mineral fields is enough to exploit with due diligence and transform this continent into a paradise on earth- an El Dorado. We have rather indulged into the abusive, egocentric and systemic exploitation of our own riches, discriminating, excluding, intimidating, and summarily executing indigenous populations who dare ask for mere royalties.  We have through bad governance, corruption, embezzlement, marginalization of some citizens, rigging of polls, threats, and prosecution compromised our own infrastructural independence, medical dexterity and general development.

It is unlikely that Foreign Aid in the form of Official Development Assistance (ODA) either as bilateral or multilateral funds from individual “friendly” countries; United Nations or the World Bank is available to us at his crucial moment. It is impossible for us now to start building our own health and other social facilities to contain the corona virus. Most African countries are caught in this quandary, and the days ahead with the corona virus pandemic creeping into Africa are somber. Hope we’ve learned a lesson!

Five reasons why women’s involvement in the Cameroon peace dialogue is fundamental

  1. Women constitute more than half of the Cameroonian population: Their inclusion in peace talks is first and foremost a moral and practical obligation because disregarding the needs, priorities and interests of more than half of the population is untenable and invalidates the ensuing agreement. Legally, it is the fundamental right of women enshrined in the UDHRs, and restated in UNSCR 1325, AU Aspiration 2063 and many other international and regional instruments and commitments that Cameroon has signed and /or taken.
  2. Women’s connections and code of behaviour in Cameroon is culturally common: All women even those who have suffered the worst atrocities during the crisis want peace, justice, social modifications and others, not only for themselves but for society at large. Again, women are central to care giving in families in the Cameroonians culture. This gives them mastery of the pulse of the community, a centrality to communal life which makes their inclusion in peacebuilding essential because In their role as caregivers they are highly invested in preventing, ending, and recovering from conflict, as they are motivated to protect their children and ensure security for their families, not by personal gain.
  3.  women have different experiences of violence and peace and can bring exceptional perceptions to the peacebuilding process: They are directly and deliberately targeted, their bodies are used as war tactics through rape, forced impregnation, sexual torture etc. such experiences cannot be overlooked in any valid dialogue.
  4. Women are known as peace drivers and educators both in their families and society: They can bring unique insights to the table and bridge the divide through empathy and dialogue. Though not innate in every woman, this selflessness has been demonstrated in many historical peace processes.
  5. The crisis has compounded the responsibilities of women and exposed them to untold deprivation and hardship: women have gained solid awareness of their needs, as well as that of their families and communities at large. They alone can speak for themselves.