In the traditional African society, children from both humans and livestock are celebrated, nurtured, and raised by the community collectively hence the adage, “a child (African) belongs to the society.” This trend has been the rationale for the growing diversity, sustenance of cultures and pursuit of ideas initially thought impossible to accomplish. A good example is the struggle for independence from the colonial masters who had guns and ammunition to wipe out a community in a day, while our people had bows, arrows and sticks. Yet, independence was won!
Today, it appears that Africa and its peoples are keen on making babies without nurturing them into unconditioned maturity. I use the words, “baby” figuratively. Take, for example, the recently concluded 16 session of the Africa Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN). The formation of AMCEN was considered a noble idea until it began demanding responsibility for member states to nurture and raise this baby. The states handed it over to a nanny, (UNEP) to help in taking care of baby AMCEN while father and mother (African Countries) went about the ‘more important’ business of fending for baby AMCEN. Baby AMCEN grew in stature, wisdom and status. Baby AMCEN began demanding for more attention as is norm with a growing African child. Baby AMCEN began needing support more than ever due to the its growing importance.
Unfortunately, the African mother and father (member states) began regrouping to sabotage their own baby’s success. The baby now had teeth to bite. The parents threatened it with a dentist. The baby had a voice. The parents began choking it into a silent death. The baby could walk and was getting ready to walk the talk. The parents wanted it to fly away into adoption; perhaps by the nanny (UN Environment). The baby sought its true, original, authentic identity. The parents denounced it in hushed tones. The baby wanted food to live. The parents began starving it to death. The baby wanted someone responsible. The parents insinuated, “The nanny should take care of you!”
The nanny was beginning to grow weary with the responsibilities of many other an African child. The parents were shoving all the parenting responsibilities to the nanny, who could only take as much. Then the parents of the parents (Heads of States) began proposing ‘murdering’ the baby; it was too much being a parent to baby AMCEN. It is as if they wanted baby AMCEN to forever remain a toothless, vulnerable ‘name or word’ burrowed deeply in the ‘cuteness’ of a birth certificate eventually turned death certificate… could they have been wishing for abortion although it was too late now…? Will the parents kill their own baby AMCEN now? We should not let them!
This figurative ‘story’ is motivated by the demotivating trends of African states eminent ‘self-sabotage’ of the AMCEN. It is a devastating state of affairs when member states such as Cameroon have not honoured their USD 10,000 minimum contribution for eight years in a row to support AMCEN through its Secretariat at the UN Environment. It is embarrassing for countries such as Kenya who spend billions of shillings a day to sustain the lifestyles of its political elite to owe about KES. 5 Million over a period of 8 years that has seen two different regimes while countries such as Mauritius and South Africa long surpassed their minimum remittances year after year. Dissolution has even been proposed at the highest of political levels in Africa.
AMCEN is an African child born in December 1985. African states were happy conceiving it; they ought to be happy raising it. As it is, “#African contributions to #AMCEN have been on a steady decline… it might not be possible to convene future [AMCEN] sessions,” said Mr. David Ombisi, who sits at the AMCEN Secretariat at the UNEP, during the 16th Session of the AMCEN in Libreville, Gabon in June 2017.
David N. Munene,
CYNESA Programs Manager.