Recent horrific events in Libya have angered many across the world. On Tuesday 12th December, I was part of the people who protested in Accra against the situation in Libya. A week prior, reports had emerged of people being sold in slave markets just like how tomatoes are sold in Makola market. In our protests, some of our placards read “US/NATO, are you happy now?” It was an important rallying call against not only the barbarism being exhibited but the conditions making this situation possible in the first place.

Few days later, I read an opinion piece by Robert Jackson, US Ambassador to Ghana titled “Seeing the slaves in our midst”. In that article, Mr. Jackson talks about many things. But mainly, he talks about the events in Libya, and calls on us to look beyond Libya and consider modern slavery in its wider context, while acknowledging the prevalence of the practice in many countries including in the United States.

I found Mr. Jackson’s call very interesting. First, he does so without acknowledging the role of the United States, the country he represents, his country, in creating the situation we have in Libya, or at least conditions for it to thrive. It is trite knowledge that the United States and NATO illegally invaded Libya and toppled its legitimate government, in fact killed the President. They did so with jubilation; Hillary Clinton who was the Secretary of State then proclaimed, “we came, we saw, he died”. Although years later, Barack Obama, the US President who authorized the killing of another country’s president, regretted not planning for the aftermath of that dastardly act, neither the US nor the former President has accepted responsibility for the situation in Libya, let alone take any meaningful action to cause its rebuilding. Yet their actions made sure that the once prosperous country has become a lawless, stateless entity being ruled by several militias and unable to maintain the most basic security for its citizens. Against such a background, the US ambassador could not have forgotten that the “slave markets” in Libya have come about due to the atrocious acts of his country and its allies. This is part of the truth which must be acknowledged.

Yes, we will look beyond Libya. And when I look beyond Libya, what I see is the footprint of the United States in creating slave-like situations in other countries. Some US multinational corporations have been found to engage in the use of labour in slave conditions in many countries. Before, we say that these are private corporations which are violating US law on these things, we must remind ourselves that the US government itself is involved in creating slavery, and indeed killing people. A couple of examples may help clarify this point.

In Iraq, by the time the US declared an official end to the war, the United States’ illegal invasion of the country killed more than 100,000 civilians including women and children. Many Iraqis endure slave-like conditions due to the ruins which the US reduced their lives to. Not long ago, the United States President publicly recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Although this has been the position of the US Congress since 1995, many (and I’m not part of this lot) believe it is a major shift in US policy further escalating the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader volatile security situation in the Middle East. This recognition is the continuation of the flagrant violation of international law including UN Security Council resolutions that explicitly state the status of Jerusalem (refer to resolutions 252, 267, 271, 276 etc). Resolution 478 specifically states that “measures which have altered the geographic, demographic and historical character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council”.  US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue has served to create a situation of apartheid, and this is not my word. Refer to the report of the UN committee that investigated the question of apartheid in Israel. I shudder to think the Palestinians and Arab Israelis will see any difference between slavery and apartheid.

And may I remind that Israel continues to be an occupying power, and it has been one since 1967 in violation of international law, and this violation has been possible due to the active and sometimes aggressive support of the US. It is important that Mr. Jackson acknowledges this part of the truth.

Besides all the above, US allies have been found by Amnesty International in its report to be complicit in the slavery in Libya. Why would Robert Jackson gloss over all these aspects of the truth? The essence is to downplay the contribution of external factors to these acts which have become so notorious.

We all accept our responsibility to stem the tide of modern slavery in our communities and neighbourhoods but large scale slave-making policies and actions by the US and other countries must also be stopped. Robert Jackson should acknowledge this.

When only one aspect of truth is acknowledged and the other not, then it falls short of truth; for truth is indivisible.

Hardi Yakubu



Hardi M. Yakubu

Chairman of Research Committee, University Students’ Association of Ghana

Formerly, Speaker of University of Ghana Parliament House


 June, 2014



Kwame Nkrumah wrote in his book “I Speak of Freedom 1961” that “Although most Africans are poor, our continent is potentially extremely rich”. He was making reference to the paradox of a continent blessed with so much rich natural resources (much of it unexploited) but whose people still languish in abject poverty. Africa has about 55% and 60% of the world’s gold and diamond reserves respectively, 62% of its aluminum silicate and a host of other precious minerals (Twerefou, 2009). The inability of the continent to convert these into reliable sources of revenue and livelihood has accounted for what the NewAfrican magazine refers to as the “great conundrum”, the paradox of a rich man who is at the same time poor. At the time Nkrumah made the above statement, much of the continent were just reeling from the ravages of colonialism, others were still struggling to cast it off. Since then, much has changed either for good or for bad, depending on how one looks at it.

High Growth

The past decade has been Africa’s decade of high economic growth, being one of the major outliers. Many of the world’s high growth nations are in Africa. According to the Africa Progress Report 2013, Equatorial Guinea, a small country in Africa was the highest growing economy in the world from 2000 to 2011. Its GDP grew by an average of 16.9% whilst per capita income rose by 272% between 2000 and 2011. Angola, Ghana, Chad, Tanzania among others have also been growing rapidly with average GDP growth of 10%, 6.4%, 8.3% and 6.7% respectively (Africa Progress Panel 2013).

The continent as a whole grew by 5% annually between 1994 and 2008 (UNU-WIDER 2011). Many other regions of the world are either slowing in growth or not growing at all. For example, the United States economy has slowed down in growth. Although it remains the biggest economy in the world with a GDP of 16.7 trillion dollars, it has failed to grow beyond 3% annually for the past few years except for the third quarter of 2013 when a 4.1% growth was recorded. US GDP growth slowed to as low as 0.1% for the first quarter of 2014. European economies are not also exempt from the slow or no growth. Undoubtedly, high growth has become a major bait for foreign direct investment and changing partnerships.For instance, trade between Africa and the rest of the world tripled over the last decade and the continent’s share of global FDI rose to 4.5% in 2010 from less than 1% in 2000. China, with growing interest in Africa has particularly been a major source of business with the continent. In 2009, it surpassed the US as the largest trading partner to Africa and in 2011, trade between china and the continent reached $166 billion, a more than 1000% increase from 2000.

Inequality and the Poor Africans Who Are Not Rising         

Despite the impressive growth, inequality and persisting poverty are threatening to be our major undoing making the growth only as relevant as the figures. For instance Angola, Rwanda, Ethiopia and other high-flying GDP nations have large proportions of their populations living below the poverty line. Meanwhile, most countries are not even growing; they are either stagnating or declining, with poverty being a pervasive feature. In some 29 African countries for example, average GDP per capita grew by less than 3% between 2002 and 2012. Also, there are 16 countries whose average GDP per capita is either in negative growth or is growing at less than 1%. The Africa Progress Panel(2014) has estimated that it will take these countries 76 years to double average incomes. So the inequality is not just within countries, it is also between countries.

At the continental level, poverty is still prevalent. The number of people living below the poverty line increased from 22% of global poverty in 1990 to 33% of global poverty in 2010.Other indicators of human development including school enrollment, maternal mortality, child mortality etc are still at unacceptable levels despite some progress. A continent that is rising must not have such high levels of worrying statistics on vital indicators. It is fair therefore to assert that if Africa is rising, this large proportion of its population is being left behind and is not rising. More definitely has to be done.

Inequality as a Global Phenomenon

Of course, inequality is not peculiar to Africa. The Office of National Statistics of the UK recently revealed that only five (5) families in the UK own as much wealth as 12 million people combined. Also, the top 1% of the UK’s 63.7 million population owns the equivalent of the combined wealth of the poorest 55%. Globally, as Christine Lagarde, the IMF Chief Director, indicated recently at the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism, the richest 85 people in the world own wealth equivalent to the combined wealth of a half of the world’s total population i.e. 3.5 billion people. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carey has even warned that the current levels of inequality if not checked will be the Achilles’ hill of capitalism.

Africa has the potential to save itself from this growing global canker of inequality. If the continent fails to encourage more inclusive growth and development, then some sections of the population will never rise.

Agriculture: The Neglected Savior

A significant portion of Africa’s population is engaged in agriculture. It accounts for about 60% of the continents total employment. At the country level, the statistics are even more instructive. In Ghana, 54.2% of the population are farmers according to the Ghana Statistical Service (2013); in Malawi, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mozambique and several other countries, the percentage is between 80% and 90% (AfDB, OECD, UNDP 2014). In almost all the cases cited above, agriculture is only a minute contribution to GDP as a consequence of unsatisfactory expenditure in the sector. African leaders for instance agreed, as part of the Maputo Declaration in 2003, to spend at least 10% of national income on agriculture. As the NewAfrican has established, less than one fifth of African nations have met this target. The large population engaged in agriculture has led some to conclude that the sector holds the key to lifting people of Africa out of poverty. The NewAfrican magazine for instance has noted that growth in the agriculture sector is 11% more effective at lifting people out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa than growth in other sectors. Others have estimated this at a much lower rate without necessarily discounting this fact.

The question is “why are African nations neglecting this economic savior?” one hardly knows. It is certain however that for Africa to facilitate all-inclusive growth and development and rise with the masses, agriculture cannot continue to be neglected.


In sum, the Africa rising mantra is catching up with the continent and the rest of the world. It is rightly based on the impressive growth recorded by the continent over the past decade. However, most Africans are not rising along. A significant portion is still mired in the quandary of penury, not enjoying the fruits of the high growth figures being bandied about and the number of such people appears to be increasing. Only a few people are enjoying the fruits of growth. Agriculture which employs majority of the continent’s people and has the capacity of lifting them out of poverty is sadly being neglected. But to bring all-inclusive growth and development about, this trend has to be reversed.








AfDB, OECD & UNDP (2014). African Economic Outlook 2014: Global Value Chains and Africa’s Industrialization

Africa Progress Panel (2014).Africa Progress Report 2014

Jere, J. R. (2014). “How Africa Can Feed Itself: Beyond Food Aid and Corporate Greed.” NewAfrican, March, pp, 8-16.

Ghana Statistical Service (2013).2010 Population and Housing Census: National Analytical Report. Accra. Ghana Statistical Service

Page, J. (2011).Should Africa Industrialize? Finland. UNU-WIDER.

Twerefou, D.K (2009). Mineral Exploitation, Environmental Sustainability and Sustainable Development in EAC, SADC and ECOWAS Regions.Economic Commission for Africa.




The long walk to freedom must not end with the demise of its leaders because the struggle is older than the leaders. In South Africa, even before madiba was born, there had been several attempts to resist the domination of the black race by the white. Then in 1912, six year before the birth of Mandela, the African National Congress was founded to embody the aspirations of the struggling masses of Africa. It was formed with the same purpose as other nationalist movement across the African continent. But beyond South Africa, the struggles of the people across the world were manifest. The civil rights movement fought and won freedom in the United States of America. In many parts of Africa, great men of courage and determination who would only rest after dislodging the walls of domination, colonialism and imperialism and wiping off its spots from the soils of Africa.

 Today, in some sense, the struggles of the African people seem to have yielded great results. Africans now  have the prerogative of Imagechoosing their own leaders, of engaging in economic activity without any racial hindrances. But that is about all there is to our freedom. We still are dominated and exploited economically and psychologically. Africans are still seen as those who cannot do things on their own and have to be dictated to by external forces; we are still seen as inferior citizens of the world; in fact some among us also see themselves as such. The shackles of neo-colonialism and inhumane capitalism have pushed the people of Africa to the fringes, to the outposts of their own economies.


Within our nations, the people still struggle with elite compradors whose mastery in squandering scarce resources is unmatched; the people still struggle against incredible odds to make ends meet. There is a new form of struggle, a struggle that is not only against external neo-colonialists but internal forces gradually dispossessing the people of their humanity. The robbery of their vast resources has left them without sources of livelihood. There has been much talk about progress in Africa, economic growth and development but only a few Africans enjoy the bounty of this so-called growth.Image

 Many leaders have fought against the ills of society in any form, economic, political, cultural, social and no matter who the perpetrator is; black or white, man or woman, young or old.Image These include but not limited to Martin Luther King Jnr., Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere, W. E.B. Du Bois, Patrice Lumumba, Jomo Kenyata, and Muammar Gaddafi.

 They all joined the long walk to freedom; they all fought and passed on. Now Mandela joins the long list of fallen heroes to take a long rest. But the long walk must continue. The people of Africa taking inspiration from these leaders must rise against the prevailing forces of oppression strangulating them to death; against economic conditions that have mired them into a rekindled imperialism; against attempts to rob the people of their dignity as humans.


The struggle preceded its leaders and must certainly outlive them. As Mandela takes a long rest therefore, his long walk proceeds, their long walk continues unabated, our long walk ends not.