Of all the problems that have held Africa back from development, nothing has been devastating like Corruption, Favoritism, Cronyism and Nepotism, which are all direct products of Africa’s disdain for Virtue. This culture of crookedness, coupled with Africa’s lack of CIVIC MORALITY or public Virtue has grounded our continent and has made Democracy vulnerable in Africa. A factor common to a whole range of Africa’s socio-economic, political and financial failures is a striking absence of Character and Civic Virtue in Africa. The civic morality that underlies the social cohesion of many advanced democracies, is absent in Africa. A Culture of Crookedness has pervaded our society, which is undermining genuine Democracy and development efforts in Africa, making us a parochial, backward and underdeveloped people. We are talking about corporate deceit, corrupt elites and cynical masses in Africa. This is a character crisis. “Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks – no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.” — James Madison
Africa’s disregard for Virtue and Civic Morality has resonated for half a century with tragic consequences, especially in Nigeria. We have a character crisis here, and many people do not know that ‘when nations esteem virtue, they flourish, and when they disdain virtue, they crumble’. Africans have disdained virtue. Africa is crumbling in corruption, disunity, mediocrity, disease and poverty. This is the threat we face now. Sadly, civic education in our schools is not teaching a civic virtue that reflects the wisdom that produced Western civilization, nor the tenets that make democracy flourish. The problem here is a total disregard for the virtues underpinning genuine democracy and progress of the West, which has mutated into what I Call Irresponsible Citizenship, manifesting in rampant corruption, amoral behaviors and general disorderliness. Ours has long become a culture of crookedness, deceit and apathy. Almost all African countries have proved that democracy cannot deliver progress in a culture of crookedness and , that no society can flourish without the practice of virtues.
Somehow Sub-Saharan Africa has missed the real issue in our development trajectory, and unfortunately the West has continued to deal with Africa as if we are on the right path to progress. How does West expect Africa flourish when the Virtues that underpin human and societal flourishing are ignored and disdained in our culture? No, Africa is going nowhere with this level of disdain for the Virtues responsible for Western development and prosperity. Democracy cannot flourish in a culture of corruption. “Public virtue cannot exist in a Nation without private Virtue, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics.” John Adams. In fact it was John Adams (one of the founding Father of American Democracy) who said Democracy is only for morality upright societies, and without morality Democracy will destroy America. This is my fear for USA. “Whenever we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.” Thomas Paine. A respectable section of today’s America do seem to know that they greatness of USA was and is still tied to the practice of certain core virtues, which are fast disappearing in America. If the practice of virtue built the America into greatness, it is the practice of those virtue that can keep America great.
Back to my subject. If Democracy without Morality could destroy America, how can Democracy without Morality develop Africa? Sincerely, the Africa brand of Democracy (without morality) is destroying our continent. Democracy may never thrive in Africa because our culture will not allow us to build the institutions that strengthen democracy.
This is my case for RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP in Africa. I am dreaming how to help Africans appreciate and imbibe the ideals of good character, Virtues and civic morality as a culture to underpin Democracy, Social Cohesion, Peaceful Co-existence, Political Stability, Creativity, Productivity and Economic Prosperity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Responsible Citizen s are morally intelligent residents of any society – good people who are committed doing good and actively caring about themselves, other citizens, their environment and their resources; good people who are habitually behaving with integrity in private and in public; good people are always standing up for what is right, and willingly accepting responsibility for serving public good.