George Ayittey was meant to speak on day one but for whatever reason was delayed. And I must admit it was worth the wait. One could almost say that for a speaker of this calibre and energy you must pull out all the stops. Emeka Okafor, the program director of the TEDGlobal conference, took much inspiration from George’s book, African Unchained, and this lead him to launching a blog dedicated to the solutions offered in the book.
George started out by asking the audience if the African Union would ever put together a conference like this. He described the speakers and I would say the TED Fellows as the cheetah generation. We are moving quickly and we making our own decisions without waiting for government to feed us. He described the ruling class as the Hippo-generation 😉 And continued with his barrage on African leadership. He mentioned that 30% of over $148 billion in aid has been “lost” to corruption. And $80 billion in capital flows out of Africa every year. Another $20 billion is spent on importing food. This is crazy when you consider that as recent as the 1960s Africa fed itself and had enough left over to export.
The next chapter begins at this conference. Since 1960 and the collapse of colloquialism there has been about 204 leaders in various African countries. As a test he asked people who many of them can be considered good leaders. In fact he posted a challenge on a online discussion forum to name just 20 good leaders. The usual suspects like Nelson Mandela and some others were named. They could not go beyond 15 names. This is an absolutely sicking results by any measure. George is a strong believer that all we need to go is go back to our principles. Those that governed the tribes a few hundred years ago. It’s really the confederacy principle where the chief had to consult with a group of leaders before any laws were passed. The military fufu-heads that run many African countries turn them into vampire states because they literally suck the land dry.
There was many, many great anecdotes made by George in his speech but I’ll let you get it first hand from a video podcast interview I conducted with him after this session here: