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Guinea Bissau: A New Dawn

Aug 4, 2009, 5:57 AM

Let us begin by heartily congratulating the president-elect of Guinea-Bissau Malang Bachai Sahna on his resounding victory at the recently concluded presidential run-off. The presidential election was conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner is an indication that the people of Guinea-Bissau are committed to democracy and progress.

It is also important to commend the loser in the election Kumba Yalla for his magnanimity and graciousness in accepting defeating without a fuss. It is rare for a defeated African presidential candidate to give in without crying foul - the usual recipe for violence and calamity.

The political disturbances that preceded the Sahna presidency are still fresh in our minds. There were killings and reprisal killings that threatened the very foundation of the country's existence. But through tact and political shrewdness, the people of Guinea Bissau averted the looming danger. Against all expectations, Guinea Bissau is back on track. Though the political history of Guinea Bissau has been wobbled by tragedies and turbulences, the people of  Guinea Bissau seem to have learnt their lesson and decided to forge ahead to deal with the issues at hand.

President-elect Sahna said: "We are committed to living together and finding solutions to the problems Africa is facing. There is a saying in our language that if somebody is washing your back, you should also wash your front. We Africans should help ourselves and solve our problems. This will enable us to have peace and stability and good governance."

This call for self-reliance is essential for Africa's real growth. The responsibility for Africa's progress must be borne squarely by Africans themselves. Nobody else is going to do that for Africans. Africans have to begin by having faith in themselves and in their continent. Then we have rid ourselves of colonialism-bashing, just as belittling anything African is an open invitation to backwardness. Besides, Africans have to stay focused and promote values that lead to real development. Conspicuous consumption, which is now the vogue despite the continent's appalling poverty, is antithetical to the sort of Africa that we crave - peaceful, progressive and prosperous.

If the new leader of Guinea Bissau is able to draw up his development agenda around this new mindset, then his country is truly in for a new dawn that will put it on the path of peace, progress and prosperity.

This is our wish for him and his country!

"Governments never learn. Only people learn".

Milton Friedman