Original Sufferhead

Posted by By at 9 December, at 18 : 00 PM Print

Original Sufferhead


The late irrepressible Nigerian musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, is easily Africa’s most political singer and song writer. In the 1980s, Fela released one of his blockbusters from which this article borrowed its title. Fela sang:

United Nation dem com get name for us

Dem go call us under-developed nation

We must be under-developed to dey stay ten ten in one room

First and second day dem go call us third world

We must be third world to dey sleep inside dustbin

Dem go call us Non-Aligned nation

We must dey craze for head to dey sleep under bridge

Ordinary thing for man to enjoy for town nko o?

E no dey

Water, light, food, e no dey

Problem, wahala e yen dey

Dem turn us to sufferhead o, original sufferhead

You don’t understand pidgin? Ask your friend for a translation.

Fela sang his protest song close to thirty years ago, but the situation hasn’t changed much in Africa. It’s as though our beloved continent has been frozen in some time warp with the rest of the world merrily passing us by.

It is pathetic the ways and manners Africa rulers (yes, they rule us, but they don’t seem to be leading us anywhere) continue to treat us. Why do our rulers continue to treat our nations like conquered territories and our treasuries like some war booties? This, to me, is the father and mother of all the questions facing us in Africa. And I believe that until we find a satisfactory answer to this pertinent question, we shall continue to grope in vain for that elusive answer to our developmental challenges.

Thirty something years ago, African rules, in their collective wisdom imposed the Structural Adjustment Programmes on their people. At the instigation of the Breton Wood institutions of the sadly misnamed World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (more correctly International Ministry of Finance), severe economic policies were imposed with the promise of better times to come. SAP metamorphosed into ESAP and this, in turn, metamorphosed into the insulting HIPC.

It has been thirty years of punishing economic nightmares for the African masses. And as for the rulers? Well, they don’t really believe in practicing what they preach: the cars in the presidential cavalcade are getting bigger and the motorcades are getting longer; the presidential palaces are getting bigger and more opulent – even with borrowed money. African leaders keep asking the poor masses to tighten their belts whilst their bellies are getting ever and ever larger. And there is ever stories of corruption all over the place.

Let us consider the case of our dear motherland, Ghana. Our government spin-doctors are forever telling us how well-managed and vibrant our economy is. But their whole pack of lies was punctured by the crunching energy crisis that blew up in their faces! Is anyone still in denial that we are in darkness?

We ought to ask ourselves how we come to end up in this sorry state. Few weeks ago, the country was agog and we all went gay celebrating our 50th anniversary of nationhood. Those who dare to suggest that we have absolutely nothing to celebrate we scoffed off as killjoys. We dismissed them even when they posited cogent reasons such that a nation that cannot provide sufficient food, water and shelter for its citizens has no business organizing extravagant parties whatever the occasions, most especially when it is being done with borrowed or begged for money.

Many a critic also pointed out that a nation like ours that depend on donor support for close to three-quarters of her budget simply should not be seen to be so wasteful, more so when those who give us the money do not go around wasting theirs.

Okay, okay, we have had our bash with all the pomp and the pageantry that we could muster. Our rulers (that word again!) have all made the appropriate noises (they call it speeches) after they have wined and dined themselves silly. And look at where we are today!

Like the drunk who borrowed money for the last binge, I say that it’s time that we put our heads into our hands and try some sober reflection. Do we like what we see?

How did we as people come to develop such voracious appetite and capacity for enjoyment, but do not appear to care enough even to be apathetic in the provision of life’s basic amenities? Listening to our rulers, one would be under the wrong impression that we are either asking for the moon or a place on the space station!

No, no sir! We are not asking for more than to be treated as human beings. We want to be able to open taps and get potable water. We want to be able to make ordinary phone calls whenever we want without depending on the whims of service providers. We want uninterrupted electricity. We want jobs that would enable us work and provide for our family – put food on the table, send our children to school, etc, etc. We want good roads. We want hospitals that do not look and smell like slaughter houses.

The most troubling part of this Energy Crisis (a crisis it definitely is) is that there are people who are actually being paid good money to ensure that we have enough energy to power our household equipments and to service the few disarticulate industries in the country. We have a Minister for the Energy sector who continues to draw his salary and emoluments. He continues to answer to ‘Honourable Minister’ and enjoy all the appurtenances of his high position. He continues to enjoy all these benefits in good conscience and yet he cannot perform the task of his office. Honour, why hath thou forsaken us!

In many countries that I know of, the Minister would have done the only honourable thing which is to resign, failure of which he would have been fired eons ago, instead of being allowed to continue to dull our intelligences with his soporific sophistries. In many countries where the parliament is not slumbering, but is awaken to its responsibilities as a tier of the government, the president would have been mercilessly grilled as to why he allowed this crisis to happen on his watch. In other countries, the press would have been responsible enough to perform its constitutional role of being the Fourth Realm. Yet, our press continues to behave as though these things are the normal state of affairs things. Only very few of our plethoras of media houses have deemed it fit to holler and scream at the people who got us into this fine mess.

The president and many of his ministers have junketed around the world ostensibly to seek investors. Perhaps a forensic audit should be done on how much these trips have cost us. And methinks that the President should come out and explain to us why he decided not to put his house in order before going out to woo investors. He should also very honestly tell us how many investors have packed their bag and baggage and left in frustration at our apparent inability to get the basics right.

It doesn’t require Nobel caliber intelligence to realize that you cannot run an economy, any modern economy, without sufficient electrical power. It’s like trying to run your vehicle on empty tank; impossible. No, it’d not do to keep blaming past governments or the vagaries of nature. By getting us into this prolong energy crisis, the government has failed us and miserably too. Let’s forget the nonsensical spins and all the silly excuses; we simply do not have electricity and no one is owning up to this monumental failure!

Do those who charge themselves with ruling us understand the damage they are doing to our nation’s image? Of course they will not tell it to our faces, but I can imagine the westerners laughing at us; and they’d be right. What picture do we present to them, except that of a Happy-go-lucky child interested only in having a good time? Just two months ago we invited them to come and part with us, today we’re experiencing crunching energy crisis.

This government came into power by promising to right the wrongs of the previous government. In opposition, our current rulers raved and raged against what they perceived to be the shortcomings of the previous administration. They claimed to have all the answers to all the problems facing us. We gave them two terms, and for them to start blaming anyone or anything for their shortcomings constitute a blatant breach of trust, and it’s totally unacceptable to me!

About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and Correspondent for the New African magazine. Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the CEO of Alaye Dot Biz Limited Dot Biz, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are now available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

  1. Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
  2. The Daily Dispatch Office, Labone – Accra
  3. WEB Dubois Pan-African Centre, Accra
  4. Ghana Writers Association office, PAWA House, Roman Ridge, Accra.
  5. African Kitchen in Amsterdam Bijlmer

Where to buy them online:

On Lulu Books:

18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories https://goo.gl/Skohtn

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Africa: Destroyed by the gods: https://goo.gl/HHmFfr

Africa: It shall be well: https://goo.gl/KIMcIm


Africa: it shall be well

on Kindle books: https://www.createspace.com/4820404

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Africa: Destroyed by the gods

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on Amazon books: http://goo.gl/1z97ND

on Lulu Books: http://goo.gl/KIMcIm


My Lulu Books page: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/FemiAkomolafe


Get free promotional materials here:

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A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: It shall be well’ could be downloaded here: http://alaye.biz/africa-it-shall-be-well-a-free-chapter/

  1. Africa: Destroyed by the gods (How religiosity destroyed Africa) http://alaye.biz/africa-destroyed-by-the-gods-introduction/

A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: Destroyed by the gods’ could be downloaded here: http://alaye.biz/africa-destroyed-by-the-gods-free-chapter/

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Femi Akomolafe




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