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Just how much is the life of an African worth?

28 Feb 2013 at 11:32hrs | Views
It pains me to start by the conclusion but facts and figures I am faced with show me that we Africans do not have regard or value another African's life. In America it is calculated that an citizen's  life is worth, in current dollars, about $8 million. Meaning that's the money the American government will spend for example in trying to rescue a single American citizen no matter where they might be in the world.  

In Africa, there seems to no such valuing of citizens and governments seem not care whether people live or die. A list of genocides in the 20th century has Africans leaders featuring prominently among them Paul Koroma (Sierra Leone, 1997) who allegedly killed 6,000 people, Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe, 1982-87, Ndebele minority) who allegedly killed 20,000 people, Michel Micombero (Burundi, 1972) who allegedly killed 150,000 people, Charles Taylor (Liberia, 1989-1996) who allegedly killed 220,000 people, Idi Amin (Uganda, 1969-1979)who allegedly killed 300,000 people, Jonas Savimbi (Angola, 1975-2002) who allegedly killed 400,000 people, Menghistu (Ethiopia, 1975-78)who allegedly killed 1,500,000 Jean Kambanda (Rwanda, 1994)  who allegedly killed 800,000 and Yakubu Gowon (Biafra, 1967-1970) who allegedly killed 1,000,000. Some like Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire, 1965-97) and Jean-Bedel Bokassa (Central Africa, 1966-79) killed an unknown number of their citizens that runs into millions.

We know that not all lives can be  valued by society equally. The endangered child of a wealthy person gets all the treatment that a top-flight health plan and extra funds can provide.  The similarly endangered child of a low-income person depends on emergency-room treatment and poorly funded government hospitals. More critically, the first will have had a lot of preventative care and the second a lot less. This is shown by  difference in mortality rates.

Why do these regimes, some of which are  dictatorships, send their armies to kill their citizens even unarmed women and children? Does it make any sense, even by the twisted logic of armed conflict and tyranny? The first reason is trying to maintain fear, as this is perhaps the most powerful weapon in the hands of tyrants throughout history. Killing women and children is a sure way  that is supposed to intimidate the opposition.

Secondly a  reign of terror helps unpopular leaders keep power and loot the country's resources  for a long time, and then hand the country to whoever they want to as if it's their  private property to be inherited by the next generation. Most tyrants die in power as they are scared of being prosecuted for crimes they committed while in office.

Thirdly many African leaders form and run  governments based on  paranoia and distrust. They operate their countries to maintain order forcefully --not peace, really. The main thing these leaders are interested in is their narrow individual interests. Their survival in powerful and privileged positions  outweighs compassion even though it comes at a high cost in terms of increased poverty, disease and  economic failure.

Is it not about time we put more value on the lives of fellow Africans and stop killing each other wantonly?

Velempini Ndlovu is a freelance photojournaist based in South Africa he can be contacted on | 0768297234 

Source - Velempini Ndlovu
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