Politics and Society
Why can Africans do no more than pray when disaster strikes?
It was possible to avert some of the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai. If African leaders did their job and were held to account, there would be no need to create hashtags for prayers when disasters strike the continent.
Cyclone Idai is the latest natural disaster to strike the African continent. Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are the countries most affected. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, described the cyclone as “one of the worst environmental disasters experienced in Africa”.
With more than 1 000 people confirmed dead and more than 1,85 million people displaced from their homes, the United Nations has made an appeal for US$282 million to help Mozambique recover. The reaction of the European Union was swift, with a disbursement of €3 million, while the United Kingdom donated US$29 million. The African Union disbursed US$350 000 and other African nations, like Tanzania, which sent 214 tons of food and 24 tons of medical supplies, and Uganda, have sent relief materials. But what else have most other Africans been doing besides offering prayers?
Read: African Union contributes US$350, 000 to Cyclone Idai disaster efforts
Read: Justice, but not in my backyard
While it is hard to convince most Africans to be more proactive and pragmatic in solving issues than praying, it is equally understandable that religion, especially Christianity and Islam, through a form of colonialism and conquering, has wrecked a lot of what should be obvious and logical. What the people of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi need is not prayers. And what should have been done to avert the huge loss caused by Cyclone Idai was not praying either. Even before Cyclone Idai, 56 people had died in Malawi due to floods.
According to the news website Times Live, the Meteorological Service Department (MSD) raised the alarm two weeks before the tropical cyclone hit Zimbabwe. MSD director Tichaona Zinyemba warned that it would “generate torrential rains and exceedingly strong winds, resulting in flooding and destruction of infrastructure along its path”.
Because no one is holding their leaders to account, many Africans are left with no option than to face God and pray. The despair that has been created by many of the leaders on the continent has fed into a complete lack of hope of things ever getting better. The majority of Africans feed on the crumbs of democracy, whose dividends are enjoyed only by the elite. If African leaders were held to account, there would be no need to create hashtags for prayers.