Many African countries are politically freer, more prosperous and with better educated populations than at the height of the notorious “big man” regimes: one-party states and military rulers that followed not long after independence.
Great news! Right?
Well, not entirely:
But some leaders who were once seen as enlightened and enthusiastically embraced by the west as the “new breed”, and countries that claim to have embraced more democratic systems, are facing strong criticism from human rights groups.
Because they have the nerve to think that they can be independent and African, when in reality they must satiate the human rights activists by changing to be more Western:
The spread of anti-gay legislation in Africa, particularly Uganda’s law criminalising homosexual activity with a life prison sentence, has drawn wider attention in the US than usual for African human rights issues.
Washington limited aid to Uganda as a result and the law was overturned by a court last week, but on narrow grounds that could see it reinstated.
Rights activists are frustrated that in such circumstances there will not be specific discussion of the rise of laws persecuting LGBT communities across the continent, as well as the increasingly authoritarian use of anti-terror legislation to suppress political dissent.
How dare they choose to follow their traditions? Those uppity… Errr…
Human rights activists say that public criticism has not done much to change the behaviour in US allies such as Uganda and Rwanda, which have come under increasing criticism for authoritarian leadership and military involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although Washington has limited some aid to both countries it maintains close relationships, in part because they have relatively well trained armies that play an important part in US-backed peacekeeping operations in Africa.
All that counts as naught before the single-issue loons insistence on forced adoption of Western mores.
And while Kagame faces ever stronger criticism over political repression in Rwanda, businessmen see his leadership differently.
“When the American business community talk about Kagame, they talk about him from a very different perspective,” said John Campbell, a former US ambassador to Nigeria.
“They talk about the lack of corruption, the efficiency of the government, its pro-business approach, rising standard of living.”
I get the feeling that this progress would be happily discarded in an instant if only Rwanda would hold a Pride event…