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The Purpose of the Afrindependent Institute

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The Afrindependent Institute is a non-profit and non-partisan organization—a think tank dedicated to developing and disseminating Africonomics, an African school of philosophical and economic thought. Africonomics is a social science premised on respect for people’s natural individual rights [life, liberty, and (self and property) ownership] that studies socioeconomic phenomena to enhance prosperity, justice, and peace within and between human societies. Unlike prevailing economics and the other social sciences, which rest on philosophical materialism, positivism, and a Darwinian conception of humans and human relations, Africonomics is a social science grounded on the African worldview’s theist, principled, and nonrivalrous nature.

The Institute is also dedicated to restoring Africa’s economic heritage of free enterprise, free trade, and sound money. These two objectives are not distinct or separate. They are aligned and aimed at paving the way to integrated, stable, and thriving African economies—our mission. With the ultimate goal of establishing free, just, and prosperous African societies—our vision. Our work comprises publications, conferences, advocacy, and other programs. 

Joshua Nkomo insightfully noted: “The hardest lesson of my life has come to me late. It is that a nation can win freedom without its people becoming free.” Indeed, such has been the case in neo/post-colonial Africa, where African governments may be free, but African people are not free. On the contrary, as I wrote elsewhere, there has been a great betrayal: after colonial rule, instead of liberty, Africa’s leadership delivered tyranny. (Read George Ayittey’s 1992 book Africa Betrayed for a detailed account.)

For instance, in the Africonomics paper, I point out that, 

Post-colonial Africa has seen one too many autocracies, many of which reached a degree of repression and tyranny much harsher than the European colonial regimes they replaced. Among the 28 African countries that implemented some socialist system, there were both civilian and military dictatorships. It is worth noting that in terms of military dictatorships, post-colonial Africa has had more than 30. Notable cases include Nigeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan, Chad, Somalia, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire (now D.R. Congo), Central African Republic, and more. While single-party socialist states and military dictatorships have been the two dominant forms of autocracy in Africa, some countries underwent a period of autocratic rule that was neither socialist nor military dictatorship. Ivory Coast, Kenya, Cameroon, Malawi, and Gabon are examples of such cases. Irrespective of the type of autocracy, the tragic fact is that, instead of liberty, post-colonial African societies became recipients of cruel and oppressive government systems. 

Admittedly, this situation means that authoritarian and repressive government systems have nearly entirely governed post-colonial Africa. The oppression of Africans by African governments is the greatest tragedy of neo/post-colonial Africa. While the oppression of Africans by African governments is endemic, in contrast, most pre-colonial African societies (e.g., chiefdoms, kingdoms, and even empires) did have well-established economic traditions of free markets, free enterprise, and free trade. On the political aspect, pre-colonial Africa also had consensus-based democratic processes and non-tyrannical governance structures. In Africa Betrayed, economist and economic historian George Ayittey writes: 

Before the arrival of the Europeans, Africa had participatory and direct democracy, free village markets, and free trade. Freedom of expression also existed in traditional African societies. At village meetings, the natives of Africa freely expressed their ideas and exchanged viewpoints. Africans had a value system; they knew of the work ethic, justice, order, and fairness. There were kingdoms, empires, and civilizations in Africa.

Similarly, The Economist Magazine (Dec. 19, 1998) helps dispel another pervasive misconception about pre-colonial Africa: 

In fact, most of pre-colonial Africa was not ruled by tyrants at all but by a variety of political systems including hereditary monarchies, most of whom were subject to tradition and parliaments of elders. In these kingdoms succession was not usually by primogeniture; monarchs were frequently chosen from shortlists of available princes by established chiefs or elders.

In the Africonomics paper, I also point out that, 

Should African scholars fail to develop ethical and coherent intellectual frameworks in economics and the other social sciences, African societies would most likely remain oppressed, troubled, and under foreign domination. African socioeconomic systems would remain fundamentally unethical, structurally unjust, and extensively tyrannical. This would further mean that economic turmoil, stagnation, and sociopolitical instability would persist. Western economic models, technical assistance, and development aid have severely handicapped African economic development and prosperity. It has been 50/60 years since independence, yet African economic stability, prosperity, and independence are nowhere to be seen. African economies should start thinking beyond Western frameworks. Or risk losing 50 more years.

In contrast, Africonomics proposes a fundamentally different and unified approach to African economic stability, prosperity, and independence. Instead of continuing to maintain imported statist models, which have proven tyrannical and destructive, African leaders should adopt this African economic model: free enterprise, free trade, and sound money (i.e., the nilar) through the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area). Adopting this African model is imperative for several reasons. Principally, because economic conditions are worsening, and thus, sociopolitical instability has noticeably increased over the past few years. Also, integrated, stable, and thriving African economies cannot be achieved with the prevailing statist systems.

African economies are at a crossroads: adopt Africonomics or continue languishing. African leaders can choose to maintain statist systems, or they can choose to achieve integrated, stable, and thriving African economies—and, therefore, a prosperous and independent Africa. However, they cannot have both. Also, African economies should not emulate Western or Eastern models. Nor should African economies wait and hope for a supposed BRICS gold-backed currency to escape the injustice and tyranny of the fiat dollar standard. Instead, African economies should take charge of their liberation by implementing a monetary system like the nilar—an entirely sound gold monetary system formulated for African societies. Implementing the nilar is the most significant service African leaders can provide to present and future Africans.

The evidence is unequivocal. 50/60 years of statist economic models imported from the West have not produced integrated, stable, and prosperous African economies. On the contrary, the socialist and other statist models of the neo/post-colonial era have severely suppressed African economic development and prosperity, causing extensive damage to African societies. 

The time has arrived for African societies to decouple philosophically.

AUTHOR:

Manuel Tacancho is a social philosopher and economist; founder and president of the Afrindependent Institute.