Traveling to Dubai has been a very interesting experience. The difficult part was hearing many of the young Ethiopian women on the plane going, or returning, to Dubai to be maids, complain about their bosses. One of them was saying that her “madam’s” driver does not speak to her, the other was talking about how the man she works for constantly tries to provoke her by hitting her. It was not easy hearing that.
Hanging around this city and understanding the infrastructure and the development that has occurred and continues to happen is one that we should examine closely. To begin with, the money that helped build Dubai came from oil but it no longer depends on oil. Many are the countries that have the riches of oil, but few are those who used it so sensibly. The following point is that nothing happens in this country unless an Emirati owns the majority of the shares of the company. Let’s take a minute and think about this in light of recent developments.
A few months ago news came out about the Kenyan government deciding to remove to requirement for foreign private companies to give 30 per cent share to Kenyans. The move came as the private sector was complaining that this is a move that is hindering growth in the country. In the US, the president-elect ran a campaign that focused very much on, among other things, bringing manufacturing back to the country and renegotiating trade deals such as NAFTA so that the US citizens can be benefactors and not victims of these agreements.
This certainly sends a very important message about citizens not feeling the trickling effect of the “free market economy”. The UAE has a process they call “emiratisation” which is a step by step process of providing for the inclusion of their citizens into different fields, projects and investments so that they are not left behind while the country is developing.
There is a shift happening in politics in the “developed” countries. This shift is one pushed by anger, hate, racism, frustration and much more. But at the bottom of all that remains a common point: citizens feel that they are not benefiting from the “development” of their country, they feel that the elite is the only one that is doing so. With UKIP’s win in the UK, Brexit, Trump’s win in the US we have more of this to look forward to. Marine Le Pen and more extreme right political groups having a real chance of taking power, Africa must learn.
Many African countries are facing that predicament. If you look at the many uprisings and rebel movements in the continent, the fight is mainly about how power and money are concentrated among an elite that is constantly ignoring the mass. The movements behind the uprisings, unfortunately, are just as misguided as the elite in power, this is true in the African continent as they are in Europe or the US. The goal is not to break down the system that has allowed for the creation of elites, the goal is to replace and become the elites
We Africans have to learn from what is happening in the world before we end up in the same situations. The more I travel, the more I see how bright our future can be and the amazing opportunities we have in our own countries. But will we take advantage? Do we even realize we have them? Where are we going? These thoughts travel across my mind as I travel across borders.