There is this jigger-infested tale that is oft told of the royal birth of festering in Africa.  In the ’60s and ’70s, a young missionary arrived in the Kenyan kingdom of Wanga, and spent her missionary years not just preaching the word of God, but also teaching young kids about hygiene.  Then, the kingdom was full of jiggers, and no one dared stop them, because, according to the rich tale, they had come to the court of the Wanga King from the court of the Buganda King, ferried by a royal courtier who had fallen from grace.  So, the origin being royal, the right of entry was thus also royal!

But who talks of royal problems in the 21st century?  Think – someone seated on a plane, coming all the way from Washington, D.C. to teach us hygiene?  Americans have conquered space, gone to Mars, and chained together time and travel.  You could leave Asia on Saturday and get to America on Friday of the same week, and if asked say, “I left tomorrow.”  But wait a minute; it was not always like this!  That is momentum!

Long ago, Africa ruled the world, and history will tell you of the great civilization that was Carthage in Tunisia.  It was brought down in 146 BC and slavery took its toll.  The Punic Wars of 264 to 146 BC crippled Carthage, but not before Hannibal had led armies to Rome, not in nuclear armed planes, but on elephants!  Yes, Africa ruled Rome for 15 years!

Think Egypt.  Senegalese scholar Cheik Anta Diop has demonstrated in his book African Origins of Civilization that ancient Egyptians were indeed black Africans!  The people who built the pyramids with such precision and mathematical ingenuity rivaled only by the space shuttle were Africans!  Think of the city-states that straddled the Nile valley – Thebes and Memphis.  Think of Africa scholars and philosophers similar to Greek poets Euripides and Aristophane.  The great African Library at Alexandria, razed down by Julius Caesar in 48 BC, was the greatest repository of knowledge.  But pray, where were the so-called super powers then?

Africa, aided only by itself, had momentum until the well-told lie took off, overran logic, and became truth.  However, momentum to the negative is rarely reversible.  The African renaissance has the power to thrust forward, but not until we heed Chinua Achebe’s words, that the trouble with Africa is simply and squarely a question of poor leadership, and, I might add, well-told lies.  Political hygiene will do well, even solve some of the problems, and we do not need missionaries to tell us that!  Some little hygiene, personal too, might erode a lot of the gains – a small jigger problem if you ask me.

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