The world is still grappling with what happened in Haiti recently. On 12 January, 2010 Haiti was hit by a killer earthquake that left tens of thousands dead and millions either injured or their properties destroyed.

After the quake struck, the world, led by US, was racing to Haiti to help the victims. This is a good thing indeed. However, some African countries used it to show their hypocrisy and disregards of their people and their constitutions.

The first African country to chip in was Senegal. Whilst other countries were trying to bolster quake efforts, some African rulers displayed poor and bad judgements. Senegalese president, Abdulaye Wade, interestingly came in with the offer of land or houses to Haitians that were ready to return back home-Africa. How much money or soldiers did he send to help the victims? Zero. Is this what really Haitians need now? Nay!

Senegal’s president says he’ll offer free land and “repatriation” to people affected by the earthquake in Haiti. “The president is offering voluntary repatriation to any Haitian that wants to return to their origin,” said Mr Wade’s spokesman, Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye.

Try to imagine how tormenting such a sickly proposition made by a ruler of dirt-poor country. Wade was quoted saying that Haitians were sons and daughters of Africa, since Haiti was founded by slaves, including some thought to be from Senegal. In other words, the Darfuris are not sons and daughter of Africa! That’s why Wade as an African, ruler and a Muslim has nary bothered to welcome them.

Many people who know Africa well were dismayed and buffed by this make-believe generosity aimed at gaining international notoriety and pizazz. Questions on this were many more than answers. Why should he wait for the calamity to strike? Why promising to offer houses to Haitians whilst many Senegalese have no houses? Was this a political capital or what? Does the constitution of Senegal allow president to offer part of the land to anyone he deems fit? Did he consult with the people? Can this help Haiti and Senegal altogether?

What appalls, those Senegalese suffering from all miseries including having no houses, unluckily, are the ones that voted for Wade apart from their tax giving him the guts of thinking about unthinkable. This proves how Wade has become myopic and a dictator, despite being a professor of law that he’s breaking. Does Wade regard Senegal as his private estate he can offer to anyone? He is totall off rails.

By and large, Haiti is even better than Senegal with the GDP per capital of $1,066 (as per IMF economic outlook database) compared to Haiti ’s GDP per Capital was $1,300 (2008). As of 2008 the population of Senegal was 12,211,181, whilst Haiti was 9,780,064. 

Like many African countries, poverty is rampant in Senegal. Also, GDP per capita has actually declined over the past 25 years. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which classifies countries according to their human development index score (HDI), ranked Senegal 155th out of 174 countries in 1998, while the United States ranked third. The HDI is a composite index that examines specific figures on education, health, and standard of living. Senegal’s low ranking reflects the country’s low development in these areas, consistent with its overall poverty.

Africa has nary been bankrupt when it comes to goodies and baddies. So too, hypocrisy was displayed by war-torn DRC that sent $2,500,000 to help quake victims. Surprisingly, this is one ninth of 23,000,000 that Britain offered to quake victims! This left Congolese shocked. They could not understand how a country with the highest number of IDPs could attempt such a thing in the first place!

Answering his critics, Information Minister Lambert Mende was quoted by BBC recently as thus: “Congo isn’t bankrupt… our own problems shouldn’t prevent us from helping a brother country”. This was echoed by Academic Ntanda Nkere, who was quoted as thus: “It’s a contradiction to see a country which is facing serious financial problems giving away $2.5m”.

This is not the first time a begging African country helped another. In 2008, Tanzania, the country that tops the list of begging and poor countries on earth, donated various medicines on top of money. Medicines so donated to Zimbabwe included over forty boxes of Ciprofloxacin, Doxycline, Erythromycin, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Chroride and Cresol. Other parcels in this bragadaccios included Chlorinated Lime, Methylated Spirit, plasta, bandage, wool, etc., that were received by two Zimbabwean diplomats in Tanzania.

One interesting thing did happen. When Tanzania was offering highly needed stuff at home to Zimbabwe, at Mwananyamala, Temeke and Ilala hospitals in Dar es Salaam, patients were sleeping three abed, not to mention paying for their own medicines! Is this love? Bob Marley would have asked. The irony is the other day Kenya will send its army to Darfur to prevent genocide, though the same failed to stop post-election massacres. The same Kenya that neared the verge of self extermination is presiding over seeking peace for Somalia! The Swahili sage has it that the ape does not see its bum.

Africa has nary run out of controversy. Remember Sudan who’s over 5,000,000 in Darfur depend on UN food support, is currently selling sorghum to Middle East. To add more insults to the injury, the same has given a big chunk of land to Arabs to produce food for their citizenry whilst hers are dying day in day out! Kenya too once thought about allowing foreign investors to invest in agriculture in Kenya, whilst the majority of Kenyans are landless. What hypocrisy!

Many still wonder. Neither DRC nor Senegal has ever extended such supports to the people of Darfur that are dying everyday thanks to the man-made calamity. Instead, the same countries, under AU, vowed to openly and fully support their butcher, Omar al Hassan Bashir!

Not only that, ever since Africans Muslims of Sudan, who believe they are Arabs, started killing their brother Africans and Muslims, African Muslims have nary showed any solidarity to fight for them like they do for Palestinians! 

Africans, as well as their rules, have a candle love especially where there is popularity to be garnered.

While African rulers were trying to square the circle, a relatively small city of St. John’s, the capital of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, came up with something possible. It urged all Canadian cities to see to it that they build Haiti .

Back to our rulers… is this generocity or hypocrisy for countries suffering from abject poverty to embark on a candle love? Help your people you exploit time and again in lieu of bragadaccios of helping others. Charity begins at home.

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.