Jean Russeau wrote in Social Contract, “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” To free himself, Russeau suggests that man must gain security and a measure of freedom from action, in exchange for surrender of rights and property to the general will. This is not the language of compliance or cowardice but of rebellion. This means, if you want me to pay my tax as my obligation, you must meet my rights as your obligation. As a leader, you are nothing if you cannot deliver. Your right to spend my tax corresponds with your duty to fulfill your duties.

It is no exaggeration to assert that Africa, politically, socially and economically is in the 14th century. Many African countries are sitting on the vast resources which are abused by a cabal of people in power. While this is happening, the big population is dying in abject destitution.

When philosophers Thomas Donaldson and Thomas W. Dunfee coined a phrase, “Intergrated Social Contract Theory” (ISCT), they stated categorically that every right an individual enjoys also has corresponding duty. In business they call this sharing risk and reward. The upshot of this is: whenever there is a risk, change, calamity or needs, the corporate as a big entity benefitting more from the business must help employees- who also benefit from the business but at a less magnitude comparably- in this period of transition.

Running a country is like running a corporation. This is the rationale we are going to use in this argument. The difference though is that when somebody is employed by the corporation, does so because for having some qualities or qualifications the corporation needs to use to make profit and sustain it. When it comes to be a citizen in the corporate known as a state, the citizen qualifies by the right of birth or application for those who apply for citizenship of other countries.

When it comes to men and women manning Africa, they enjoy rights of spending poor taxpayers’ money as they deem fit without the corresponding duty of delivering service. The corporate-government is duty bound to deliver so as to enjoy the right of being a government. Failure to do this, the said government is in power illegally. Hither is whether the situation in African countries worsens more than even under colonialism in 1960s. If anything, African needs a jumping-off point from the 14th century style of management next to Caesars’, to the 21st century of responsible presidents or managers of the corporation known as state. It is high time for Africa to have responsible and accountable leadership championed by our academics.

We need advocates of new social contract who can decisively interpret and champion ISCT. This is possible only and only when our academics will stand and take on dirty regimes instead of joining them to plunder the hoi polloi as it currently is in many countries. It is no longer shocking to see African ignorant rulers using academics in their governments to destroy their country, as it once happened in the Gambia where President Yahya Jammeh used the minister of health, who is a doctor professionally, to claim he had discovered cure for HIV/AIDS. Under new social contract this wouldn’t be possible given that president would be accountable and responsible for whatever he does or says. But under current king-like presidency, Jammeh was able to get away with it. Is this the way academics are supposed to use their knowledge?

“Unless we learn to live together as brothers (and sisters), we will die together like fools.” Desmond Tutu quoting Martin Luther King Jr in No Future without Forgiveness. Indeed, our rulers are prone and proud of being referred to as Excellencies, loved ones and other fake homilies. Actually, they are the opposite of this and they know this too well so as to surround themselves with guards and terror. They live in the heaven amidst the hell of miseries of their people. Who is wrong hither between them and the citizens who are in bed with such abnoxious and notorious vices?

Gandhi once remarked, “How can men feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow-beings?” In the same book by Louis Fischer: Gandhi: His Life and the Message to the World, seems to have the answer. He wrote, “Some men loom larger by lifting up others and some by kicking and humiliating others.” If anything, this is the real situation between Africa and developed world. How can for instance, DRC produce tonnes and tonnes of mineral and Nigeria oil alongside with tonnes and tonnes of poor people? West countries, despite having fewer resources, were able to attain their development, among others, thanks to signing and ratifying a new social contract that empowers people and their governments. It’s through accountability of everybody that made western countries be ahead of us for everything.

Africa cannot forge ahead with the current mediocrity whereby academcs are used abusedly without even resisting. Instead of being in bed with irresponsible rulers for the sake of personal gains, our academics should enlight the hoi polloi so that they can take on their irresponsible rulers. This must be the war between hoity toity and hoi polloi spearheaded by academics. It does not make sense to see our rulers abuse our tax and donor monies while academics scrumble to join politics so as to share the loot. Is there any rationale of dining and wining rulers using taxpayer’s money while they don’t deliver any service to them? How can they spend our hardearned taxes on travelling abroad and recruiting private armies while we are dying wantonly? This is the question our academics need to ask and give the answer, instead of being in bed with those who arrest the future of our continent and her innocent people.

For African to move forward there shall be the force to sign a new social contract that holds our ruler accountable and responsible for whatever they say and do. We can draw a lesson from academics such as Martin Luther, Conrad Grebel, Bathsar Hubmaier, Thomas Muetzer, Ulrich Zwingli and others who gave the Roman Church hard time so as to change the world despite being young guys. We need to start asking our rulers: what have they done for us as agreed in elections or constitutions. What have they done so as to deserve staying in power they wantonly abuse? We need to start enjoying the fruits of our freedom that turned out to be enjoyed by rulers and their henchmen. Academics must pull Africa from the 14th Century to 21st Century by advocvating the signing of a new social contract making our rulers accountable.

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.

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