A month since AU’s Big Two visited ‘Bro Putin’ we starve on

Monday July 04 2022

Africa’s highest representatives went and presented our problem, seeking assistance for it, and Brother Putin kindly promised to sort it out. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH | NMG


You don’t have to scratch your head anymore wondering why people on the continent with the most natural resources are the poorest and most miserable on earth. Their leaders keep giving you the answers, so why keep wondering?

It is coming a month since the African Union was represented at the highest level with a visit to the Russian top leader, our comrade Vladimir Putin. It is a very good gesture to visit a friend when you think he has challenges, so the planners of the visit should be commended for the brotherly gesture.

You can also visit your brother if you have problems and need him to help you out of trouble. This was the stated reason for the said topmost level visit from Africa.

So Africa’s highest representatives went and presented our problem, seeking assistance for it, and Brother Putin kindly promised to sort it out.

Presumably, you remember the problem we presented to Ndugu Putin; that we are facing starvation on account of food prices that are soaring following his deployment in that place called Ukraine.

Thankfully, Brother Putin promised to help us avert starvation.


Were you waiting for another AU visit to America or one of its allies seeking similar assistance? If it happened it wasn’t considered important enough to be reported.

Anyway, some of us naïve fellows who don’t know economics and politics would have thought the place to go begging for food would be China, which didn’t and doesn’t have a declared side in the Ukraine conflict. It is yet to happen, or if it happened, it wasn’t that important to report to the starvation-threatened citizens of the continent in whose name begging trips are made.

But we naïve fellows would have thought that the solution to hunger should be sought in Africa itself. For we are told by statistics compiled from the very countries our leaders beg from that the largest amount of arable land still available on the planet is in Africa.

We are also told, and probably also know it, that there are stupendous amounts of fresh water flowing in African rivers and more falling as rain on the continent to support farming on the available hundreds of millions of acres.

The outsiders also say, and we probably also know, that the temperatures on the continent are favourable and most places can harvest two seasonal crops, some three in a year.

It is coming five months since the Ukraine thing happened. Any serious owners of those millions of hectares of land and billions of litres of fresh water would in that time have harvested a billion tonnes of grain and other root tuber foods, instead of providing ammunition to those who think that the black man was created inferior to other races. Do we hate ourselves so much that we must help others to despise us?

Some might say that we do not have enough tractors to till the land. Or they can cleverly argue that the fuel prices are rising so we cannot power the tractors so we need to turn to a magnanimous outsider to give us food or money to buy the food.

Well, while we wait for the free or cheap food from the people whose land is covered with snow for a quarter to a third of the year, can we use our hands and ox-drawn ploughs to plough and plant a few million hectares?

As we wait for some young foreign journalist to come and shoot photos of black children with flies fluttering on their mucus-covered faces for raising money to feed us, we can also use our millions of cheap China-made phones to shoot pictures of our muscular young men tilling the land and our beautiful young women planting food, to share amongst ourselves as a reminder to our children that we are not mental invalids who like others to give them what they already have.

Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. E-mail:[email protected]