As Martin Plaut leaves the BBC, having have been working on Africa since the 1970s, he looks at the continent of his birth and says he sees a brighter future than at any time he can remember.
Most of independent Africa was little more than a decade old. But already optimism was ebbing away.
Men like Congo’s Mobutu Sese Seku and Nigeria’s Sani Abacha stripped their countries bare. There were dangerous buffoons like Uganda’s Idi Amin and Bokassa of the ludicrous Central African Empire. We laughed, but they were killers. The shine had come off the brave hopes at independence.
But moving swiftly on, we find a new era at hand – and a much brighter outlook. The old deference for African leaders has been stripped away. The Organisation of African Unity is now the African Union – still weak, still shambolic, but struggling to reform itself.
It’s a long hard road and it has only just begun. But apartheid is over, colonialism is a memory and morale and optimism are on the rise. Africa has come a long way in the last 36 years.
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