Thursday, 02 December 2004
Africa’s Past, Present, Future: Are Some Blaming Victims?
By Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
Are we witnessing the second coming of colonialism in Africa and other parts of the world?
Events of the past two years, the resort to the use of brute military force, the invasions, occupations or the removal leaders of countries by foreign powers, are reminiscent of slavery and colonial times, which were foisted on Africans and the so-called Third World by American and Europeans governments a couple of centuries ago.
Slavery was replete with brutalities, inhumanities, indignities, all these were compounded by the imperial superiority complexes and racisms of slavers and their colonialists offspring; But suddenly now, many revisionists, some Africans among them, are blaming the twin evils of human history, that is, slavery and colonialism, on the actual victims, Africans! This, in the face of what is increasingly appearing to be a new era of re-colonization of Iraq, Ivory Coast, Haiti and Equatorial Guinea etc.
We are being told now, by revisionists, that a few African chiefs have been collaborators who connived, and were in ignoble complicities with slavers and colonizers, true, some Africans may have been complicit in slave trade, but to blame slavery and colonialism on the Africans, is like blaming a few Jews for the holocaust which the Jews suffered, because history factually reveal complicities by some Jews, in the pogrom and their holocaust, as some Jewish businesses were said to have facilitated gassing of other Jews, by supplying gas or selling gas and weapons to German Nazis, who were exterminating Jews, bad as it was, it was not the entire story of how Jews came suffer a pogrom; Complicities by a handful Africans perhaps, I must equally add, does not exonerate the initiators and perpetrators of slavery/colonialism
Slavery caused capital flight from Africa, it severely decimated and dissipated Africa’s human resources, deprived Africa of able-bodied men and women, as generations of persons and complete hometowns were herded to slave-ship. African peoples were deprived of their dreams, their past and their futures, the agonies of slavery were at once, combinations of physical, psychological and financial/material deprivations.
Colonialism was an evil-twin of slavery and unfortunately, Africans, again, were the majority recipient of the vicissitudes of slavery, as they were simultaneously, the unfortunate recipient of colonialism, some cases, and in others, in quick succession with colonialism, which were foisted on Africans! The vestiges of slavery and colonialism remains on Africa and Africans, and this includes peoples of African descent, the worldwide. Africans and peoples of African descent were ceaselessly used and abused.
“Millions of Jews were slaughtered by the Nazi 1940-45. Some renegade Jews helped the Nazi in the destruction of their own people. After 1945 the Jews dealt mercilessly with all those Jews who helped the Nazi destroy the Jews. They have continued to hunt down and destroy all the renegade Jews or Nazi who participated in the Jewish holocaust. Today everyone knows not to mess with a Jew because the consequences will be immediate, severe, and very painful.” Culled from Who is Ukpabi Asika?@Kwenu.com
Africa all through history, have unfairly, been visited with disproportionate evil, by people from America, France, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and most of Western Europe, these evils, have, had very debilitating and long lasting effects, sadly, these same countries are quick to mock and ridicule Africans, for lack of industrialization or technological development. What with additional misfortune of having stage-managed and teleguided African puppet governments, favored by former colonial powers? African governments that only implements policies dictated leaders in America and European capitals. Even now, Africa and the so-called Third World are still partitioned in the pattern of slavers’ and colonizers’ sphere of influence!
It is sublime and ridiculous, is it not? The fact that someone breaks your knees, just as he summons you to run a marathon, even though he provides no treatment opportunity or recovery and convalescing opportunity or process for the person whose knees, he had just broken, despite these, the villain proceeds to pour acid on an open wound, as he laughs at your struggled participation at the marathon race! We know that the world in unfair, but the plights and predicaments, which Africa, Africans and people of African descent have been subjected to, are beyond unfair, the magnitude of unfairness, is beyond words and indescribably so.
Colonialism and the persisting-effects are similar among colonized populations, but truly, colonization is not identically the same, the phenomena of colonialism, as visited on Africa was extraordinarily perverse! This is most probably because, racism or color prejudice was an added twist, that made the usurpation of political, economic, social and cultural systems, as were operated by Africans, much worse, compared with how colonialism was operated elsewhere in the world, say, in India or parts of Asia, or in Arab world, Latin or South America, so that, colonialism in Africa, were much more perverse compared with say, India, Mexico or Iraq…. Slavery mixed Colonialism and color prejudice, had adverse effects, that were not replicated in other parts of the world.
In modern day world, there are new twists, that are added to all these cold facts of history, facts of history, that have culminated in underdevelopment, I think it was the late Franz Fanon, who wrote a book, on how Europe caused the underdevelopment of Africa, but that was then, currently, there are all manners of revisionism going on, Americans, Europeans, and their African intellectual sympathizers and bogeymen, are engaging in turning facts of history upside down, as they portray Africa and Africans as incapable of self-government, incapable of any social structure, political and economic systems that works.
First of all, Africans were not left alone, allowed to develop and fine-tune African economic, political, social and cultural systems, Africans had foreign languages, foreign religions, foreign cultures imposed on them! By America and Europe, and this is not some outlandish conspiracy theory of some sorts, these are facts of history! Africans were forced-fed everything, most Africans did not willingly accept Christianity in the beginning, most Africans did not willingly accept Islam in the beginning, most Africans did not accept to speak Belgian French Language in the beginning, neither did Africans embrace English or French in preference to a plethora of African Languages.
The same is true for people of African descent worldwide, for example, the ancestors or forebears of African Americans, did not have a say or a choice in what language they spoke, they were compelled to speak American English, just as they were denied opportunities for formal education, training or skill acquisition. How can, any sane person, turn around to blame African Americans for not developing African Language in America? Or developing skill sets to succeed in America? How can anyone wonder why African Americans lack solid economic base in America? First of all, they were not regular, run-of-the-mill immigrants, whose cultures, for the most part, are left intact, but, in the case of African Americans, they were captives without a scintilla of right, without a modicum of dignity or respect, African Americans were not allowed to congregate, there were constant fears by slave traders and slave-owners, that slaves, allowed to socialize among themselves, may engage in revolt or rebellion against their oppressors….It is also facts of history, slavery etc, that captives in slavery were not allowed to read or develop intellectual powers and skills. But now, the world unfairly measure African Americans against the rest of America and mock and make jest of their modest gains and success, mock and jest, in complete disregard to the fact that African Americans have just been allowed to compete, even still with millions of odds, impediments and obstacles, amongst which are institutionalized racism, red-lining or discriminations in lending practices etc
I will have to assume that everyone on earth, are already, are aware of these facts of history, unless such person or persons just arrived from mars or from under a rock? Particularly, in these high technology days, of mass information communication, with available decently equipped libraries, references and cross-references of information in multitudes of formats, with multitudes of links on the Internet, with websites of all descriptions.
What is worrisome, is the very convenient collective amnesia, that some are willing engage willful forgetfulness, about pertinent information that relate to Africans, this is in my opinion, (oft stated) many people perceive Africa, as the inconvenient part of the world, a burden that they rather not be bothered with, a sort of world family nuisance that must be dismissed, hence nobody wants to discuss reparations for Africans and people of African descent seriously and meaningfully? Even though we are the most deserving of reparations, if anyone ever deserved reparations! And yet, many other groups have received it, with out being sneered at and maligned.
The world witnessed in July 2001, how the American Secretary State Colin Powell and other high ranking American officials, for inexplicable reasons or no reasons at all? refused to attend anti racism conference that was held in Durban South Africa, but same Secretary Powell, made a high profile entrance into a parallel conference, held in Berlin, three years after the Durban South Africa conference, some would want to inform Mr. Powell, America and the world, of the trifling fact trivia, that there are more Africans and peoples of African descent on earth, than there are Jews, (without minimizing Jews’ painful experience) ironically, Powell is a person of African descent, and it was during his watch, and that of Ms. Condi Rice, the National Security Adviser, also a person African descent, that the Mr. George W. Bush administration decided to sneeze unto the collective face of Africans and people of African descent, by boycotting the Durban conference, we expected much better, at least just an attendance!
Then former president Ronald Reagan passed away, too many writers, commentators and entertainment and political celebrities, were jumping over one another and falling or bending over backwards, to honor Reagan, to commemorate his life and “accomplishments” even though, those policies reflected harshly on Africans and peoples of African descent, we saw among these charlatans, Nigerians praising Reagan as a policy success and role-model! These, even though, Reagan and his policies demeaned and neglected Africans and people of African descent, in every material respects! Nigerians and some other African were giddily gushing and heaping undeserved praises on Ronald Reagan, while some American were generously kind enough to offer a more accurate perspective on how Reagan’s policies undermined Africans and African Americans! Ms. Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, offered these words “the president showed a political indifference to blacks, gays and poor people” http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/13/opinion/13DOWD.html
And yet, Nigerians and other Africans are helping conservatives and bigots, to reinvent Reagan, the same Reagan that we all knew for, his atrocious views and policies! Some African intellectuals now appeared convinced of their own inferiorities? Some African intellectuals are convinced that Africa is cursed and a burden to the human race, convinced that Africa is so handicapped, so that a struggle to change Africa’s conditions is worthless and hopeless , this attitudes have stopped some African intellectuals dead-on-the-tracks, as they have effectively killed their own aspiration with a doomed view for Africa’s future. It amounts to being in dire straits, when some African intellectuals, through miseducation or brainwash, now spout denigrations of Africa, as these so-called intellectuals regurgitate offensive falsehoods about Africa. Nothing can be worse than being taught to resent yourself or your continent or to disillusioned and hopeless in self.
Why are some African intellectuals helping those, who prefer to engage in collective memory loss or amnesia, when it comes to what they have done to Africans! It is very disheartening to witness the extraordinary efforts, made by some Africans, in tandem and cahoots with their oppressors, to glorify Reagan, who was at once an epitome and an embodiment of adverse and most perverse policies and attitude toward Africans and peoples of African descent! Hence recently, a Julius Joel at Gamji.com wrote, “Unlike citizens of other countries in the world Nigerians are noted for their pessimism engendered by their poor self-images and degraded outlook of themselves. Most Nigerians are a people who look down on themselves while elevating others national above them”
Some African intellectuals are too quick to ape the offensive and malicious opinions about Africa, that have always been expressed by non-Africans; This phenomenon, makes the foregoing quote, written decades ago, by an African American, more relevant today, than ever; “When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his action. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or yonder. He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one out for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary” – Carter G. Woodson, in his book, Mis education of the Negro, his description is so aptly accurate of African intellectuals who so often impose imported concepts and precepts in willful oblivion and ignorance of local conditions; which makes aping foreign concepts impractical, self-defeating or even foolhardy.
Some African intellectuals, these days, frequently blame peoples of African continent for all the sufferings, the hardship that have befallen Africa, as there is focus on effects instead of the root causes of the prevailing conditions on the African continent.
Jews would do no such things as some of these Africans are doing, Jews would remind themselves and everyone, like it or not, of the ills that history have visited on them, Jews manage to keep the focus on their concerns, as they possess sensitivity of the highest magnitude, regarding the impact that world history has had on them, and by extension, their place in the world… There is an adage or axiom, those who forget history’s mistakes, are doomed to repeat them, slavery, colonialism and racism, are the ultimate evils of the human experience and in all of human history, these egregious evils, had the most scorching and dramatic effects on Africans, should Africans be among those who want to ignore the lingering effects? Should Africans be among the first to ignore, minimize and forget these issues? Especially the African intellectuals! What hope should we have, when those who ought to know, are insensitive or distracted or are willing to look the other way, in willful-ignorance? Some Africans are quick to say, Africa does not need any foreign help, meanwhile, you will not find a Jew on earth who would say the same of Israel, Jews always beseech everyone to help-assist Israel, even Jews who are wary of Israeli domestic and foreign policies.
Why are Africans too quick to forgive and forget, willing to forgive those who offend and mistreat Africans and peoples of African descent, as Reagan did? I suspect this as one of the reasons that Africans do not get respect, people are allowed to snub us, offend and mistreat us, and the pay no price, they get away with their awful deeds and they are soon described as having awesome characteristics that the rest of us need to appreciate?
Why are Africans willing to be too-quick to join the bandwagon of vile revisionists and praise-singers of evil-doers? Why are some African intellectuals, who are supposed to be will-informed, appear willy-nilly, to aid those who are engage in atrocious conduct against us, by minimizing, the almost improbable magnitude of oppressions visited on Africans? Almost improbable, except that it is all true, as recorded by history!
Africans are being continually disrespected, by others because of their perception of Africa’s powerlessness, made worse, by the willingness of some of our knowledgeable people/intellectuals to gloss over Africa’s painful pasts, just so, these Africans may be looked upon favorably by the controller of resources? And this is perhaps why coffee, diamond and petroleum are continually derived from our parts of the world, but, often, these are termed products manufactured and from other countries, as some Africans are forever willing, to gloss over past and present evils, and remain in old and new complicities, with those who are eager to undermine and are as quick to laugh at us!
Slavery and Colonialism are supposed to be officially over, even though so, I see new forms of these evils rearing their ugly heads. While racism remain institutionalized, it is embedded everywhere, in politics, in religion and trade or business.
It is the case that the Breton Woods institutions and other multilateral institutions deal with Africans and African concerns, as if dealing with populations from a leper colony, with people afflicted with putrid and pungent disease, we always hear condescension-speak, of poverty and disease or craps couched in meaningless clichés, such “sustainable development for Africa” as if nothing is sustainable in Africa, the truth is, everything is sustainable in Africa, just like everywhere else, when the right policy, the quantity and quality of resources are committed and implementers have the right attitudes, and not self-fulfilling prophecy of doom outlooks…Attitudes that are the harbingers of failures, still pervades and permeates the minds of those who are quick to conclude that Africa has no sustainable economic, social-political developmental structure, as if Africa is impervious to good tidings.
It is of extreme importance for Africans to take responsibility for own lapses, and to realize and be conscious of the fact that, Africans are truly all, that Africans have.
Africans must learn, not to allow people to forget or ignore the peculiarly painful and agonizing experiences, which we Africans have endured in the hands of others historically, Africans must learn not to be polite while enduring excruciating pains that are inflicted on us, inflicted upon us, unreasonably, recklessly and wantonly, by the same people, who now are, quick to laugh at our inabilities, most of which were precipitated by the evils of slavery, colonialism and racism, to which we have been afflicted, the consequences with which Africa continues to grapple