PROGRESS

When you ride the western star until you hit its heavenly glass ceiling, are unable to break through it, and then console yourself with the thought that, at least, you have done better for yourself than those who once started off with you back home in the deep global south… the question is: has Progress really been made?

You rise in the West
But Africa stays the worst.

If you shine moderately in the glow of the eastern star, but your own land of the rising sun is still struggling with twilight…

If like a lost moon you reflect dazzlingly the northern lights and it blinds you to your own northern people’s plight and they desert-roam in darkness and have no light…

If you drown power-drunk in the global financial waters, but your own lagoons are not overflowing with milk and honey, and your people thirst out of lack…

Has Progress really been made?

West, east, north, global are not necessarily far away places. They are the System and the way of life that rule and school you also at home, and force you to make a choice.

It’s easy to rise as a stranger.
It’s hard to rise as yourself.

As a stranger you just have to pretend and act the part and they’ll let you through and put you in a place that’s safe for them.

But as yourself you have to persevere; and refuse to compromise if it won’t help your People; and be content to inch your way forward, little by little, you and your world.

It might be slow, it might be painful, but that is true Progress.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE FROZEN LAKE

There is a frozen lake. Once it was open and liquid in the land of summer and rain, but it was visited by the Ice-Queen, who breathed into it her imperial breath, to freeze it up. But there was fire deep in the heart of the lake and the fire fought back – and thus, only the surface of the lake froze over, not its heart. Underneath, it remains liquid, a lake, and the fish are still swimming. They just can no longer break the surface and make themselves seen. The owners of the lake walk on solid ice and think it is solid ground. They peer into the ice and sense that something is moving down there, but they cannot see it anymore. The lake is alive, though it looks rigid and frozen.

“Advanced” thinkers sniff derogatingly at the notion of occupying oneself with the subject of the fact and dynamics of the original indigenous African nations, swimming like restlass schoals beneath the surface of the tight lattice of the present day African Nation-states, formenting trouble, looking for a voice, sometimes exploiting and sometimes lamenting the lattice, and everybody wondering how things are going to go next. “Advanced” thinkers call them “tribes” or sometimes, indulgingly, “ethnic Groups”.

The inability to “shed” or “overcome” ones “tribal” or “native” identity and “rise” into the new modern African self-view, that has its beginning in the colonial re-engineering of the African psyche, is looked upon as a sign of smallness, backwardness and primitiveness, if not even wickedness. In truth, however, this notion is the modern day equivalent of our early School days when African languages were derogatingly classed as “vernacular”, while European tongues were the proper language.

Just like there was no need to demonize African languages or cultures in a bid to validate the Non-African ones, there is need today to take a critical look at the dynamics of Ethnic Nationality in Africa, in order to ascertain how best to interpret this field of reality towards the forging of a more realistic and stable peace in Africa. They have been long looked down upon as a nuisance to be suppressed and managed and, eventually, overwritten like an old piece of software on the way to socio-politically engineering an ostensibly new Africa – an Africa that was birthed through the injection of European spark during colonialism. However it is perhaps time to rethink and view them as the essential building blocks which homogeneously come together in a natural and unforced way to become the larger, inherently stable African Nation-states.

Because without arguing much about the merits or demerits of so-called African tribes in terms of size, it suffices to note that the very fact that they refuse to go extinct, continue to exist and exert themselves, and continue to determine the foundations of inner politicking in African countries by itself qualifies them as viable subjects to be examined in the light of the search for a proper restructuring within the African continent. There is nothing wrong with them. What we need is not to close our eyes and hope – or forcefully insist – that everyone obeys, but a conscious engineering of friendship amongst the cultures.

The Lake is frozen. One day it will surely thaw. When that happens, it is necessary that it does not dissolve into a chaotic mass of uncoordinated rivalry in waters turned opaque. We need a council of cultures in Africa, where the indigenous nations can deliberate frankly on their true desires, fears, natures and capacities. Right now we have many voices shouting, but there is no theater of conference and no common moderator.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

UNDERSTANDING AMONGST AFRICAN PEOPLES

Although Africans call themselves citizens of the 55 member states of the African Union (AU), the conflicts do not take place on that level. The conflicts, suspicions and animousities manifest on the level of the original African nations that existed before the advent of European and even Arabian-style colonialism. Those original Nations, still very much in existence, are today called Tribes and Ethnic Groups – and their indigenes, even in subsequent generations, and even when they can no longer speak the indigenous language, still often feel deeply beholden to them, or are made to feel so, or are made to understand that they are seen to be so.

And yet, although this is the level on which, national-identity-wise, insults and patriotism are most deeply felt, there is no medium, no active Organisation, no Instanz, no consciousness, no consensually constituted Authority, to mediate the debate, the cooperation, the healing and the upbuilding on that level.

Any mention of this is equated to a threat against the colonially created Nation-states, with the corresponding reactions of fear or uncertainty that this thought awakens, depending on the nature of the dependancy-or-exploitation-relationship each person has with a particular Nation-state. It seems as if Africams have become so weak or deeply afflicted by Inferiority Complex that they have no sense of self-confidence in managing or developing their affairs upon any other stage than that designed for and given to them by Non-Africans; even in matters regarding the interacting of their own core identities – core national identities and languages that formed and developed over centuries and eras.

The AU is not the equivalent of the EU. Whereas it is largely native indigenous European peoples who, under the appellage “nations”, are the member units of the EU, it is completely the oppposite in the AU. Here it is the colonially born countries that are the members. With the result, that the actual African peoples themselves, the indigenous nations, have no theatre of Consensus and thus no voice. This is what is direly missing on the African continent: A Union of African peoples. The sheer number of different african indigenous nationalities should not daunt us to the task. Conversely it only shows us the potential for misunderstanding and conflict which has been exploited for decades. It is simultaneously also the potential for harmony and would be worth every ounce of effort put into it. Anything to foster and further peace and understanding in Africa is of prime importance now.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

THE ORGANISATION OF THE TRUE AFRICAN NATIONS

The members of the African Union are countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, etc. But those are not the true African nations.

The true African nations are for example Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Ashanti, Zulu, Xhosa, Oromo, Amhara, Hutu, Mande, Akan and all the many rest of them. We need to also form an Association of the true African Nations, where we can again relate and talk to ourselves the way we spoke to ourselves before an exploitative volition conquered our minds and taught us foreign languages in which we misunderstand each other.

If you want to form an Organisation of the true African Nations, inbox me. It is time for Africa to start uniting and solving its problems again, the African way.

All the nation-people conflicts in Africa take place on this level, hardly ever on a post-colonial-Nation Level. It is never Nigeria vs Niger, it is Hausa vs Fulani. It is never Rwanda vs Burundi, it is Hutu vs Tutsi. It is never South Africa vs Botswana, it is Zulu vs Xhosa. And so on. So it is therefore on that Level that Africans must also forge an alternative parallel theater of dialogue in which to engineer the internal dynamics of uniting. Because, in all naturalness, these are the identities to which the African ethnies feel most deeply beholden.

Without political harmony and concerted interaction on this foundational and original African level of Nation-being, the post-colonial nation-states will remain unstable powder kegs waiting to self-destruct or hoping to de-escalate only through the deliberate eroding and gradual extinction of ancient african languages and ethnies, leaving only rootless and memoryless post-colonial constructs behind, erroneously called ‘African’ countries.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

BUHARI PUSHING THE BIAFRAN ISSUE INTO THE ONLY FIELD OF BATTLE HE UNDERSTANDS: MILITARY CONFLICT.

A soldier without a war must be a lonely man. So lonely that he feels no shame at taking military conflict into the towns, neighbourhoods, streets and homes of unarmed or poorly armed civilians of even his own supposed country just to assuage his thirst for blood and domination in the only language comprehensible to his one-dimensional soul. It matters not to him that the victims in question are civilians untrained in martial combat and lacking in the sophisticated weapons which he has purchased from foreign countries with the wealth of the very people against a section of whom he has now turned that same military machinery. While other great generals feel militarily fulfilled only when matched in even combat against a worthy and equally trained adversary, the small-minded blood-thirsty little soldier will leave real terrorists undefeated and, instead, withdraw his troops from true battle and send them into the homes of civilians, to intimidate, to brutalize, to maim and to kill, just in order to satisfy his desire for a sense of victory, however cheap and shameful.

And what is the crime of this brave civilian population in question, these Igbos? Only one: self-awareness. They committed the deep, unpardonable, human crime of becoming and articulating their awareness of their own self, their own individual nationality, their own distinct identity as a People. This crime, already problematic as it is on all continents, is most heavily frowned upon and most viciously punished, it seems, on the African continent. The very continent most desperately in need of internal soul-searching and honest appraisal of its own inherent primordial intuiting of what the root of a nation is and what the forms of nations are. The very continent whose peoples most desperately need to redefine all concepts of nationhood foisted on them by colonial intent and later further militarily appropriated by feudal desire. A continent that should today enrich mankind with new schools of thought in the field of the different possibilities for the expressions of human civilization. The very continent that, even generations later, most urgently finds itself still recurrently placed before the need to question the chains, the borders, the constitutions and the conflicts into which, partly splintered and partly moulded, it was birthed through the labour throes of a deliberate colonial curriculum. Yet, this continent is the very same one that most violently and most vehemently refuses to look at itself in the mirror and dialogue with itself as to the best way to create the political and policy spaces that most favour its multi-ethnic nature and further its development. Instead it fights tooth and nail to defend and preserve what other civilizations designed and then forced upon it, without permitting any investigation by its indigenes into how they themselves would have done it if no external force had foisted it on them.

And now it is Nigeria’s turn, on that troubled continent, to fall (again) into conflict with herself over this very issue: of sovereign African ethnic nations – of different languages, of different centres and concepts of power, and of different directions of loyalty – but forced into an artificially conceived and created country by profit-minded non-Africans; and which Africans have now since become no longer at ease as they perpetually run around an irreconcilable puzzle promised them by colonialism and inevitably overtaken by deep-rooted feudalism. The sense of a Non-fit keeps breaking out time and again, embodied in calls for self-determination or restructuring at the one pole, or even by extreme ethnic envies, marginalisation and blood-letting at the other extreme.

The spirit of Ala-Igbo has re-embodied itself, and the dawning recognition begins to settle in, that this is not a Biafran army that can be defeated in battle, or a state-land that can be appropriated by occupation, or an ethnic identity that can be obliterated by marginalisation, nor is it a tribe that can be cleansed by genocide. This is something else entirely. This is a spirit that no matter how many times you kill them, will NEVER GO AWAY. This is a People that has re-become self-aware, conscious of itself as a Unit, as a nation-continuum. This is a People who want Sovereignty in all its depths and ramifications. This is a People that have the clarity and sense of proud adulthood to yearn to be their own Nation, themselves! And if you must give them something else, it must be one in which they feel and know they are represented!

But Nigeria was conceived, and brought together, under the barrel of the gun. And Nigeria, finally, has continued to keep herself together, like a masochist, through the self-inflicted pressure and violence of a forced marriage. It is thus not surprising that Nigeria, bewildered and baffled, bemused, insulted and continually embarrassed by increasingly vitriolic and contentious calls for secession, for restructuring, for self-determination by separate ethnic regions – a natural manifestation of her inability to address and redress the clash of civilizations brought about by her unnatural birth – begins to react in the only way she knows: The way of violence, intimidation and coercion.

It thus becomes imperative for President Buhari, a former coup plotter, a former military head-of-state, a veteran of the genocidal 1967-70 Nigerian war against the Igbo people of Biafra, to concentrate his efforts now on militarising the current Biafran resurgence in order to create the sick impression of a pseudo-justification to send federal troops into the streets and homes of a section of the people, an ethnic group, the Igbos, who have hitherto not launched even ONE ATTACK on the military or on any other ethnic group; a people who’s sole call is for the permission to hold a Referendum on the issue of self-determination, but who now find themselves internally attacked and surrounded by the armed forces of the very country which claims that these same Igbos are a part of her. What an irony of machiavellian proportions!

The contention that a certain individual, Nnamdi Kanu, has been exceedingly vitriolic in his verbal agitations, is a shamelessly lame excuse for a military offensive against an entire ethnic region. All it shows is the inability of this administration, as indeed of the colonially born African complex – compounded by delusions of ethnic superiority – to address complex issues in anything but military and militaristic terms! This is a shame for Africa and the Black race, as well as a mark of dishonour upon every person who supports this military aggression against civilians. In the end, President Buhari remains still General Buhari, a military dictator who criminally uses the organs of State to persecute his opponents, rather than applying and following the rules of the path of judicial law. Africa returns to the past, and time stands still.

But much deeper than Nigeria is the Igbo Spirit! It is the ROOT. And if it ever needed further proof that it does not belong in this contraption called Nigeria, at least in its present form, it is being furnished this daily in these times. If it ever needed any proof that it will NEVER be snuffed out no matter how many times Biafra is beaten down, it is being birthed daily into this certainty in these times of modern pharaonic oppression to which it is being subjected in broad daylight! Buhari’s desperate attempt to militarize the eternal Igbo issue and the Biafran puzzle, apart from causing untold pain and hardship to many civilians, individuals, communities and families, only serves the purpose of further accelerating the Igbo soul’s abnegation of the Nation that repeatedly wages war against it! Ndi Igbo will stand together, will fall together, will rise together! Ndi Igbo can NEVER BE DEFEATED OR BROKEN!

Once upon a time, Sovereignty was brutally, cunningly and mockingly taken away from Sovereign African ethnic nationalities! In its place they were given arbitrary illogical amalgamations, full of culture clashes, and told that this is the way forward if they want to develop! In Nigeria’s case, this amalgamation – in order to survive – should have submitted itself, in Nigerian hands, to a process of positive metamorphosis that would eventually allow the reawakening and the harmonious, reciprocal and mutually supporting blossoming of that which was taken away: our sense of individual sovereignty as well as the substance of it. Instead it has birthed anomalies and monstrosities and exposed an inconvenient truth that just refuses to go away: African Tribes are the true African Nations. This was why, to place a fundamental impediment before their development, Colonial Design struck them at that core, to hamper the national self and create an illusionary centre that cannot hold. Don’t mind the lie. For, in truth, Igbo world and Bini world and Yoruba world and Ijaw world dwellt side by side for centuries, and got along – and so will their Nations too one day, if it ever comes to that. We know how to do it, when each person is allowed to be himself.

You cannot make Igbos into Nigerians by sending Nigerian soldiers into Ala-Igbo to surround them and occupy their land and forcefully force all of them to vote, and to forswear Biafra, and hail Nigeria, under the barrel of the gun! On the contrary – you thereby make them into non-Nigerians. Infact you cause them to retreat deeper into what they are – Ndi Igbo!

You cannot make Igbos want to be Nigerians by harassing them and brutalizing them and humiliating them and killing them with Nigerian soldiers and Nigerian might! On the contrary you strengthen them in their Sense of Self as Ndi-Igbo, for nothing binds together as tightly as shared persecution. You thereby simply midwife their determination to become one African Nation, either purely as Ala-Igbo or in the family ethnic groups of the Republic of Biafra, that survived persecution and learned and matured through its vicissitudes and mistakes, drew on its strengths, and made it alone into the First World!

You awaken their Inner Igbo Voice which will tell them loudly, proudly: “I AM IGBO! I AM SELF! I AM NATION!” – Maka onye kwe, chi ya e kwe!

IGBO KWENU!

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

Background:
The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, in September 2017, sent the Nation’s military into the south-eastern parts of the country where they tortured, humiliated and murdered citizens of largely the christian Igbo ethnic tribe, many of whom for decades have desired to break-away from Nigeria and establish their own country Biafra.

HOW CAN A NON-INVENTING NON-PRODUCER BE INDEPENDENT?

If everything you need for your survival and for your comfort and for your daily living is not made – talk less of imagined, conceptualised and invented – by you, are you truly independent? Or are you dependent on those who invent and manufacture those essentials you need?

If the maintenance of your standard, quality and basis of living is directly dependent upon the fact that there are others somewhere who think out the technology and the systems, and then produce the goods and processes which you then purchase through the exchange of raw materials that per chance exist within the boundaries of your sovereignty, then the very fact of your dependence eliminates all claim of independence.

Because independence cannot exist without self-dependence and self-reliance. Think about it.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

PATRIOTISM

A true Nigerian is someone who is constantly insulting his country – apart from when he is conversing with a Ghanaian, a Kenyan or a South African, or any other African for that matter.

In this case he insults their countries. After hours of reciprocal insults of each others’ countries, they go to a bar and have a drink together, and rejoice at having been born Africans. Then they part again, but not without first making an appointment for the next meeting in which to make fun of each others’ countries again.

Afterwards, the Nigerian goes back home to his fellow Nigerians and starts insulting Nigeria all over again; while doing so he praises the other African countries and laments that they are all making progress much faster than Nigeria.

This kind of behaviour, in Nigeria, is looked upon as intellectual patriotism.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

CHINUA ACHEBE: THE MAN WHO CHANGED THE CONTEXT OF THE CONVERSATION

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“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.”
– Chinua Achebe.

When you see a well-cleared road through the jungle, it is sometimes hard to imagine that once upon a time there was no road there, only trees and bush. To put it differently, when you see a jungle in front of you, it is sometimes hard to see a road whose past was a jungle. So stoic and self-justifying in its impenetrability that it would never have occurred to anybody that this jungle has no right to block our path; that anywhere we say “Let there be road”, there will be road; that it is not for the jungle to blind us to our possibilities, but for us to open the jungle up to our needs; that we have the right and the ability to choose and determine the range of our options by ourselves; that it is not the task of roadlessness to indoctrinate us from birth into the stupor of its own inevitability, but for us to be immune to the concept of “roadlessness”, and learn to see the obvious: it is man that defines himself.

But once in a while, a person comes alone, a special mind of deep intuition struck by an unaccountable thought. What if I am not who they say I am? What if I am something else? What if this jungle is not what we assume it is? What if it is a road dressed up with trees? What if that “mirror” they’ve placed in front of me is not a mirror, but a painting of what they want me to think I am? What if I now make my own mirror, with which my kind and I can see ourselves as we really are – what would I then see? What if the freedom they’ve given me is in truth a mental prison? What if the education they’ve brought to me is in truth a software of mind-control? What if?…

Once in a while, a person wakes up because the “What if?” moment has taken root in his consciousness. And, like a mustard seed, the “What if?” question will mature into a “Yes, indeed” answer in this person’s mind. And this person will become a leader. This person will part the red sea of somnambulism. This person will turn the mirror around. This person will change the context of the conversation. This man will open a road where others saw an impenetrable jungle. This person will rid the obvious of its garb of concealment, allowing it to arise in all its naturalness and normalcy, so intoxicatingly immediate, this simple truth: we are not who they say we are, we are who we know we are.

Pioneers and groundbreakers like this are very rare and far-between. But every once in a while, they step on the stage, to nudge the development of a people’s consciousness one step forward, creating new inner living spaces for the growth and flourishing of generations of consciousness.

Such a person is Chinua Achebe.

Many things fell apart when his first novel appeared; above all, the tight bind of redefinition wrapped around the thinking and perceiving faculty of the average colonised and educated African. It began to unravel, spearheading in its wake a generational surge for self-re-redefinition that did not stop with the generations that midwifed its birth, but has transplanted itself from generation to generation. Like every unravelling, it has been untidy. We know what we were. And we know what we aren’t. Armed with these pieces of the puzzle, we struggle to attain the living definition of the question: Who are we? A journey buffeted by the twin helpers of self-pride and self-criticism as we travel on along that road cleared through the jungle by vanguards such as the late and forever unforgotten Chinua Achebe.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

FROM INDEPENDENCE TO SELF-DEPENDENCE

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The news around town is that another Nigerian is claiming to have found a cure for AIDS. Again. Social media shakes its head and reminds us of Dr. Abalaka. Lone voices call for more funding, more testing. Experts take a strong look and immediately distance themselves from him. A few days later, he recants and apologises for making public something still in its early phases, according to him. Everybody breathes out; one almost wonders if we’re relieved that pseudo-normalcy has been restored:  Nigerians, indeed Africans, don’t discover or invent anything noteworthy. There is always something more to the story.

But what is actually the essential thing here? As unfortunate as it is that this fiasco played itself out around something as sensitive as this death-dealing virus, it inadvertently brings to light another matter at the core of our continental drift. Be it in medicine, in technology or in any other field necessary for the structural upbuilding of nations. Very simple: how long will we remain dependent on the solution-finding endeavours of others? I thought Independence had another meaning. But since it seems Independence, as a word and a concept, has over the last five decades of Africa’s ‘independence’ surrendered itself to another definition – one that includes inefficiency, beggarliness, corruption, division, non-productivity, squandermania, boastful pride and retrogression – and thereby lost its function as a star drawing our feet forward and a compass showing the way, it has maybe become necessary to temporarily park that word – Independence – in the purifying purgatory of history and replace it with a new-crafted word that more unceremoniously exposes the well-camouflaged wound and slams the nail on the head. A term devoid of poetry and romance, simply being stable and as unmistakably understandable as black-and-white.

A word that very clearly states, describes and defines what we did not get in 1960 when we became independent; nor in 1963 when we became a republic; nor in 1970 when we got the task done of keeping Nigeria one; nor in 1979 when we returned to democracy, new constitution in hand; nor through decades of near-uninterrupted military rule; nor have we found or got it since 1999 when we AGAIN returned to democracy, remixed military constitution again in hand; and even until today we still have not got it. Let us call this word: SELF-DEPENDENCE.

It is the perennial bane of Africa, a continent of people who claim to be the birthpoint of humanity, of civilization and of technology that every modern contraption of essential value which is required for its growth in a modern world, is invented and made on other continents and then freighted into the cradle of civilization at high prices or – even worse – as donations. How many times have we heard the lectures about the great people who built pyramids on the banks of the Nile and then migrated to the banks of the Niger, by which time they had apparently forgotten how to build pyramids because here they started to build huts? Or of the great empire-builders of Mali and Zimbabwe whose descendants, perhaps patronized by the mental version of the tse-tse, steadily slumped into the generational amnesia that rendered them incapable of matching, talk less of outdoing, their forebears?

Truth be told, such tales bore the tears out of me. I’m more interested in other, more recent, exploits, uncelebrated and often greeted with perfunctory yawns of tired amusement at best; but even more often with suspicion, ridicule and denunciation. A tinkering family member of mine and his colleagues designed some new technical thing – don’t ask me what, all I know is that it has to do with computers – but they went ahead and patented it; now some firms want it – apparently it’s the solution they’ve long been looking for. My former secondary school classmate developed with his team a breakthrough procedure for extracting the cells that make up the blood-nerve barrier (if you’re confused, don’t worry, so am I), but it permits an important step forward in understanding peripheral neuropathies, which affects millions of people worldwide.

Some months ago I read of some tenacious eccentric young man in Kaduna State, in northern Nigeria, who has been trying to build a rocket since he was a kid. His last effort did not fly very far, but it flew. The news gave me a thrill. My friend from the south did not know exactly what to make of that piece of news, cautiously asking me in which cardinal direction I thought Boko Haram would first direct that rocket if after the young man ever perfected it, BH stepped in and confiscated it. My answer: don’t worry about that – once one African builds a rocket, another will soon build a magnetic return-to-sender shield. The thirst to invent and build just has to be set free first of all, and encouraged and supported – morally, culturally and financially.

A few years ago I read the amused article of a journalist reporting on another young man, this time in Onitsha in eastern Nigeria, who had designed and built his own version of a helicopter. The writer wondered who would be the first daredevil to attempt a test-flight. And then it was on facebook not long ago that the link to an article was doing the rounds, a report on the scientific tinkering of some secondary school girls in Lagos, in western Nigeria, who had tinkered an electricity generator powered, not by the black curse called petroleum fuel, but by urine. (You read that right). Let’s not go into the jokes people cracked about that. The generator worked, by the way. If you understand anything about the mysterious fuel cabal in Nigeria, you’ll know why this news might cause some powerful people sleepless nights and blocked urethrae.

Tell me more of these stories – these are the ones I like to hear. Why? Simple. How long will we fill our lazy stomachs with the swelling garri of empty pride, back-dated? Must every good thing exist only in some distant dusty past painstakingly reconstructed by dogged historians? What of the future? Who designs it? We don’t need to re-invent the past; we simply have to invent the future. Now, the reason why we should do this, surprisingly enough to the unbelieving, is not even pride. It is more practical than that. It is economic. (The economy, stupid 🙂 ). Long-term sound economics. What is at the core of that which makes a 1st world country a 1st world country? Not the appellage, not the climate, not money, not weapons… but simply the power and the ability to INVENT. The urge as well as the consciousness of the necessity, constantly put into deed, to create new things, to find new self-made solutions, to imagine and anticipate future problems, to constantly improve anything that exists, be it a substance or a process.

If you cannot figure out anything by yourself, you will never be self-dependent and you will never be free, because you will always be dependent on those who do the figuring out and the making. If you cannot make anything by yourself – not just what you yourself need, which in itself would already be a giant step towards self-dependence, but also what others need – you will never be truly independent, because your so-called independence will lack the fortifying ramparts of self-dependence. Every shift in technology is a potential threat to your future stability. You remain constantly one step away from becoming a colony anew. Laugh not at those who warn about neo-colonialism. Political and military independence can be safeguarded long term only by economic self-dependence. And economic self-dependence exists truly only to the extent to which the basis of a people’s, a nation’s or a region’s wealth rests to a large degree on its own capacity for industrial and technological creation. Wealth that comes from the monetary equivalent of fossil fuels stored in the ground by nature’s forces is not real wealth. Real wealth is generated by the power to create or to make (out of something or even out of apparently nothing), to make a needed end-product. Some people call it the power of ideas. I think it’s more than that – we all have ideas. I think it’s the culture of industrial creation; making new things and making things new. Don’t buy everything, build some. Don’t take it, think it.

This is where we have so sorely lagged behind in Sub-Sahara Africa for much too many centuries now. There is no satisfactory excuse for this. We cannot blame others for not giving us the education on time, or in sufficient depth, or spreading it around generously enough without tempering it due to ulterior motives and all the rest of that dialectic, because well they pieced it together and systemized it by themselves, or at least preserved and built upon the documentation and further development of it. We could have also done the same for ourselves over the centuries. All kinds of ethnological theories abound as to why the different continents developed as they did. Well, let bygones be bygones, we are not time-travellers. The moment is now.

Now that we have the knowledge today, why are we still importing the application of it? What will we do when technology shifts away from fossil relics and we no longer have their monetary equivalent with which to pay for the import of new applied intelligence? Is that when we will start trying to learn how to use our own intelligence? Or will we go borrowing from IMF and World Bank? Maybe ‘Independence’ is a pun for a state of living “in dependence”. We need inventors, discoverers and makers, for whatever they imagine and create – or omit to imagine and create – today, is our future tomorrow. We need inventors. Or, to put it differently, we need to identify and, as a matter of public and private policy, indeed as a matter of culture, support our individual inventors specifically and the spirit of invention generally. Institutionalize it even. The cultivation of ideas, the inventing of models, the indigenisation of industry, the manufacture of hardware, the innovation of standards, all this should become a part of our culture.  Put on your time-telescope and peer far into the distance of development: you will see that there is no other road that leads from 3rd World to 1st World.

If there be any Nigerian, indeed any African, in whom the spark of invention, the light of discovery, the visionary eye that sees the future’s questions and answers, the power of innovation and the hunger for creation dwells, then the New African Consciousness must recognise in such a person a rung on the ladder that leads out of the dungeons of dependence. You can only be a part of those who dictate things in the new world if you were one of those who invented and designed that new world.  To set our policy-compass towards the attainment of self-dependence, but also to properly understand the source and anchor of concrete self-dependence in a world increasingly run by the power of ideas, constantly churned into an unending cycle of research and development, this is the nature of the new struggle. The spark of genius rests in the fertile soil of even the most simple mind. Parents, guardians and teachers: encourage your children and wards to join this struggle. Leaders, encourage your people to join this struggle. It is the struggle for self-dependence. Aluta continua.

Once we fought externally for independence. And, according to our definition of it, we got it. But we forgot to also fight internally for self-dependence. Simply put: we became independent, but we never became self-dependent. And it is just like freedom – if you don’t fight for it, you won’t get it. In other words, you cannot get what you have not fought for. You cannot defeat an enemy you have not properly identified. The journey did not end in 1960; it continued: the journey from independence to self-dependence. For what is independence without self-dependence? Nothing. Unsustainable.

And OK, I admit I lied; it’s not just about economics. It’s also a bit about pride. The kind of pride I sensed in a reporter of African descent who I saw on TV not long ago happily interviewing a group of Ugandan university students who had built a functional, beautiful, mobile, modern electric car. The best part was when he asked them why they chose to build an electric car instead of a petrol or diesel engine car. They said, because electric cars are the future. No point building the past.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

MANDELA, SOUTH-SUDAN, AND AFRICA (11)

At independence, South Sudan’s problems were and are daunting – but no more daunting and unique than the situation in the majority of African nations at their independence also, five decades earlier. Thus, everything happening in South Sudan today – South Sudan and the African Union (AU) should have seen this coming. That an organisation which has spent decades operating as a rebel group is going to have difficulty transforming itself overnight into a legitimate, democratic, parliamentary government is self-explanatory and has antecedents in Africa and the world. That a poverty-and-famine-stricken, largely peasant, oil-rich, infrastructurally poor, multi-ethnic nation, newly sovereign, without the familiar ancient common foe to unite against, is going to need the selfless Service of a revolutionary Leadership that makes the people understand that division, egocentricity and disintegration are the new common foes which they have to unitedly defeat now, is a lesson history has taught us. Not the familiar endless paper-rounds of ceasefire agreements will bring salvation to this new State now, and salvage and build upon whatever is left of the momentum of independence, but the self-sacrificial and deeply clear will of a Leadership that sounds the bell of reconciliation and genuine participatory upbuilding across the length and breadth of the land, in every South-Sudanese soul. Now more than ever, South Sudan needs leaders who think and act like Nelson Mandela.

No-one can tell if in the near or distant future, new African states will or will not break out of the existing, arbitrarily created, states of tension left behind by colonialism and in turn become “independent”, or whether a deeper calm will gradually set in within these countries of myriad states as they meld into functional united nation-states – but in the unpredictable nature of human history, who can tell? But one thing is for sure: no matter what happens, each state of tension will either bend to the gentle force of “Mandela-like” minds within its polity that push towards painful and tedious reconciliation, unity and harmony, or it will disintegrate sooner or later into internal chaos, like the majority of “independent” African nation-states all did, and like South Sudan is also now going through. There are those that will tell you that chaos is the necessary precursor to order; but six decades of African independence would also suggest that chaos, unchecked and unpacified, simply continues to beget even greater chaos.

The African continent is a kaleidoscope, a jigsaw puzzle, of hundreds of tribes and ethnic groups. If the continent does not intend to end up ridiculously splintered into innumerable mostly micro-mini single-tribe pseudo-nations, at odds with one another, weak, open to rape, exploitation and so-called “intervention”, then our countries and nations are bound perforce to remain multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ideological. There is nothing we can do about it – this is the state in which we crossed path with the modern world. Of all continents, Africa above all is damned to unite or perish. Africans have no choice but to learn how to live in unity if they do not want to self-destruct and be eventually gradually re-colonised, steps towards which are already being actively, if surreptitiously, undertaken – economically, militarily, politically. Re-colonised by all those loving donor nations, East and West, who like to break bread into crumbs and miraculously shower us with fish, but never really teach us how to fish. Because, I guess, why should someone else teach you how to fish? –

But, watch fisherfolk when they go out to sea: to be successful, they do it in unison, in unity.

Christian or Moslem or Animist or whatever other faiths we differently follow, whatever our different tribes, our different tongues or our different races, our orientations, our ideologies, or our classes… the song is simple:

Africa, unite.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10