DO AFRICANS BELIEVE THAT AFRICANS CAN INVENT?

We have to make our own world, because there is little space for us in the world others have created, out of their own ingenuity, for themselves.

So what we need is to create in Africa an African system that supports research and invention from Dream to Done Deed. What we need is to awaken the strong sense of the need to create our own world, a new world. A desire, the unquenchable thirst and unslackening desire to do this or perish. It becomes our racial focus, and the essence of the DNA we pass on, henceforth, from Generation to Generation. Our black spirits will come ready-made with the natural Urge to do this. We will be born differently from today. Born to invent.

But…: Do Africans believe that Africans can invent? Do Africans who feel the spirit of invention and innovation stirring within them have the guts to sacrifice their whole life to it? Are there financiers and patrons ready to support them to the bitter or sweet end?

If all you do is extract natural resources and minerals from the earth and the waters, and sell them unprocessed to others, then you are just a glorified miner. Now, today, as oil revenues dwindle, the call is sounded. Any mathematician can do the arithmetics and work backwards from the finish line. It is the point in time when our oil becomes worthless and our ability to invent and innovate becomes the only natural resource we have left. Untapped?

Yes I made the the jump from oil to inventions; whereby the popular wisdom proclaims that the alternative to oil bears another name: Diversification. But… Diversification Alone Is Not The Answer! It is only an interim puffer, but not the guarantor of survival. Only the fit survive. The fit are those who have trained the power and ability to create the future.

But…: Are African governments, think tanks, traditional institutions and financial institutes really ready to chart and push this course and pour all their resources into creating a new world, their own future? Do Africans believe that Africans can invent?

If we simply diversify from Oil to Solid Minerals, we will make the same mistakes again because not only are the underlying methodologies unaddressed and unchanged; nor the corruption issues in terms of persons, institutions and systems unammended; but, most importantly, the fundamentally flawed ideology that drives and guides our concept of nation-building, people-building, capacity-building – whatever you want to call it – remains the most entrenched and in-built weakness that we carry with us from generation to generation, from century to century. It is an ideology that supports a taker-mentality as opposed to a giver-mentality; it remains a receiver-mentality as against a creator-mentality; it stays a past-deifying and present-indulging mentality instead of a future-engineering one.

But it is better to produce the future than to reproduce the past. What our so-called education so far has not done for us is trigger the creator-gene. Systemically, deeply and deliberately. En Masse. The discoverer-Complex has yet to be activated within the context of African Culture, Upbringing, Orientation, Foundational Thinking that later guides investors, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and every citizen. We are talking about the Survival of the Species here.

The human being, in the end, respects only intelligence. Not just articulated intelligence, but intelligence that has yielded action and tangible form. The human species‘ only hope for survival and expansion, right from time, and for escaping extinction, has always been innovation and invention, i.e. the practical application of intuitive perception and intelligence. Thus, humans finally only respect those persons and groups whose ingenuity or depth of perception leads to discoveries and inventions that continue to move humankind forward. The urge to move, physically, mentally and spiritually, and to defend gained territories, is a deep evolutionary expression of primal survival instinct.

Therefore: Africans had better start believing that Africans can invent and that Africans SHOULD invent. And start pouring all their resources into making this a reality. Otherwise, the future which is being currently invented and designed by Non-Africans, for Non-Africans, will have no place in it for Africa and Africans. Or the place that will be reserved for us, we will not like it, nor possess the power and ability to change it. It will be worse that the days of Slavery and Colonisation. It will be a depth of systemic powerlessness and denigration not yet seen in the history of humankind. Because, if you don‘t make anything, you‘ll never own a thing.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

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REALPOLITIK: AFRICA, THE REAL AFRICA

African Unity is Inter-ethnic (not Inter-national) in nature. Unlearn Africa. Learn Africa. Know the tribes and ethnic groups, their languages, histories, cultures, sentiments, traditional friends and enemies. Then you will suddenly see the real Africa and the real African boundaries and borders. They are very different from what was left behind by colonialism. Still unresolved.

African peoples and ethnic units, the real ones, not the national mirages. Any African countries that scrap their tribal languages are taking a lazy defeated step backward, not forward; suppressing forces that will still break out one day again – with even greater force. You can not deny Ethnicity in Africa.

But it does not have to divide us. On the contrary: the acknowledgment and knowledge of it helps us to form natural bridges across ethnic lines. This leads to more – and true, natural – peace and understanding. On the other hand, ignoring it has led to us over and again walking blindfolded and naively into pogroms, genocides, wars at worst – or just never-ending fractures at best.

However, in our need to find peace we have often taken the self-destructive path of sand-papering all our ethnic identities away in order to reduce us all into one amorphous history-less post-colonial European-speaking being. But we thereby go backwards, or sideways, not forwards. We lose, in the illusion of gaining. You have to know your tribe and your fellow African’s tribe; and allow the ethnic part of you to forge ties and forms of understanding with the ethnic part of them. Because our ethnic identities is what we on our own developed for ourselves over the course of millennia. They are not just surface-identities and nothing. Our colonial identities, however, were imposed on us and still sit on us like ill-fitting clothes.

It is ironic that when we associate with non-Africans, we make room for differences based on race and ethnicity. We acknowledge their race and take it into account in the bridge we build between us and them. This then smooths the way to a firm relationship and makes it easy for the shared humanity in us and them to link up with each other. But when we progressive Africans are associating with our fellow Africans, we carelessly believe the colonial white-wash of the irrelevance of our original ancient ethnic identities, and we try to build a relationship on an illusory foundation within which we have not yet reciprocally understood and arranged our minor but important ethnic differences according to their natures. But: Once done, harmonisation becomes very easy and in fact inevitable.

One of the reasons why Igbos and Yorubas, for example, quarrel so much and seemingly find it so difficult to unite politically is that they each keep on expecting the other, unconsciously, to be like them. To be the same end-product of colonialism. To be another version of themselves across the Niger. Especially politically. But since this is not the case, they CRITISIZE that which is different in the other. However only when they have have acknowledged and accepted not only the differences, but the fact that it is natural and complimentary to be different, will they – upon then understanding how to harmonise those differences – begin to see their vast Similarities too.

Despite being the victims of the same conditions all over Africa – corruption, mismanagement, abuse-of-power, and indiscipline – yet we find it difficult to form a strong fist to punch against these situations; and we don’t know why, although the answer is staring us in the face and we are living it everyday. We bunch ourselves into our ethnic groups and then say that tribalism is the problem. But tribalism is not the problem, because most people will always be true to their ethnic identity. It is natural. The problem is that the template for African Unity was created by non-Africans for economic purposes – today we call these templates “African Countries” and they are the member states of the so-called AU (formerly called OAU).

However we Africans need to create alternative theaters and templates of unification and conflict-resolution where the ORIGINAL African identities (today called ethnic groups or tribal families) can themselves work out the rules of engagement or disengagement. Then they can do away with Tribal or Ethnic BIAS. Denying this fact will change nothing, as the Realpolitik in Africa will nevertheless calmly continue to run along those lines and be powered by those forces. Thus, there needs to be a theatre and a dynamic where and whereby this reality can interact with itself and sort itself out.

That is what is still missing: an African self-made Inter-Ethnic OAU. An AU of the original ethnic families. Because the truth is this: the different constituent parts of it are already there. Look at Nigeria: Biafra, Arewa, Oduduwa, Bini Cosmos, Middle Belt. Some even extending naturally beyond the borders of Nigeria. They are all there, the true power blocs and centers of force; the true African identities of the Africans living there. Their FIRST socio-political and cultural identity. Nigeria is in this regard only their second identity. But as long as the first identities find no platform to engage according to homogeneity and share power equitably, the second identity will also know no peace and will remain unstable.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

NIGERIA 1914

1914: It was a new country. Ogbonna felt it. But he did not know how to convey this sensing to his fellow Igbo people, to his fellow Africans; because he could not really explain, with words and in concepts, what he so clearly perceived – this was a new country. There was something in the air.

He saw it in the Colonial Officer’s gait. It was the bearing, comportment and carriage of someone who was striding expectantly, imperiously, across new found land. The man’s eyes glittered shrewdly, tempered by surprise and wonder, intensified by ambition and greed, crowned by the realization that this was a jewel, this moment, this place, this new country he and his kind had created and finally pieced together. His mind swept over the large vast area stretching from the desert edges up North to the Atlantic down South, and he still could not believe how easy it had been to play all these tribal nations against each other, using some to subjugate others and others to infiltrate some; and never once had they thought of uniting. A man of greed knows how to manipulate the greed in others. His thin lips bore a faint smile.

Watching him, Ogbonna had the impression of observing a farmer who threw udara seeds into a field and, when it was time to reap, found not udara trees but fields of gold swimming before his bewildered eyes, behind which in his mind the realization dawned that that soft dark red soil had been no ordinary field of activity, this was a fertile land of opportunity. He had created a state of limitless possibilities. And while he stood and admired his work, shrewdly trying to figure out in his mind how to retain his hold on it and what to do with it now and in the future, it burned in Ogbonna’s mind, watching him, that this land, this field of possibility, was his own country. It was not the old clan or ancient tribe in which he lived, from which he hailed, and which was itself trapped within the borders of this new entity, henceforth a part of it. Nay, it was something else. Another place within the same space. Another state of being. A different nation. A new country had been built on his native land.

In this new country, new laws would govern, new thinking would hold greater validity. The old would stay and continue to struggle to stand its ground; but over and above everything, master of all, would be – already was – a new reality, a new game, and a new way to play the game if you wanted to get to the top. This new country was not going away, this new order was here to stay. The magical mix of heterogeneous parts had reacted with itself under the catalyst of a ruthless clever chaperoning, and had disappeared into and yielded an improbable, vibrant, new whole. A strange and powerful virgin. Daughter of improbability, mother of possibility. Familiar yet different. A whole new thing. A new, strange, country called Nigeria.

It is a frustrating thing to feel all these things within you but have no words with which to express them, and nobody with whom to further develop these thoughts. They did not come gradually upon him, but rushed in in one flash of clarity the very first time he saw the Colonial Officer in his village. He just knew. This old ground I am standing on, everything, is new territory. We have not just been conquered – reversing that would have been easy. No, our very world has changed. Something of deep monumental significance has taken place, something irreversible.

We cannot reverse it – but if we are clever and united, industrious and fortunate, we might take control of it. It will never take us again back to where we were, but we can take it away from those who made it, and we can take it in a direction of our own choosing. Because something new has arisen on Igbo soil and, as he had heard, on many other African peoples’ soils far away too, but no African has any control over it. We are all powerless subjects of our own Kingdom.

And there the two men stood, staring into the distance. One contemplating how to subjugate this land forever. The other plotting how to get it back.

That was the moment Ogbonna made the decision, at first instinctively, intuitively, and then consciously, deliberately, clearly, to move away from his old life, from the old order. It was a movement of that intuition which had always been an active part of his inner consciousness. This was the way forward. The way out of the past, for the past had been a world of its own… something else entirely. In order to arrive safely into the future, he had to get into the heart of the system that had broken their heart.

And from that moment he began to strive and to struggle, reluctantly yet resolutely, to move away from his world and move into the Colonial Officer’s world. He would take as much of his past along with him as he could smuggle aboard the ship of change. He would serve the system, learn the system, master the system, would disappear deep into the heart of the Colonial Master’s system and re-emerge a completely new, different person, a Nigerian. He would build a foundation for the future repossession of his home, and he would become the grandfather and great-grandfather or great-great-grandfather of you and me.

– – – – –

2019: Nigeria is on the brink of another round of elections, and they still have not thought of uniting, still have not made a serious attempt at forging true unity, nor at fairly and equitably sharing power. Individual sections or power cliques still want to conquer, control and subjugate all the rest. And Greed remains their Master.

The Colonial Master’s descendants still bear a faint smile on their haughty lips.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

BUHARI: THE BETRAYAL OF PANAFRICANISM AND BLACK UNITY

1. MERITOCRACY VS FEDERAL CHARACTER PRINCIPLE

The most significant development that came out of colonialism was that it not only lent urgency, and a reason, to indigenous African ethnic nations to forge – amongst themselves – deeper and more effective bonds of solidarity in the face of the expediency of warding off external exploitative and appropriative incursions; but even more importantly it delivered a rough, even if imperfect, template for this bonding to take place. This template are the colonially born nation-states that are commonly drawn on the map of Africa today. They constitute the member states of the organisation, once called the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), but now known as the African Union (AU), and are generally referred to as “African” countries. Colonialism thus not only kickstarted, catalyzed and accelerated Panafricanism, but it also influenced its nature and direction, and straitjacketed it into ready-made, albeit externally created, nation-forms.

In order for this Panafricanism to work, however, on this imperfect externally orchestrated template, one thing was needed, more importantly maybe than even friendship – and that thing is: TRUST. In Nigeria, for instance, in order to give as little room as possible to the sentiments of ethnic marginalisation and systemic partiality – the most lethal killers of pragmatic inter-ethnic trust – a practical compromise was reached; something called the Federal Character principle. It simply means that access to power is distributed in such a way that the different regions and religions that make up the country always have a representative at the table. The grand organigramm of power is – or was – or should be – a rough reflection of the actual internal ethno-religious map of the federation.

The Federal Character principle, significantly, finds application not only in the corridors of power and civil service, but – more contentiously – also in the education system where it often goes by its nickname “the Quota System”. The aim here is to stop one part of the country from falling behind educationally or to help them to catch up with other parts who have long raced ahead in the acquisition of western-brought education. According to the Quota System, students from the South who score high marks are not all admitted into secondary or tertiary Schools. Instead, some of them are rejected in favour of students from the North who have scored much lower marks.

The Federeal Character principle has many bitter opponents . Many neutral-minded and objective thinkers have never been a fan of it. They consider it not only inherently unjust but believe also that it denies the country access to her best minds and brightest talents, and exchanges the policy of unconditional progress for the politics of “settling for less”, which in turn breeds patronism, cronyism and nepotism, and holds the country back. They argue instead for the principle of MERITOCRACY. Let the best person do the Job, irrespective of his or her ethno-religious camp. The quintessence of their argument is that just this adherence to meritocracy – rather than concessions – will spur the weaker to work harder, bring out the best in them, and make them catch up with the stronger, thus enriching the Nation, even as it is being driven forward by its brightest, meritocratically chosen, talents.

The Federal Character principle, however, also has many passionate supporters. Indeed, there are pragmatic nation-minders who argue that a fragile, historically rootless, construction like Nigeria is, has not yet arrived at the robust generational inter-ethnic state of fusion and maturity, that equilibrium of development, which will allow her to bear the weight of systemic Meritocracy on a grand objective scale. And, even more importantly, she has not yet developed and entrenched the dynamics and the institutions to ensure, to monitor and to protect meritocratic processes in order to prevent them from being one-sidedly hijacked and distorted in the service of the attainment of the sectional goals of those currently in power – who may choose to appoint only those from their region and religion and claim it is because they are the best, without there being any institutionalised and impartial system for cross-checking or validating this assertion as well as countering, correcting and punishing it if proven false.

The basis of their insistence on the pragmnatism of a Federal Character principle as the necessary interim bridge to chaperone Nigeria onto the stable shores of a capacity for true meritocracy in some future generation, is the fact that before Nigeria was created, her constituent ethnic nationalities already existed, right here. Some were ignorant of some others; some existed in alliance with one another; some were locked in violent existential wars against each other; and some oscillated between friendship and enmity, for decades and centuries already. In other words, the Nigerian novel has a deep, manifold backstory – and Mungo Park hardly features in it.

Probably the most significant conflict that was taking place within the area of today’s Nigeria as at that time when the British made their intrusive imperialistic grab at this part of West Africa, were the Fulani Sultanate’s jihadistic wars against the nations to the South. The Fulani, a nomadic People of mainly Islamic religion, had already earlier invaded, conquered, colonized and converted the Hausa and a number of other nations in what is now Northern Nigeria. Moving further South they were locked in a back-and-forth war of oscillating fortunes with the Yoruba – another great Nation situated mainly in what is now the south-west of Nigeria – when the British arrived and plunged into the mix with their multi-pronged Arsenal of Military, Religion, Commerce, Diplomacy and new-type Education.

But then, after succeeding in gradually conquering, pacifying and appropriating that entire area now known as Nigeria, the British themselves finally succumbed to a combination of a negotiated concerted “independence” push by the ethnic peoples of that area, favorably assisted by the general wind of change after World War 2, and handed over this new country Nigeria to the indigenous African citizens of Nigeria – a geopolitical landmass, beneath the surface lattice-work of which the old alliances and conflicts, the networks of dynasties, the sentiments, prejudices and the interrupted wars, were all still festering, on the one hand. On the other hand, there was born in a few hearts a budding awakening of and even a longing for a sense of “one-nigeria-ness”.

Bear in mind: sovereignity was not individually handed back to, or won back by, the actual indigenous African nations from whom it was taken away, some of whom continue to long and strive for it until today. Instead a kind of collective authority was transfered to a newly patched up entity called Nigeria, within the geographical boundaries of which the original African nations remain to be found. The ancient African nations however are, paradoxically, not themselves directly the constituent administrative regions of Nigeria, although they exist within and across them, and they influence the context within which these administrative Units are carved out. Once upon a time, these units were, for instance, North, South and Lagos; later they were North, West, Mid-west, East. Today they are the 36 States: Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, etc …

Not only was this sovereignity transfered to a new umbrella Nation, but also this new Nation was of the making and design, not of the Africans themselves, but of the colonizing force. One could thus say that Nigeria is a software or a robot through which an originally foreign volition, detached from its issuer and now mangled up with local intent, continues to feed its Frankenstein, mix up the African mind and strongly influence our affairs, positively and negatively. This has been the trigger of many key reactionary events in Nigerian history, all of which bear the stamp of an attempt at “Re-Africanisation” and – more importantly “Re-Sovereignization” of our space. It was what led later to the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) Indigenization Decree of 1972. It was what led earlier to the push for Independence. And it was what provided the Canon fodder for the Biafran Conflict, where a reactionary African attempt to craft their own smaller-sized umbrella Nation made up of indigenous neighbourly African peoples was met with Military resistance by the Northern-led, British-powered Nigerian government. Nigeria, like ‘Skynet’, had become self-aware – within the same space in which the individual indigenous actual ancient African nations and Peoples also exist and also remain self-aware. Two uneasy souls in one restless restive Body.

Against these kinds of backdrop, the Federal Character principle was devised, as a compromise, a soft landing pad to further inclusion, moderation and the gradual social engineering of this new country Nigeria towards becoming an actual African new Nation of a united people of shared loyalty, trust and harmonized aspirations. Whatever intuitions of injustice were awakened by the Quota System were supposed to be mitigated by the appealing to a noble sense of sacrifice needed for the attainment of an internally balanced nation whose inner parts are helped to gear into a foundational equal-paced development.

Within this context then, the championers of Meritocracy have allowed themselves to be slightly pacified even while they continue to argue its case. They see in meritocracy, if and when attained and popularly accepted and expected, the final proof and guarantee of matured nationhood and progress. Thus they continue to push for the establishment of the institutions and systemic dynamics that will one day power, oversee and protect Meritocracy as an operating principle in our national socio-polity.

However, between these two terminals of Quota and Meritocracy, a danger lurked. A weakness lay in the system, always exploitable by the Executive arm of government, and just waiting for an unscrupulous mind who would be the first to dann the consequences and do it. And then came ex-General Muhammadu Buhari…

2. BUHARI, PANAFRICANISM, AND A BROKEN TRUST

In the many decades of Nigeria’s independent existence, through all her ups and downs, crises and vicissitudes, the Federal Character principle has been one stabilizer that every leader and every government in power – civilian or military – has always tried to (be seen to) tactfully and sensitively take into consideration while trying to steer the unwieldy and complex ship of state of this most populous and most diverse Black nation on earth. – Until now.

Today, for the first time in her history, this new nation called Nigeria finds herself in the grip of a (democratically elected!) Northern Muslim Fulani President who has openly, callously and with brutal impunity advanced almost only members of his own clan or ethno-religious umbrella-region into the most important organs of state and government. He has done this with a thoroughness, on a scale and with a scope that is staggering and unprecedented in the history of Nigeria, and has sent shock waves into the depths of the political psyche of the rest of the country and informed observers outside the country. This in turn has triggered a reawakening and a strengthening of irridentist ethnic sensitivities and loyalties on the one hand. On the other hand it has revealed the plane of conflict on which the real challenges to Panafricanism really lie.

The real conflicts are and remain on the level of that political existence for which there is no consensual political or apolitical organ of membership or conflict Resolution: the ethnic plane. The further addition of religion into this mix complexifies it into the ethno-religios plane. And this is the level on which a serious and unprecedented breach of trust has occured and is currently continuing in a troubled Nigeria. A sitting president has disponented the executing of the bully pulpit not according to either (even a semblance of) the federal character principle or the principle of objective meritocracy, but has placed the Country under the effective stranglehold of his own ethno-religious base. And then has rubbed salt into the wound by mockingly suggesting that he is simply being meritocratic. His people – the people from his own ethno-religions clan – are the best. This is the blatant, callous, mocking bigoted assertion he is sending out. He is using this vehicle, Nigeria, to continue the Fulani jihadistic imperialistic war that had once been interrupted by the very bringers of this same Nigeria. What a brilliantly ironic stroke of genius! The faint promise of Panafricanism has been thrown out of the window by a primitive yank back into feudalism.

In other words, an African has with the powers of an externally created modern African nation sought to subjugate other ancient African nations and bring them under the dominion of his own ancient African nation. Democracy, which should liberate and protect, has become the cruel weapon of a jailer and an enslaver because the world and all processes will always support a democratically elected leader, even if he is using democracy as the smoke screen and instrument with which to dismantle that very same democracy itself. Put metaphorically: a house negro has pointed the massa’s gun at the field negroes and tried to impose himself as the new master over them. And nobody can stop him. This is a low blow of such shameless proportions, a betrayal of such callous dimensions, that it takes a while to really believe that you are actually seeing what you are indeed seeing. This truly is the very betrayal of Panafricanism itself. Nobody should aspire for leadership in Nigeria, or indeed in any African country, who has lost sight of, or never had his gaze on, the bigger picture of African inter-ethnic unity and inter-tribal fraternity. This is what the Buhari presidency in Nigeria is teaching us very succinctly.

Africans need to understand again, or at last, the meaning, the true meaning, value and importance of Panafricanism. Young muslims need to rise against muslim leaders who are not panafricanistic in their message, in their method and in their goals. Members of all ethnic groups need to rise against their ethnic leaders when these deviate from the spirit and purpose of Panafricanism. Christian followers need to turn against their leaders when these betray panafricanism in their pontifications and way of life. Panafricanism is the only socio-cultural, political and economic engine that can lift Africa up. Panafricanism simply means that Africans, in a state of united mass eureka, discover, rediscover and believe in their own worth as creative, noble and highly developed human spirits who have all it takes, and the responsibility as well, to create, run and manage their own highly developed self-contained Universe and continuum. Their own First World. You must have the greatness of spirit to believe this, or you will never achieve it because you will never even have the guts to attempt it; the thought to do so will not even occur to you as a realistic thought. Until you have the greatness of spirit to really believe that you, too, are first among equals. And when you start to believe this, when you start to really believe it, then you will stop proclaiming it – and instead you will start to PROVE IT, by practicing and executing it.

It cannot be, that an African leader has the guts or ever tries again to use the cover of a colonially born state to advance only the cause of his or her own ethnic nation or ethno-religious base – thereby betraying the spirit of Panafricanism. Never again! Not in his or her appointments. Not in his or her policies. Not in the projects that he or she pushes through and accomplishes. Never again! Panafricanism or nothing. Yes, because without Panafricanism, Africa is nothing.

Why are African youths dying in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to flee Africa? Only to get to Europe to be subjected to the disgust and rejection of a European racial class whose internal color code has already condemned Blacks to being the footmat in every context, even before they arrive. And the more value you have, the stronger the socio-political determination to keep you down. And this is what our desperate youths, full of hopes in their hearts, are fleeing to? Where are the presidents, the true Panafrican leaders, who will step up and say – No! – Africa must become an Eden for Africans, one from which there shall be no banishing? Where are the presidents, the true Panafrican leaders, who will say: If Africans need a refuge, they will find it here – right here – in Africa? We will make sure of that!

Is it Buhari? Is it Biya? Is it Bouteflika? Is it Kabila? Is it Kagame? Is it Ramaphosa? Is it Museveni? Is it Uhuru Kenyatta? Is it Akufo-Addo? And all the rest of them?? Why have they not done it? While this article is about Nigeria under Buhari, the troubling fact still remains that no African leader yet has stepped up and taken the lead on THIS other topic of mass migration. Africa remains an open sore, whose lifeblood – for lack of perspective at home – is desperately draining away everyday. And the leaders will not come together with a strong voice and firm measures to heal the situation. What has become of Panafricanism? Is it just a word in the wind now, soon to sink into and drown in the Mediteranian Sea?

The grand outer unity, which is the bedrock of Panafricanism, cannot take place because internally – within the so-called African countries – inter-tribal fraternity has not yet been established, has not yet been even truly strived for. The tribes are the real political building blocks of Africa, not the colonially created nations, and we all know it. We just like to deceive ourselves and pretend as if we want to make progress, when we come together as so-called African nations in the AU and give long speeches. Then we go back home and continue to kill Panafricanism everyday by using the State Might of the modern African nation to benefit only our own individual ethnic or ethno-religious base, and crush or systemically disempower the others.

This must stop in Africa! This is where our real political struggle lies. Taking our continent out of the hands of internal Pharaohs. Taking our countries out of the hands of ethnic and religious bigots, whether they seem primitive or sophisticated. Study their methods and intentions. And soon you will know the true Panafricanists, and those who only have selfish or ethno-religious intentions and keep the rest divided.

Buhari’s deeper crime is not in the act, but in the intention. His intention was never to use Nigeria as the available template to foster inter-tribal integration and inter-ethnic amalgamation of the African people’s located within her borders. His intention from the start was always to use Nigeria as a weapon to advance the fortunes and power of his own ethno-religious base. By doing this, he not only shamed himself, but also shames every member or supporter of his ethno-religious base who supports this intention and partakes in this murder of the spirit of Panafricanism, in this unending retardation of African development. Buhari is not and was never a Pan-Africanist. Destiny offered him the historic chance to turn Nigeria into a true African (internally cohesive) nation – and he squandered the opportunity. Instead he has turned Nigeria against herself with his clan at the top. In effect, this is his most ingenious, most audacious and most imperious Coup.

He of all people was in a position to do something which would have been much too difficult for anybody else. His past as a Military Leader. His Fulani Islamic roots. His knowledge of the wounds this country has sustained since independence. His 2nd tenure coming sixteen years into the 4th Republic – giving him all hindsight with which to know what to correct. No president before Buhari has been in a stronger position to unite the country. All he had to do was just do just that, unite the Nation, heal her wounds, bring all her parts together harmoniously and encourage participation. Inclusion, not exclusion. Unity, not division. Fatherliness, not grudge-bearing. The ignition of the local Nigerian version of Panafricanism, not the continuation of the insidious well-planned conspiracy of imperious jihadistic tribalism. But he missed this great opportunity, because he lacks the one thing, the most important thing, that thing without which Africa is going nowhere: the spirit and the principles of Panafricanism.

It is sad to see, half a century after the ‘decade of African independence’, the replacement of external colonialism with internal imperialism. The entire journey since independence – has it been in vain?

– 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.

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.