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.

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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.

NEO-AFRICANISM

Nigeria has not yet had a Nigerian President. South Africa has had many Presidents, but only Nelson Mandela was a South African President. The others, before and after him, white and black, have all been just sectional leaders. Africa has had very very few AFRICAN leaders-of-state, Pan-African heads of government. Selfless father-figures and servants who are a father to all and a mother to all, regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation.

Why? Because it is not easy. It is not easy to place loyalty to high ideals above loyalty to tribe, religion, family and every thing else. When people come campaigning for votes and popularity, and they claim they will be „President of everybody“, „there will be no sacred cows“, they will be „everybody‘s friend and nobody‘s friend“, „everybody will be equal under the law“, they will rise above „tribalism and religious chauvinism“, they will not favour „their side above any other side“, etc etc etc…

Look at them carefully or just wait for it. In time, they have almost always turned out to be just a Big Fraud.
Why? Because it is not easy. Deep in their heart, everyone loves their ethnic nationality, their religion, their spiritual philosophy, their origin. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It is normal and healthy. The question is: WHO loves the Truth and Justice more than he or she loves ANY OTHER THING? That is the Point. Who, above loving his tribe or faith, loves the progress of the Whole more than any other thing.

It is not easy. It requires honest and painful soul-searching. It requires self-unmasking experiencing. It requires self-conquest. It requires, not self-abnegation (for you cannot deny who you are, and anyone who denies who he or she is, is a liar or is still in the process of finding himself). It requires Ennoblement and Maturity. It requires elevation into Selfless Love.

These are the new kinds of leaders we need in Africa now and in the future. These are the people we should look for and encourage, instead of discouraging them. These are the people we should begin to awaken within our own souls. These are the Neo-Africans.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

COARSENESS IS NOT AFRICAN

Have you ever opened the door for a lady, only to be told by another African… that that is not African?
Have you ever arrived punctually or waited patiently for your turn, only to be told by another African that that is not African?
Have you ever spoken in soft, sophisticated tones, only to be told – loudly and crudely and full of mortified or amused laughter – by another African that that is not African?

Do you, when you are with your fellow Africans, deliberately coarsen your ways or diction – sometimes greatly, sometimes very subtly – in order to be accepted as being authentically African?
Do you act as if certain habits are normal to you which you actually inwardly abhor because they are less than your innate take on nobleness?
Do you too subscribe to the thinking that coarseness is not only a badge of belonging but also a way not to show weakness in African culture?

Well, the truth is this: You carry Africa in you. Africa begins and ends with you. Whatever you do today, that is what posterity will one day point to and label as being African. And if you acquiesce today to something which you inwardly know to be inferior and improvable; something a better version of which you carry consciously or unconsciously within you; then you commit three sins, at the very least.

One: you fail to establish the next stage of African evolution by not bringing out the New which you carry within;
Two: you reinforce in the next generation the false assumption that it is African to be coarse;
Three: you transfer to subsequent generations the poisonous message that it is right to acquiesce to what is wrong and to lower one’s standards, within the context of one’s African culture – even if one carries strong convictions in the opposite direction within one.
And these three things, which reinforce each other reciprocally like the sides of a triangle, are some of the greatest killers of Africa.

Additionally, as a human being you are not just an African, you are also a member of the human race. You owe it as a duty not only to Africa and not only to yourself but also to mankind as a whole to be a part of the evolution of civilization. Very often the African component is missing on the world stage of emergent ideas and evolutionary effort. But each time you break the self-fulfilling stereotype of African coarseness, and of African lethargic changelessness, of helpless receiver mentality instead of creator impulse, and of lower African standards, you produce something – tangible or intangible – that fulfils a part of the the African responsibility in the advancement of humanity.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE BASIS OF AFRICAN POLITICS

I know liberal Africans and I know conservative Africans. I know Africans who lean towards capitalism and those who are convinced solialists or even communists. I know those that are committed naturalists and environmentalists. I know those who are naturally republican in nature and those whose inclination goes towards centralisation of power, akin to monarchy. In short I know Africans of different philosophical and ideological convictions.

And yet, for some reason, when we want to form political parties, we form them not along ideological lines, but based on factors like Ethnie, Region, Religion, class, wealth, vengeance, opportunism, greed, materialism and temporary matrices towards the satisfaction of power-lust.

Needless to say, this impedes an effective meeting of positive like-minds in political affairs and makes it difficult for similar thinking patterns to congregate, refine each other, transform, evolve and grow, and gather that momentum which births concrete deeds, processes and systems out of mere ideas. And yet this alone is how tradition and civilization evolve.

So, my question is: Why are African political parties founded mainly not on objective universal ideas, but on earthy group similarities? Was political Democracy, as an idea, invented solely for internally homogeneous groups where there is enough of that mutual trust and those shared common interests which act as a playing field on which people can then divide and converge into ideas-based camps, knowing that their basic – and base – needs are uniform and covered by all sides equally.

Whenever a too divergent (apparent) heterogeneity comes into play, however, with different ethnies or nations – especially when it was not consensual – there you suddenly see a congealing into a more primal group identity first, as a home and as a shield against the others, to fight for, ensure and protect the covering of the basic – and base – needs.

Before I continue maligning Africa, let me look over to America – another multicultural melting pot – where at every US election, one hears of the Asian vote, the Jewish vote, the Black vote, the Latin Vote, the Italian vote, the White vote, and so on. Well, that also does not sound very much like ideas-based politics to me, but more like the same old herd-adherence, constantly lurking beneath the surface of high philosophical jargon, and clandestinely (sometimes openly) simply jealously guarding the native group interests.

I thus hesitate to blame the lack of ideas-based politics in Africa on any notion of primitiveness. I rather think that the human being, by nature, first seeks for safety and a sense of belonging in that which is most obviously and easily his outer and ethnic homogeneous group. This provides a certain outer protection. It often represents also how he or she is default-seen by the rest of the world too. Thus it provides a rallying point around which a sense of vulnerability and victimhood can also be mutually nursed and addressed and transformed into strength.

Without a sense or the reality of safety on this basic level, humans hesitate to commit fully to the bonding that takes place on more sublime levels of abstraction. Religion is usually the first of these abstract levels and often the strongest. The next is the uniting consciousness that comes from shared socio-economic conditions like poverty or oppression or ostracization. Finally, there comes the realm of ideas where all those nice sounding -isms dance to the Wailers. But on all these levels, even in religion, one sees how pressures can push people back into tribe adherence, interpretations and loyalties whenenver their is uncertainty or conflict.

The question is thus: At what stage of bonding are African countries, in the process of their socio-political engineering, currently situated? And since the primary element of unison is still the tribe and not the country, what efforts are being made to further, to improve and to entrench friendship, understanding, a sense of familiarity, and an intertwining of the cultures, and amongst the ethnic nations? Because this is the crux of the matter. Only when, for example, the constituent tribes of Nigeria build up adequate depths and dynamics of reciprocal trust and generational bonding, will the stage be set for that sublimation into ideas-based politics, on the foundations of a shared trust that the basic needs are uniform and will also be always uniformly covered and addressed by all. The same with Africa in general.

There is today need more than ever to promote friendship amongst the cultures, to build working relationships between homogeneous or historically close ethnic groups, and then to expand these in circles. There is the urgent need to openly address the difficulty in finding a neutral theater of resolution for the situation where one etnnic or religious group dominates the power structure of a country and uses (or seems to use) this Advantage to ruthlessly oppress or conquer the other ethnic or religious groups, whose options for reply are often very limited. The current situation in Nigeria under the Buhari government is a classic example. There is need to engineer the dynamics of true Fairness in Africa and clarify the nature of authentic sovereignty for African peoples, one that furthers rather than impedes development in all spheres. There is need for a new theater and type of African dialogue and conflict-resolution.

Because, as things stand now, one can safely say that it is not the African “tribes” but the modern African nations that are primitive. – because they offer no possibility for their actual constituent Units (the ethnic nationalities) to express, defend or cross-engineer their sovereignity, nor to thematise their vulnarability once they are not in power, nor to protect themselves. The basis of today’s colonially born modern African country is unwieldy, unindigenous, uncondusive for progrewss, and primitive. That is why it throws up non-ideological parties and has to be constantly defended internally by a brute Military force that has its origins in a colonial police machinery that was originally designed just for that purpose.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

LANGUAGE

Language is to group identity as spirit is to earthly personality. As the spirit grows weak you still see the body walking about as if the actual human being is still alive. But it is just an illusion – at physical death, the real human spiritual personality will disintegrate for good.

The same thing with groups. When a group loses its language, you will still see its indigenes walking around, congregating und socializing, and calling themselves the group name… but it is an illusion. A people without a language have ceased to exist as a people – what holds them now is memory and a wish. At the next tragedy that strikes them they will scatter and have no center of orientation that triggers a sense of belonging which pulls them back together again in any meaningful way. We witness the end of yet another branch of civilization.

The death of African languages was initiated when Africans stopped – or did not at all really determinedly try – translating and transsituating their rapidly expanding world view, new knowledge, science, technology and philosophy into their indigeneous languages. Thereby they caused a break between the African psychic identity which had indigenously developed over millenia and the new African mentality whose birth was being so forcefully and unnaturally midwifed. It was also a missed opportunity to embrace the challenge of exertion that catalyzes growth.

Any indigenous national psyche worldwide that has achieved the feat of transforming ITSELF on its own foundations into or towards a so-called 1st World Country, has not done so on the back of the scientific and philosophical lingua of a foreign language. They have instead forced their own language to expand, to deepen, to evolve, to grow, to be alive and exhibit the characteristics of a living thing – self-preservation through movement, exertion, growth, self-upgrade within a healthy sense of self. Thus these peoples did not just move, they took their cosmos and their roots along with them. Therefore, no matter to what dizzying heights of technology or abstract new thought they arrive, they always feel at home. They never feel lost. Because their world always exists in their language, and their language is the structure within which their world pulsates and expands.

Africa’s deepest, most intimate and most imediate break with the preservative Spirit and Act of INNOVATION therefore was the failure to translate and transfer new world knowledge into their own indigenous languages, and make their language the vehicle for transfering knowledge and civilization to the next generation. This was an act of indolence or carelessness of gargantuan proportions whose degenerative after-effects will continue to manifest exponentially from one generation to the next. In Igbo language, this is the true example of “i fu” – to become lost. Everything that is familiar to you feels simultaneously strange, and you don’t know why.

The fact that I am expanding and writing this thought in English and not in Igbo is the very evidence that I too am a product of that colossal careless break in transmission, and thus I carry within me also the unending thirst for rebalancing, that deep-seated African search for identity in a world, of shared human responsibility, in which aptly one often feels MISUNDERSTOOD.

In Africa, African languages have for over a century rapidly lost their role and function as the medium via which knowledge and civilization are transfered from one generation to the next. Ancient proverbs and perception patterns, yes, but every other thing no. The African, as an agent of innovation and civilization, is today a divided personality. When the European colonialist wanted to give us his religion he translated it into our language. But when he wanted to give us science and technology, he kept it in his language and forced us to learn it in his language. The Arab colonizer went a step further and taught everything only in his own language. Little wonder then that we are masters of Christianity and Islam in Africa today, but not of Innovation and Invention.

And to those who will tell me that attempts have recently been made here and there with inconclusive or initially uninspiring results, to them I will say: Civilization is not a sprint, neither is it a game of materialism and quick profits where you jump trains at will in search of quick gratification and the illusion of fast progress – indeed that is what has brought Africa to where we are today.

Civilization is a long long race, a marathon, a movement of the people, like Moses’ Israelites wandering (and wondering) for decades in the wilderness on the way to their promised land. You are in it for the long haul; solid progess is slow and hard if you want it to be real, and you must be dogged, persevering and patient. And, above all – this is the crunch – you must trust and rely in your own creativity and abilities; and develop these.

Setting off onto the right path does not mean that you automatically take over the lead or catch up immediately with the rest. It simply means that you have created the right conditions for a growth which, no matter how initially hard, if managed diligently, will be lasting and always feel natural. A growth that will be indigenous and make you the master of your own fate in this uncertain future into which Mankind is currently herding.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

INHERENT INCLINATIONS

Why do Africans look down on their own intelligence, their own inventions, their own historical recognitions? What we disparagingly call primitive African religions today were the expression of search, perception of recognition done by the African psyche. That psyche still lives and works today in the subconscious of the so-called modern African. He has been made to believe, however, that there is something inherenrtly wrong in an inner world view that came up with the concept of an Amadioha or a Shango. And yet these perceptions at that time represented leaps in consciousness and expressed a willingness to independently break new ground spiritually, mentally, physically and technologically.

They expressed a desire to dare to understand and interpret nature through the agency of their own eyes and indigenous preceptions. They document an understanding of the inherent calling and duty to “explore” the world, to “dissect” nature, to search for patterns and laws, to align intellect with intuition, to look for the next boundary of civilization, to advance themselves, their world and their world view forward – in little steps or quantum leaps – from one recognition to the other, on their own, indigenously, self-driven and self-motivated. Just for the heck of it. Just for the fact of being alive and possessing the faculty of thought and of intuitive perception. They were Explorers, they were Inventors.

Quite apart from the fact that Shango or Amadioha really exist (but that is the subject of another discussion), this instinctive attitude and inherent inclination in the earlier Africans found expression in all walks of life. Be it in the field of what we now call religion, but which at that time was integrated science; be it in what is today called the arts, but which at that time was living culture; be it in architecture which for them was just common sense; be it in early technological advanes and dynamics; in well thought-out and varied political systems; in the arrangement of soceity; in military equipment and strategy; in the philosophy behind the structure and implementation of justice codes; in the orderliness in the fields of commerce, finance and markets; and in the practical relationship with physical nature to ensure survival.

Everywhere we see evidence not just of independent thought and not just of WILLING thought, but also of progressive and evolutionary thinking and applied recognitions. Africa was a continent of ambitious explorers who found joy in breaking boundaries, a place of restless thinkers, and of innovators and inventors.

If today there exists inside of you any of the indolence or lethargy that now impedes the re-awakening of thie Original African in you…, UPROOT IT! Go within your own soul and destroy it! Become an abstract and creative and hungry thinker and DOER again. Become again someone who can – yes – study, replicate, preserve and respect the past…, but who can then leave it behind in the past, if necessary, and strive forward in search of the next Amadioha! The next bolt of thunder that will ignite the next leap, the next JUMP of Africa into the future, independently, indigenously – without boarding one migrant boat, without receiving one aid package, without self-destructing.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

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