TOLERANCE FOR THE SAKE OF COMPLEMENTARITY

Human society needs a healthy mix of capitalism and socialism. Too much of either one has always proven to be bad.

Human society needs a healthy mix of faith and doubt. Too much of either one has always proven to be bad.

The world needs a healthy balance between “I” and “we”. Too much of either one has always proven to be bad.

We divide ourselves into “left” and “right”; and then we forget that left and right are the two legs on which that which is Human walks, balanced. They are not adversaries of one another; they are complementary to one another. Each must tolerate the other, for the sake of all.

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.

SILENCE AND INSULTS ON THE AFRICAN STAGE

Are the Igbo and the Yoruba united?
Are the Zulu and the Xhosa united?
Are the Hutu and the Tutsi united?
If hands and feet are not coordinated
How can you drive and steer the vehicle?

There is a level of identity and reality on which Africans have stopped building bridges to one another, and forging alliances with one another, and initiating peace amongst each other, and finding common grounds and respectful dialogue. – And yet that is the level on which they are really who they really are.
If you ignore reality, you will fall victim to it.

Are the Fulani in Nigeria beholden to the Fulani in Niger?
Are the Oromo in Kenya beholden to the Oromo in Ethiopia?
Are the Shona in Mozambique beholden to the Shona in Zimbabwe and Zambia?
Are the Yoruba in Benin beholden to the Yoruba in Nigeria?
If a foreigner is your brother
And your countryman is a foreigner
Who will you follow
When you come to the crossroad?…
Because you will.

There is a level on which Aricans ignore reality. They scold each other into being modern by lying that their roots are not still feeding their fruits. Yet that is nature.
It was naive inter-tribal non-cooperation and chaos in the ethnic map of Africa that made Colonisation so easily possible.
It is silence on this stage, in this theatre, that imppedes cohesion in Africa today.

And when the stage is not silent, then it is full of distrust and animousity as they are hurl insults at one another. You can see it on the internet everyday. It seems to be the only form of communication that we still have left between us.

No, it is time to reawaken the dialogue. The African multilogue.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

WHAT HOLDS A SOCIETY TOGETHER?

1. TENSIONS

What holds a society together?

This question crosses my mind a lot in these times of terror threats and terror attacks, religious fanaticism, right-wing political extremism, left-wing reactionism, fear, reflection, polarization, racism, nationalism, migration, integration, refugeeism, falling wages, widening circles of poverty, animosities, dual nationalities, multi-national companies, cross-cultural love affairs, mixed children and mixed heritages, highspeed long-distance travel, nuclear tests and missile launches, global ease of communication, internet battles between love and hate, and all the rest of that stuff.

Being a part of the German society, the many observations I make everyday trigger intense bouts of reflection and thought within me. These observations are made in the private sphere, at work and in the public domain. While taking in and analysing the news – the content and selection, the context, pattern and nature of the news – over the radio or on TV and while following events on the internet. While interacting with other citizens in sports arenas, on the public transport, in parks and clubs, at the playground, in restaurants and during private events. While playing the requisite roles on the corporate theatre and being politically correct. And simply while living.

It’s hard to miss the tension that exists between those who, genealogically, have for hundreds of years fallen into the category of that which was traditionally labelled ‘German’ or ‘European’ or of such descent, and those who, by appearance, betray some other culturo-geneological descent, in part or in whole. Going deeper, it is fairly easy to feel the palpable front-lines of ancient cultural conflicts, old racial tensions and, above all, very deeply felt religious differences, a clash of political ideologies that seem mutually exclusive. Certain social scientists, broadening the spectrum, may even choose to point out that front-lines also exist in the realm of opposite genders and opposing sexual orientations and indeed even in the age-old question of age differences. By their thesis, the human being it would seem is simply a creature of division and conflict along lines and within groups of perceived primary homogeneity.

2. WHAT IS HOME?

The world appears to be changing faster than our world views, and our self-images, and our capacity to adapt in thought, in action or emotionally seem able to keep or catch up with. Fundamentally the core question to which the times seem to be driving us is the simple puzzle: “What is Home?” To what extent can differentiation within a society go without tearing it apart? The issue of ‘mutual incompatibility’ is a concept that occupies many thinking minds within the context of possible lasting damage to a societal unit. On the other hand, the sense of belonging, of having a stake in preserving the present and future welfare of the nation and the national community of which one feels oneself to be a part creates a feeling of oneness, a binding force, a desire to act beneficially in the cause of the society, that informs the unchanging root intuition in good and bad times.

So, for a German citizen, like myself, the question becomes: what is the root intuition that must guide the sense of connection and bonding between a citizen and the nation in order for the citizen to be an authentic bearer of the nation within himself? In other words, what makes me or anyone a German? Is it the language, the passport, a sentiment, an ideology? Is it the colour, the genealogical inheritance, both of which I lack? Is it a ‘way’ of doing things, of seeing things, of feeling things? What is the difference between those who want to keep it the way it is or was, according to their perception, and those who want to change it? And, for those who want to change it: Along what lines do they want to change it? These are terse fields of even if unspoken conflict, and they stir deep passions, especially in these days of the re-solidifying in large numbers of a political machinery of minds that seems to want to define Germanhood solely in terms that exclude anything not of ancient aryan or germanistic culture in its primordial origin.

However, as with everything to do with elementary outworkings of our Humanness, the answer cannot be derived within the drawn borders of the issue at stake alone, because some qualities are neither African nor Asian, nor White nor Red, but are simply basic attributes of human nature and human character, intermittently spotted across history in different peoples at different times to various degrees of expression. However, at various points in time in the seemingly never-ending process of development, groups of people begin to congeal around similar thoughts and characteristics, in the face of similar challenges and experiences, assuming linked group identities. And Nations take shape. The shape-taking never ends, as history attests to, and the global forces at play today put particular, in the entirety of its effects yet unknown, pressures on the process of identity-seeking of nations in the future.

And for the answer to this question – what makes me a German? – there is no logical intellectual formulation of requirements that can express something that exists deep within the soul. The very fact that in order to make this brief literary excursion into reflection, I availed myself of the distance and perspective offered by a foreign language, touches on the Heisenberg-like puzzle that is embedded in any personal attempt at national self-reflection of this nature.

3. A COMMON GROUND

When a society has many living parts, and the parts are not only different each from the others, but indeed stand sometimes in stark contrast to one another, what then is the binding element that holds that society together in a way that brings it together to keep it together, to preserve and protect it, to press forward towards its development in a way that respects human life and human rights and furthers human feeling of belonging and sense of justice?

Ultimately, Nations must rise all to the minimum standard as a basis of nation-building whereby the progress of one nation cannot be tied to the detriment of another. This applies, by extension, also to philosophies and ideologies. This then frees the conscience of every earth-citizen from the potential clash of interests that arises from the question: “In a war, which side do you take, if you have multiple nationalities, or married ideologies, or a deep love for both sides?” Because the only humanity that will avoid self-destruction is one in which the minimum ethical standards of nation-building are above the baselines of the selfish interests and extremist ideological deformities that have birthed our wars. That will then be the true era and definition of the United Nations. Nations that are truly united.

This is thus for me the engine room working within the heart of my Germany. It is an ideal that came to light with the transformation that took place after and as a reaction to the Third Reich. It is an idea that there must be a Basic Law that brings out, protects and furthers the best in us, while simultaneously working against the arising and strengthening of that which birthed the evil monstrosity of the past, in whatever form it tries to cloak itself in the future. It is the awareness that a search for this middle line is a pressing duty for a Nation that wants to ensure that humanity does not go extinct within it, but thrives and pushes towards higher levels of inner and outer development. It is a thrust to travel the harder path – that of applying intelligence in the service of the upbuilding of human capabilities, the liberation of human potentials locked within. Nothing is more fulfilling too for a nation, for a people and for each individual.

No nation and no people on Earth today, politically, intellectually and socially, carries within its soul DNA and its ideological database and its collective cultural memory a greater antidote to the poison of destructive nationalism, self-propagandization and xenophobia than the Germans do. No nation can, and no nation should. No nation has a greater potential to find the answer to how to ensure a balance between, on the one hand the integrity of national identity, cultural heritage and spiritual beliefs; and on the other hand the unending movement and transformation of society, inwardly and outwardly, that continuously takes place in human history on Earth; than just the Germans do. In this regard, Germany has the capacity to lead mankind, by how it resolves the puzzle. We live in times that bring new – or old – responses and solutions to life’s questions.

Be it Arminius and the Romans, be it Bonifacius and the conversions, be it Karl the Great and Widuking, be it Rotbart and the Crusades, be it Martin Luther and the reformation, be it the bringing of innumerable fiefdoms into one German Kingdom, be it the refereeing of the Scramble for Africa, be it the first or the second World War, be it a peaceful split and a peaceful reunification, be it the Euro, the EU, or now the unprecedented displacement and resettlement of peoples, somehow ever and again Germany seems to be thrust – or to thrust herself – into the midst of some of the most incisive shifts in human history. And in every generation, in every constellation and constitution, those who are a part of it, feel very passionate about it. There is always a sense of making history.

4. NATIONS AS INCUBATORS

Every nation eventually is an Incubator of SOMETHING. For me, that is the definition of Nation – Incubation. What do you, as a nation, by your nature and direction, willy-nilly foster and incubate? What is it that must rise to birth and being as a consequence of your internally lived national character?

It is along these lines that every thinking person defines, or should define, for himself his relationship with the society to which he or she inwardly feels himself or herself to be a living part. What am I taking part in preserving or creating?

5. THE BINDING FORCE

Because somewhere down the line, there is only one thing that holds a society together, in times of change and transformation, of movement and uncertainty, of upheavals and tension. It is something stored in the hearts of those who are the parts of that society, who ARE that society. It is the one unifying thing, the point at which every concerned member of that society, no matter how different they each are, all become similar, united in that one intuition. There is one thing they all feel for that society, and it is the one thing that keeps that society together. One simple thing: LOVE.

It is Love that holds a society together – the love the people all individually feel for their society.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

BIAFRANS AND NIGERIANS, YOU AND I

The Crack was so loud
We actually failed to hear
The piercing cry
We are dying even whilst they die

You struck me hard
You were hellbent on killing off
All the love in me
So that you could point at my corpse, my heart
And me the coffin housing it
And declare:
You see! He was dead all along!
And everybody will nod wisely
You cannot murder a dead man.

Africa vanished like smoke in the wind
And left Africa behind
Battling the barrenness you and I…
Strangers stood back
Watched us tear one another to pieces
And when we’re through
They’ll step in calmly and calmly pick up the pieces
And build anew an other Africa again
Their Gain
Empty of all Africans
Biafrans and Nigerians
Hutus and Tutsis, Zulus and Xhosas.
Holy Warriors,
Nationalists, Traditionalists, you
And I
And all that will remain
As a memory of a people that once was
Are the poems and songs we
Left behind…
Even the slogans will be forgotten.

– che chidi chukwumerije.

GLOBAL UNITY IN THE STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE

The Elite and Power-holders, traditionally few in number, always find a way to prevent the masses from uniting against them. The most popular and effective, trusted and time-tested, methods are the instigation and strengthening of racism, tribalism, sexism, religious intolerance, etc, within and amongst and between the masses. Man, being a living being, soaks up these sentiments and they grow within him, upon which he begins to also defend and propagate them; thus they become self-perpetuating from generation to generation, across centuries, and people even forget where and when and why these things started.

But these things were never the actual problem of the masses in the first place. It’s all an illusion. True, when different sides happen upon each other there is initial distrust and competition; but there is also curiousity, such that left on their own – if there is no conscious malicious and insidious effort to awaken fear of each other amongst them – they will always merge with time as they unite in the common struggle to master the battle of life. Especially when they face a common threat, e.g. nature and the elements.

But man has a fragile nature sometimes. In his struggle to master his own personal little life he can lose sight of the bigger picture, thus making him gullible and susceptible to the intrigue and manipulation of those who seek their own personal and selfish goals. And those who have money and power, or who strive after money and power, know well to prevent the masses from ever uniting against them or developing a WE-consciousness as a united group. Thus they keep them occupied with the individual struggle for existence, or distracted by a media barrage of empty things of no importance and, as the master stroke of genius, they keep them divided amongst themselves by pulling the strings and feeding the sentiments of religion, ethnicity, race, sexism, etc.

Any leader or leadership system which really loves its people will seek to unite them. This however is rare. Instead what we see are power-centers which perpetually ensure that the flames of division (religion, racism, ethnicity) never die. All the rest of the people perpetuating these things are just blind tools. But if you follow the trail of the true power-centers it will always lead to where the money is. Follow the trail of the money’s smell. Those who have the money – who OWN the global wealth – are the ones who make sure that those who need the money always stay divided amongst themselves. Divided and distracted, so that they will never see the effort being deliberately made to keep them from recognising the path that will lead to freedom. The path of unity.

People, unite.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

CHRISTMAS: HEARTS OF BELL

I saw a bell
Fall under the spell
Of a magic wand
In a magician’s hand

And he turned the bell into a man
Walking up and down the land
Ringing out a message to everyone
But only a few will understand

I tell you what.
Affiliation to nationality and religion, gender, class and race
Will always be more important to the human race
Than being human, our common lot.

So now the bells, they are ringing
The hearts, they are singing
The times, they are bringing
A Message of Hope.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

BREATHE AGAIN

Wait for the knocking of the carpenter
For it won’t be long
Lovingly building that cradle, soft of hay
It will be rocked by a virgin’s song
But a prouder man, a truer man
Will watch over the smile of a radiant star
– Then, lonely earth spirit, light up your heart
For Christmas is no longer far.

And if you think deeper, you will realise
He did not come to die, but to open up our eyes
To Life, to love, to a new reason to strive.
Breathe again, wilted human flowers – and rise…

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.