RE: Ayo Sogunro’s “Can colonialism still be blamed for Africa’s problems today or should Africans take responsibility for the poor management of their countries?”
I read a piece written by Ayo Sogunro on Africa, colonialism and a question of who is to be blamed for Africa’s ills.
Now, I have read articles on the issue and hear people asking why Africans can’t just move on and stop blaming colonial ‘masters’ for their woes. While Ayo’s piece was a bit different in that it conceded the fact that most of the problems faced by Africa today was caused by the colonialists, he got it wrong when he claimed that African LEADERS (I use this word consciously) had the ‘opportunity’ to dismantle colonial structures but they didn’t.
You see, there is a difference between leaders and dealers. The people who took over leadership of African countries after the colonial ‘masters’ LEFT (Again, I use this word consciously) were the genuine African leaders. But while they tried to dismantle those colonial structures, the people who thrived on those structures’ continued existence resisted them.
I could go on and cite examples of such (and I will). Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara, Guinea’s Amilcar Cabral, Nigeria’s Muritala Muhammed, Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, Burundi’s Louis Rwagasore, Morocco’s Mehdi Ben Barka, Mozambique’s Eduardo Mondlane and recently, to Libya’s Gaddaffi, African leaders who attempted to deviate from the structures left by the colonial ‘masters’ were either removed through CIA-sponsored coups, cut down through NATO-championed assasinations or eliminated by their ex-French, Portuguese, Belgian colonial masters.
When Nelson Mandela was to be released from jail, initially, he stuck to his guns about their inability to share power with the whites (colonial ‘masters), but as ‘negotiations’ developed, time dragged by and the violence continued unabated, he agreed to power sharing. Now, the power sharing might not have been evident in the VISIBLE political structure back then, but allowing whites (colonial ‘masters’) to still control the economy was his biggest mistake – a mistake that means the blacks are still second-class citizens in their own country. Now, the argument back then was that you can’t effect all the changes at once. And maybe it sounded good back then, but the resultant effects of that decision to share ‘breathing space’ with the colonialists has cost South Africans a lot.
Murtala’s attempt to detach Nigeria from the powers that be by delivering his “Africa has come of age” speech in Addis Ababa led to his death after just 200 days in office.
Africa is not plagued with bad leaders; it’s just that when the good ones stand up, they are silenced and replaced with puppets whose strings can be tugged wherever the ex-colonialists like.
No genuine African leader can take a genuine step towards the total liberation of his people without clashing with the self-appointed big brothers and ex-colonialists. A genuine movement towards lasting progress in Africa cannot but unsettle the ex-colonial masters who thrive on Africa’s backwardness, whose businesses boom when there is war and violence, who live off Africa’s oil, gold, diamond and other natural resources, and who know that it is in their best interest that Africa and Africans continue to grope in the dark under puppets whose loyalties lie with their western masters.
Some claim that African leaders are architects of their own deaths because they stay too long in power. But I ask, is it possible to dismantle colonial structures that have been around for more than 40 years under just 4 years? Should Africans trade ‘dictatorship’ (I use this word consciously) for western democracy just for the sake of being a democracy? Libyans under Gadaffi lived better than they do now after NATO served them their dose of western democracy. While I am not in support of oppression and the real thing called dictatorship, I used that word consciously because dictatorship is what the west calls every African leadership that rules (in their own unsolicited opinion) ‘too long’. For instance, Robert Mugabe is there. Even though his people keep on voting for him in elections, the west have never stopped calling for his head.
This much is clear; Africa does not lack good leaders, but the good leaders are either being stiffled or killed off by those who thrive on Africa’s continued backwardness.
If Sankara had lived, If Lumumba had not been killed, If Gaddafi had not been disgustingly shot down, If Cabral had been allowed to lead his people, Africa would not be where it is today.
The ex-colonialists and western ‘uncles’ described by Julius Nyerere in his address to the people of Congo are the ones responsible for where Africa is today.
We know when the fault is ours and when we should accept blames; this is not such a time. The people of Afrika must decolonize their minds. They must see the ex-colonialists and their outstretched hands of ‘help’ for what they are: hypocrites. The fact that the ex-colonial masters are not here again does not mean that they have left. They are still very much around, breathing fearfully on the necks of their puppets. While they may have done away with whips, they now control their puppets with aids and stringent policies.
Africans must begin to reject leaders who go to foreign lands to pay homage to ex-colonial masters when seeking for power. Africa is a continent old enough to stand on its own, solve its own problems and reprimand its erring leaders.
A Dearth of Ideology
US Secretary-General came in to ‘lecture’ our Presidential candidates gunning for the presidency of a 54-year old nation and we see nothing wrong with it. In fact, we are arguing on who the US will support between the two. We need help. Simple!
There is a dearth of ideology in this country. On what grounds is the US Secretary-General visiting to lecture our candidates? When the US held its elections, did any Nigerian leader go there to ‘lecture’ their candidates on what and what not to do? When are we going to start respecting ourselves? When are we going to sever the apron strings that still connects us to the West?
In a time when organisations that ought to know better are silent, I salute the prompt response of Amilcar Cabral Ideological School (ACIS) to that insult. I really am proud to belong to the ideological group.
When Margaret Thatcher visited Nigeria back then, she was met with resistance from a visibly agitated populace who understood world politics, where Africa was, and what Africa needed to do to get out of the fix. Today, we no longer concern ourselves with what goes on out there; all we do is admire our Buharis and Jonathans.
It’s in times like these that you miss the ideological clarity of Late Murtala Muhammed as head of state. His “Africa has come of age” speech delivered in Addis Ababa rings true even today. Here is the speech:
“Africa has come of age. It is no longer under the orbit of any extra continental power. It should no longer take orders from any country, however powerful. The fortunes of Africa are in our hands to make or to mar. For too long have we been kicked around: for too long have we been treated like adolescents who cannot discern their interests and act accordingly. For too long has it been presumed that the African needs outside ‘experts’ to tell him who are his friends and who are his enemies. The time has come when we should make it clear that we can decide for ourselves; that we know our own interests and how to protect those interests; that we are capable of resolving African problems without presumptuous lessons in ideological dangers which, more often than not, have no relevance for us, nor for the problem at hand.”
We should get up, dust ourselves and start respecting ourselves.
NORTHERN NIGERIA AND A MACEDONIAN CRY FOR HELP
By Adua Bitrus
The author of this piece, Adua Bitrus lost his father in the year 2000 in the Kaduna religious riots. As a Christian Child, he was taken in by VOICE OF THE CHRISTIAN MATYRS (VCM) located in Ogun State Capital, Abeokuta, sponsored through basic school, all the way to tertiary level. He now studies in Olabisi Onabanjo University and is deeply concerned about the negligence been displayed by ‘non-northerners’ to the plight of the northerners. Furthermore, while VCM only accepts Christian children, the largest percentage of displaced children in the north are Muslims. There is little or no help coming their way; they are left to the mercy of the streets to fend for themselves and are unfortunately exposed to dangerous and extreme ideologies.
This is not a cry for self-recognition; it is an urgent appeal to Nigerians, and indeed the world to sit up, take note and take urgent steps to take displaced children off the streets, so that we do not continue to supply raw materials to the extremist sect, Boko Haram.
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in”” – Mother Theresa
It is with utmost sadness that I write this piece to bring to the attention of the general public the suffering and poverty that fellow Nigerians from Northern Nigeria have had to battle with since the beginning of Boko Haram’s campaign of terror and death; and indeed since the beginning of insurgency, religious killings and hate-inspired violence.
For years, Nigeria has been on heels trying to fight the menace of insecurity and curb the excesses of the monstrous extremists, Boko Haram; which has taken a deadly toll on the Northern part of Nigeria. Several policies and committees have been set up to proffer possible solutions to the insurgency; so much funds (as we were made to believe) have been pumped into the security sector to restore back a peaceful Nigeria but still to no avail.
For how long then are we going to sit and watch a generation wasted? For how long are we going to fold our hands and stare at the tragedy that’s befalling our brothers and sisters in the North without lifting a finger to help? For how long are we going to turn deaf ears and blindfolded faces to the plight of this section of our country? For how long are we going to keep partying while a part of us is already going down the drain? For how long? For how long?
While we keep waiting for government to launch its long awaited solutions that we are not really sure of, why not make a difference? At each strike of these extremists (Boko Haram), several lives are wasted; women are turned to widows overnight; little children are turned to orphans in the twinkle of an eye, a whole family is razed down, houses burnt and several are rendered homeless and hopeless. Are we to keep watching until the whole region is totally wiped out of existence and the inhumanity is extended to other parts? For long have we waited on government for a positive outcome? It’s quite disheartening that the longer we wait the more lives are been wasted. After all, what help has the government rendered to poor widows and homeless children who are suffering the hit of the menace?
I am from the North; Kaduna state precisely. I feel disheartened seeing young and bright folks living without a hope of what tomorrow holds. Little children who have lost both parents live in the slums of the society and of course one begins to wonder what the elites in the society have done to help the situation. It shouldn’t be surprising in the society we are in, where the poor suffers the actions and inactions of the elites.
Amidst all these, I see only but few NGO’s like The Voice of the Christian Martyrs (V.C.M), who have always done their best in giving hope to some of the victims in which I am proud to say, I am a product.
I write with a troubled heart, because my late father died as a result of this same insurgency. Thousands of others like me are out there hoping against hope that help will suffice amidst all hopelessness. The ruling elites are not helping; they have politicized the situations and even pretend not to know what the North is suffering.
Believe me; praying alone won’t save a child still on the street begging for alms to survive. Praying alone won’t save a poor widow who begs to sustain herself and the kids. Praying alone won’t save the Northern part of Nigeria from its distress but a lot of actions I believe will.
I want to use this medium to call on well meaning Nigerians, to come to the aid of these victims. Help as many as you can; every penny can put a child through school and it can as well change the mindset of a child positively. Every kindness shown can put a smile on the face of that child who has not smiled for decades; a little food can save a child from starving; a little roof over a child’s head can save from sleeping in the slums and suffering the dangers therein. I am not asking for a penny for myself; we still have thousands of them roaming the streets and are prone to dangers of death and exposure to dangerous ideology. Help them, love them, protect them and show them the love you will show your own kids.
Nigeria, this is a clarion call. Save a child, save a life and save a generation.
This is an appeal from the North; do not let them suffer alone.
Bitrus Adua Jock
Olabisi Onabanjo University
Ago-Iwoye; Ogun State
Follow me on twitter: @Jhaybheestar; Email: email@example.com
I have always wondered, should democracy be practised just for the sake of practising it? Should we all embrace democracy just because everyone embraces it? The statistics in Africa shows that African countries did not only thrive, but their people fared better before the west overturned their governments and ‘gave’ them ‘democracy’. With democracy, all the benefits enjoyed, disappears. They pay heavily for the democracy with their natural resources. Before ‘democracy’, what was growing was the way of life of the people, affordable education, cheap houses, free or cheap-but-quality health care system, but after ‘democracy’, all that stops increasing; the people can no longer have access to affordable education and free health care system and the governments now concern themselves with having figures and numbers that can be ‘presentable’ in international scenes. Somewhere along the line, their concept of growth changes from better living for their people, it becomes a series of figures and numbers that make them look good on the international scene and earn them pats on the back from IMF, World Bank and the big brothers from the west.
Now when I question democracy, I am not questioning the right of the people to determine who their leaders are; I am questioning the concept that allows a group of nations to force their designs on a nation, thinking they know what’s best for them. If people go to the polls to vote and after electing their leaders, they don’t have to be scared that their leaders will mortgage their way of life and better conditions of living so they can get help from some bodies. Pre-‘democracy’ in Libya saw so many social benefits for the Libyans. Post-democracy sees those benefits withdrawn and the way of life of the people jerked up, while their oil is being looted heavily. Today, the US emerged as the largest producer of oil, it is African oil, and it is the heavy price we have to pay for this democracy.
African countries need to review this concept of democracy and determine their own mode of governance that doesn’t include the looting of their natural resources, that doesn’t include a drop in the quality of life of their people, that doesn’t include mortgaging the lives and future of their people as a prerequisite for getting ‘aid’ from the west. We have brains that are rotting away in foreign lands helping the west to maintain its stranglehold on African countries; it’s time for those brains to return home to help Africa design its own mode of governance that puts the quality of life of its people first and that ensures they keep their natural resources.
Ogun State, Nigeria
By Jesper Cullen
Since the start of this year, Islamist militants have mounted a series of shootings and bombings in Kenya. The targets have ranged from market stalls and buses to restaurants and a beach resort. While many of these attacks have been comparatively small and unsophisticated, there are signs that terrorists are increasing their capabilities and escalating their tactics.
The assault on the town of Mpeketoni on 15 June was the deadliest attack in Kenya since the Westgate siege last September. At least 48 people died after gunmen entered the town, shooting people and setting fire to buildings and vehicles. A day later, the militants carried out another attack on a nearby village, killing at least 15 people.
As has tended to be the case with terrorist incidents in Kenya, the response of the security forces and government has so far been inadequate. These two assaults on towns close to Lamu exposed the difficulties authorities are having in dealing with the worsening security situation. Indeed, despite the police deploying to the area in the hours after the Mpeketoni assault ended, the militants were able to mount a similar operation in the same area just 24 hours later.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for both these attacks in the Lamu area, but the Kenyan president blamed them on ‘local political networks’ and claimed that al-Shabaab was not involved. This reluctance from senior government members to address the growing Islamist militant threat has been common.
The government has attempted to play down the peril and reassure its citizens that it is taking measures to improve security. However, there is little to suggest the government has had any success. In fact, the situation has deteriorated this year with Islamist militant groups appearing to have become better able to sustain a campaign of attacks in major urban areas.
A domestic threat
So far this year, there have been 14 attacks in Nairobi, Mombasa and the nearby coastal tourist area, according to data from Terrorism Tracker. By contrast, there were just eight such incidents in these areas in the whole of 2013. This also marks a geographical shift in the threat, with attacks now being more common in Nairobi, Mombasa and the coast than in the northeastern region bordering Somalia. Although al-Shabaab continues to mount infrequent mass casualty operations inside Kenya, it seems to be Kenyan militant groups operating from Nairobi and Mombasa that now pose the greatest threat.
Most of the attacks by domestic militant groups this year have involved small explosive devices or grenades, and they have chosen soft targets where there is little or no security presence. In many cases, attackers have simply thrown bombs from the street into a crowd or hidden devices before escaping on foot or by motorcycle.
When attackers have encountered police or security personnel, they seem to have been reluctant to confront the guards or force their way into target sites. In early May, for example, a man was stopped by a security guard when attempting to plant a bomb at Reef Hotel north of Mombasa. Instead of trying to overpower him, the attacker walked away and left the bomb somewhere other than his intended target. His priority seems to have been to avoid being arrested, rather than hitting his main mark and inflicting a large number of casualties.
While this suggests the threat from domestic groups is currently unsophisticated, some elements appear to be escalating their tactics. A car bombing outside a police station in Nairobi in April and a foiled bombing in Mombasa in March indicate a greater bomb-making capability than has been the case in Kenya in recent years. It also shows that some militants are willing to carry out suicide missions.
This attempted attack further reveals that some militants do have more sophisticated techniques at their disposal. At the time of the foiled plot, there was widespread criticism of the Kenyan security forces after they reportedly left the vehicle outside their office in Mombasa for several days, unaware that there were pipe bombs weighing around 60 kg inside. However, this criticism may have been misplaced. Since then, further information about the device has emerged, which indicates that it was well constructed and difficult to detect even with a search of the vehicle.
That militants were able to source such a large amount of explosives and build such a device is a concerning development and one that the authorities appear ill-equipped to counter. Many sites in Nairobi and Mombasa that would be attractive targets remain vulnerable to attack. Police and private security have increased checks at entrances to sites such as shopping malls and hotels since the assault on the Westgate shopping mall. But these increased measures are unlikely to deter determined attackers using devices such as the one police found in Mombasa in March.
When Western governments such as the UK, US and Australia issued travel warnings for Kenya last month, the Kenyan government rejected the idea that the terrorist threat has increased. However, the evidence indicates that threat is becoming more varied and more severe. Without a significant change in the government’s approach to combating attacks, there is little prospect for an improvement in the security situation any time soon.
Kano has been bombed. Jos has been bombed. Won’t you all run to your master, the US again? You called them to bring back your girls, your girls are still missing. Don’t tell them to just bring back your girls this time, call them to bring their whole military force here to help you combat those boko bastards. Infact, join them to criticise President Jonathan for being incompetent and call the US to help you remove him and put who they like there. E ma gbon. You have all refused to learn from US interventions in Libya, Syria, Egypt, etc. They call it peace moves/peace-keeping missions, but the countries they go to, do they leave the countries better? No. They leave the countries worse while they loot them into oblivion. Yes, I know, conspiracy theory, right? You all lick Obama’s boots and see him as your messiah. To you, he can do no wrong, you cling to his words and his wife’s like your survival depends on it, you read Washington post and New York Times, listen to CNN and BBC and think that makes you an authority on world politics, you call reasonable people (who care to read up information in all countries) people with ‘poor people mentality’, well, you may be rich materially, but you have a poverty of the mind, and that to me is pathetic.
Until Nigeria wakes up and see this hypocrisy being perpetrated by the west, it’s allies in Africa and the many ‘Uncle Toms’ that have bedeviled Africa, we will continue to perish in the murky waters of ignorance and die victims.
Ever wondered why the US only intervenes in countries that have gold, diamond, oil, etc. Go and check, you think Nigeria is the only country where children are being kidnapped? Al-shabaab and others kidnaps boys and girls everyday in Africa. Marry the girls and turn the boys into child-soldiers. You ever care to ask why the Washington post and New York Times, CNN, BBC, never cared to scream and shout like they are doing now? You think they have anything to gain from countries that have groundnut, onion, sugarcane, cocoa as natural resources? No. If those countries like, they can scream down thee roof, create a million hashtags, trek from town to town, address conferences and conventions, address the UN, they will never get any support. You know why? They have no bargaining chip, no benefit.
Just open your gaddamn eyes and see that the rape and looting of Africa hasn’t ceased; it has taken new faces, it has new helpers, ‘Uncle Toms’ that will sell their voice and their people to earn a pat on the back from the west.
Effecting change in Africa: A rallying call to Student leaders
“We are only as strong as we are united; as weak as we are divided.” – J.K Rowling
“If we can make substantive and quality changes in higher education then I think, collectively we would be happy.” – Tebogo Thothela
No sooner had it been revealed that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had finally reached an agreement with the Nigerian Federal Government as regards their demands, the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) went to the press in what has been viewed by some people as a cheap attempt at rescuing their image following the embarrassing position they took as regards the strike. The situation isn’t peculiar to Nigeria, all over Africa, emphasis isn’t placed on education, and student leaders and ideological activists that address real issues are thinning out.
With the victory that ASUU won in Nigeria, it’s a message to student activists that no sacrifice is too great to make in the struggle to revitalise the educational sector. Student leaders need to understand that anyone who tries to stop youths from having access to education is an enemy; no more no less and any union that is trying to make it accessible to ordinary people must be supported totally. Some student leaders are however too scared of altercations with their school management and government that they clamp their mouths shut and forget that they have a responsibility to society and have an obligation to speak truth to power.
April this year, a friend and vibrant student activist, Comrade Orapeleng Matshediso, was suspended as President of the Student Representative Council of the North-West University, South Africa for ‘asking questions’ and demanding that action be taken as regards the death of one of his students. Because he was on the part of truth, he won at last. Student leaders must realise that no government will willingly give you what you want, you’re the ones to go after what you want without fear.
Student leaders must remember that the democracy that most African countries enjoy today has its victory rooted in student struggles, the students must now more than ever recall the historic roles played then and be prepared to play those roles in ensuring that the poor gets educated and in wresting power from the few who want to keep the children of the poor in darkness. Nigerian students under NUNS fought the military to a standstill, risked their lives and ensured that democracy reigned. In South Africa, the students and youths fought the apartheid regime, sacrificing their lives so that others may enjoy a society that promotes equality. The pre-independence and post-independence history of Zimbabwe locates student activism at the core of the struggle.
Today, student leaders in Africa need to awake. History once again beckons, Africa has found itself in the same spot where it was back then, only that now, it’s not foreigners who are oppressing us, neither is it the military(in most cases at least), it is our own leaders dressed in the garb of democracy that now tie the noose round our necks. History once again calls on student leaders Africa-wide to collectively reject the new wave of repression that is going on, the new wave of denying education to the poor and implementing policies that make education inaccessible. To keep silent will be betraying the roles that history has called us to play. Once again, Africa awaits the revival of vibrant and ideological student activists to pursue her liberation; Africa awaits its youths to give voice to her cry.
For Africa to arise; its youths must awake.
God bless Africa!
Ogunjimi James Taiwo
Follow me on twitter: @hullerj; Google+: James Ogunjimi
James Ogunjimi is a student of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, Nigeria. He’s the Coordinator of the Committee for the defence of human Rights (CDHR) in Olabisi Onabanjo University.