INSIDE AFRICA (Reason of Chaos)

Posted: June 28, 2013 in Articles, INSIDE NIGERIA

Orthographic map of Africa

Orthographic map of Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

If you can’t tell where the rain began to beat you
You can never tell where it stopped beating you.

-an igbo adage

I read a comment on the Vanguard Nigeria Newspaper`s website of 29th of July, 2011 which was titled “the brutal truth about black people.” In this very comment, the writer wrote so many awful things about Africa, taking me through the so called shameful histories of the black race, across the dark and hidden corners of a failed continent, of a barbaric and ultimately cursed people. The writer made some valid points of how bad Africans are in politics, in governing themselves and in organisation. He raised the case of the black man`s taste for white man’s commodities, and of how proud he is when he possesses one. He also cited the tribal wars fought in Africa before colonialism, and went as far as saying that Europeans united us (the warring tribes) and gave us a common voice, and that after the departure of the colonial masters, Africa has returned to its former days of “warring tribes.”
All these reasons for denouncing Africa and the black race are true but true to one side of a tragic story.

Yes one side of a very long, tragic, half-explored, and unfinished story.
The history of Africa is multi-layered. It is as glorious as it is shameful, it is as bright as it is dark and mysterious. It is as awe inspiring, dumbfounding and breathtaking as the Victoria Fall, or the equatorial rainforest, or the pyramid of Egypt as it is primitive, barbaric and disease infested as the basins of its Hinterland, the slave coast of the Congo or West Africa etc.
The story of Africa is dual, it has its good part and it has its bad part. Though in the last 400 years, it has been predominantly negative, yet the world as a whole has not fared much better either.

In discussing Africa’s problem, we should start by understanding the African mentality. An African is a graceful, proud and hard working being. He likes to show off. Humility and forgiveness are really not an africa trait. He is also superstitious to an extent. As it is with human beings, Africans have their faults, many faults but those shouldn’t mark them as the worse than other races.

Africa is a continent that had its warring tribes before the advent of colonialism (warring tribes that helped to increase the human casualties of the slave trade) but theirs were wars on a smaller scale. Wars where hundreds die. The slave trade that resulted in tens of millions dead or sold was made possible by European tools and influence.

Some would argue that Africans are foolish to sell their own into slavery, yet history taught us that before slavery in Africa as we know it, there were slavery in Europe and Asia. The Egyptians had Israelites as slave, Greeks had Gaul slaves, the Romans had Greeks, Gauls, Germans, Anglos as slaves, the Huns and Vandals had britons, gaul, greek, german and roman slaves, even the tucks of the 14th century had european/christian slaves, the list can go on and on.
The European wars were wars that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and even millions like the first and second world war etc. So when compared to their wars, African warring tribes are but a child’s play.

African leaders and government have failed us, but that doesn’t mean that Africans can’t govern themselves. For we had order in pre-colonial Africa, and also large empires like the Malian empire, the Ashanti empire, the Benin empire and even the great Egyptian empire to mention but a few. It only means that the wrong people are heading different African government. In fact I would say that the advent of the Europeans really disrupted Africa’s evolutional process as a race. The colonial masters conquered Africa and brought it (a community of different people) together, imposing their rule on it. This union was never discussed with the constituting people. The resulting African government in their haste to take over as lords and earls did nothing to this effect. Hence African nations emerged without the slightest clue of what a nation is.

This has resulted in myriads of problems, like the near extinction of African traditional order and mentality. Today, the rich and powerful African families of the old are poor and insignificant in the social order, while the outcast and rejects, the lowest of the former society, those people who were the first to accept christianity (or the other way round) are those that are heading the social order of African nations. In other words, there was an “upside down” resetting of the African society. Hence the problem we are facing today.

It took the European nations thousands of years of slow progression to evolve into a democratic, homogeneous and stable entity (to the detriment of minority ethnic tribes and dialects), yet Africa (that had experienced catastrophism in its progression)is expected to do so in less than a hundred, this will take a miracle and stable government.

Nevertheless, this is not an excuse for our backwardness (or for our stupidity), yet we all should know that the African political system has been marred with interferences, coups and civil wars.
These problems, on proper examination can be traced back to the divide and rule method of the colonial administrators who partitioned the administered people based on the bases of their tribal origin. This method worked so well for them that there was peace and stability during the colonial days and utter anarchy soon after the departure of the colonialists (Congo is a good example). A reason for this apparent stability is the fact that different African tribe united in the face of colonialism to fight a common and visible enemy, -the colonialist/Imperialist, and once this common enemy had been neutralised, the goal of the Divide and Rule system began to be very much evident. A good example is Angola, where the Portuguese left the independence of the nation in the hands of three armed groups (MPLA, FNLA and UNITA) who ended up fighting for 25 years for the control of the Nation.

Another contributor of Africa’s instability was the cold war. Which involved the Americans and western Europe on one side, and the Russians and their allies on the other side. Rather than these countries settling their problems among themselves, they chose to bring it into Africa (and other third world nations), toppling governments opposed to them and settling puppet rulers in their place, example of these is the case of Patrice Lumumba of Congo (removed with help from the Belgiums), Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana (removed with help from the CIA), Thomas Sankara of Bukinafaso (removed with help from France), the Angola Civil war (sponsored by Russia and Cuba on the side of MPLA, and the USA and South Africa on the side of FNLA), the Nigerian Civil war (fought with help from Britain, Russia and France), the Ivorian war, the Sierra leone war, even France continued sponsoring the Hutu though they were aware of the ongoing massacre of the Tutsi. It is a known fact that the West helped the likes of Ghadafi, Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, Apartheid, and co to thrive in the continent.

How do you expect Africa to prosper amidst these crisis and interferences? Interferences from colonial masters even after fifty years of independence.
The toppling of governments in Africa had created a power vacuum. This vacuum in turn has led to the partial or total breakdown of law and order.
Europeans, like Africans, love money and power; and are willing to do anything to get it. The difference is that there is a respect for the rule of law in Europe but little or none in Africa.

Many have argued that Africans are animals with low intelligence, and by now they should have learnt their lessons and be more united and more organised. They also cited the case of countries from south east Asia, countries like Singapore, Malaysia and co but they forget that these nations had a fairly stable government which Africa have never had. These nations have little natural resources of interest, so no-one paid them much thought (the middle east crisis is a good example of a region with abundant natural resources and a volatile society), but Africa has lots and lots of Natural resources.

Another reason is that these countries are at the doorsteps of the then communist bloc hence any disturbance will surely guarantee direct confrontation between the super-powers like we saw in Vietnam.

To the school of thought that compares Africa’s economic and political fortunes with that of their Asian counterparts I say in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “You can`t build character and courage by taking away man`s initiatives and independence”. Africa’s history is not the same as the that of Asia or South America because the colonialisation of Africa continues even to this day.

The advance in communication and transportation ironically has dealt a severe blow to Africa. Unlike the case of the conquest of America, the loots and spoils of Africa (both material and human capitals) can easily be, and are easily harnessed through ultra modern and sophisticated equipment, and the transportation of these are as easy as reciting the ABC. You can transfer one billion dollars of Nigerian’s wealth in a twinkle of an eye to swiss account, compare this to the time of the birth of America when travelling from America to England one has to pray and fast and hope for fair weather. I write this with confidence, if the American war for independence was fought in the 1930s or later, America will still be under the British rule (go and check Argentina and the Falklands).

Africa is very unfortunate to have been colonised when it was, and to began when it did, because now it is very easy for a head of state to govern a Nation from a foreign land. It is now easy for African Heads of State to rule from London, New york, Paris, Lisbon, Brussels etc. Try this in the olden days and see your nation taken from your control.
Today you can easily go overseas for medical checkups, fashion make-ups, academic upgrade or for flexing, (even Tuface went there for marriage) so why bother suffering yourself to develop your primitive nation.

Nonetheless, we should not get carried away in the moment. I am not just here to apportion blame, for western interference in Africa has its equally positive side. A lot of positives I must say, and if most of our leaders have not been self-centred and have been more pragmatic, more cautious, more nationalist and strong willed we might not have been were we are right now. But we shall not lose faith for there is hope at the end of the tunnel.

He who all reject should not reject himself. Africa should not give up hope, little by little africa will reach there.
Africa, the poor ones far from the seat of power, the ordinary africans folks, the ones shown on CNN, BBC et al, the ones with swollen stomach, the ones starving and in dire need of foreign aid, the ones that need the “tax-haven” foundations of the west to survive; who allegedly live below one dollar, Africa; need to stop looking down on itself. Yes, Africans are foolish, stupid, wicked, barbaric, mentally poor, exploited yet so is every other continent.
Africans need to start looking for serious and practical solutions to our problems. Solutions which are synonymous with the African setting and not importing solutions from Europe or America or China. Africans need to stop running like packs of locust from our native lands in search of greener pastures else where. Africans should not be ashamed of their mistakes, their past, their colour, they should take pride in their ways, their culture and yet be willing to change with the dynamics of time.

I know that Africans are hospitable, hardworking and innovative people. History speaks of ancient Egypt as a cradle of civilisation; I only wish to erase the notion that Africans are only born to be backward, lazy, wicked and utterly foolish, we are good, and innovative, and hardworking. Some of Africa’s problems today are not just self-inflicted, some were caused and are still being caused by interference from foreigners, and with huge help from our myopic and self-centred government and elite.

But we shall prevail…

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. And may not necessarily express the views of Lyriversity

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

  1. EOD says:

    Great read with a lot of interesting arguements. I, for one, agree, that the problems we have are in large part a result differing landmark diachronism between us and the rest. Do mind those errors though.

  2. There is no race without negativity in their history and there is none without negativity in there civilisations even now. They are just better at covering it up than we are. The so called “freedom” in the west has actually put peple in bondage and given them a disregard for common decency and moral and social values. (SANDYHOOK SCH SHOOTINGS etc) I have a sister who lives and works in the U S of A. She claims it is the most dangerous place in the world to raise children. both physically and morally.
    Africans just need to get their act together and stop being selfish. We also need to get rid of the mentality of “if it is white or foreign, it must be better”

  3. Anene Francis says:

    Very nice points raised here. Reminds me about one of my undergraduate courses, ‘state and society’ where similar points were argued. E.g was colonialization of nigeria and by extension Africa, a blessing or a curse, after evaluating the plus and minuses?; Were we better off before or after the coming of the whites?… Personally, I’m more bothered with how we will progress from where ever we are now. As you said, ‘… We shall prevail’. I concur.

  4. Mr. Ezeamulukwuo Charles, I hail your seasoned write up, hinged on series of overtime-studies of thoughts-provoking African history and its colonialism effects, but I vehemently resist the “orgy” of believing with you that Africa has no escape route to its myraids of problems. Indeed there are, but we are yet to come to terms with “real independence”. We don’t believe in the theory of ” We can stand and move without external aid and influences”.
    For goodness sake, we’re old enough for total-break from militating external influences. We are not cows or sheeps that have no say. Our problem remains our leaders who, instead of matching us away from what colonialism left us with, tend to use us a “contract clauses” to bargain selfishly for international honours and bilateral co-existances that mostly don’t “exist” in the threshold of the masses.
    We will get there someday,… but only with the right mentality

    • lyriversity says:

      Mr Austinoz, thanks for the contribution but I feel you misunderstood me. I am not writing that Africa has no chance to develop, I am only trying to change the negative notion about Africans and to state that we Africans are better than what we are now. We are majorly victims of the series of interference from external forces that has a huge help from our selfish governments and elites.
      But we shall prevail, if we start to see ourselves as equals and blessed upon this same mother Earth. And if we begin today to rebuild our system instead of running away from our problems to the Developed Nation.

  5. Gist Editor says:

    An excellent post with well stated arguments. Kudos!

  6. Oludipe Oyin Samuel says:

    ‘But can we? Can we seal the past and let it alone?’ I appreciate the raw poignancy of this, Solar. You have not said thrash

  7. Chimezie Chika says:

    My opinion is simple: inspite our problems and shortcomings Africans are intelligent, perceptive people. There is lots of room for development. Rome was not built in a day. Our problem is simply and squarely corrupt rulers.

  8. Tim says:

    This is indeed an interesting and intelligent article. I was awed. The points and facts are compelling.

    I only wish to
    erase the notion that Africans are backward, lazy, wicked and utterly
    foolish, for we may be these but we are good too.

    The above excerpt seems contradictory. If ur tryin tu erase a notion, den y du in d same breath acknowledge dat “we may be these” too.

    Also I realise dat we hav to identify where the problem is and fix it- Africa’s perennial issues. But I still consider the average african mentality towards the issues raised here as ‘lookin at the glass of water as half empty, instead of as half full’. We need to stop languishing in the throes of pain and regret, and move on, by ourselves or with the assistance of the whites, whichever. The moment we stop seeing the whites as white witches, den we will positively harness all potentials available to us internally and EXTERNALLY.

    Otherwise, I just couldnt stop reading this article.

    Nice work, bruv.

    • lyriversity says:

      Understood! Nice points ƔU̶̲̥̅̊ raised Τ̲̅ђεŕε. I have made some corrections τ̲̣̣̥ợ̣̣̇̇̇ợ̣̣̇̇̇ ♏γ̲̣̣̥ good man.



  10. Good one there. The gradual explanations is purely exciting.

  11. M C Kingdavid says:

    You have said halfly what we discussed in our diplomatic Forum two weeks behind. The write up is a nice one. Do more.

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      Thanks Mr Madu for your input…
      HALFLY? Hmmmm abeg please biko, will you help me to say the rest…lyriversity I believe is open to all good and educative writeups, so we await you.

  12. LegendaryCJN says:

    Are you kidding me! I can’t believe I’ve not read this post. I thought I’ve read all the posts on Lyriversity.
    Now here is my reply, and fortunately, I used it as a tweet today on twitter: “Instead of being driven in an AmeriCar, I’d rather ride myself in my AfriCar”
    Our people use to say that “nkem bu nkem, mana nke anyi bu nke anyi” meaning that mine is mine, but ours is ours(you see why I hate translating Igbo to English? It kills the inherent meaning).
    The world over, different nations have their own problems, peculiar to them and they know how to handle them. For instance, we have natural disasters in many EU, Americas and Asian countries…ours here in Africa is mainly political instability coupled with economic frustrations which I’m sure many continents have faced or are facing too.
    By the time African democracy would celebrate its 100yrs, I’m sure things would have changed far better than in Europe, Ameriacas or Asia…

  13. Obiora Onowu1 says:

    Well articulated/composed

  14. Kendzi says:

    Beating a drum only make beautiful music; it doesn’t change the fact that it is a drum.

  15. Kendzi says:

    Beating a drum only makes beautiful music; it doesn’t change the fact that what you are beating is a drum. I wonder how the human race would be entertained if all was right with the world.

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