The title of this article is not a special effect. It is not a slogan, it is a most sincere query. And, it is one that must pass through the minds of all conscious Africans as they look on the buffoneries and tragedies that unfold daily across our yet to be born nation. We Africans are unique in the sense that we are a people without a nation who seem to be quite resigned to this fact. We are happy, it seems, to rally behind the symbols of other people's manifested destiny or, to delude ourselves through our wholehearted identification with the geographical (and cultural) constructs of former slave-masters and land-pirates.
I, for example was born as something called a nigerian. In reality, there is no such thing as nigeria. There is no language on this Earth called nigerian, there is no culture called nigerian and, in place of a nigerian Istory, we
have nigerian history. This last point is the most important as a common Istory is the glue that binds people together.
For example, the Ogoni have a common experience within the exploitative entity called nigeria, this common experience, (from the distant past up until yesterday) is thier Istory. It is unique. The Ijaw (another people whose lands contain oil) may have a Istory that is closely related to that of the Ogoni; they have certain things in common. But, Ijaw Istory is not the same as Ogoni Istory.
The current nationalist conflicts in Africa can be traced to one crucial mistake made by the founders of the OAU. They decided that colonial borders would be inviolable. Discussions about the retrieval of true sovreignity by the various peoples caught up inside these foreign contraptions were relegated to the status of 'divisive topic'. Yet, all the wars in Africa, from the sixties up till now have happenned between the different nationalities that are caught up INSIDE colonial borders. These wars have been mis-named 'civil-war' as a way of distracting from the reality. A civil-war happens between people of the same nationality. How many times has this happenned in Africa? And, how many times have neighbouring African 'countries' gone to war with each other? Yet, this is meant to be a war-torn continent. A proper examination needs to be made about the arenas, participants and causes of these conflicts if such events are to be stopped from recurring.
The so-called nigerian civil war was actually a war for resources between the Igbo and the other nationalities within the colonial borders of this so-called independent African country.
Even those wars that were fought between militarized political parties (such as in Angola) were nationalist wars as the battling parties (UNITA and MPLA) had thier base support within different nationalities - for example, UNITA was dominated by Ovimbundu. Likewise, if we look at the war currently going on in the DRC and other conflicts throughout the West African region (e.g. cote d'ivoire), we will find that the belligerent participants are always divided along nationalist lines. Going back to the DRC, one might point to the intervention of Rwanda as an example of one African 'country' invading another, but, Rwanda's entry into the DRC was a continuation (opportunistic, yes) of the struggle between the Hutu and the Tutsi in Rwanda. Similarly, the recent talk of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea is also a continuation of struggles that started back when Eritreans were reluctant Ethiopians.
When dealing with this topic, some people will eventually reach for the template question "why do Africans keep fighting tribal wars?". To use this query is a sign of ignorance, intellectual laziness or cowardice. It is a way of embracing hopelessness because, in this day and age, any sort of act which can be proven to be motivated by an anachronism (like 'tribalism') is an act whose participants can be safely labelled as socially retarded. It is a way of saying, "this people are genetically backward, they will never resolve this, so, maybe we need to go in and impose a solution." Again : To label the wars in Africa as 'tribalist' is a way of pinning the label 'inherently primitive' on Africans. It is a way of avoiding the truth (for self-serving purposes on one side, and out of cowardice/laziness on the other). It is an indicator that the mind contemplating the problem is looking for an easy solution to something whose resolution requires some COLLECTIVE original thinking (where COLLECTIVE refers to African minds).
Where is the African nation? To speak of us being a nation assumes that we share a common Istory. But is this true? Well, we know that in the beginning, we were probably one people. But, that is ancient Istory. What has the greatest bearing on our CURRENT situation is our recent Istory. Which is why we have to ask : is the collective experience of the Yoruba within the entity called nigeria the same as that of the Igbo? In the 45 years that has passed since 'independence', has the Istory of the Fulani been the same as that of the Tiv? Is it not more true to say that at most, all we share is an awareness of each other's unique culture/Istory? That we have acted upon each other (and not together) based on what we know, desire or fear about each other?
And, worse still, have'nt these cherished prison walls served to divide peoples who actually share a common cultural heritage (e.g. Hausa are split between nigeria, niger, Republic of Benin and Togo, Hutu between Rwanda and Burundi, Kongo between the DRC, Angola and Congo, etc.). These vital cultural links, which should have been built upon, and utilised as a means of moving a whole group of people foward were cut and, the people, like a bunch of cats, were put in a sealed sack with different nationalities and left to fight amongst themselves.
Yet, it seems that we have to hold these self-serving contraptions of the european colonalist in the highest regard. It has became something so sacred that to talk about it's intrinsic worthlessness is enough in some places to have you put on trial for treason. Yet, here is the reality : these so-called countries are nothing more than resource collection agencies for former colonial vampires.
Some with good intentions have proceeded as if all you need is a flag, an anthem and a 'lingua franca' (which is usually the language of the former colonialist) and yes, you have a nation. They get impatient and even suspicious when you try to point out that nations already exist in the spaces where they are trying to erect a country. Why get upset? It is an acknowledged rule of nature that two bodies cannot occupy the same physical and temporal space. Which would mean that, for nigeria to truly exist as a nation, the Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Idoma,Edo, Kanuri, Efik, etc. will have to cease existing as distinct cultural, linguistic and Istoric entities. Now, while you may find some lunatic Fulani supremacists who will be quite willing to see the others drop thier distinguishing cultures and become absorbed into the greater Fulani nation (which we may still call nigeria for the sake of continuity), it is very doubtful that you will find a great number of Igbo or Tiv who will be willing to do this. So, great force will have to be used. Resistors will have to be exterminated as this will be the only way to ensure that what they carry dies out. On the other hand, if it is the Igbo culture that is to become the greater national culture, then, we can expect to be faced with the same singular option and the same resistance (from Yoruba and others).
Which leaves another alternative : perhaps we should drop all indigenous cultures and become black english.
After all, the english devised nigeria and it's institutions. This will be the easiest solution. But, when it is done, how poor will we be? How vunerable, confused and ripe for eternal slavery will we have become?
Of all the ways of resisting tyranny, cultural resistance is the most tenacious. Lands can be taken and a people can become enslaved, but, for as long as they retain traces of what thier ancestors were, they will never be completely conquered. Culture exists first and last in the mind. Manifestations (art, religion, etc.) are first visualised by the mind's eye and, when the solid product is before us, it is within ourselves that we find the interpretation of the symbols, sounds and icepts.
This is why there is nothing that the colonial entity finds more disturbing than expressions of autonomous indigenous culture (i.e. expressions within which they have no role). This is why we keep finding them in our business, first, they want to know what this thing means to us, and when we are stupid enough to engage with them, we can be certain that soon they will return with another definition. "This is what you meant. Right?" they will say (with the new definition in one hand, and cash in the other).
This is how they re-defined economics for us, how they re-defined religion, politics, art, etc.
The colonialist vampire re-defined human relationships (individual and collective). They re-defined our culture and continue to seek to do this whenever we present some manifestation that they are not familiar with. Whenever we do our thing in a way they are not used to (or capable of), they will fine-tune the standard of excellence/truth until it is compatible with thier understanding (or capabilities). And after this is done, after we are done witnessing once again the warping of what was once ours, we retreat further into our sources (as it is a primal urge of all beings to be distinct).
We Africans know that we have existed in this world as the recievers of other species hatred. We have therefore developed the habit of concentrating our best hopes for security in the one fortress that we know best : our indigenous identities. But, despite the probability that this fortress may in time become just another prison (like the so-called countries whose citizens we have been compelled to become), we often find that we have no better option than to retreat deeper into our culture because this is the refuge of last resort.
Unfortunately, the expectations of the ones seeking an identity can also warp certain aspects and turn these into negative forces. The border guard thus becomes a prison guard. Our cultures may become like the fearful parent who imposes strict restrictions on the child because once the child is out of the boundaries patrolled by the parent's awareness, it's well-being can no longer be guaranteed. Culture, when emphasised as unyielding dogma, becomes a means of repression.
Is there a solution? Yes.
It is not a new solution, it is one that was proposed long ago but which was never pursued to it's neccesary conclusion due to the activities of hostile vested interests. The one and only solution to the chronic disunity within African 'countries' is African unity. Pan Africanism. Not as a slogan or a topic of prayer but, a practicality. It can be realised. In places where 'democracy' is being practised (key word), the political parties that are sincere in thier wish to uplift the people MUST make the actualisation of the Pan Africanist ideal a key part of thier manifesto. One governing system for the whole BLACK African species. And, the start of this solution will be to dismember the fake entities that are currently masquerading as African countries and to re-assemble the various nationalities of our species behind one all-encompassing border.
Within this border, all African nationalities (at home and abroad) will have the rights given to them by the creator. They will decide thier own destiny and thier decisions will be guaranteed by the ENTIRE Black African collective.
What I am stating is not the full picture, it is only a description of what the beginning of our true liberation should look like. How people assemble to make thier decisions, how they choose the ones who will voice thier decisions and, what the obligations of the individual African should be to the collective are matters that we will decide on together. This though I know for certain, we must take control of our destiny, we must put ourselves first, our gatherings must be OUR gatherings, no foreign species has the right to voice even an opinion regarding our definitions, our decision making processes, and our decisions. We should know by now that they are not to be trusted. They must be KEPT OUT. This is a point that requires no negotiation or explanation to any person or collective organisation that is outside our species. The ones who have a SINCERE wish to see us recover our selves are aware of what we need to do, anyone who pretends not to get it is an unrepentant enemy of Africans.
Africa has all it needs in terms of human and other earthly resources within it's natural borders. It is up to us to realise this and to now embark on the journey that will return us to the status of humans who can walk this earth in security and with dignity. To become one, we need to let go of the divisions that were imposed from outside, trust our various indigenous cultures and develop them. Leaders need to enable our peoples to communicate in thier own unique ways with the things of the earth that we require to build up our own civilization. Scholars need to construct mechanisms for a just dialogue between our various indigenous cultures.
It is only through this process (of a just dialogue) that a unified AND representative government for Africans at home and abroad can become realised.
FAIR USE NOTICE:
This site may at times contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml