EARTH’S MAN OF COLOR
How come it that the Chinese, the Arabs, and the whites in their turns have all enslaved the black man? How come the black man despite his natural endowments has always been prey and has never put himself in a position of strength even if not to attack or subdue other peoples?
All that the black man has succeeded in enslaving is himself and his kith and kin and his neighbors. And this he did for many centuries. Thus it was that his kit and kin who he sold were enslaved for 243[kfox1] years at a stretch in North America and were thereafter further subjected to a further one hundred years of legally sanctioned second-class citizenship.
And the black man in his native environment has fared no better. He has allowed his political system to be manipulated by his former colonial masters notably the British, the French, the Belgians, the Dutch and the Spaniards. Hardly any major decision is made without a nod of approval from theses former overlords who, even after they had on paper relinquished political control, they still maintain de facto vice grips on their former colonies. This they will deny officially, but in actual fact—by manipulating the political process in favor of their favored candidates and being the first to recognize whatever flawed electoral results that are announced—they encourage the emergence of dictators and political pawns who would do their bidding at every turn.
It must be granted that in a few countries like Zimbabwe, the political leadership has successfully resisted manipulation and paid dearly for it by conspiratorial destruction of the said countries’ economies—[kfox2] conspiratorial both from the dictatorial activities of the maximum leader on the ground and also from the powers that wrecked vengeance for their not being allowed to continue with their stranglehold on the economy and political control in the former colony. But then in history, there have been many instances where resistance to economic and political domination or manipulation have been resisted and the political leadership on the ground through non-repentant patriotism have worked hard and galvanized their populations into positive and productive action which ultimately saw to the emergence of their peoples from obscurity into preeminent positions as world leaders in technology and commerce.
Mao Tse-Tung’s China is a case in point. India is another. The emergence of many of the so-called Asian Tigers is other cases in point.
A country in West Africa exported the palm kernels from which Malaysia’s oil palm industry was started. The African suppliers of the palm nuts were to start importing palm oil for domestic consumption from Malaysia in under two decades. And it was not that the soil in the initial supplier country got any poorer. It was only that the leaders of the supplier country failed to get their acts together and galvanize their peoples toward positive and productive action either because of greed, ineptitude, or because of acquiescence to manipulation from foreign powers who would want to maintain a stranglehold on the relevant African countries.
It is easy to point accusing fingers for the failures of Africa on the two events in history that were to have very lasting effects on Africa for a very long time: the scramble for Africa of the nineteenth century and the slave trade which started much earlier and continued thereafter.
The one Balkanized Africa and shared it out as if it were commodities. The latter depopulated Africa. Both stalled development and made planning by communities and clans impossible. Both made the roads and pathways unsafe as individuals had to be on their guard at all times.
In the midst of uncertainty about the future, no meaningful community activities could be carried out. The slave trade destroyed family life and engendered mutual mistrust and loss of confidence between adjoining communities and peoples, making it impossible for commerce and other forms of development to grow. It dehumanized peoples and implanted a false sense of superiority and racial supremacy on the subjugators while marginalizing the afflicted and enslaving them and destroying their drive, self-confidence, and self reliance that are necessary ingredients for meaningful development of any people. But would the trans-Atlantic trade explain the continued backwardness of Africa considering the fact that many of the countries like India and China were about as poorly developed as Africa as of the time the nefarious trade was abolished. Between the time of the abolition and the moment, one may want to know what steps have been taken by Africa and African leaders to ameliorate the effects of these forces which have kept the continent down.
The early champions for independence for colonized sub-Saharan African countries Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Herbert Macaulay and Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya Sekou Toure of Guinea, Milton Obote of Uganda, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo of Zimbabwe, and other African leaders like them had a vision of what they wanted for their people after their countries’ liberation from the clutches of colonialism. Certainly it could not have been for personal gains that they fought; otherwise they could easily have sold their countries’ birthrights on a mess of porridge. That was before the forces of neocolonialism found a way around the initial noble aspirations of those early patriots through sponsored coup d’états and subversion.
On the one hand, some of these leaders had sacrificed so much and even paid the supreme sacrifice for the emancipation of their people. On the other hand, some of these leaders, after ascending the throne vacated by the colonial masters, forgot the adage that a good actor leaves the sage when the ovation is loudest.
They tasted the honey of power and did not want to let go.
They wanted to encore and started a systematic suppression of dissent.
Before the colonial powers relinquished power in most of these countries, however, they made sure they trained crops of military personnel who ostensibly were to safeguard the countries in the event of external aggression. In the case of the British-owned territories, Sand Hurst military academy had churned crops of military officers for the colonies. Even where military academies were situated in the countries being given independence, the instructors were still from the colonial masters.
Ostensibly military coup d’état was one of the courses being taught in the military academies Many of these young officers apparently paid more than due attention to the courses on the planning and execution of military coup d’état. This could be inferred from the penchant and the alacrity with which many of these young officers embraced the execution of military coup d’état in many of their countries. Collusion or connivance of the former colonial masters could be inferred from the kid gloves with which the former colonial masters appeared to have addressed the issue of such military uprisings in their former colonies where it suited them. As long as the interests of the colonial masters were protected, it did not bother the latter. As long as commerce flowed and the raw materials were shipped and the finished, products were imported and consumed and more loans were applied for and taken at high interest rates, and the gross annual earnings of the former territories were emptied in servicing the loans; and as far as the books were kept in such a way as to ensure that there
was constant uncertainty about how much was owed and the loans mounted even as payments were made, the worst of the citizens of these countries would be encouraged to ascend to power so that they would keep a blind eye to the escalating ripping off and the perpetual subjugation of these former colonies.
Of course, the citizens of the former colonizing powers had elected their leaders to take care of their interests. Perhaps these interests included subjugating weaker and more indolent nations and peoples and fleecing the latter’s wealth and transporting these to their home countries. These leaders were therefore acting in consonance with the interests of their peoples. They would not and should not be blamed for the collateral damage done to the interest of other weaker or more barbarous or less discerning peoples even if the religion which they had exported to these peoples had laid down the injunction: “Do unto others as you would want others do unto you.”
It is not their fault if the leaders of these peoples after securing independence on paper for their peoples moved into palatial offices vacated by the colonial masters, and, in the enjoyment that ensued, they forgot that privileges were to be matched with responsibilities.
The statement of a master sergeant who shot his way to power in Monrovia at the height of his enjoyment of the presidential palace summed it up:
“Nancy, we ain’t gonna leave this place no more!”
The master sergeant did not realize what he was missing by being in the trenches or by merely carrying out other people’s orders. As soon as he assassinated the sitting president and burst into the presidential palace therefore, the sight of the gilded palace forced out the scales from the master sergeant’s eyes, and in the ecstasy of the moment, he had to exclaim to his wife that they would never again vacate the palace.
It required armed intervention from another adventurer in uniform, another perhaps equally strong and ruthless power monger, to sweep the master sergeant away from the presidential palace.
But were the peoples of the affected countries dumb? Were there no patriots who could stick to their guns and damn the consequences by challenging the status quo? Were the officers themselves not conscious of the possibilities of their being used to the detriment of their countries? Were they not trained to be officers and gentlemen? Were the political office holders who had left themselves vulnerable to attack and deposition too dumb to realize the potential threat to themselves and their administration as they watched the buildup of mutinous elements within their rank and file until they were swept out of power?
There would be no end to the whys and wherefores. So many questions could be raised, but very few plausible answers would be available.
The years would roll on. And the generations would come and go. And the march of civilization would go on irrespective of who decided to be left behind. And the jet age would roll into the computer age, and man would land on the moon: “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”
The above would be declared by Neil Armstrong.
And man plans to head to Mars. And some other men struggle about how to share the royalties from sale of crude oil drilled by foreign entrepreneurs from their soil. And as they struggle for the royalties, they send soldiers to kill their villagers on whose soil the crude oil is located. And where they cannot easily shoot them from the ground, they use war planes bought from the former colonial masters and their brothers, to bomb these villagers from the air.
And they pollute the waters and make agriculture impossible.
Where oil spillage has not done enough damage, pipelines traverse the land.
And the villagers are chased away from the land.
And as they run further into the bush, their brave men who decide to protest are labeled as militants.
They may soon be labeled as rebels if they do not cooperate.
The word “rebel” would not sound strange if it is again utilized.
It had been used in the past to justify the destruction of two million lives.
And as it pleases the colonial master and her minions, the “rebel” word may again be used.
As Africa destroys her people in cold blood, and sells her birth right for a mess of porridge.
Elsewhere on the continent, the war over resources rages on.
One strongman unseats another and starts a new orgy of killings.
The battle is over diamonds and other natural resources.
A call for elections is scuttled by very bizarre means.
The hands of potential voters must be cut off to prevent them from voting!
Let them vote with their toes if they find themselves able.
The march to Mars is certainly not for the man with no arms.
His kinsmen may have some light arms, but these will not pilot him to Mars.
The world outside is fully on the march.
But the people of Africa are forcing themselves on the mat.