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Rejoinder: Africa must weep for Nigeria
- Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
( Monday, March 13, 2006 )
Prof. Sir Abukuse V.E.P. Mbirika is correct in his idea that Nigeria should not be one country: it is really not. As a matter of fact, if Nigeria is one country, it is so in name only; not even on paper. The sad thing is that most Nigerians realize this, but they would rather live with the pretense that Nigeria is one, and to protect the lie, they would respond with hostility and aggression to any reminders, perhaps, much the same way that a sentient organism would respond when subjects of their anxiety are tickled.
It does not take rocket science to see that force is used to maintain any semblance of “togetherness”—forget unity—in Nigeria. Not only force, but intimidation, blackmail, victimization, ethnic cleansing, discrimination, marginalization and even pure hatred, are all factors in this malignantly unwieldy, tottering, parasitic, exploitative and maliciously dysfunctional non-consenting relationship.
Nor does it take rocket science to understand that Nigeria is a result of a colonial construct deliberately put together for the administrative convenience of the colonial power, and for unhindered economic exploitation of the region. This is a construct based on the paradigm of “Balkanization,” which when correctly defined, reveals a deliberate system of divisions and fusions among and within indigenous peoples and their human and natural resources such that both each ethnic group and the collective are so weakened that they could not fight off the common enemy—the colonial master—but are constantly distracted by internecine and inter-group infighting. While all that is going on, their resources (natural and manpower) are smoothly siphoned off by the colonial master. No “invention” or mechanism of colonialism would prove more clever and cunning—and more devastating—than this; none more lasting in its effect.
All over Africa (and even in far corners of the world where colonialism was practiced), the same colonial construct was introduced. In the end, Africa became truly Balkanized, wherein a thousand or so autonomous ethnicities, groups, kingdoms, nations, sovereign entities and other erstwhile geo-socio-political functional units, were balkanized into about fifty “countries” or states or “nations” (misnomer!). Nigeria of course inherited this colonial “gift”: balkanized into one country from three or four major groups and many smaller groups.
At Independence, the colonial masters leave, and indigenous rulers take over. Trouble starts almost right away. This has been repeated all over ex-colonies: the pattern is so predictable and so obvious one would think that we would’ve learned the lesson and applied the correction, but, no! The problem is that the new African leaders fail to see that the colonial masters may have handed over to them, but the colonial construct-program is still in place, left to continue running and to achieve its goal without fail, regardless of new operators. The ex-colonial masters do not seem to mind, because the program works in their favor, just as designed more than a century ago. Meanwhile, the peoples suffer.
The sadder aspect of it is that African leaders and political class quickly defend this colonial construct in a post-colonial era, and are even willing to kill their own people for it, or plunge them into wars, a natural result of the application of balkanization, a validation and proof of sorts that Balkanization still works as long as it is operative. Is it ignorance of their role in defending balkanization and its malignant effects on the peoples (partly) or the perquisites (power, corruption, unfettered and un-accounted for access to public funds and resources) which make these so-called leaders and class clueless about the tiger they are riding? Whatever it is, that is the crux of contemporary African problems, a modern tree grown from the old seed of colonial balkanization.
The solution to this problem calls for the restoration of the nationhood, autonomy, sovereignty, independence and respect—yes, respect!—of the various ethnicities and indigenous peoples and their lands, things that were initially stripped off them by colonialism using ruthlessly potent and efficacious colonial instruments such as Balkanization; and have since then been maintained and sustained by ignorant and or self-serving African leaders, ruling and political classes, and elite. Once free and reunited, each ethnicity or group can seek consenting and mutually beneficial and respectful relationships with neighbors leading to any political configurations which suit them.
In social terms, the problem of Nigeria (an inheritance from the problem of Africa) is that of "RELATIONSHIP"—bad, forced relationship created through Balkanization by colonial masters and maintained today by African leaders. The problem of Nigeria (and Africa) is NOT, repeat, not "Leadership." Leadership can only be implicated to the evident extent of maintaining and sustaining with blood, if necessary, the anti-African retrogressive colonial constructs implanted into the system; however, the primary, enduring problem is, and remains, the implant itself, while African leaders come and go.
The current non-functioning relationship known as Nigeria has to be dissolved in order to effectuate the solution proffered above. In so doing, the Igbo and brother-groups can proceed to form their own sovereign and independent nation of Biafra; the Yoruba, the Odua nation; the Hausa-Fulani, the Arewa nation. Other ethnic groups can also form their own nations or join any of the major ones. If any of these nations then want a larger political configuration, and it is mutually acceptable and equitable and beneficial to them, they of course can and should.
Africa should "weep for Nigeria" and in so doing, mourn itself. The Biafran solution as above is actually a model for the rest of Africa. As pointed out, the Hausa-Fulani in Northern Nigeria (of the Arewa nation) naturally share many things in common with the Hausa-Fulani in Niger and other groups in Chad, including land-borders. It could serve them well to re-unite and form a “Greater Arewa” sovereign nation. All the Bantu people, including Biafrans, could also unite, to the extent possible and practicable, limited only by a critical mass of remaining shared traits, culture, traditions, spoken language and conducive geospace. This should involve a massive re-configuration of political boundaries in Africa, but should not necessarily involve massive social and demographic shifts and movements, since most groups occupy their ancestral land already.
Practicality, necessity and sheer survival demand the separation of Nigeria into constituent nations; if not done in a controlled fashion, it will happen as a matter of course, anyway—by conflagration. This ought to be kept in memory, both long and short, even as the goal of the realization of hithertofore squandered and or squelched human and natural potential becomes the incentive and motivation for breaking away from a smothering dysfunctional ineffective life-wasting relationship called Nigeria. Prof. Sir Abukuse V.E.P. Mbirika is right: Biafra has to come into existence. The whole of Africa is rooting for this, as if in subconscious acknowledgment of its ramifications and benefits for the entire continent, as alluded to above. By the same token, there is a certain sense in which the fullest success of Biafra will, of necessity, only be within the context of a healed Africa—an Africa ridden of Balkanization.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
Photo Above: A Muslim woman walks past a church destroyed during riots in Kaduna, Nigeria, Friday Nov. 22, 2002.
Photo Above: 2 Nigerians battle each other during one of the many ethnic violence rocking the country.
Photo Above: Biafran soldiers at a briefing during the war.
*Article Reason For Rejoinder Above is Published Below
Re: Africa must weep for Nigeria
I fully agree with you that Nigeria is a country that has lots of potential for greatness and in fact, could be great, had it not been for the fact that some Nigerians, like some Sudanese, think they are more than one country accidentally glued into one. Those who think that way may not be grasshopper thinkers at all. Just look at Nigeria; the Northerners have, culturally and religiously, very little in common with their Southern, Eastern and Western brothers. If nations were grafted together on the basis of what they have in common, The Igbos who have much in common with the Bantus of Central and East Africa, would be totally a separate nation from the Hausa and the Fulani in the North, who have much in common with the Arabs in the Middle East. The Yoruba, by size and socialization, would be a nation by themselves.
If no new and fresh thinking mushrooms in Nigeria, we can expect future wars between the Igbos and the Hausas. There could be a solution and here it is: Let the Igbos have their own nation as they demanded during the Biafra war of 1960s. Also let the Hausas have their own nation with their capital in Kano, not Abuja. Let the rest of the small tribes share the remaining part of what is now Nigeria with the Yorubas.
What if this arrangement is still unacceptable? If that be the case, let the Hausas depart Nigeria and join their religious brothers in the Middle-East and let the Igbos rediscover they have many cultural ties in common with the Bantu of Central and East Africa and on the basis of what they have in common, move and join them, starting in the Congo. They need not carry anything from Nigeria. The Congo has all they need. The Yoruba and the remaining tribes would populate the departed areas of what is now Nigeria and hope there will be peace at last. If all that failed to bring peace, we would ask God to directly rule Nigeria as He did with the Israelites before there was King Soul.
The last suggestion is, let the English who caused the mess in the first place, by.......
Re: Africa must weep for Nigeria
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