I’m not your ‘shithole’ -By Fola Ojo

Filed under: Global Issues |

Fola Ojo

I am always enthralled by the science of Reggae musicology. My favourite craftsman was Bob Marley. Each time I listen to his songs, the flow of its lyrics seizes my soul in awe, and moves my heart like a yo-yo in a gyrating gratification. Under the weight of the words of wisdom in Marley’s ballads, sometimes, my emotion buckles. Most of the legend’s works are like the uplifting old Negro spiritual. A lot of the words were straight out of the Holy Bible. One that recently came back ringing in my head was “Rat Race…In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty”. The lyrics of this song were not pin wheeled out of the bible, but from an Ethiopian proverb they came forth. The message in it, however, is far from utopian.

There are men who make acres of diamond dwelling places and yet, live in poverty. They were born into wealth and yet suffer lack. They have available tools and opportunities to succeed and yet remain failures. Readers, there are men raised in proximity to the abundance of water but thirsted throughout their lifetime and eventually died of dehydration. The world consists of men who have eyes but are unable to see earthly treasures with which they are blessed. There are men who have ears but cannot hear the sound of crude oil drilling machine tapping into resources in their backyard. There are persons who have mouth to speak but utter no syllable of remonstrance as their rights are been violated and their precious stones pillaged and heisted off by strangers before their eyes. Marley’s song refers to men in that league as “thirsty fools”. American President Donald J. Trump calls them and countries they come from: “Shithole”.

Shithole is unfortunately a widespread profane shibboleth uttered behind closed doors in a white man’s exclusive and seclusive chateau. The black man did this to himself. Africa is called the Third World, the lazy man’s purview; and the Dark Continent. Her people are called slothful; sluggish; sheepish; fetish; foolish, and despised by the Creator of Heaven and earth. They are also labeled indigents, penniless, impoverished; pauperised; and persistently pulverised by hunger and famine. In the eyes of the ignoramus, the African land is full of moochers, parasites; slumbering scientists who have no record of discoveries, dumb academics who carry titles but think trash, unlearned and never-learning people. Africa is a mere demesne ruled by a band of cerebrally deaf-and-dumb muckety-muck; I have heard that a few times too.

Africans are caricatured objects of ridicule; shoved to the bottom of the totem pole because of weak and savage political leadership at home. The dearth of a savvy leadership across all African countries has snowballed into the death of corporate and individual dreams. When African leaders lay their heads on pillows and bodies on waterbeds, they only dream their citizens into nightmares. Their grasps are for here and now and for self. They are steep in greed; and pernicious in purloining. They created the negative narrative in the mind of the white man that the Black man is no good. Where our efforts and talents should have been extolled, they have been traduced. Where they should have been rewarded they have been defrauded. Where they should have been encouraged, they have been deterred. If you are called ugly names, it must be a jostling wake-up call. So, look around you and see. Leva in circuitu oculos tuos et vide.

Recently deposed nonagenarian Zimbabwean despot, Robert Mugabe, became Prime Minister in 1980. He was called the godfather of global corruption. His perpetuation in power was largely sustained by the country’s natural resources including gold and remarkable diamond deposits. Alongside his wife, the two were named among 56 Zimbabweans implicated in corrupt activities which have fleeced the country of billions of dollars at the expense of the general populace. Seventy five per cent of the land in Zimbabwe are owned by his family members as they sent the economy into a free fall. Eighty per cent of the working age population are unemployed. Basic foodstuffs and fuel are unavailable as inflation remains an astonishing 1,700 per cent a year. We can go on and on about the dark side of Zimbabwe, a country that accounts for five per cent of the world’s platinum production and three per cent of the world’s palladium production; yet, her people wallow in pestering penury.

I was born in Nigeria, a rich nation where stupendously-monstrous wealth is swaddled up in the hands of a few. With Nigeria’s poverty rate pegged at 33.1 per cent, the World Bank now classifies Nigeria as one of the five extremely poor nations of the world. Sixty one per cent of the population live on less than $1 a day, and 92 per cent on less than two dollars a day. In Nigeria, politicians come in as paupers and leave as affluent emperors. When a local government councilor leaves office in Nigeria, he becomes richer than the local government he served. When a governor vacates office, he bankrupts his state and becomes richer than the state he governed. And the looting-legislators assume office broke but becomes richer than everyone in his legislative district. The President? He mounts power with N10,000 in his account, no shoes on his feet; but when he leaves, he becomes richer than at least three African countries put together. Government business in Nigeria is a very chubby cash cow; an ever-flowing fountain of free money, a treasure-trench, a money-trough, and a money-churning chute. Past Nigerian military leaders and political honchos are dealers prepped up in ignominious perfidy. They are duplicitous characters and audacious Cruella De Vil. Nigeria is swimming in the abundance of water yet her people are thirsty and famished because we feed on calories of corruption.

May be the white man is right that African countries are of shithole extractions; but the same is in hot pursuit of abundant gold found beneath the earth in Africa. In 2015, the United States had a $37bn in total goods trade with sub-Saharan Africa. Goods imports totalled $19bn and the US goods exports were $17.8bn. The top US export markets were: South Africa ($5.5bn), Nigeria ($3.4bn), Ethiopia ($1.6bn), Angola ($1.2bn), and Kenya ($937m). The US goods imports totalled $18.9bn in 2015, and Approximately, 39 per cent of the US imports from sub-Saharan Africa were from South Africa and 15 per cent from Angola. The top US import suppliers from shithole African countries for 2015 were: South Africa ($7.3bn), Angola ($2.8bn), Nigeria ($1.9bn), Chad ($1.3bn), and Cote d’Ivoire ($1.0bn). Even in this shithole, there is gold that the world hotly pursues.

All over the western world and in the post-colonialism era, the Black man has made his marks in the academia and other professions. Africans have shoved native sons and daughters aside in the hierarchy of landmark achievements; pioneered researches, and have stood out in technological innovations. Africans had been more innovative than any other contemporary society the world had ever seen, including the Roman Empire! Remember Alexandria of Ancient Egypt (over 2000 years of civilisation), Kumbi Saleh of Ghana Empire, and Timbuktu of Mali Empire? History validates our natural ingenuity in spite of the daily struggles with stigmas from racism and bigotry.

Tagging a whole continent shithole may be a shameful shibboleth, but until sweeping and far-flung disorders in politics and polity in Black African nations are reordered, and until the shithole is made whole and rescued from its present stinking sinkhole, men like Donald Trump will always sound right to many about the nauseating nomenclature given to the Black man. When the Black man puts his house in order, only then will he begin to master

 

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