Neocolonialism In Post-colonialist Africa: Of Broken Dreams And Unfulfilled Prophesies -By Terinwa Adesipo

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Beauty lies in history; this is because history will never forget us even if we forget it.  Let’s journey back in time, the 1884-85 Berlin conference is historically documented to be the genesis of  organized colonialism in Africa, a conference that saw various states in Africa partitioned, simply put, a united continent was divided among the so called ‘powerful nations’ who were baptized the colonial masters; those who (wrongly) felt that this various nations that conjunctively makes up Africa were either too naïve to independently exist or too powerless to wholly defend their existence. Premised on this established backdrop, these masters of colonies therefore saw for themselves a selfish opportunity, the opportunity to improve their economy and profit themselves at the expense of the suffering of others. Pardon the quick aside, but this inevitably has been a part of human existence right from time immemorial, there has always been since creation, the oppressed and the oppressor, the powerful and the powerless, the commander and the commanded, this is just one sad reality of a world where inequality reigns. Anyway, after this call for the partitioning of the states in Africa into the hands of various powerful states, colonialism was by now fully set in motion.

The history of world development makes it apparent that oppression is never eternal, whether it reigns for a century or live for a millennium, it must one day come to an end, but never easily nor willingly, this is simply because the oppressor is never tired of oppressing but the oppressed must surely one day be pushed to the wall and surely revolt, to which end, the oppressed will look for every available means to gain his freedom; one which is not handed down on a silver platter. Rather, it is something that must be toiled for, sweat for and also die for, at this point, power must surely change hands and so the oppressed either becomes the oppressor or the liberated. This new era is the era of independence, the period of freedom and liberation.

Premised on this established backdrop, not to long after the reign of imperialism in Africa, just as expected a war broke out in every nook and cranny of Africa, this wasn’t the Kijipa war in pre –colonial Nigeria neither  was it  the Ashanti -Fante war in pre-colonial Ghana, it was a war against colonialism, this was the moment so long awaited for, not only by the black man nor only the oppressed but by every man who believed in the equality of all persons as well as the right of every man to dignity and liberty,  to which end, various nationalist groups nascenced and their came the clamour for the independence of Africa  from the shackles of imperialism. On this note, agitations arose from various corners of the continent, the war cry of which was nothing but liberation and independence. After a long battle, the war was won by the anti-colonialist forces and the continent of Africa was granted it wishes, and as a symbol of victory they were crowned with the glory of independence. In this manner, every state in Africa was to become its own master and Lord; they were also in addendum, decorated with the medal of independence to reflect the identity of a free man. Anyway, this is now history, but in the not too distant future the manifestation of independence is not really experienced on the African continent. Times have passed but yet nothing has changed.

In this not too distant future, this once upon a time in Africa now referred to as history of colonialism has resurrected on the African continent, to the observant folks, this resurrection is all too apparent in the manifestation of the current disheartening state of the African continent, in this patch, the decays of colonialism might well be said to be what defines the continent. Although, in this new era of colonialism, there is no Berlin conference, no scrambling and partitioning, no forceful takeover of territories, it is an era of “consented” colonialism; this is colonialism’s second coming to the continent of Africa, but this time around,  it is decorated and celebrated. Although it might be shocking to know that the colonized territory is once again the meant to be liberated Africa continent (or maybe it was never really liberated), but this time around, no battle between the natives and the colonial masters but rather there is a triumphant entry, as Africa itself is supporting its cause for colonization. It is a colonization premised on agreement and consent. No arguments neither disagreements nor conflicts. This is ‘new age’ colonialism.

It has been said with clear justification that “the continent is and will probably remain the poor house of the world’, this is really disheartening, but what can be said of an ‘in-dependent’ continent that heavily if not solely depends on other developed nations, not to say one time colonial masters to survive, the conducts of which is largely manifested in every aspect of its existential life ranging from trade to security and even its political life. Where is the evidence of independence not to say progress on the continent of Africa? Have we easily tossed away the oath we swore never to return to bondage, but maybe we can relate to this, so also was every convert now back into their  sinful ways, they must also have sworn never to go back to representing this old identity. Factitiously, Africa’s population growth to its economic growth is greatly problematic, a continent that has the highest growing rate in the entire universe with no coherent policy for economic progress. Anyway, after years of wasteful spending and resource mismanagement, we are now back to the drawing board and gradually attaining the status of a failing continent not to say totally failed. We can rarely maintain ourselves nor survive on our own without seeking for aids from the developed nations, we must take our begging plates to the doorstep of various developed countries before we can even feed our people, so shameful to a point, that despite the avalanches of human and natural resources at our beck and call, we are now more than any time in history ridiculously depending on developed nations before we can survive. Unlike most persons, I don’t blame colonialism for the woes that currently bedevils the African continent, the reason is better expressed in the words of the great Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie, who once noted that, “Through history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it for evil to triumph”, to which I couldn’t agree more.

Some might baptize it a conjecture, but realistically we owe most of what we can refer to as ‘success’ on the African continent today  to the labours of our heroes past, those who fought, sacrificed and even died for Africa,  we are now a set of people with broken dreams and plethora of  mistakes not to say failures, we have transmogrified a once envied, affluent continent into a beggar on the world streets at the mercy of developed nations, one who must  necessarily beg for alms before it can survive, a once prophesied promise land now wallowing in famine and its people now flowing and sinking in the rivers of recession and depression, this is so disheartening, but this is all we have made of ourselves. We have disposed into the trash can such bravery, unity, progressiveness and intellectualism that once defined us, in this new era, industrialization is a concept alien to the continent as it has realistically played a minimal role in our progress, we have proved right the wrong notion that we cannot fully achieve anything on our own, we now wallow in our failure and disgrace. It is such a crying shame.

To fan the flames of this failure, the political leaders elected and selected to be in charge of affairs have succeeded in bringing alive these wrong notions, leaders who derive pleasure and leisure in nothing but excessive possession and ownership of wealth, the means defined by materialist concept of embezzlement of the commonwealth and also the oppression of the people. It is now so saddening more than ever that years after we were presented with the golden opportunity to manifest our worth as a people, all we can now boast of  are  nothing but failures, failures and more failures. In an era where every other continent has strongly progressed, we have chosen to live by the irritating and regressive dictum of “all fingers are not equal”. For a country like Nigeria, if we do not depend on Chinese industries to import home appliances, we must depend on the United Kingdom or Switzerland to help us revive our dying economy with one of the looters fund which was long time kept away in their country by one of our venal not to say mischievous political leaders.

In the aspect of technology, we have no history to reference to; not to talk of breaking news; the continent is far behind in such progressive and developing concept that now defines the era in which now live. From Airplanes to jets, to cars, to mobile phones among others, we have little history for the creation or development of any of them. Some other visionary nations who are not even as blessed as us are now at the destination of national prosperity and worst of all we are not even whitly abashed by any of this. We are a strong believer in the dictum of “our time is yet to come” or such other school of thought such has “God’s time is the best”. In the area of security, we can no more boast of the best of foot soldiers not to say ‘modern’ soldiers such as artillery weapons, fighter jets among innumerable others that now define this current era. Governments cannot even guarantee the safety of their citizens when faced with the malady of security threat such as terrorism; we must shamefully plead with the western powers to aid us out before we can fully safeguard the lives of our citizens from the destruction of these angels of doom. We are now helpless, if not almost homeless (since the place we call home is no longer safe to live in).

In the aspect of trade, the continent was once a great force to reckon with, the primitive people of the African race were strongly characterized as successful traders and businessmen, Africa was the food basket of the world engaging in the exportation of such agricultural products such as cocoa and palm oil to every other part of the world, it was more or less as if without us no other nation can survive. Sadly those days are long gone, in this not too distant future, this is now all history, our leaders no longer see potentials in the products of the farmland, the followers no longer see wealth in the red collar job now  dubbed ‘dirty’ and now myopically scoped as a career identity for  the poor and illiterate, the continent is now the helpless in need of dire help, we are now the helpless as against the provider, we must now run to the developed countries to aid us out of hunger and famine, so ridiculous to hear that the continent now imports farm produce from other nations, how disheartening. This is all a product of our wastefulness and mismanagement. A land once flowing with milk and honey now begging for crumbs of bread.

In this new era of colonialism, the continent is not forcefully taken over, but rather the continent is expressly and impliedly consenting to it colonization, it is now an era when all thanks to lack of employment, the able bodied as well as and intellectual men and women of the Africa continent now run away to developing countries seeking what is popularly called greener pastures, even when they are being told  that the Mediterranean “valley of death” will cost them their lives,  they are still hell bent on journeying away from this land of disappointment, they are tired of being unemployed and now desperate for survival, the other fraction of those who are not ready to risk death seeking greener pastures have to forcefully rely on dead-end jobs to survive, and those who are also tired of job hunting seek solace in crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, election thuggery among innumerable others, after all, only the ‘strongest’ will survive’ in this world. They are tired of going for various interviews in the hands of opportunist employers, while also noting fully well that we are all a product of a deficient educational system bedeviled with lack of intellectual and passionate teachers and professional as well as a lack of necessary equipment and facilities for learning, as if this were not enough, incessant strike of teachers and lecturers is the order of the day in some countries such as Nigeria, it is now a continent where there are no employment, no funds to start businesses, no business friendly atmosphere to develop and manifest business ideas. The youths are more than ever tired of being metaphorically referred to as the leaders of tomorrow, despite being ruled by megalomaniacs, corrupt and gerontocratic leaders.

As if this were not enough, diversification of the economy is a word now alien to the continent, for a country like Nigeria, it’s major if not only source of generating revenue lies in crude oil, a resource whose potential not to say worth is now beginning to wane. A country that attach so much to FIFA rankings but ranks 129th on prosperity index, a case of mis- prioritization. A country whose economy is on life support, since virtually all its commonwealth is now in personal savings account of its ‘caring’ leaders. The continent has lost a large part of its intellectuals to the developed countries who value their worth and appreciate their potentials, all out of sheer disregard for meritocracy and unhelpful alliance with mediocrity, favouritism and mass unemployment, the best and finest brains of the continent have seeked greener pasture in other climes of the world where they are appreciated, utilized and beneficial.

To continue identifying and outlining out the problems that now defines the continent might be a task that will be completed only in eternity, simply put, the list is unending, but  anyway, I think it is the apex point in the history of our existence where we must necessarily come to terms that we have long ago missed out on the right track, that we have sent packing such progressive identity that once defined us, while also realizing that we are a unique set of people who possess the potential to manifest greatness just like every other continent has done for itself, embezzling public funds is no panacea to the problem, if thinking that the only way to  never be poor is to keep for oneself what belongs to other people while making them suffer, then where is the evidence of humanity?, this is nothing but dull headedness, not  to say inhumanity. When you think not giving two straws about the people who elected you into government is the only way to make them vote for you in the next election, what do you say about those who will die before the next election because they could not get for themselves food to eat or those who lost the battle to death because they could not get medical aid when ill.

I think it is time we got down to brass tacks and map out for ourselves a progressive blueprint while also joining hands together and understanding the important place of unity, we cannot have bad roads, inadequate power supply and still expect the economy to boom. We must begin to understand that the mission to achieve greatness is a task for all and not a task for one or what do we do when the continent becomes totally helpless and transmogrify into a burden on other nations; those who have taken their time, effort, resources and intellectuals to develop their country to its current state, those who have dedicated time and resources to better the lot of their citizens and also beneficially and effectively explore their natural and human resources. An English friend once questioned me as to when youths in Africa would be allowed to take up the mantle of leadership, to which I unbelievably replied ‘sooner than soon’, Pray tell, when is Africa’s Tomorrow going to be?, the youths are tired of being fictitiously crowned the all-time leaders of tomorrow in a nation governed by gerontocrats and megalomaniacs, and even when they attempt to shoulder such political leadership responsibility, they are told to go to hell or  join the train while the defiant ones are taught the ‘lessons’ of their life .

This should be the genesis of our existential restoration, simply put, it is time we found purpose for our existence, we must now begin to understand that there is a reason for our existence, we are all free to blame whoever we think for our woes, but in doing that we must remember how whether singly or conjunctively, we all have contributed to our failure. It is the point where we must believe in the ability of our distinguished young men and women, where we must come to the aid of our helpless natural resources crying for utilization , where we must bring alive the idea of diversification, where we must put in place an organized system of government that befit our existence, where we must begin to understand that our strength lies in our unity, and our doom in our disunity, where we must know that Xenophobic attack for whatever reason is inhumane, a point where we must understand that the exploitation of our fellow men is not the pathway to wealth and riches, where we must understand that embezzling public funds will not guarantee a place in the Forbes list of Richest persons neither will it make you a richer person than Mansa Musa but that such action is a reflection of wickedness and affront on humanity.

It is time for a re-thought, time for restructuring, time for a re-birth, it is also time to find for ourselves a sense of direction as well as a system of government that best suits our existence, we must desist from trying to fit our square pegs into round holes of Federalism, unitary system or whatever system of government that is alien to our existence , maybe after all this, we can now realistically have an organization of African Unity, maybe then our people will no longer queue up not to say sleep in Foreign embassies for America or Canada visas, maybe then our youths will no longer be desperate to seek greener pasture while risking their lives in the Mediterranean valley of death, maybe then our youths will no longer be instruments of criminality, maybe then we can now fully exist independently of overburdened loans, maybe then the labour of our heroes past would not had been in vain, maybe then we can now show the world how unique we  are, maybe then we will no longer be a burden to other nations, maybe then we can now attain the status of the helper and not the helpless, maybe then, we can now justify the real reason for our existence, maybe then we can now call ourselves liberated and blessed. This New Jerusalem is no mission impossible but first we must importantly realize that our destiny lies in our hands. Let us forgive ourselves for our failures and mistake, let us find peace within ourselves and forgive one another for our errors; it is time for us to live in love and unity. After all this we can therefore set out to take our place among the league of successful continent, this is because Africa is a continent God has so destined for greatness, let no man  therefore put to destruction.

 

 

Terinwa Adesipo

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One Response to Neocolonialism In Post-colonialist Africa: Of Broken Dreams And Unfulfilled Prophesies -By Terinwa Adesipo

  1. This piece is intellectually realistic and insightful…

    Emmanuel
    December 25, 2018 at 7:07 pm