Are we cursed in black Africa? (Part 1)
By Taju Tijani
Black Africans derive great joy from their ancient heritage and history and millions are still proudly Africans despite the mayhem and poverty of their resource –rich continent. Black scholars and Afrocentrists from all corners of the world salute Africa as the veritable and undisputable birthplace of civilization. Countless stolen artefacts in Western museums attest to the greatness of this sun-drenched continent. When we thumb through the glorious past of mother Africa, we may be prone to accident by falling into a frozen time warp of ‘gloria Africana’ and one may also be guilty of putting a sentimental halo on our yesterday.
Today, black Africa sits on a pressure cooker that is building menacingly like a time bomb set to explode and cause ripples and shock all over the world. Black Africa is today an observer and part player in the dynamism of globalisation that has bless and curse our modern world. As waves after waves of humanitarian, social, economic and political change sweep across the world, black Africa stagnates and falls deeper into wasting poverty. Our destiny is arrested by a band of blood sucking cabal and we are forever thrown into the miry clay of helplessness and quiescence. Our shared values are in diametric opposition with the rest of the world.
The communal-centred society, romanticised by pan-Africanists and other apologists of ‘gloria Africana’ has long disappeared and in its place, we have erected a tombstone proclaiming our degeneracy into a continent of fathomless pit where man must eat man to survive. Communal living, which was once our best weapon against the soulless individualism of the West has long evaporated as greed and materialism infected us, and destroyed for good, our noble ideal of being our brother’s keeper. Through wrong-headed economic planning and astonishing daily wastage of resources, black Africans brought about self-inflicted poverty and moral decay on a continent blessed with peaceful and law-abiding citizens.
Yet, black Africa desperately wants to lead a double life. We want to be seen as a progressive, modern, democracy-driven continent but unmindful that beneath our facade lurks a thoroughly repressed, angry and stratified humanity clamouring for real equitable redistribution of wealth held down by leader-looters. Let me quickly declare an interest. This writer belongs to a tiny band of radical realists who are less overawed by the theme of gloriana in black African turbulent history. Black Africa’s past is bygone while the present is a long tale of pain, shame and hopelessness. Our recorded history of utopia and native innocence has given way to a hardening of compassion and wickedness.
It is often said that nations of the world have weaknesses and almost all of them carry dark spots on their backs, which, ironically, they cannot see. Germany, it must be said, is still saddled with the horror of the final solution of the Jews. Russia’s own demon is in its shameless gulag. France reeks of Vichy. United States hubris is located in the genocide of slavery. Britain is weigh down by the shame of its colonialism and rapacious stripping of black Africa’s resources. Japan has its Pearl Harbour disaster. South Africa is tormented by the iniquity of apartheid. Rwanda agonises over its genocide. Nigeria, my own Nigeria, embodies the decay of the entire black African continent. She is massively corrupt, decadently poor, rudderless, selfish, uncaring and unpredictable.
Some of these countries have been able to confront their shameful past and re-entered the world with dynamism and a pledge to re-write their present in glowing progress and social justice. They have been able to sow strong foundation of peace, economic progress, harmony and freedom as we have seen in US, UK, Germany, France and Japan. However, black Africa remains a stubborn giant, unable to confront her demons and lay sound foundations for a forward trajectory in her disastrous history. Rather, the continent has degenerated so badly that we urgently need to confront the disturbing truth about ourselves. So, what happen? Why are we disconnected with the global sphere? Who are we? Why are we so radically different from the rest of mankind? Why is our society in a permanent state of chaos and underdevelopment? What is keeping us down? Why do we convey to the rest of the world an ugly impression of naked evil, brutality and unimaginable viciousness and cruelty? Why are we like Cassandra who is able to foresee the future, but utterly powerless to embrace it?
Why do we stagnate while the rest of the world is at a supersonic speed to create a better society where there is peace, progress, freedom, happiness and equalities for all? For a start, who are we, is a nebulous question in its entirety. We can say, like the United Nations, that mankind is one and black Africans are part of humanity. In this statement, we merely offer a temporary comfort to black Africans who are blind to the wide chasm separating the black race with the rest of other colours. Equally, mankind is one, may be a deliberate double-speak honed to offer blacks some acceptance in a runaway world that has turned its back on black Africa. We are regarded as part of humanity to remove the notion of difference and superiority of races being readily peddled by race merchants who are shocked at the state of our development.
Mankind is one is an emotion-laden statement consciously coined by the United Nations to obliterate the permanent stain of slavery and colonialism on the damaged psyche of the black race. Today, our modern world is less accommodating. Race merchants are now on the loose and are becoming more emboldened in their desire to offend and dispensed with the worn-out flattery of black Africans.
We are seen through the cold prism of our society which offers them ammunition to describe us in less flattering terms. We are still been perceived as unintelligent, dirty, noisy, monsters, barbarians, brainless, organically corrupt, sexually incontinent, violent, greedy, inhuman, adulterous, pagan, liars and material-minded. The self-created millions of permanent underclass in a continent of material and human resources, continue to reinforce the belief of race merchants that black Africans are imbeciles and genetically close to apes than mankind. In defence, black scholars and Afrocentrists are excavating the buried glory of Egyptian civilization as measurable yardstick for our high intelligence. By the way, Egyptians are not Negroid like you and I! We have to admit that we are sensationally different from our Maghreb cousins. Black Africans are endowed with abundant mass of flesh on the nose and generous thick lips. The nose of our Egyptian cousins is distinctly aquiline and the hair is wavy.
Ancient black Africa, we are told was blessed with mortals with superhuman abilities. Our ancestors built the pyramid, invented scientific instruments, founded the world’s religions and many ancient local chiefs could knock out six voluptuous women in a row without Pfizer’s Viagra! As a radical post-modernist, I found this timeless sentiment, tirelessly hilarious. Who pulled the plug on our past abilities? Who is the Dracula that drained our medieval intelligence and left us in this rut? Could it be the white man, the perpetual victim of black Africa’s fall from grace to mindless profligacy? What’s going on in black Africa for heaven’s sake?