Every continent had its dark ages; Europe had it; it began when the Roman Empire fell and lasted to the renaissance; it is a period when little or no science and technology came out of Europe. The other continents have found a way to get themselves into living in the light (scientific knowledge), whereas Africans continue living in darkness (lack of scientific knowledge). It is now time for Africans to leave darkness behind them and start living in the light and quit making childish excuses for their seeming eternal backwardness.
WHEN WILL AFRICA EMERGE FROM THE DARK AGES?
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
There are many Africans who tell us that Africa had a golden age; they cite the Egyptian civilization as an example of a past when Africans were at the apogee of world civilization. Chiak Anta Diop is one such African. In America Chancellor Williams pretty much repeated that mantra; both amassed evidence that seemed to prove that ancient Egyptians were black folk. Pictures and sculptures that presented black folk living in Egypt were provided as evidence of the Africanness of ancient Egypt. The problem with that perspective is where Egypt is located: on the Mediterranean with semi temperature weather.
From everything that we know about climate and skin color those who live in fairly cool climes tend not to be jet black in color; blackness tends to be associated with the hot tropics. Thus, ancient Egyptians probably adapted to their climate and would have looked like what current Egyptians look like, brown.
Let us not delude ourselves: ancient Egyptians probably did not look like today’s West Africans (typical Negroes); they were probably an Afro-asiatic people hence brown in color (like todays Yemini Arabs).
Given where Egypt is located, close to black Africa and white Europe, of course, there were Africans and white folks in it but those two probably were not the originators of that fabled empire.
And even if ancient Egyptians were coal black Africans that reality does not help us much today. Folks who bask on their past laurels while in the present live in squalor seldom persuade anyone to believing that they are what their supposed past says about them. If ancient Egyptians were Africans and did wonderful things and contemporary Africans are unable to do anything well, such as run a modern nation state, it does not help us much to talk about Africans supposed past glorious days.
In today’s world Africans are at the bottom of everything that human beings admire and consider sign of civilization. Africans are at the bottom of every economic indices of development; African countries are the worst governed polities in the modern world. These are facts and facts do not tell lies.
Aware of their backward status, some African nationalists provide us with pseudo rational explanations as to why they are where they are. The apostles of dependency theory (the neo-colonialism excuse) have had a field day telling us how the modern world’s economy is rigged in favor of Western countries, how the west controls the world’s economy and transform African countries into plantation economies that provide them with the raw materials that their industries need.
The periphery, Africa, sends raw materials (whose prices are artificially kept low by the West) to the metropolis. The metropolis manufactures goods and then sells them to the periphery at high prices thus further impoverishing Africans. Africans sell raw cocoa and coffee cheaply to Europeans, who turn them into usable chocolate and coffee and sell them expensively to Africans; Africans export cheap crude oil and buy refined oil from Europeans at expensive prices; this way Africa is continuously impoverished by its dependent relationship with the West. This is the teaching of dependency theorists.
This view was probably true in the 1960s but in the twenty first century is no longer true. Asians have managed to extricate themselves from European economic strangle hold and are as a matter of fact doing better than many European countries. America is so indebted to China that it now practically belongs to China. And those Asians countries were at one point colonized by Europeans and got their independence at around the same time that Africans did!
If Asians can in sixty years manage to transform themselves into modern economies why haven’t Africans done so in the same time frame?
Clearly, there is something about Africans and their behaviors that accounts for their backwardness. Africans can no longer blame it all on white folks; at any rate, no one now listens to their blaming other persons, for people can see them make a royal mess of their continent.
Africans have a knack for blaming other people for their problems; they sold their people to Arabs and later to Europeans and did not take responsibility for selling their people and instead blame Europeans for buying their people (generally, they do not blame Arabs to whom they were selling their people even before white folks came on the scene in the early 1500s, and to whom they sold more Africans to than the transatlantic slave trade sold Africans to the Americas).
Blaming other folks for their problems is their over learned behavior pattern; a trait that few persons these days listen to; I certainly do not pay attention to their childish efforts to shift responsibility for their self-defeating behaviors to other persons.
Apparently, in blaming other persons for their issues Africans manage to retain a sense of being ideal and perfect and see those they blame as imperfect.
Similar rationalization is employed by the criminal to make him seem godly while the person he stole from is seen as evil. And while he does so he continues in his anti-social behaviors; only those who take ownership of their behaviors engage in pro-social behaviors.
As long as Africans blame other persons for their problems they will continue engaging in anti-social behaviors, looting their countries’ economies and generating poverty for their people while seeing themselves as good.
The slave seller is evil; the slave buyer is evil; it would not do to blame one party in a crime and not the other.
I have heard so many excuses from Africans and their white liberal sympathizers as to why they do not seem able to get anything right that I have plugged my ears with wool and no longer listen to their lame excuses.
Consider Nigeria. In Nigeria corruption is so high that if you are driving on the streets you must carry change to bribe police officers who stop you every few miles and ask for bribe; if you deal with any government agency you must plan to bribe the officials; if you plan to start a business you must give away a certain percentage of your hoped for profit to government officials; if you have a case before the courts you must bribe the judges etc.; nothing gets done, albeit shoddily, in Nigeria without bribery. The country is a big mess; no economic development can take place in this corruption haven.
Given this bedlam we are supposed to close our eyes as to the cause of the country’s underdevelopment and instead listen to the claptrap Nigerians and their white liberal friends spill out on how Europeans prevent Africans from doing anything right. Well, some of us no longer listen to those foolish excuses.
It is clear that Africans are living in the dark ages and need to come to living in the light age. So, how can we drag Africans from the darkness they currently live in and get them to live in the world of light?
We have listened enough to African excuses and now must see solutions embarked on.
The first excuse that we must no longer listen to is the excuse that Western colonial powers amalgamated many different tribes into the same countries and that these people do not get along hence cannot operate an efficient government. (And while so glibly talking they nevertheless take pride in their different cultures instead of trying to unify them by selecting and merging what is good in them and throwing out what is bad in them.)
Let us accept the ethnic groups’ differences argument. So what is the solution to it? The solution is to restructure African countries! That is the obvious solution and does not need much talking about. Why haven’t these mere talkers embarked on this solution?
Consider Nigeria. Nigeria is made of many ethnic groups. Okay. Figure out the number of the ethnic groups and make each of them a state. Then let the states confederate or federate.
Obviously, some of the ethnic groups are too small to be even counties in a state, so merge many small groups into a state (and have each small ethnic group a county within the state).
Nigeria has about twelve large ethnic groups and hundreds of small ones. Each of the big ethnic groups is capable of being a state, thus make each of them a state. Thus, we should by now have had an Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, Efik, Ijaw, Uhrobo, Tivi, Plateau, Nupe, Hausa, Bornu states and smaller groups merged into another three states; Nigerian would by now have a total of fifteen self-sustaining states (not the current thirty six so-called states that are no more than counties in a unitary government; each of them cannot economically support itself and need the federal government to go steal money from the oil rivers and give it to them…actually, to their thieving governors to squander).
Each state would be totally in charge of its economic resources and political affairs but have its citizens pay taxes (say, 20% individual income tax, 20% corporate tax and 20% sales tax) that would be used to run the central, national government.
The national government would operate the country’s military defense and foreign affairs. This restructuring of Nigerian and other African countries should have been done fifty years ago; that is, shortly after African countries obtained independence from European colonial powers.
Africans should have solved a perceived problem and stopped talking smack about that problem. Since that political problem has not been solved so solve it now and quit talking about it.
Let each African country that is composed of many ethnic groups have each large ethnic group a state and congregate small ones into additional states (The Congo Democratic Republic, given its ethnic mix would be about twenty states).
Once the structural issue is taken care of the next task on the agenda is economic development. Posit a goal of developing Africa economically. African states can transform themselves into the likes of Asian countries in twenty years. They can do it and must do it.
Start by providing all young people free education, from elementary to university level, with emphasis on the sciences (70% of university admissions should be in the sciences, especially applied sciences). Nigeria, for example, ought to have, at least, 1000 universities, most of them in the pure and technical sciences. At least 33% of all Nigerians should go to universities (100% should go to elementary and secondary schools).
Embark on massive industrialization; embark on total infrastructural constructions. Embrace a mixed economy (capitalism and socialism).
And where are the resources, money, to accomplish all these ideals to come from, you ask? Good question. My response is that where there is a will there is a way.
Embrace a multi-party system (but limit the number of political parties to three in each state to avoid Africans tendency to have parties that exist to serve their egos but not national goals; the political parties should be ideologically based rather than personality or ethnic affiliation based, such as social democratic party; capitalist democratic party and mixed economic democratic party.
The rulers should be democratically elected and given term limits (five years for the legislators at the national, state, county and city levels, four terms limit); the president (national ), governor (state), supervisor (county), and mayor (city, town) elected for five years (two term limits); the judges selected through civil service means, that is, by examination and promoted on meritocracy and serve as civil servants and work their way to the top, the Supreme court of the nation or state supreme court and serve for as long as they are under age 70 and in good behavior.
The national Legislature should be composed of 300 members; the state legislature should be composed of fifty one members, the country council should be composed of thirteen members and the city council should be composed of seven members.
The legislatures at each level of governance should be unicameral (one house, not two houses; this reduces the cost of running governments).
If a public official (elected or civil servant) is corrupt, takes bribes, steals from the public etc. he is tried and sentenced to crucifixion; he or she is crucified and his body left on the cross to rot there so that passersby see him there and learn from his fate what would happen to them should they steal from the public.
A friend of mine believes that my solution would not work; he believes that African states must first break up into their ethnic constituents and each a nation-state and that since most of them would be too small to make a go of it economically that they could then voluntarily federate or confederate, but not forced into a federation; he advocates voluntary nations where constituent parts negotiate the powers of the center and the periphery. Perhaps, this is the way to go?
I personally think that the future would not support small states but would lead to large nations (such as USA, Canada, China, India, Brazil, EU etc.). I tend to want all black Africa (under the Sahara) to unite as one federation, with each ethnic group a state in it and the powers divided between the center and periphery. I do not think that small African tribe based countries will amount to anything significant in the modern world.
I have elaborated on my preferred African constitution in books and articles and need not repeat myself here. The point that needs to be made is that Africans must drag themselves from their current dark ages to a new light age and quit making excuses for their dark age. They are no longer funny; they make one sad. So far nothing that human beings admire (science and technology) comes out of Africa; it is now time for good to come out of Africa.
It is now time to stop only expecting diseases, poverty, suffering and death coming out of Africa and expecting development and human achievement coming out of Africa; anything other than this one is no longer listening to, nor would one make excuses for Africans continued investment in being failures.
· The material presented in this paper falls into the category called political idealism. An idealist looks at what is and does not like it; he rejects what is and uses his mind to construct what he thinks should be. Having posited his ideals he pursues them and wants every person else to go along with him and seek his ideals. If he is to bring about his ideals clearly he must use power to do so or else they are mere idle wishes, dreams, really. Thus, there are active idealists and passive idealists.
· Active idealists enter politics to bring about their wishes whereas passive idealists merely dream about their political wishes and do nothing to bring them about.
· Most people in the human polity are political realists; that is, they accept what is and do not reject it and operate within its confines. Most Nigerians, for example, are political realists; they accept the corrupt polity they find themselves in and operate within its context; they give their corrupt rulers bribes and manage to live out their miserable and benighted lives, unwilling to rock the boat and do what would have to be done to clean their rotten house; they are afraid to die fighting for justice; they are contemptible cowards who are better off dead than alive; actually, they are living dead persons and do not matter to existence.
· Idealists tend to be few in numbers; occasionally, a human polity is blessed or cursed with a world idealist as its leader, such as Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin. Hitler was a fascistic idealist; that is, a nationalist, actually a national socialist; Stalin was a socialistic idealist. Both did not see anything wrong killing millions of people if in doing so they brought about their idealistic states. They tried and as these things always happen in the end were defeated by mankind’s indolence and imperfection.
· People always return to their preferred imperfect states. But as long as idealists are around they make living seem worthwhile, for a little while anyway before the people return to their sleeping, dreaming do nothing state.
· I must, however, state that idealism, be it of the fascistic or socialistic type, often results in the individual misperceiving himself; he often sees himself as having the type of power folk’s project to what they call gods. Thus, many idealists, on the right or left, tend to be deluded persons; both Hitler and Stalin were narcissistic and paranoid personalities. Yet, the few years those deluded narcissists lived made their people feel fully alive! They got their people feel fully engaged in the affairs of their countries.
· Africa obviously needs world level idealists to change the rot that is Africa and give Africans a sense of being alive. Can you imagine what would happen to Nigerians if a world class political idealist of Stalin’s stature, a man who does not mind killing millions of Nigerians to resurrect the political corpse that is Nigeria, came to power and used brute force to transform that shit house into a human house; it would be exciting to be alive during such a person’s rule!
· The grandiose, paranoid narcissistic personality is depressed because he, at root, rejected reality, his self-included, and wants to replace it with a better self of his creation. Thus, such persons operating from rejection of what is real and desiring what could ideal become obsessive and do loads of damage to people in their efforts to make them angels (Hitler and Stalin killed many to make the few perfect specimens of people, fascist man and socialist man).
· Be that as it may, idealists' are playing god and want to recreate people and the world into their liking, and, as such, could be dangerous to folk’s health. Dangerous as they are, occasionally, folks need the play of god by idealistic doers, not the mere dreaming kind, to clean their rotten house rather than keep on living as dead persons, as Nigerians are.
· The alternative to all these is religion. The religious solution is no solution; it is an escape from reality. The religious person sees a rotten world and throws up his hands in despair and says that there is nothing that he could do to improve it; he prays to a nonexistent god to come improve it for him and hopes that if he is a nice person when he dies that god brings him to a better world, the light world of forms and the formless world of spirit. Nigerians seek the religious solution and in the meantime live in their intolerable situation rather than take up arms and fight for justice and if needs be die doing so; they are despicable cowards who value their physical life more than justice; they would tolerate slavery for as long they are not killed. Get them out of my face.