Africans should stop complaining about colonialism

EMPIRICISM VERSUS SENTIMENTALISM

Africans should stop complaining about colonialism and get on with the task of nation building.

Ozodi Osuji

To: Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju

Science observes phenomena as it is and describes it as it is. It posits ideas on the nature of the world it sees that all of us can verify, experiment on and ascertain as there.  Science does not accept mere opinions as facts.

     Of course, one is entitled to one’s opinions, but they must be based on observations, facts, that all of us, using the scientific method, can observe and verify as, in fact, there.

     What I tried to do in my response to the writer of the piece that I reacted to is tell him that Africans are not the only people that were ever subjected to colonialism, rule by other people, as we tend to believe. Take any country and look at its history and you see that many foreigners ruled them.

     Take Russia; modern Russia began when in the 900s Swedes under Prince Olaf began ruling what they called Kiev- Ross (with capital at today’s capital of Ukraine, Kiev). The Swedes used to capture Russians, especially their women and sold them to the Arabs hence we now call Eastern Europeans Slavs because the Vikings used to enslave them. From ruling by Swedes, the Slavic people fought for their freedom. Thereafter the Mongols came in the 1200s and conquered what we now call Russia and much of Eastern Europe and ruled them for four hundred years. 

     Arabs, upon conversion to Islam by Mohammed in the 600s, went on a warpath and took over Palestine in 638, Egypt in 643, North Africa up to the Maghrib (now called Morocco) and swept into Spain and Portugal in 711 and ruled Spain until 1492, the year that Christopher Columbus came to America; the Arabs also entered France and the Frankish Germans fought with them and defeated them at the battle of Poitiers in 732.

      Arab Muslims fought their way to Syria, Iraq, Persian, India, the Turkish lands until they got to China around 800 and the Chinese limited their conquest to Western China (Western China till today are still Muslim). 

     Coming to Nigeria, Fulani’s under Uthman Dan Fodio conquered Hausa states beginning in 1804 and rule them to today; they got as far south as Ilorin and fought with the Yorubas to a standstill otherwise they would have taken over all Yorubaland. The Fulani’s have left their imprint on Northern Nigeria.

     What we now call India was a black country (the black people were called Dravidians; they look like Somalis); Iranians (Arians) crossed a river called Cindi and from it derived the term India (an Iranian word). The whites from Iran ruled India and still rule it although they mixed with the darker people there (Indian society has four classes, the lighter complexioned ones are at the top: Brahmins, Kastriyas, Sudras and Untouchables/outcasts). 

     The spread of modern Europeans began after their conquest of the new world in 1492. They took the two Americas, and thereafter Australia, New Zealand, India and Indochina and parts of Africa (including North Africa and the Middle East).

      This is the nature of history. The strong conquer and rule the weak. It is not nice, but history is not a sentimental business.

     If you want to get into statecraft you have to understand history and the struggle of people for control of territories.

       In our world Europeans controlled much of the world, but the Asians have liberated themselves to the point that China, Japan and the Asian tigers, even India are now the most industrialized parts of the world.

     In Africa where foreigners did not really make much imprint we keep talking as if we were treated badly and call for sympathy; we say, in effect, poor us, white folks ruled us. Folks laugh at us for being childish. They ask us to deal with reality, not keep on talking rubbish and appealing to their feelings.

     So, when the chap came to the USA and found that he is in an English dominated country what did he expect? Did he expect to see Native Indian dominated country? What was the level of native Indians in science and technology when they encountered Europeans, primitive; therefore, they could not fight off Europeans.

     Britain (a country put together by force, the English used brutal force to take over Scotland, Ireland, Walls) was formally in Nigeria between 1900-1960, that is 60 years. As colonialism goes that was nothing. How about been there for 500 years, as Romans were in England, or 700 years as Arabs were in Spain?

     Africans were not historically subjugated by stronger people; the rest of the world had histories of long foreign rule (how long did the Mongols rule China?).  Foreign rule leads to diffusion of cultures and languages which lead to development.

      If Africans were ruled by other people, they would today be more ahead than they are (Arabs gave Eastern Africa Swahili, gave Sahelian Africa Hausa).

      Africa remained cut off from the rest of the world without cultural diffusion from other lands hence Africans today make mere noise about the wrong done to them by white folks. Folks get tired of that noise and ask them to get on with living and try to develop Africa and in doing so copy from other people.

     The skyscrapers we now build at Lagos was a German invention, our people used to live in mud huts. Germans, themselves, copied their architecture from Rome and initially had Romanesque then Gothic architecture.

      This is life; folks must live it without always appealing to their hearers’ feelings, asking for sympathy; people from the West do not have time for Africans appeal to their feelings.

    In international politics appeal to feelings is called political Idealism, as opposed to political realism that rule the world; if you do not have power to balance your neighbors’ powers they will try to conquer and rule you, as Russians tried to do in Ukraine and the West give Ukraine weapons to checkmate them.

      I must stop; I am just annoyed that adult Africans talk as if history and reality is not what it is, brutal struggle for power and control, but should be represented by infantile cry for sympathy.

    I am done with this subject and move on; I do not even know why I allowed myself to get entangled in it; generally, I avoid responding to the emotional claptrap that passes for intellectual discourse among Africans.

  • Below is my initial response to the piece posted by Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju.

Why do we insist on behaving like what happened to us is unique in world history? The Romans conquered what they called their province of Gaul (and renamed it Gaul; renamed Franks/France by German Franks when they took it over after the fall of the Roman empire); the Romans took over what they called their province of Britannia in 50 CE (those who lived there, Celts, called it Avalon, Emerald Island). The Romans took over the Iberian Peninsula and called it Spain; they took over most of Western Europe and gave them their current names. The Turks took over Asia Minor, aka Byzantium and renamed it Turkey. You can go to any country and the story is the same (Egypt is a Greek name, before that it was called many names, including Kemet); we all know that America was named by Europeans, Amerigo Vespucci gave his name to the two Americas, current countries and states and cities in the Americas are mostly European in name, with some indigenous names in-between). Is there any modern country that was not colonized in the past and their people given foreign cultures? What is the culture and language of Britain, let us see, initially, Celts live in Avalon, then the Romans came and were there for 500 years, and gave the people Latin language, after the fall of Rome in 475 CE, the Germans, Angles and Saxons, took over the Island and imposed their Germanic language on the people; in the 700s the Scandinavians, Vikings, took over and gave their Scandinavian dialect of German to the inhabitants of the Island; in 1066 the Norman French took over and gave the people French. All those cultures and languages interacted to form the English that I am writing here. What is the point? The point is that all people were colonized, and their cultures and languages are now hybrid (creole/pidgin). It momentarily happened to Nigeria. Why all the bellyaching about foreign influence when that is the norm in history? The person who wrote what I am responding to indicated that he did not have more than elementary school education and has zero understanding of world history; he merely emoted instead of making sense. It is time for us to grow up and stop emoting instead of dealing with facts and reality. It is really annoying seeing Africans talking as if they are five years old and are unaware of the realities of existence. Most African languages are today borrowing Computer language that are mostly English and when Africans finally translate physics, chemistry, biology, astrophysics, geology, now in English, to African languages, African languages will have 80% or more foreign words in them. In two hundred years all current African languages would be at least 80% made of European and Chinese and Arabic words. This is reality, stop crying over reality and get on with it!

Ozodi Osuji

September 7, 2022

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