(By Goke Omolade)
“On the face value, the coming of Europe had its mixed grills on Africa at large since the craving need for sound development was absent and obviously existing in a void unmindful of the purpose to rally round the common goal of making things happen for the better on all fronts. Its largely disoriented elite (ruling, intellectual and money-grubbing) were self-egoistic/parochially-
IT was the Ghanaian James Kwegyir Aggrey of blessed memory (18/10/1875-30/07/1927) who was once quoted to have said that he was black and proud…without regret; and that whosoever was ashamed of his (her) colour was not fit to live. By early ethnographic/archaeological accounts, mankind in universality ‘‘originated’’ from Africa and owing to hostile environmental conditions and human quest to explore further afield, the then first stock of Africans subsequently dispersed to the virgin lands of the unknown world that have now evolved to Europe, the Americas, Asia, Oceanic and the Pacific.
Having secured succour and set-standards for tackling societal problems as they emerged, their fellow beings they left ‘back home’ relapsed to lethargy, inertia and sheer laziness and in the process of time, slowly but steadily, Africa became to be associated with virtually all the oddities and avoidable miseries that the ‘‘new Africans’’, in their increasingly developing mentality, had mastered to put behind them. Apparently swinging back and forth on dissimilar tunes of self-induced deprivation, ridiculous sorrow and tears; Africa gradually reduced itself to the pitiable position of a traumatised pauper yet in the midst of a superabundantly resourced region. In fact, what other regions spend pots of money to create through artificial means regrettably lies fallow and idle here in the supposed cradle of homo sapiens. Take the almost all-round year favourable weather conditions, fertile soils, ingenuity for diligence, dexterity to withstand hardship and the swell of irrepressible youth yearning to be fulfilled but stiflingly devalued through unemployed/underemployed needless preoccupations.
After a while in the 19th and 20th centuries, the ‘Africans in the Diaspora’, having had a change in their skin pigment from black/dark to white, red or brown as a result of glacial effects of the period made daring adventure back to their ‘motherland’ but for different purposes; top of which were slave trading, pecuniary/economic gains and later missionary pursuits. Be it Anglophone, Francophone, lusophone or otherwise; Europe had a singular purpose for coming to Africa and that was to make it an appendage of sort in deed and need and perhaps that was why the insulting British induced us-over-them mentality of apes-obey syndrome prevailed while colonialism, ala London-driven, lasted.
On a measuring scale, the consequences of colonialism had different meanings to different shades of different people. For Europe, ‘‘at that dark-age, it came in the niche of time to save humanity from the bestiality, anomie, inequity, cannibalism and utter hopelessness oozing out of Africa, where it helplessly lay prostrate.’’ That, without any definitive functionality of purpose in infrastructure, governmental processes, representative governance, educational acquisitions and societal cohesion; a touch of doing things differently and better was indisputably necessary…and this was why colonialism came to its rescue!
On the face value, the coming of Europe had its mixed grills on Africa at large since the craving need for sound development was absent and obviously existing in a void unmindful of the purpose to rally round the common goal of making things happen for the better on all fronts. Its largely disoriented elite (ruling, intellectual and money-grubbing) were self-egoistic/parochially-
Next on line was the corps of colonial antagonists who railed against it as a historical mistake that left Africa worse off and that its major/direct interest was economic under missionary covering. What was more, the colonial adventurers came with their smoking gun on the one hand (for complete subjugation of their helpless victims) and the Bible on the other while they took imperial instructions straight from their home government on why they were posted to where they were and what was expected of them. During the colonial era, the cultural ethos and socio-economic realities of the respective native lands were disdainfully discarded and in their yawning vacuum; Europe’s prejudices, idiosyncrasies and preferred ways of life were, at first instance, subtly introduced and where there were resistance; compulsion as well as forceful measures were meted against such ‘‘erring offenders of the royal crown’’!
After having had its full fill of the resources of its host-nations and increasingly becoming an irritating anathema, colonialism was forced to make a shamefaced retreat, ranging from hurried withdrawal, graduated disengagement to repulsive disgrace. The excited, far-away case of the United States (aka America) was instructive enough. In almost every conceivable way does modern America has its early agitators for independence and freedom to thank because of the manly and patriotic fashion they fought the British colonial adventurers to a disgraceful exit, as nothing of note was cowardly conceded. With the strong-will, superior power and a singular focus on non-negotiable/total freedom, London was forcibly made to beat a never-come-back retreat. Today it is only in mere but guided historical archives that the attempted-British colonisation of America can be referenced and not as a tag-along member of the imperial-relic labeled Commonwealth of docile membership of over 50 nations.
Indeed, America had its admirable independence in the 18th century while Africa had most of its (essentially change-of-baton/flag symbol) in the 20th century. Africa has ever since been saddled with the intrigues and antics of a somewhat recolonisation/neo-colonial never-let-go externalities. These centripetal forces are still from their avuncular ex-overlords domiciled in London, Paris, Brussels, Bonn, Lisbon and Madrid. Looming so engagingly is the United Nations (UN)’ arts of diplomacy and politicking in the universal sense of fierce assertiveness on the one hand and the larger-than-life decisional influences of the Breton Woods sisters (the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD/World Bank). It could not have been just a coincidence that the headquarters of the UN’s three most powerful organs are sited in America; the General Assembly/Secretariat in New York and those of the IMF and World Bank in Washington – in fact some measurable distance from the White House, America’s seat of power? As if operating on an oath of conspiratorial silence; the UN’s policy thrust is predominantly American-driven while its functional dynamics are mostly euro-centric. If anything, this is recolonisation by intrigues at its height!
Before the invading colonial forces; natives in Africa had an arguably modest lifestyle in disposition and accumulated possessions but afterwards, almost everything was dislocated. Having studied the realities on ground and coupled with their narrow-minded interests, the colonial task masters raised a new indigenous, ruling class that was carefully worked upon to doing their imperial biddings while for the rest of the society, there was hardly any change in their fortune. Even in the outer section of the world, gaining entry to the global market and related economic alliance, first, required ‘IMF/World Bank certificates of proficiency, good behaviour and creditworthiness’. Whichever nation falls short of the Breton Woods sisters’ expectations or dictates may have to content associating with the wretched of the earth.
Coming to the everyday norms of the world at large; the cultural craze, fad, fashion and trends of humanity have overwhelmingly been westernised by American/European lifestyles. For instance, America’s ethos of pop music, fast food and blue jeans are usually the in-things. Often, except one is solidly well-resourced, alternative options from this part of the world may amount to illogicalities, irrelevancies or museum folklores in the global market place of ideas.
To be continued.
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