(By Ani Akak)
“Our technocrats and democrats are shaping the destinies of other nations while the best of our politicians and leaders are busy educating their subjects in mass ignorance and stashing billions of stolen tax payers’ dollars in foreign accounts; ironically for the developmental purposes of the host countries. In education, our professors, scholars and teachers are making waves outside the shores of our continent yet with little or nil amendments, we are still using the very inept colonial curriculum that has caused our tertiary institutions and their end-products: doctors, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists to be classified in allegory and disdain as glorified secondary schools and their products as medical laboratory assistants, court clerks, masons and foremen, traders and science students by other self-developed economies.“
“The spirit of the West is our friend if we accept him, but our enemy if we are possessed by him; our friend if we open our hearts to him, our enemy if we yield him our hearts; our friend if we take from him that which suits us. Our enemy if we let ourselves used to suit him. (Kahlil Gibran)”.
All history lovers, students and analytical thinkers know the reason the Obong of Calabar, Amayanabo of Opobo, Ooni of Ife, Oba of Benin, Olubadan of Ibadan and the Asantehene of Asanti Kingdom are not the political rulers of their domains and people. They also know why the Yoruba of Western Nigeria and Eastern Benin Republic, Hausa of Northern Nigeria/ Cameroon and Southern Niger, Ibo of Eastern Nigeria, Efik of Southern Nigeria and southern-western Cameroon are not nation-states; colonialism, that aspect of an imperialist definition of greed. Colonialism did not only serve the exploitative tendencies of the colonialists, it destroyed the trado-political structure of the colonised peoples and cut short the socio- evolutionary process of their societies. Everything that was done then was in the interest of the “masters”.
With gratitude to Divine providence, like everything else on the face of the earth, colonialism came, ruled and went. Most of the nations got their independence and became countries even with the culturally/geographically inadequate amalgamation and assimilation theories. Many years down the line, the dreaded behemoth has returned to our continent and taken roots in the guise of military uniforms, agbadas, danshikis, usobo and kente. The wild moustache, bowler hats and medal-decorated European uniforms have all been taken care of. Kwame Nkrumah, that pan-African statesman had christened it neo-colonialism. I call it modernised indirect rule. In politics and governance, we are a diluted duplicate of Western political system; perhaps a more confused version, not certain if we are to adopt a parliamentary or presidential system of government.
Our technocrats and democrats are shaping the destinies of other nations while the best of our politicians and leaders are busy educating their subjects in mass ignorance and stashing billions of stolen tax payers’ dollars in foreign accounts; ironically for the developmental purposes of the host countries. In education, our professors, scholars and teachers are making waves outside the shores of our continent yet with little or nil amendments, we are still using the very inept colonial curriculum that has caused our tertiary institutions and their end-products: doctors, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists to be classified in allegory and disdain as glorified secondary schools and their products as medical laboratory assistants, court clerks, masons and foremen, traders and science students by other self-developed economies.
In science and technology, I had read somewhere that Nigerian engineers are helping to build railways in war-torn Iraq and our surgeons are performing medical wonders in the Diaspora; yet on the home-front, foreign companies and their nationals, taking advantage of our technological ignorance are hard at work extracting, mining and exporting our natural resources and paying us their approved royalties from an unaccountable gross earnings. Even the 10 to 20 per cent is cunningly taken from us in the form of imported, finished and glittering output of our natural resources; many of which are still the same thing with slight modifications and different covers. Culturally, we are almost on the brink of extinction. It is considered the apex of decent dressing if a banker, teacher or chief executive officer is clad in an English suit and tie and gross irresponsibility if any of these individuals is garbed in their native attires.
Societal contempt awaits any man who dares speak the English or French language in his native accent. He is derided as uncouth and uneducated even when the English is faultless. On the contrary, he is king who blathers in European accents plus all the grammatical errors embedded therein. Our writers and journalists are confounded on which to use as their medium of expression—British or American English. If a writer is published abroad and international awards and rave reviews are raining his way, he is applauded and celebrated at home. Per fate, if that same writer were to be published at home, that is if he is ever published, he would be begging and getting scanty, shoddy reviews and royalties.
It is recorded in the annals of literature that the phenomenal bestseller “Things Fall Apart” was adjudged a Nigerian and an African novel because, though published by Heinemann in London, it sold 20,000 copies in Nigeria and about 800 copies elsewhere in Europe. This was the formative and budding years. At present, the reverse is the case to the extent of being a publishing miracle to have a bestseller of a book or newspaper in a country with a purported population of 170 million or thereabout. Economically, Jules Ferry policy of Africa supplying raw materials at the cheapest price rate and buying the finished products at the highest price rate is still the norm in our international trade.
As a whole, Africa of which Nigeria is an integral part is known among developed markets with such insidious and coded names as the “the last frontier” and “an emerging market”; where profitable transactions and investments means the importation of foreign companies, their workers and services in the face of widespread unemployment and limited means of income. Glaringly, this is the reason we are the last frontier of exploitation as all other markets and economies are already developed or developing. All genuine entrepreneurs know that, the more ignorant the client is, the better the profit margin; and ignorance is Africa’s other name. I called and identify it as the last phase of neo-colonialism with the battle ensuing between the Western elephants and Eastern elephants.
Sadly, we are the grass, the battle ground. If we sway to the West, some of us are applauded by Western governments, media and intellectuals as the fastest-growing economies and spited by the East as “puppets” and if we sway to the East, we are demonised by the West as a failed nation and terrorist-breeding ground and hailed as an example of sovereignty by the East. Worse yet, if we decide to remain neutral, we are reminded that in the battle for world domination, no one sits on the fence and, therefore, must be spat out into the outback of economic oblivion.
To be continued.
• Akak, who lives in Ghana, is the author of the “The Inward Solution to Africa’s Underdevelopment” and “Skull, Bones and Coffins – the effect of cults and gangs on societal advancement”.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”