The ghost of colonialism cannot rest, as A. Agbali visits the cemetery. Read on:
This comment by my friend Professor George Ayittey has been very help and clarifies his stance. I have personally found his mission endearing, though I sometimes wonder how this mission will translate into practical functionality. However, as I have done in this forum, I considered that the views of Prof. Ayittey is significantly valuable to the construction of an African political and social space. Prof. Ayittey himself should be very grateful for these insights, coming from different directions to help him rearticulate his views. I take no issue with many folks who in this forum have not critically read the issues and the responses to Ayittey's comment but rather choose to jump into the arena like gladiators, looking for punching opportunities.
Many it seems to have made the issue into a sensational construct. I, for one, was taken aback by the comments of someone I respect from his own writings on the Nigeriaworld.com. I mean Professor Bolaji Aluko. I have enjoyed thoroughly some of his perspectives on his Monday quaterbacking musing on that website. This is not to raise another dust but to actually signify something deeper. Professor Aluko it was once that his own father called him "foolish" for the manner of his criticism against Nigerian politics about three years ago. Though I found that very interesting he has stood up as an interesting articulator and showed adept skills at constructing developmental problem-solving paradigms that are unique, but whose testability and adaptive integration toward solving the African, especially the Nigerian political issues are yet to be seen.
As for Ayittey I guess he enjoys diatribes though sometimes very impatient, and thus reflecting some of the factual instincts that make African politicians to do what they do. The instincts of impatience, defensiveness, passive-aggressive display, fear is the major issues that drive African politicans to become too self-centered. Impatient against any factual discourse that can lead to the revelation of their limitations, and thus fearful for being displaced, Within this ambient you see the nature of defensiveness and passive-aggressive reactions that has characterized African politics. In the first senate of the present Nigerian political dispensation, during the abuse of power and misuse of fund by Senators and other national assembly officers, someone like Prof. Bolaji Aluko, jumped to defend his brother, Gbenga Aluko, when Gbenga was indicted by the Idris Kuta Senate probe of financial impropriety. When he was arm-in-arms against General Sani Abacha's misrule due to his father's influence his name was removed from the lists of Nigeria's most notorious, when others were at risk for their lives. How often do we hear of those kind of privileges due to one's class or does with whom one's family associate with, or are within the same class. The point is that Professor Bolaji Aluko is though critical of the Abacha regime a privileged one when the likes of Wole Soyinka, Tinubu, David Mark, and other NADECO where target for elimination. Though Abacha called him a NADECO son of Professor Sam Aluko he could cruise in and out of Nigeria. Now talking about power and its misuse in Africa, when do scholars talk about their privilege vis-a-vis their class and privileges, such items that make for the construction of make-shift governance in Africa.
Now, having revisited this issue that does not mean that people like Professor Bolaji Aluko, or Ayittey cannot make their views known in any forum. But when making their views know it is good to add the appendix or caveat that they enjoy given certain social privileges and hidden incentives insulating them from the fate of the majority, the vulnerable citizens who by articulating their voices are targets of marksmen, in spite of the prodigious prodigality, from the same polities they avowedly criticize.
Having noted this, I now take on some of the clarifications of Professor Ayittey:
<<I downplay "slavery, colonialism, artificial borders, and Western
imperialism," NOT because they did not or don't happen to us but because
of the following reasons:>>
Ayittey notes that he downplays the constructs of colonialism, artificial borders, and Western imperialism. To downplay is not necessarily bad, but the point here is that Ayittey in the article meant for publication pasted here did not downplay but outrightly negated and/or even denied the effects on these constructs on the African polity. That statement, then, now, and in the future is flawed, historically incorrect, and socially impossible. These constructs shape, define, regulates and modulates human behaviors in the alterations, trauma, and the distortion of the systemic orders they generate. Ayittey must realize that to deny history is to set oneself for execution.
It is amazing how Ayittey rather than accept in a scholarly fashion that his analysis either does not actually focus analytically upon such constructs but are rather popular imaginations, not founded on what he claims to be founding them upon as historicity, continues to twist his stance. This is unacceptable.
Further, which people have ever denied the historical trajectories that shape their identity. Our African historical and identity trajectories have been creately altered. Today, we talk about hybridity, creolization, and those kind of expressions as a distortion as a transcendence of purity. Is it any wonder that all over the world marginal people who have experience intense domination continues to be traumatized, at least in a post-traumatic stress complex?
Ayittey must be the only one whose social constructs are based upon the adduced and induced intentional purging of historical consciousness to generate constructive development, a development that in his views constitute a universal, generic, and empirical fact. Have Americans forgotten their founding fathers? Have the Jews forgotten Auschwitz and other spaces of their denigration, and the crimes of Nazism? Should events be forgotten because they are consciously negative?
The negation and the disembodiment of the past remain one of the significant pathologies, and a critical one, in the construction of the multiplex malaise current in Africa. Africans are quick to forget history. African history can be easily bought, destroyed, and repressed in the name of development. Some years past sacred objects were stolen from Ethiopia and sold in Europe, some of the Coptic/Orthodox priests sold these historical monuments to "quench" their hunger.
How do we contend with this sort of Ayitteyan principle of historical amnesia, a selective suppression of history? If September 11th has changed America for ever, an event of one day but of great magnitude, or can the many years of colonialism, imperialism, and slavery not have altered the course of an entire continent with even a more intense magnitude?
What is development if there is no history? Is development a unilinear, synchronic process, or does it involve diachronic conditions and panorama? How do you measure a development devoid of historical conditions and cultural determinants?
<<As I explained in a general post of gratitude, we have OVERPLAYED
Does the fact that an event is overplayed minimize its effect, or does that render unchanged its social effects and conditionings? Today, the ideological referent of "terrorism" or "terrorists" is used to designate almost all out-of-sync and any political incorrect action, does that overuse kill the reality that terrorism is real, and must be dealt with?
<<Corrupt African despots have for years used these same factors to
conceal their own incompetence and failures. Instead of taking
responsibility for their failures, they always blamed colonialism,
slavery and Western imperialism>>
Does the fact that someone say the smell of my mother's soup made him to be sick means that I should stop eating my mother's meal? Excuses, but does that invalidate the fact that there are elements of truths to that prepositions. Or does denying the effects of such process actually stop the African despots from seeking new masqueraded answers toward enabling them mask their incompetence and inefficiencies. Logically, because someone utilizes an idea does not make that idea either valid or invalid. Matters of interpretation of events is different from the facts of the events. Yes, colonialism, slavery, and imperialism had their effects, but are the only effects that shapes the nature of African plethora of problems, the answer is NO.
3. These "external" factors are beyond our control. If you insert them
into every African problem, however ill-conceived that might be, you
render the problem INSOLUBLE. Because you have made the solution
dependent upon SOMEBODY ELSE changing their behavior, which you do not
have control over.
I disagree. In outlining the fact of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism does not mean dependency. Understanding of the facts are cogent toward propelling the drive and stimulation toward looking for cogent solutions. No one is calling on Britain today to solve Ghana's internal problems. Only Ghanaians will determine and set the tone for their own development, and would decide when to involve others in that task as is conceivable and appropriate. However, in a globalized world with the interlinkages and the massive capitalist system controlled by forces outside of Africa, the involvement of the imperialist powers is a given. Even here Ayittey has often relied on the World Bank and the IMF predominant western institutions to define the nature of African development, even when admittedly the IMF has noted its policy failures in Africa. This doublespeak is one of the greatest contradictions of most of Ayittey's thoughts.
4. <<We may rail all we want about colonialists and imperialists but they
ain't gonna come and solve our problems for us in Africa. When have they
solved our problems for us? So what is the sense in taking our problems
5.<< Even if they come to solve our problems, they will do so to THEIR
On this point, I think Ayittey is very right. I share this sentiments. During the Abacha regime in Nigeria, many Nigerians, including the media, as well as NADECO was calling on America to resolve the political lockjam in NIgeria. Even, the late Chief Moshood Abiola came to the US to seek support for his mandate, that did not happen, mainly as it was stated that it was payback period for Abiola for his support of the Reparation movement. He left and came back to Nigeria. His period of absence destroyed the vital support core he had who initially where fiercely behind him, until he disappeared from Nigeria seeking support. The military were able to break the ranks of his supporters he lost, and died seeking the help of the international community. Most Africans fold their hands and refuse to stake their claim as we are seeing recently in the Ukraines, and have seen in Yugoslavia against Milosevic, and elsewhere. Africans are the most disinterested in their political process when they need to act for themselves. Rather, they wait for the western miracle of their erstwhile colonial powers or for America to salvage them, when they refuse to act.
In Nigeria for instance against political tyranny only very few regions actually are willing to rise against the abuse of power, and specifically this is the Lagos-Ibadan axis. Without the support of the other areas most despots have refused to take the popular agitation or mass discontent seriously. That reflects the political cowardice of many African polities. I guess, the only few occassion we've seen that was in Ivory Coast when the elections results was going to be thrown through the window, and General Robert Guei wanted to continue to rule. Until, we solve our own issues, it would be difficult to count on any non-African nation to resolve them. Ayittey is right on this one.
They do so to their own advantage:
True. Else, how will one rate the fact that while Nigerians sued the former Military dictatorships, represented in the case involving the former Head of State, General Abubakar Abdulsalam in a Chicago court, the USDOJ filled to join in on his behalf? Why such an interest?