Black Africa’s deadly curse By Gbogun gboro

Some United Nations agencies, as well as some other voices in the international community, have for decades been making optimistic predictions to the effect that “the 21st century could be Sub-Saharan Africa’s century” or “Sub-Saharan Africa is showing signs of recovery and growth”. As a Black African, I wish sincerely that these things were true. But, at the same time, as a Black African, I know I must not lapse into self-deception about my own homeland – and that I must not lead any of my people into the folly of self-deception. This is our home and we know it is not doing well – that, in fact, it is in serious trouble.

A few days ago, I spent a couple of hours watching a video on the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (or Congo-Kinshasa). The political storm that started in this country at independence, leading to the assassination of its first Prime Minister, to a major civil war, to a viciously corrupt military dictatorship, and then to an even larger second civil war, is by no means over. The rebel forces in this country are countless; most of them entrenched in the distant eastern provinces. The second major town of the Congo, the town of Kisangani in the eastern provinces, is in serious decline. In these places, all there is to see is nothing other than the stark face of poverty and barbarism. Camps of countless thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) tell stories of human deprivation at its most extreme. These eastern provinces are separated from Kinshasa, the capital city of the Congo in the west, by thousands of Africa’s thickest forests. The Congo occupies a territory larger than the whole of Western Europe. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that the government based in Kinshasa can do to bring order to the distant eastern provinces. The only arrangement that sustains the tenuous connection holding this country together is the presence of United Nations peace-keeping forces. If the justification for a country is that it ensures to its citizens life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then the Congo does not qualify to be called a country at all.

But on the political map of Black Africa, the condition of Congo-Kinshasa is not unique in kind; it is only unique in severity. Virtually all countries of Black Africa are in serious political troubles manifesting in various horrible conditions. Somalia completely lost hold on orderly governance in 1991, and it continues to live in that disorder till today. Only last week, the United Nations and the African Union agreed to increase the number of international peace-keeping forces in Somalia. After the earth-shaking horror of genocide in Rwanda in 1994, less and less is being heard about that country, and that makes a lot of people in the wider world assume that Rwanda has stabilized – but the world needs to look out. The military junta that took power after the 1994 genocide has continued to hold on to power by authoritarian means, and even some original members of the regime have had to flee from the country to save their lives – all of which cast a shadow on the future of this country. In Uganda, the military ruler who came to power in 1986 continues to hold on to power, intent on eliminating opposition and dissent by doing everything to weaken and break up the kingdom of Buganda, Uganda’s most developed nationality. Since 2011, Buganda and some other groups have been suing for secession, and confrontation between the government and these groups is increasing. In West Africa, United Nations forces were needed to restore some modicum of governance and political stability in the Ivory Coast in 2011, and that country is by no means showing any appreciable progress towards democratic and stable government. A military coup shattered the fragile stability of Mali Republic in late 2011, opening the gate to a secession move in Mali’s northern provinces, and then the emergence of a base for terrorism in those northern provinces – a terrorist base that potently began immediately to threaten most of West Africa, and that then called into action some serious French military intervention.

The political hurricane goes on and on all over Black Africa, generating horrific destruction, loss of lives, and blood-curdling human deprivation and suffering. We Black Africans are only 15% of the population of the human race, but we consume probably up to 70% of international peace-keeping efforts on earth. Our sub-continent is the home of most politically displaced persons in the world – the largest refugee camps and internally displaced persons’ camps, where deprivation, starvation, sheer barbarous conditions, and death, reign supreme over the shattered lives of countless millions of our kinsmen.

Some Nigerians hate to hear the truth; and they go into all sorts of intellectual gymnastics, and all sorts of romantic nonsense, in their attempts to reject the fact – that Nigeria’s history too is just a page in the destructive rampage of this Black African political hurricane. The Nigerian Federal Government set in motion the Nigerian phase of the horror story in 1962 when they embarked on an ill-advised venture to subdue the Western Region and stop its rapid march to progress. The disaster they set in motion did devastate the Western Region and stop its progress. But the hurricane they thus unleashed has swirled virulently over the face of Nigeria since then, producing military coups after military coups, assassinations after assassinations of important public officials, a sanguinary civil war that took the lives of millions of innocent folks, a long succession of ignorant and corrupt military regimes bent on promoting an ethnic agenda, and total destruction of all sense of proportion, all sense of order, and all sense of decency in the management of Nigeria’s affairs. Today, the chances are that Nigeria will break up – soon, probably very soon. More and more Nigerians are expressing the wish that Nigeria should break up, rather than that they and their children should continue to suffer in the hell that Nigeria has become. Even those politicians who are fabricating situations aimed at preserving Nigeria know that their efforts may soon be simply futile.

When one considers this horrific political history of all of Black Africa, one cannot but ask two important questions. First, what is at the root of this Black man’s incapability to hold and properly manage the countries that European colonialists created and bequeathed to us? And second, what does the future hold in store for the Black man in Africa, and for these countries that we are messing around with?