Monday, February 25, 2008

Failed states in Africa, Kenya leading the way.

The African continent is littered with failed states. Most of these states are economic backwaters, social apologies and political ruins. This landscape runs from the Casablanca to the Cape Town and from The Horn of Africa in the East to the Island of No Return in the West Atlantic. Most of these states true to type were the creatures of imperial convenience. To that end, they were meant to serve a purpose after which their ontological legitimacy or raison d' etre would then expire. At this expiration; the states, naturally not designed for self-propulsion; were condemned to tether on the brink, and finally implode upon the inglorious weight of their inherent contradictions. Colonialism designed and inspired the problems. But the decadence was then driven along by a horde of native pirates; trained in the fine art of piracy. These set of political actors were rogues personalities, weaned on selfishness. They were brilliant students of kleptocracy and political perversity. In about four decades they completely outclassed colonial perfidy and bested them in thievery. They did an inglorious job of mismanaging Africa, so much so that she is today the laughing stock of the world.

At the advent of the White man was tsunamic for Africa. Chinua Achebe captured this well: Things fell apart! Africa and her centre could no longer hold. She became embroiled in a dynamic, which would change her structure, her culture and her future forever.

The former league of tribes coagulated into pseudo-states, at the instance of colonialism. Strange bedfellows became fellow citizens over night. Consanguinal relatives find themselves facing each other as citizens of different countries. The African psyche was ripped apart. The changes were too radical, as his culture was demonized and labelled as inferior. He had to forfeit his language in so many cases. He was equated to dogs, when he seeks admittance into drinking parlours because dogs are not admitted. There arose a miseducation on the socio-cultural level, which as was well articulated by Chinweizu, deformed the collective African psyche from which it is yet to recover.

To carve up Africa, drawing boards were built in 1885 Berlin. Africa was scrambled up among the occupying powers. The aim was to ensure each power an unimpeded and unmonitored freedom to loot as much as they could in their area of influence.

The Belgian-Congo became an abattoir, where King Leopold's polymorphous perversity, sought and obtained unrestrained ventilation. For the sake of rubber, Leopold's men sacked villages, decimated cultures, and harvested a pyramid of chopped hands, in an orgy of brutality, unmatched even by Hitler's men. Congo bled, and haemorrhaged her resources into Belgian coffers. The Germans tried the annihilation tactics on the Herero of Namibia. British piratical treachery blossomed in Nigeria and her other territories. All in Europe, Africa bled, so that Europe could have a river of wealth flowing through her.

To effectively continue this when their various suns must have set, they created states; which were simply neo-colonial dependencies. And to run these states, the mass-produced a semi-literate, middle-class of yes-men, to complement the paucity of men they have on the ground. This crop of creatures became the collaborative vehicle of colonial exploitation. Hatred for them, which was a rampant phenomenon, sometimes took deadly proportions, as was mirrored in Achebe's Things Fall Apart, where Okonkwo had to kill a court messenger, to vent his anger on an invading establishment that has despoiled the land of his fathers, and insulted his culture.

Almost all the Modern states in Africa today were built on political ontologies, oozing from this engineered political metaphysic. The people never dialogued their differences as a basis for federating. They never talked to each other about a political union. They woke up one morning, and saw themselves conscripted into geopolitical constructs they neither chose nor bargained for. For the natives, it was a bazaar of unfunny jokes, and for the colonial officers; a duty for country and queen.

African states were created to facilitate and ease the efficiency of rapid colonial exploitation. That was their raison d'etre. They were never designed to be independent, or cease being a source of cheap raw materials, and slave labour for colonial industries. They were equally meant to be a cheap market to cushion the inflationary effects of mechanised mass production. The colony was a laboratory of caprice. Every socio-economic, geopolitical or cultural hypothesis was subjected to clinical trials on the hapless colonies. This accounts for the fact, that every discredited socio-political, economic or eugenic theory was once tried out in Africa.
Every failed social edifice translates into a jungle. The core operative principle across its embrace perfectly mimics that native to the forest of unreason. For us to appreciate the dangers posed by a failed social construct, we must apprise ourselves of the transactions obtainable in the markets of a jungle.

A jungle is an amorphous piece of territory governed by anarchy. In this arena, survival is of the fittest, while the operative principle anchors on the currency of "Might" is "Right". In every jungle, law and order are alien concepts. The Orwellian principle of "some animals, being more equal than others" abundantly holds sway in this dark world of inchoate randomness. In a jungle, nothing is predictable. The only constant in this huge stew pot of irreconcilable variables is lawlessness. Any participant in this concourse of crudity who is able to carve out a territory for his whims by the agency of raw and naked might, positions himself to intimidate the lesser mortals within his vicinity, with threats and abundance of fear. Peace here is only a calm pond with a subterranean current of turbulence and dissensions boiling like volcanic lava underneath. It is no peace, as the least excuse is utilized to ventilate the suppressed angst of the oppressed powerless. Stability is absent as anybody who has the power is allowed to prey on those who are unfortunate to be powerless around him. He is obliged to feed on them without qualms. Violent death is a norm as fear rules. The only semblance of order is that predicated on a balance of terror. Every one here by necessity sleeps with one eye open, if not for anything to be conscious enough as to take flight before the predator floors him or to be a conscious witness to the onslaught on him; or to be in a position to negotiate an escape from the grip of those who have the power to do him in. This was the Hobessian state of nature where the fear of violent death paralysed development, rendered life nasty, brutish and short.

In the jungle there exists no common weal, public good, or social service. Every animal in this arrangement strives to survive. Survival is the word. The weak are crushed and eaten out of existence by the stronger predators. Every one consults the instincts of survival in all transactional situations. Joy here is of the instinctual order, while Love is fundamentally absent. Self survival commands procreation, and the offspring commences his own independent struggle for survival the moment it arrives. In a society that has degenerated into a jungle, all these features are activated, enabled and are abundantly obtainable. In Nigeria for example, law and order exists only in the statute books; reminiscent of the jungle. The only law is survival. The stronger individuals swallow up the weaker ones. The rich get richer by gobbling up what belongs to all, while the poor are further impoverished into powerlessness. In this kind of social situation, individuals make their own laws, interpret and implement them according to the dictates of their caprice. This is a situation where a man for example could get up, equip a private army drawn from the National Police, and kidnap a democratically elected Governor, in a brazen contravention of the grundnorms of the country; and yet he is feted by the powers that be. This is a situation where anyone who dares criticize the President, is framed-up, disgraced and sacked from office, without due process; and beaten up by armed robbers in his house. This is a situation, where an auditor-general would sacked for auditing government accounts and revealing that unrestrained corruption thrives in the presidency. And this same presidency that has lost every moral authority to talk about justice empowers a bulldog of an agency to track down his opponents, both real and imaginary and blacklist them so good, as to sabotage and compromise their political careers. Some instances later will bring these from the pinnacle of arid theorizing to the tables of normal discourse.

Man engineered an escape from this primeval broth of unreason, when he hewed society and developed law and order out of this assured destructive tendencies. Reason and experience taught man that there needs to be a guarantee for the sustenance of this order. It bid him invent government as a safe bastion for the sustenance of these ideals. Government to that end arose as the last line of defence of the society from its primeval tendency to destroy itself. It equally rose to guarantee rights and responsibilities of all participants. It rose equally to foreclose forever, the possibility or the ease with which violent death lurks around every social nook and cranny. It became the bulwark against retrogressive and anti-social forces that seek to overthrow the social order by the forces of might. That was the raison d'etre of government; the common good of its subjects.

In a situation, where a government fails to live up to its ontological raison d'etre, that government has really failed. That government cannot lay claims on its being overwhelmed by social forces as an excuse for its failure. This is consequent upon the fact, that it remains the Leviathan, to whom we leased some of our powers and rights; to whom we gave up most of our privileges, to enable him agglomerate and wield an influence unparalleled or unequalled by any constituent of the social order. To this end, no excuse is admissible for any failure to act in defense of the social embrace left in its charge.

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