The Rwandan genocide, South African apartheid, Nigerian Biafran war, Sierra Leone blood diamonds, Kikuyu vs Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, Obote vs Idi Amin in Uganda…there has been way too much bloodshed in Africa. Sometimes I’m moved to tears when I remember our brothers whose bloods have been unnecessarily sacrificed. The peace we now enjoy ( those African countries in relative peace, asides Somalia, Burundi, Libya, Sudan etc) is because some people laid down their lives for our emancipation. But what have we done with the freedom from slavery and imperialism? A staggering 17 African countries got independence in 1960, including my country, Nigeria. Out of the 17, at least 10 would later have civil wars, coup d’ etats, election violence and so on. Most African countries still find it hard to rule its own people and direct the nation in the right path. For those practicing a democratic system of governance, whenever election period comes close, the citizens panic, knowing it means bloodshed. For those still being ruled by the military and or a despotic ruler, human rights regulations means nothing in those countries. Those laws are trampled upon daily.
Bob Marley sang and preached love and freedom till he died. So was Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Nigerian-born world afro beat originator. So was Lucky Dube, the South African raggae king who was brutally murdered (nobody has been on trial for the murder so far, for over 5 years! ). Jesus Christ always preached love as the only key and most important commandment. Prophet Muhammed always preached love. Martin Luther King Jnr and his role model, Mahatma Gandhi both lived and died preaching love and freedom for all mankind. Tata Madiba himself, Mandela lived all his life seeking freedom for his people. He preached love and also showed it in his lifestyle until his death. Is it not the same South Africa that just displayed xenophobia recently, murdering and brutalizing their own African brothers and sisters? When the Afrikaans tortured, murdered and made original South Africans work the mines during the Madiba days, we all condemned the act and named it apartheid. Now, what do we call Africans doing the same to their own kind?
The Biafra war in Nigeria, despite all the reasons given, should never have happened because it was a dead end. Even today, the man who spearheaded that war in the Eastern part of Nigeria, the late General Christopher Dim Odumegwu Chukwuemeka Ojukwu (rtd), is still being celebrated throughout the Eastern region and Nigeria. But in as much as I respect this man as a man of great courage and personality, I seriously feel it is irresponsible to lead your own people to a war you know you may not win. He couldn’t have been sure Biafra was going to secede easily. It was a dead end, a war instituted for some people’s mere egoistic and selfish economic gains. The result was over two million corpses, fathers, mothers and children. The Rwandan civil war also created over one million dead people.
What about 6th January, 1999, the day the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels set Sierra Leone on fire. The bloody day which heralded the year-long bloodshed and man’s inhumanity to man where hands and legs were chopped off and lives were cut short. Children were separated from their parents, drugged and made to shoot or maim other citizens in broad daylight. Ordinary citizens were made to pay for the crimes they didn’t commit. Everybody was a criminal, innocence was no more found in the land. People suffered as a result of the diamond 95% of them had never even seen before! It was a gory sight to see some of the documentaries on the saga. How can God still smile on Africa for all these brutality we’ve caused ourselves? Definitely, God isn’t a human but a spirit because if human were God, Africa would have been erased from the world map by now.
Let history be taught in our Colleges, High school and elementary schools, young people must know and not forget these mistakes their parents made in the past. It must serve as lessons for a better future. We cannot afford to let go of our heritage and those things left which still makes us original. To do otherwise is to be culturally alienated, forgotten in history and cast away from the rest of the world. The famous historian and scholar, Hugh Trevor Roper delivered a speech at the University of Sussex in October 1963, where he made these derogatory comments about Africa; “Perhaps, in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at present there is none, or very little: there is only the history of the Europeans in Africa. The rest is largely darkness, like the history of pre-European, pre-Columbian America. And darkness is not a subject for history.” He proclaimed that Africa never had any history until the British and other imperialists came to settle and deal in slaves. Mr Trevor Roper forgot that the fact that, he was too short-sighted to see our history doesn’t mean history isn’t there! The scholar confused himself for some omnipresent who sees everything. Well, if we as. Africans would prove assumptions like that to be wrong, something urgent must be done.
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