And across the parapet, I see the Mother of Africa Unity and independence, her body smeared with the blood of her sons and daughters in their struggle to see her free from the shackles of imperialism and I could see and hear springing up, cities of Ghana, becoming the metropolis of Science, Learning, Scientific Agriculture and Philosophy.
And I hear the mortals resound the echo and the rejoinder: ‘Seek ye first the political kingdom and all the rest shall be added unto it’ – Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Anytime I recall the above quotation by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in my moment of absolute tranquility, I ask myself these questions: Has the dream of the Osagyefo come to reality many years after making the statement? Indeed, the Mother of Africa and independence came to pass after her body was smeared with blood of her sons and daughters in their struggle to set her free from the shackles of imperialism but what followed?
Yes indeed, we got the political kingdom but has something good been added to it? At first we formed the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU). That was when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah did reign supreme in the union and played a vital role to nurture the union. As the time rolled by one president after the other was overthrown by the military of their respective countries.
Before we could blink an eye we had the likes of General Kotoka of Ghana, Emperor Bokassa of Central African Republic, Gnasingbe Eyademah of Togo, Mobutu Sese Seko of then Zaire, Murtala Mohamed of Nigeria, Idi Amin of Uganda, Seidi Zerbo of then Upper Volta, Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia, Samuel Kenyon Doe of Liberia, Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana and many, many more military rulers who misruled, killed and exiled opposition members and mismanaged their respective economies and left behind nothing but pain and sorrow.
These over-zealous scatterbrains who did not know anything about governance plunged Africa into debt, jailed their citizens and sent intellectuals fleeing to other countries for refuge. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had proposed to the OAU to form an Africa Rapid Reaction Force so that whenever there was any trouble in any country the force could quickly step in to restore order. That suggestion did not see the light of the day because some Heads of State thought Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was clandestinely trying to conquer Africa.
Eventually the OAU became a toothless bulldog which could only bark but could not bite. As we trudged along, we came to realize that OAU was useless since it could not function as the founding fathers desired. And so it came to pass that the late Colonel Muammar Ghadaffi and a few Heads of State proposed an Africa Union to replace the OAU. Ironically, Colonel Ghadaffi who single-handedly financed the formation of the AU was murdered by insurgents in his country while a helpless and weak AU watched from afar. When NATO forces entered Libya to fight alongside the insurgents not a single member of the AU raised objection. And so you ask: what is there for us to celebrate?
Sadly, on the day that African leaders were celebrating, an opposition leader was brutally murdered in Burundi. Pierre Nkurunziza, the president of Burundi who was about to complete his two-term in office as the constitution of that country stipulates, decided to go in for a third term. The citizens objected to the breach of the nation’s constitution. Since the return of Nkurunziza to Burundi after a failed coup attempt, many people in that poor country have lost their lives and many have fled to safety in neigbouring Tanzania. The funny aspect of this scenario was that Burundi also celebrated the Africa Union day while Rome was burning. You see the African folly in this?
Not long ago, former president Laurent Gbagbo lost election in Ivory Coast and instead of handing over power to the winner, Allassane Outarra, he decided to marshal his forces and fight. That carnage led to the death of thousands of men, women and children of Ivory Coast. Women who took to the streets in Abidjan with green leaves to demonstrate against the decision of Gbagbo were mowed down with AK 47 Assault rifles. As at the time your Earth Angel Gabriel was writing this piece, Gbagbo is standing trial at The Hague on charges of war crime.
Yahaya Jammeh is still fooling around in Gambia after seizing power many years ago and later put off his military fatigue to contest election and dubiously won. Since holding the reins of power, this brute has terrorized his people to the extent that even citizens of other countries in Africa including Ghana who sojourned to Gambia were killed. And he also celebrated the Africa Union day! Even when physicians of utmost fame were still battling to find cure for HIV/AIDS, this killer and half baked literate president is proclaiming to the world that he has a cure for the dreadful disease. Is this not another African Folly?
Charles Taylor is in jail for his role in the Liberian war which saw the death of several innocent souls. The hands of innocent children were amputated and many Liberians ran into exile. That devastated country is yet to come into terms with what happened. When Charles Taylor was fooling around in Liberia, African leaders stayed mute and watched from the sidelines while innocent bloods were being shed. Charles Taylor himself seized power from yet another military usurper of power, Master Sergeant Doe who also brutalized his people and shepherded many people to the beaches to face firing squads. I will not have enough space to recount many more of such African folly since they are many.
Today Africa is plagued with strange diseases like HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Guinea Worm, many water – borne diseases etc. People are dying of hunger and famine stalks the land. The youth of Africa have been pushed to the wall and many have become economic refugees. Others have dared the devil to walk on foot through the harsh Sahara desert to seek greener grounds in Libya. Some unfortunate ones were devoured by strange beasts in the vast Sahara desert while others died through thirst in their attempt to reach Europe through the Mediterranean Sea. The lucky ones who were able to reach Libya and worked to get money to pay human traffickers to reach Europe are devoured by the sea on daily basis. Tune in to TV stations and see the type of brutal wars going on in many Africa nations and you will regret being an African not to talk of celebrating AU Day.
Africa is abound in natural resources like gold, timber, manganese, diamond, bauxite, cocoa, oil etc but still poor. This is a continent which is sitting by the river but still thirsty. Many African countries import virtually everything from sugar, rice, second hand cloths, pants to toothpicks and yet we say we have independence. Today, if a slave ship lands here in Ghana and the slave masters ask Ghanaians to go on board to Europe to cultivate sugar cane, I will be the first to climb the gangway. Even if I am asked to sleep in the engine room I will willingly do so. And if I reach Europe and I am asked to work twenty four hours a day and get paid I will do so just to earn a living and send some money home to my wife and children. I prefer to be a slave in another country rather than being a slave in my own country. Don’t say I am unpatriotic because the Bible says love thy neigbour just like yourself; the Bible did not say love thy neigbour more than thy self.
OF AU, BOKO HARAM, AL SHABBAB AND ANSAR DINE
Africa is a continent awakened to dangers and called to defend freedom of her people but sadly, Africa lacks the capability, will-power, and sheer bravado to confront her challenges. If African leaders had heeded the warning by Kwame Nkrumah to form an Africa Rapid Reaction Force, Boko Haram, which operates in Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon would have been subdued long time ago. Like Al Shabbab in Somalia and Ansar Dine in Mali, Boko Haram is a fringe movement that prevents the peaceful teaching of Islam.
These terrorists directive command them to kill non-Muslims, making no distinction between military and civilians, including women and children. All what they do is to plot evil and destruction in the name of Allah, forgetting that those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. In fact, these terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying in effect, to hijack Islam itself. They hate the relative freedom that Africa is enjoying, freedom of religion, freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other. And yet the AU is not prepared to take them head on so that Africans will see peace to allow us go about our duties to eke a living.
These terrorists in Africa like their counterparts in ISIS, Al Qaeda etc, are the heirs of all murderous ideologies of the 20th century. They sacrifice human life to serve their fanciful desires. In order not to be taken unawares, AU member states should join hands and direct every resource at their disposal, every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every financial influence and every necessary weapon of war to the destruction of these group of sick brains. There is the need for the AU to starve them of funding and use collective force to drive them from place to place until there is no refuge for them on the African continent. From the way these mad dogs operate, no nation in Africa is immune from their attack.
When Ansar Dine seized Northern Mali, cigarette smoking was ‘haram’ and those who were found smoking cigarette received fifty lashes in public to serve as a deterrent to others. I wonder what they would have done to me if I were there and caught puffing Angelo Cruz, my favorite cigar. Thank God for small mercies. My brother, let me puff away and just be.
By Eric Bawah