AFRICA AND THE CURSING OF THE NATION-STATE
Reading from the pedigree of the African ancient historiography there were nations and empires among which there was Akan tribe in what is known today as Ghana. Among the Akan there was a powerful clan with recognized and respected authority known as Ashanti. There are clear facts that Ashanti did not only have military capability but also legal framework, governance, territory and stable people. Under their leader Osei Tutu in the 17th Century, Ashanti managed to form a real empire that managed to conquer other neighboring clans (nations) and formed a very strong and valid “nation-state” as was known as well in the Western civilization.
In the history of Kumase in the current Ghana (former Gold Coast) there was a constitution with 77 laws and the power was symbolized with a three legged Golden Stool which other scholars compare to the English Crown. Since such power in the Western region of Africa would not be accepted by the British colonists, Ashanti people had, unfortunately, to lose their Golden Stool – symbol of political, moral, spiritual and social power through dispossession approach of the colonizer. This blog is interested to investigate if at all it was genuine to deprive Ashanti nation of their social and political culture?
According to me it was a blunder to destroy the African true social and political values such as the rule of law crafted in the African conception of democracy. The consequences of such colonial error is that many African Heads of States today cannot imagine quitting power nor respecting democratic values due to the lost paradise, the African “political philosophy”. If such political traditions of the African people were helped to grow and re-adjust, I think, such things as corruption, clinging onto power no matter what, elimination of persons, negative ethnicity and failure of nationhood, would have not been the case now. African practices and traditions are full of cultural values that would have been used to shape good governance if had been well preserved.
Today Africa is faced with moral decadency and political bad governance. What elected leaders think of is how to steal and how to oppress their own fellow citizens once in power. This is against the principles of the Golden-Stool which belonged to no mortal but to the divinities of the Ashanti people. No leader, even King Tutu could abuse power and violate the traditional values of the people. Women in such systems had a big role of authority as they were the absolute and supreme advisers of the king. Kingship was not a question of heredity but recognition of a clan and a person of high values. Such a person would be enthroned and his or her power must come from accepted values of the people.
Western democracy has only taught many Africans how to be corrupt, quick wealth, immoral and valueless. Some leaders tend to oppress or colonize their fellow Africans using the divide and rule principle of the Romans and perfectly executed by the colonists. Some nations in the Sub Saharan region of Africa are devastated by bad governance and unethical system that frustrates development. Basil Davidson, the author of “The Black Man’s Burden”, was right by saying that Africans did not build nations but ethnic groups due to what he refers to as the road not taken. Such historic error has only damaged chances for Africa to develop into manageable regimes in the 21st Century as many elected leaders now seek endless term in office. Some even eliminate their rivals or make them not see power. What is happening in most states is that power is held by mafias and very corrupt individuals with no regard to human rights. Some do not have respect even for God despite being in the first row in Christian Churches.
The colonists robbed the Ashanti people of their Golden-Stool and replaced it with a maze of power crafted by the English people. This imposition has made things more complicated for African democracy and freedom. Today, some people speak of African solution to African problem as though they know what such solutions and alternatives are. What I can conclude is that Africa needs its Golden Stool back just as the Italians had to send back to Ethiopia the Axum after it had been stolen by colonists. Axum symbolized a kingdom or empire that people believed in for Centuries in the former Abyssinia.
Unless there is true return to cultural values African solution will just be a jargon in the mouths of international bureaucrats but has no concrete resonance in Africa. Unless we recognize the powers of the Kabaka and the Zulus, the Mandingoes and the Omukama, things will not be any better. Ask yourself why DRC is in turmoil till today, why Mugabe has colonized Zimbabwe and is only expecting the wife or his sibling to succeed him, and why in Uganda, Yoweri Museveni is not ready to quit power so soon and allow democracy to thrive? Ask yourself why South Sudan may not see peace so soon and why Somalia is becoming a bedrock for terrorists?Why are presidents seeking life-term in power? What is really happening with President Paul Biye of Cameroon after so many years in power? Are the African presidents the new colonizers of their people? I wonder if President Joseph Kabila of the DRC is a true national of the Republic of Congo or he is just another external colonizer? Does he have some invisible hands behind his thirst for power? Will such mistaken reality of African politics create more freedom or deny people their freedom?
There are terrible situations caused by colonial damages of true African values such as “divide and rule” felt across the southern region of the Sahara with some people feeling that they were born to be leaders. Some leaders will never let go their hut symbolizing such assumed authority that has no any traditional cultural value of the African people besides grabbing power and sharing it with bandits. Replacing the Golden Stool with the English Crown made matters not any better for the modern African states especially those in the commonwealth.
It is great that the Secretary of the State Mr. John Kerry is visiting Kenya and Nigeria to discuss peace in Sudan and security in the region, but guess what, will he address the stolen Gold Stool? Whoever is now sitting on the stool is not even an African to begin with. Thanks for the Ugandans to reconsider the ancient regimes and what they mean for the African people today…restoration of the Kingdoms of Buganda, Busoga, Bughiso, and even Banyankole. Some were chieftencies with organized authority around certain values of the people that could make the understanding of African solution a reality. Even if the later ones are reduced to mere cultural symbols of authority, the values they hold to their people is something to be reconsidered by modern scholars.
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