Cletus Olisaeloka Ekwosi (email@example.com)
One of the leading breweries in Nigeria sells one of its productson the notion of blackness. Its advert defines blackness as an attitude rather than mere color –“black is not a color, it is an attitude”. Ever since this has become a sort of mantle, together with the “Black is Beautiful”, prided by the people of our raceespecially when we are faced with rejection and complexes resulting from white intimidations and racism. Blackness actually became a brand. But what is there about this attitude of blackeness?
The grandfathers of our continent lived and expressed this attitude, this blackness as “what it is to be African.” From Nyerere’s Ujamaa to Senghor’s Negritude, Nkrumah’s Conscientism to Zik’s Neo-Welfarism; from the “Bantu Philosophy” of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda to the “Ubuntu Philosophy” of South Africa, this black attitude manifests itself as a common factor in the logic of being African and it is upon this logic that our forebears sort to build their pan-African socio-political ideologies. This is the attitude of being-with-others as a fundamental reality of being Africa; the very African identity.
Beyond being some existential philosophical thoughts and expressing the cultural unity of African nations, enshrined in these ideologies is a key to psychological emancipation from some existential limitations that came with the artificial territorial boundaries created by some Western merchants in the name of colonization. The allegations of a certain Sudanese who presides over another Africa nation and a Cameroonian who vied for the same post in the same country can only find the rational merit lacking in them within the context of a boundary-less Africa – there is a common African where Africans can liveand thrive.
Some unfortunate moments of crises have unsuccessfullythreatened this unique living reality of Africa. The Ebola era saw African nations strengthen their borders with everyone suspicious of the other. This was in a bid to save one another. The resurgence of the onslaught of the men from Funta Jalon has further partitioned countries like Nigeria into micro-nations without immigration security where each has to guard their territory or risk extinction. But we are familiar with internal crisis in African nations.
In past and recent times, nothing has threatened this africanness more than the recurrent South African Afrophobia. This fear, this hatred, this racism seems ingrained in the black South Africans minds, both the lettered and the unlettered. For some it is a hangover of the political “shitdom” of the apartheid era, and to others it emanates from a kind of unconscious classical conditioning of the black South African psyche that has co-habited so long with their slave lords and has continued to slave in independence since these lords control virtually all the major sectors of the polity.
Either way, there is an obvious hatred of blackness among even the blacks of South Africa. This is so endemic that even the Majority Rule of 1994 which replaced the apartheid rule could not cure it. Indeed, the ulcer festered after the 1994 rule. South Africans hate blacks but bear the color. It is a reaction to what they are that they do not want to be. It is a kind of extreme Stockholm syndrome wherein they have found love with their oppression in utter rejection and hatred of who they are. The Afrophobia in South Africa is a manifestation of self-hatred.Probably, their africanness died with their struggle for liberation. Unfortunately, it is a long war to wage and the end seems not in view. Call it running from one’s shadow
But my worry is not how to cure this syndrome but how to save the rest of the African nations from infection. The attacks resulting in killings and destruction of properties of Nigerian/South African investments in Nigeria and South Africa in recent days are 0scary to me. The conspiracy of silence of the “host government” and the indifference of the government of other nations like Nigeria (that is barely concerned with the lives of their citizens at home) have precipitated these counter-attacksthat have spread like wildfire in various regions of the country and other parts of the continent.
It is time for both the silent and the indifferent to speak and actpositively. Those who hold the power of governance must not treat this as business as usual. We live in highly inflammable times when we cannot afford the luxury of silence or indifference. This development hatches what could be the first African continental war. This is the real devil. The long term result would be un-African, it would be self-destructive. It would generate bad energy that has the potency of creating abang that could destroy Africa. Not that we all would die; but in the end there will be no Africa. This would be the death of that attitude of blackness, that way of being-African; the death of being-with-others. We die because our very DNA shall have been edited. This is bioterrorism in the African. And this scares me most.