If any African government has any illusions about the effects of deliberate weakening of state institutions for temporary political gain, they should look at Belgium today. Ironically, Belgium itself was part of the European project to create weak and unsustainable countries in Africa; countries that would never be able to stand on their own feet, but would be quintessentially dependent on their colonial masters. Part of the result is the chaos that is playing out in North Africa and Europe at the present time. We might wish to call it poetic justice, but for the fact that the tentacles of the Islamic terrorist octopus is now beginning to extend even to normally calm West Africa.
In many ways, Belgium resembles the countries of Africa that were artificially created on maps with no thought whatsoever for the cultural and linguistic sensibilities of the people that inhabited them. For all the European originators cared, the people of those countries could be rocks or sand dunes in the desert! Again it was ubiquitous Britain that banded together the Flemish speaking south with cultural connections to the Netherlands and the French speaking north with deep cultural ties to France, into a politically unworkable Belgium.
The result, like the motley collection of ill-fitting ethnic groups and cultures of most African countries, is the suspicions and rivalries within Belgian institutions. Depending on where they are located and who its predominant prime movers are, the security agencies of Belgium do not share intelligence with one another. How else could the main architect of the Paris outrage of November last year receive succour and protection in Brussels for so long, and actually have the freedom to plan and execute such devastating terrorists attacks in the very heart of the national capital? As in Paris, the prime suspect has slipped through the porous security net.
The East Africans, particularly Kenya and Tanzania, with relatively large Muslim populations have had their fair share of Islamic terrorist atrocities in the past ten years or so. Recently, Nigeria with a much larger Muslim population has been terrorised by the ragtag Boko Haram, mostly supported by powerful Muslim politicians of the northern part of the country. Essentially, it is a question of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. Boko Haram operated with such impunity, some will say with active assistance of local politicians because the main victim of their terrorism, apart from the mainly Christian towns and villages, was a political foe of Northern Nigerian politicians.
From the predominantly Muslim eastern part of the West African sub-region, Islamic terrorism is now spreading westward, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, and now Cote d’Ivoire. And the reason for its ‘success’ is that for the parochial interests of corrupt and thieving politicians who do not give a toss about the people they are supposed to be ruling, vital state institutions have been destroyed so mostly incompetent politicians can perpetuate their rule. The safety and welfare of the citizens they are supposed to be protecting can go hang, as far as they are concerned. For the same parochial reasons, the people do not give a hoot themselves. My tribesman/religious brother right or wrong!
I have been so cross since the recent hotel bombings in Grand Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire, I have not been able to sit down to write one word for days. I have been asking myself over and over in my reveries, daydreams and nightmares: Do we really hate ourselves that much? Why do we allow everyone, including people who are no better than ourselves, to kick us around and make complete asses of us?
The more I think about the Ivorian incident, in particular, the angrier and the more paralysed I seem to get. Cote d’Ivoire was once a bastion of peace and tranquillity and a rising star, but due to systematic marginalisation of a large proportion of its citizenry, the country has been so polarised that for some citizens, it could well go up in flames or be taken over by evil foreigners.
Europeans took advantage of us because we could not bring ourselves to think of ourselves as people of the same stock before language or religion. As a result, more than half a century after what should have been political independence, we still cannot even trade with one another without others serving as intermediaries. And now we are helping others to jeopardise the future of generations unborn, by encouraging the merchants of doom to plant the seeds of chaos in our countries
In recent years, China has been gradually becoming the overlord of much of the continent. They are not only destroying arable farmlands and life-dependent water bodies, they are actually taking over petty trading in our cities and towns, selling everything from live chickens to roasted local staples like plantains and yams.
And now Islamist terrorists are threatening the very foundations of what makes us Africans, the safety of our homes, streets and alleyways where we sit under the bright moonlight to tell and listen to stories about our past and be ourselves. What have we really done to deserve such gross disrespect from people who by most world standards and statistics are no better than ourselves? And they are largely succeeding because state institutions that should be protecting the people have been high-jacked by partisan political institutions and no longer serve the interests of our nation states. Ordinary party hacks drive through towns and villages mowing down innocent citizens and go scot free, because those who cause such acts of impunity carry the right party colours.
The Islamic terrorists who seem to be gradually but steadily gaining traction even in the predominantly Christian countries of West Africa are succeeding because state institutions like the courts, civil service, the police and even the traditionally professional armed services have been intentionally weakened through politically-motivated appointments and recruitments, favouritism in appointments and crude party political interference.
Our economies are so weak that unless we stir ourselves from the current comatose, we shall wake up one day to find the ISIS flag flying over every state building of every African capital.
That is why I advocate that every sitting president/head of state must be made a one-timer until the politicians begin to take notice of the people they are supposed to be leading.
I shall return with my beaded gourd, God willing.
Naana Ekua Eyaaba has an overarching interest in the development of the African continent and Black issues in general. Having travelled extensively through Africa, the Black communities of the East Coast of the United States as well as London and Leeds (United Kingdom), she enjoys reading, and writes when she is irritated, and edits when she is calm. You can email her at [email protected] , or read her blog at https://naanaekuaeyaaba.wordpress.com/.