BEYOND RACE…..DEEPER THAN COLOUR.
I had the luxury like many of you to have been born and brought up into a post colonial Africa. However much I consider it a privilege, I am not blinded to the fact that this real positioning has revealed to me the blind spots of the anit-colonial movement (past gone) in our land.
Oh…I appreciate the efforts of the fathers of Pan-Africanism and what it means to us today. The independence Square, Accra from where that movement which spread continent wide became catalyzed remains one of my favourite spots. Whenever I am there and think that it was right on those grounds that the political future of Africa began to take place beginning from Ghana, I have a lot to be appreciative for as to the benefits I enjoy today from the efforts of those who went before us and sacrificed for us in the process. I am and remain a great admirer of Osagyefo Kwameh Nkrumah and those who worked with him to get the job done (please refer to my notes on THE BIRTH OF A NEW NATION)
Yet, I can boldly say that a lot of things was wrong with the concept from that onset .It was though the Blackness of the skin also was the darkness of the mind. However for the purpose of clarity, I would take one angle to the entire thing…the question of race….particularly with the concept of the acceptance of the white African. To help my arguments, I would bring to forth two similar national entities which are Liberia (1847-date) and Rhodesia (1890-1980)
The Pan-Africanist supported and fought for the cause of Majority rule in Rhodesia because they felt that white minority rule there was unjust and un-African. They thought it was not right that a white man should rule in an African country. So money, goodwill and efforts was poured in in torrents into the liberation struggle of that country. That seemed noble. What most of us do not know or fail to admit was that a similar or almost equal circumstance had played itself out in Africa’s first republic, which is Liberia…decades before the British Imperialist Cecil Rhodes organized Bashonaland and Matabeleland into Rhodesia as a colony. Very few know that the way Rhodesia had a dominant minority populace ruling over a majority economically and politically, so it was or had always been in Liberia and that had been going on for almost four or five decades before Rhodesia came into existence. The principal difference between the two was that whilst the ‘oppressor’ in Rhodesia was of white skin, the one in Liberia prior was in the opposite wearing a black one.
The question which arises is; since both countries had a similar socio-political circumstance, why did the anti-colonial efforts find foot in Rhodesia and not Liberia? Your guess might be as good as mine…. Simply put (as earlier mentioned) the oppressor in the first instance wore a white skin and in the second, black. The Pan Africanist described the first circumstance as ‘colonialism’ ,’imperialist’ or ‘oppression’ but branded the second a domestic problem. It was not until after the ‘independence’ of Rhodesia (which saw it transform into Zimbabwe) that a similar a similar emancipation exercise occur in Liberia. In that same year of 1980, practically through local efforts via a coup de etat, which saw the abrupt end of a century and a half long interrupted dominance of the Americo Liberian elite through the True Whig Party and the Masonic Lodge and brought Samuel Kanyon Doe the county’s first leader of indigenous descent into power.
The oligarchic dominance of the Americo-Liberian caste in that country was acceptable to the pan Africanists. It tells that in their own view, it’s alright to be the oppressor in your operational environment so long as you wore a black skin to cover it up! How do I know or what makes me to be so sure? Just take a walk away from the Independence grounds and go past The Accra Sports Stadium and The Osu cemetery through Castle Road and passing the front of the International Conference Centre into Ridge, you would arrive at the African Unity Circle intersecting Independence Avenue. There you would see the faces of the founding fahers of that organization which we now call the A.U..You’d see the face of William V.S. Tubman alongside Julius Nyerere (Tanzania) Alhaji Tafawa Balewa (Nigeria) Ahmed Ahmed Ben Bella (Algeria) Sekou Tourre (Guinea) King Idrees El-Sannousi (Libya) etc
In all of these what lesson am I trying to draw out? That a white oppressor could exist in parallel to an equal black in two different countries on our continent should teach us a something….And that is the concept of master & slave and oppressor & oppressed can exist anywhere irrespective of race, colour, tribe or nationality. Why? The principle in term of outplay of value transcends what we see on the surface. Putting in plain terms the concept is about an issue of dominance based on abilities. The factor that made the white Rhodesian oppress the Shona and Ndebele is the same that played in favour of the ‘conquer’ in Liberia (By the way, The ‘Conquer’ or Americo-Liberians were a community of freed slaves which was resettled on the West African coast through the efforts of the American Colonization Society from the United States as a group effort of the Abolitionists initiative).I already pointed out two different races in two different nations with an equal or similar outcome. The abilities of any man would always push him up ahead of another in a human community should that other not develop nor rise to match…and that is a true idea no matter the skin colour they wear. In the words of Booker T. Washington “In all history, those who possess the most education and intelligence in any society always have the most control in government no matter what race, colour or geographic location”. It’s not the colour of the container that makes an object sink or swin in water but it’s contents!
The black man seemed to so be obsessed with the idea of ‘removing’ the white imperialist or colonialist (even those who had since become African themselves in Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa) rather than develop and evolve into the productive factor that would give him an equal and/matching competitive advantage in the same environment
If you had the chance to pattern the human society after the thinking of the beastly community on the Animal Farm of George Orwell’s book, it would be easy to insist that “All animals are born equal”. It would seem noble and may even work for a while. Know, however hard you try maintaining such status quo, it would only be a question of time before some amongst the bunch would prove themselves to be more equal that the others based on capabilities, initiative, and productive outcomes. All animals (or humans) can and will be born equal but it is impossible for them to continue staying equal with time and life because of those factors that already I have mentioned. People who you lack what it takes to forge a path for themselves in life, would always chose as a favourite excuse, the next persons productivity as the cause.
Contrary views are welcomed!