When I get to heaven, I will snigger at Chief MKO Abiola for wasting precious resources and clout chasing reparations for Africa. Why? We don’t deserve it and we prove it every day. Let us start from home. Since he joined the saints triumphant, our leader-who-art-in-heaven, General Sani Abacha, has been sending us forex gifts from the inexhaustible caching he stashed against rainy days. So far, no single project could be associated with these reparations.
Nigeria has been exorcised of the self-flagellation of calling itself the Giant of Africa, but it retains the title of most populous black nation. If Nigeria has woefully failed to use its resources equitably, what is the hope of smaller nations?
Malawi, a country so poor it auctioned its only jet to survive, is sending 5,000 members of its citizenry into modern Israeli shackles and spurs. This in spite of the Israeli-Palestinian war and in spite of Israeli notoriety about how it has treated its repatriated cousins, the Falashas, that were airlifted back to Israel from Ethiopia.
Africans on non-pilgrimage to Israel would tell anyone who cared to listen that it is not a friendly place for people of colour. The Malawi government would probably argue that all that is arrant polemics. At the exchange kiosk racist earnings carry full value and for a nation in economic crisis, that’s all that matters.
At a moment most countries are pulling their citizens from Israel, Malawi is using its own to cement its relationship with the country in spite of its war with the Palestinians or in diplomatese – the war with Hamas!
It is true what they say that if European slave ships dock in any African harbour today, many citizens would buy their own chains just to make sure they do not miss the boat. Majority of those escaping African hardship for famed greener pastures across the globe are moving towards advertised servitude. That includes this writer and other famed abroadians.
Africa is not serious about reparations as it is about maintaining the status quo. The Jewish lobby is not like that. After two European civil wars led to the extermination of six million Jews, it imprinted on the western world its rights to remember its past pains and its determination to be treated with dignity and respect wherever it is.
It is now an international crime to be tagged antisemite or a holocaust denier. With that tag, a victim has lost its rights to buy and sell and exist in the real world until it purges itself of its crime. In most parts of the world, antisemitism carries jail term.
African slavery that lasted 341 years and involved 12.5 million lives remains a footnote of global history. There are no penalties for not talking about it and often, survivors are still taunted with it. Worst still, it is illegal to compare it with the holocaust particularly!
You could imagine one’s consternation when prior to his visit to Kenya; his first official visit outside the United Kingdom after being pronounced King, Mr. Charles and Camilla, his wife, was asked to apologise for the heinous crimes of his ancestors on African soil. He refused. The British monarch has been very outspoken on a lot of things, including animal rights and the environment. At the current COP28 gathering in Dubai, he reminded us that the earth does not belong to us; we belong to it. He and his subjects say they do not take vicarious liability for past horrors of their forebears and their representatives in Africa.
In spite of that, African ruiners treat the offsprings of their torturers with veneration while denigrating their own culture, tradition and rulers. At Charles’ coronation in London, African leaders were falling over each other for access far removed from the centre of the ceremony rather than miss the photo-op or watching the televised procedure with the unwashed masses.
Kenya’s loyalty to the monarchy is crucial to the cycle of neo-colonialism. Its pristine conservation of wildlife is a magnet that draws tourists. It was while holidaying in Kenya that Charlie’s late mother, was pronounced Queen.
Mr. Charles successfully embarked on his visit acknowledging that some conducts of his ancestors in Africa were below standard, but that’s as far as he was prepared to go. Offended Africans should take up their grouse with the colonialists in the celebrated afterlife. After all, they are the only race that is happily following a religion that is now discountenanced by its colonial overlords. A religion that enslaves the mind.
To show that it is okay with this stance, just last week; the Kenyan Parliament cemented its colonial pact with Britain by adopting the European dress code as the official uniform of its legislature. In its new law, speaker Moses Wetang’ula, officially outlawed the wearing of African dress in the Kenyan parliament.
Wetang’ula pronounced African attires ‘inappropriate’ for its neo-colonial status. He was specifically incensed with the so-called Kaunda-style safari popularised by the late Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda. Wetang’ula lashed out at what he termed “emerging fashion trends that now threaten the established parliamentary dress code” in Kenya like a piss on the grave of Kimathi Waciuri – aka Dedan Kimathi and other nationalists.
The Kenyan speaker went further to announce that “a proper dress for men means a coat, collar, tie, long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, socks shoes or service uniform.” His dress code for women are skirts and dresses that must be below the knee. Sleeveless tops are banned. The Kenyan speaker said he had seen “members in committee meetings looking like street fighters”. Incidentally, William Ruto, the Kenyan President is famed for his love of Kaunda suits. The Kenyan parliament is not the only such legislature to outlaw African attire, others including the Nigerian legislature have done so with feigned moderation.
With a drop of the gavel, Wetang’ula has killed any revival of the kanga and the shuka, two traditionally worn wears associated with his country in favour of the one imposed by his colonial overlords in spite of common-sense dictates of the African weather. African legislators prefer titles like distinguished, honourable or right-honourable along with arrays of earned and acquired titles.
The Wetang’ula dictate completes the colonisation of the democratic process in Kenya as other parts of Africa. Our security is dressed in neocolonial garbs. Our lawyers and judges wear funny-looking wigs and gowns.
Perhaps, Wetang’ula has nipped nearby Zambian imperialism in the bud to stave off an invading Nigerian imperialism. Imagine the fake cultural revolution that a Bola Ahmed Tinubu visiting Kenya in his traditional Yoruba aso-ofi, or any of Nigeria’s exotic traditional wears could stir. Already Nigerian folk music and movies have taken Africa by storm.
With leadership, Nigeria could lead a cultural revolution in Africa, but thanks to the imperial gods that it won’t happen. Any thought of Africans adopting the sartorial elegance of Nigeria’s elite could be worse than the British treatment of Kenya’s freedom fighters that it derisively dubbed Mau-Mau. It is on record that East and Southern African men are railing against Nigerian men who they accuse of stealing the hearts of their women. A stitch in time sure saves nine.