Time for reflections

In the last days of 2005, leading thinkers and scholars from around the world share their fears, hopes and expectations of 2006. As Isabel Hilton asks: What does 2006 have in store? (Part one)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe
22 December 2005

Undoubtedly, 2006 begins on a more optimistic note for Africa. With the failure of the 2005 G8-Live8-Make Poverty History initiative, it is clear that the blueprint for African transformation will neither be scripted nor actuated in London, Brussels, Washington or New York. The answer remains firmly lodged in Africa.

2006 will be a year of intense reflections across Africa on the continent’s genocide-state. The year marks the fortieth anniversary of the beginning of the Igbo genocide, during which the Nigerian state slaughtered 3 million Igbo citizens – a quarter of the total Igbo population. This genocide shattered the capacity of the state to capitalise on the resources of multinationality and multiculturality as it embarked on redevelopment after sixty years of the British occupation.

This was the foundational genocide of post-conquest, European-occupied Africa. Africans elsewhere remained largely silent on the gruesome events in Nigeria but did not foresee the grave consequences of such indifference. Just as the Nigerian operatives of mass murder appeared to have got away without censure from the rest of Africa, other brutal African regimes soon followed in Nigeria’s footpath, murdering those in their countries considered “opponents” or “undesirables.”

The haunting killing fields stretched from Igboland to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, southern Guinea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Burundi and Rwanda. The 12 million murdered in the latter bloodbaths would probably have been saved if Africans had intervened robustly to stop the initial genocide against the Igbo people.

Forty years and fifteen million murders on, Africans finally realise that there cannot be any meaningful advancement without the dismantling of the genocide-state. This state is the bane of African existence and progress. Africans on the ground areworking tirelessly for the emergence of extensively decentralised state forms that ensure full democratic participation and representation of all constituent peoples.

It is within this context that the current heightened political developments in Nigeria, Uganda and Ethiopia become intelligible. The regimes here are working intensely to scuttle the pace and trajectory of democratisation. In the case of Nigeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo is on the verge of subverting the constitution to extend the life of his presidency.

It is in the longer-term interest of the rest of the world, especially in the west, to support African transformations initiated by its peoples rather than the helmsmen seemingly entrenched in the continent’s genocide-states.


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