FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeSunday, August 25, 2013
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AFRICA, THE PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT

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f the bitter truth can be told, Africa is the continent the rest of the world has left behind. In spite of the advances in science and understanding of nature and human mind, Africans would seem to have held on to traditional practices, cultural attitude, magical thinking and religious beliefs as their preferred way to interpreted and understand life. We have held on to our primitive state and defying the evolutionary advancement necessary for enlightenment.

In January 2013, the African union met in Addis Ababa, in a conference hall built by China. The topic was Mali, where the French was leading in its liberation. In the hall were African dictators whose collective actions in form of bad autocratic and corrupt leadership created Africa’s woes. They deliberated and in the end, could not agree to a single solution to many of Africa’s problems. Sometimes, I wonder how anybody can be truly proud to be African in view of what other people are doing with a fraction of what Africa wastes. Resources that have become a great blessing to countries in Middle East and given rise to twenty-first century cities like Dubai, have become curse and source of serious environmental disaster in Nigeria and Angola and some other African oil producing counties . In Nigeria and Angola, corruption and shear human greed and wickedness have ensured that only the ruling elite have benefit from the common wealth and majority of the people condemned to poverty and early death. This is the reality of Africa and why it breaks my heart and sometimes, I feel ashamed to be Black.

All over Africa, inhalation of smokes from kerosene stoves and lamps is giving Africans the same rate of respiratory morbidity and mortality as chain smoker in a region where harnessing solar energy could give the people the best eco-friendly energy. Recently, Kenyan school boy who could not read at night because his parents could not afford the money for the kerosene lamp became the best student in his region because the family acquired a solar lamp which enabled him to read for up three hours at night. In spite of this, no one hears African government investing in solar energy which is going to be the next revolution in Africa after the mobile phone.

I would like to understand why the average African mind that has presided over the disaster Africa has become, does not seem to work like the minds that built the west and building Countries like Qatar. In Nigeria for instance, instead of thinking about ways to diversify and grow the economy, the politicians are busy stealing Nigerian money and investing it in Dubai and every other country in the world except Nigeria. They argue on how much money would allocated to projects they know will never take off the ground because they already know that they would embezzle the money. You hear of ministers bribing legislators to approve their ministry’s budget and still wonder where the budget will end up. The rot in Nigeria and the rest of Africa is deep. The question is how does a country get rid of human beings who act and behave in this manner? They surely make a case for bloody revolution. Unfortunately, as we all know, revolution kills people and destroys structures but does not change the people. It does not make people see the fault in them that enabled the people they despise to succeed and so after the revolution, history simply repeats itself. Today we see that revolution has not brought peace to Libya, Egypt and Syria etc., Therefore, Nigeria and many other countries in search of good government, enlightenment and development must look beyond violent revolution to the revolution of the mind which is the making of knowledge available to all through mass education. Nigerians should therefore look for leaders who prioritise mass education and health for all, leaders who understand the necessity for African nations to join the knowledge economy through good education. This will give the black race the good foundation that has eluded it and enable it join the community of developed nations.

However, the question is, is the black mind ready for change? Are Africans ready to challenge the religious orthodoxies and dogmas which they hold as absolute truth? Are we ready to challenge what we once held as perfect and complete? Are African Christians ready to accept that God is not afraid of skyscrapers and that the tower of Babel is a story to explain the existence of many different languages? Are African Muslims ready to see why western education is good and abandon subjugation of women, child sexual abuse and reject what is discriminatory and intolerant in the Quran? This is really the challenge. Will Africans allow our renaissances to begin by rejecting the ignorance of the past and accept the knowledge and wisdom of the present?

All over the world, especially in Africa, religious fundamentalism is on the rise, especially Islamic militancy. They are characterised by one feature. The conviction that they are right about God and therefore justified in the use of terror against people they define as infidels. However, the peculiarity of the Nigerian situation is that, it is the first time politicians in a supposedly secular and civil democracy would use them to pursue sectarian political objective. The activities of Boko Haram strike at the unity of Nigeria and seriously threaten the survival of Nigeria as a united Country. It is very clear that the greatest threats to the unity and survival of Nigeria as a united country are religious extremism, ethnic nationalism, the persistence of northern states in implementation of Sharia laws, and the predominant Christian world view in the south which is exploiting the people in the name of God, and bastardizing the biblical teachings for profit.

The North of Nigeria is already an Islamic republic and Boko Haram is simply being used to consolidate it and intimidate those would be minded to resist it. Nigeria will begin to implode when the predominate Christian south finally articulate a narrative for its retaliation which will polarised the country and seal the faith of Nigeria in a self-destructive war. What happened in Lebanon in the 1970s and currently taking place in Syria will be child’s’ play. Nigeria will become a theatre of a mixture of ethnic and religious wars fought against perceived enemies, without clear reasons why their objectives must be achieved through violence; and the only winners will be those who are manufacturing the guns and bullet we will need to destroy ourselves. This is the reason why I believe that only a detribalised Nigerian as president will have any chance of saving Nigeria from inevitable disintegration. Will the black man ever learn? Will Africa ever join the civilised world as equals? Time will tell.

As Nigerian prepares for another election, It is another opportunity to look at our politics, what we vote for, why we vote the person, and what we want the person to achieve for us as individuals of certain ethnic groups and Nigerians. We need to rediscover the truth would enable us to succeed. We need to accept that in leadership, a man character, values, personality and beliefs are much more important than his ethnicity or religion, even though these contribute to his beliefs and personality. We must begin to judge our leaders by the strength of their characters and not by their religion or ethnicity. We need to look for as leaders, Nigeria who truly believe in Nigeria as a united federation, and not continue to vote for ethnic and religious bigots who masquerade as national leaders and whose only aim is to appropriate what belongs to all for the benefit of their families, cronies and ethnic groups. I pray that Nigeria survives. Join a political party today and make sure that your voice is heard. Change can come to Nigeria in 2015 only if we all work for the change.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.

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