By Matthew Hassan Kukah
Apart from basking in the euphoria of Arsenal’s current form, few other things gave me momentary excitement in the last one month like knowing that the great Toyin Falola is after all, only my younger brother. I am not big on birthdays and almost every year, I have to beg for forgiveness from aggrieved friends and relatives whose birthdays I forget. The men can live with these social flaws. However, it is the occasional wrath of the females, friends, or family that I dread. It is my much younger relatives and friends that I dread forgetting their birthdays. So, when Toyin turned 70 on 1 January this year, it offered me a chance to taunt him. I call him Toyin because I know he’d rather that I call him that.
I called him a day after his birthday, knowing that as an older brother, I had privileges that could not be questioned. I was also consoled that being a Yoruba man, Toyin would appreciate the socially and culturally defined boundaries between elders and their younger ones. I also know my own obligations because, not to congratulate him would constitute some form of negligence to a younger one. I did not wish to fall into this trap. So, deciding to write this tribute so late is also a deliberate act. Toyin knows he can’t even ask me why I took so long to write this for the same reason. Being his senior, I believe I can write a tribute to him when I want, if I want or not even write at all. Seniority has no rival! Enough said, let me proceed with this tribute to a man I admire, love and respect profoundly.
So, Toyin, one of the most authoritative historians in living memory, I should let you know that knowing you and being your friend is an honour I treasure. I have not met a man more intellectually endowed in my life. I do not know any other human being who has written as much as you have. Today, neither you, Bisi, the children nor any of your colleagues can say how many books, academic or conference papers you have written. Line for line, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, title by title, shelf by shelf, row by row, subject by subject, no one that I know of can occupy the space that your books occupy anywhere in the world. But I am getting emotional (an elder cannot do this) and I am ahead of myself.
First, when I called to congratulate Toyin on the 2nd of January, I had made up my mind to really taunt him over our age difference. Sadly, I did not expect him to deflate my balloon with such ease. When I called, he immediately picked the phone, and, as if reading my mind, he said: I know you are my elder brother, Bishop, I know. My plans to rob pepper into his pride were deflated. I felt so disappointed that he had caught me off balance. I therefore simply congratulated him and left it at that. It was the shortest conversation I have ever had with Toyin.
Celebrating Toyin calls for a rolling out of drums from Ibadan, Yorubaland, the South-West, Nigeria or Africa. It will be hard to know who qualifies to celebrate him or what aspect of his life needs to be celebrated. Is it his phenomenal, exceptional and almost unfathomable breathtaking intellectual depth, or his prodigious contribution to redefining the boundaries of Yoruba culture and orature? Any attempt to render Toyin in a local, sub-national or even national appellation does him great injustice. Toyin has risen beyond his community and the Nigerian nation. Toyin has risen beyond Africa. Toyin has taken his Yoruba nation, Nigeria, Africans here and in the diaspora into the orbit of global knowledge. He has placed our history and culture in the pantheon of the gods. I do not know anyone else in living memory who has done so much for promoting black history and culture on the world stage beyond mere drama and theatre. The ubiquitous awards tell the story.
I am proud to call Toyin my friend. I am; even more so that his friendship gives me a sense of validation at an academic level.
Whenever I ask Toyin to read a draft manuscript or a paper, I almost find it difficult to argue with his insightful comments and views. Toyin can return a 200 to 300-page manuscript to you in less than two days and with detailed comments, showing that he has read every line. And for one who is always doing a thousand other things at the same time, I do not know his magic.
I have tried to recall how and where we first met, but with age, a lapse in memory is pardonable. Given the age difference between us, he should have a better memory. Although our friendship started in Nigeria in the 1980s, it developed shortly after I arrived in England to pursue my postgraduate studies in 1986. The University of Cambridge offered him a place for his sabbatical leave between 1989 and 1990, I think. During his stay, he did most of the visits and unfortunately, I never really visited him. I took advantage of these visits and used our endless conversations to help in clarifying and giving some direction to the uncharted and pioneering research of my doctoral thesis on Religion and Politics in Nigeria.
As a student, I had decided to leave the comfort of an accommodation with priests in north London and settled in a students’ hostel. I really wanted to put the life of privilege of a priest behind and throw myself into the anonymity of student life. I lived through the banter of the smoke-filled bar of SOAS in the ’80s. It was the watering hole for aspiring secret service students and apparatchiks or students with left wing views then. You couldn’t have been in SOAS and not visit the students’ bar, whether you were an imam, a rabbi or a priest. Aspiring student spies often took advantage of the belief that inebriation created the perfect condition for loose lips! Those were the times of the ideological debates of the Cold War.
Toyin would come to London and prefer to stay with me in my student room, with barely a space beside the six-spring bed. He would call to let me know he was coming to London and would stay with me. However, often, it would be impossible to know what hour Toyin would show up after other visits. He could actually come to London House, where I stayed, go straight to the bar before turning up in my room at an unholy hour. The door would be open. Ahead of his visit, I would have booked for a camp bed (the only luxury that students had for an extra guest!). My job was to unfold the camp bed for him because he often would come after I had slept, unless we had gone out together. I looked forward to Toyin’s visits because I was always the beneficiary. His boundless mental capacity meant he could discuss anything and give meaning to any nuance. His visits helped me clarify my thoughts.
What shocked me was the fact that Toyin seemed to be at his most productive best after he returned from the bar. Occasionally, I would leave a draft seminar paper for him to read and give me comments. By morning, I would wake up to find that he had read my paper and his comments would be in red ink. He would still wake up before me. Toyin’s brain had the capacity to process and eliminate any unwanted clutter around his ideas.
When I look back, I regret not taking his offer for academic collaboration seriously in the ’90s. He and I worked on our only project, which was later published as, Religious Militancy and Self-Assertion: Islam and Politics in Nigeria (1996). It was meant to be the opening salvo. However, I got caught up with my primary pastoral obligations as a priest and did not take up the subsequent offers. Being Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat did not give one such luxury in those Abacha days. While working on that book, I saw Toyin’s boundless capacity, the magic of his labyrinthine and complex brain, which never seemed to ever sleep. He would take my material and turn his ideas and mine into a crafty mesh with logic and sequence.
Toyin’s mind processes different ideas like a combined harvester, separating, yet storing ideas where they belonged. On the surface, Toyin has what seems like a casual, even careless, carefree and an unserious look. He is far too informal for what he really is, the class he belongs to and what he represents. He comes across as a man who simply says, what you see is what you get. He doesn’t care what impression he makes and does not even try. One day, I paid the price as the man really brought shame to me in London.
I think it was in the winter of 1989 or so that Toyin called me from Cambridge to say that he had been invited to the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge Club on Pall Mall, London by a Professor. He offered to take me along and that was quite exciting to me as a student. We agreed to meet at Piccadilly Circus tube station. It was the nearest to Pall Mall. I sensed that given the conservative nature of the establishment, I might be required to wear a tie. Before I left my room, my mirror told me that with my cheap tie and a decent blazer, I could pass as a decent guest. I arrived at Piccadilly Circus tube station before him and waited. When Toyin came out, I was rather disappointed. He wore a cheap turtle neck sweater, a scarf and a winter coat. My heart skipped and I wondered, how can this man appear like this for an appointment in this Club? I had never been there but I wondered what might happen. But what did I know? We walked across to the prestigious Oxbridge Club.
I decided to let Toyin take the lead since he was the special guest. When we got to the door, I heard Toyin introduce both himself and me to the doorman. The doorman obviously had Toyin’s name, but he told us that he could not enter because Toyin had a deficient dress code. Toyin was trying to make a case when our host appeared at the door. He looked at Toyin and me, and knowing that the situation was irredeemable, went back in, retrieved his winter coat and led us to a nearby bar. He apologised for not telling Toyin he needed to wear a tie. While I was nursing this humiliation, and feeling quite uneasy, Toyin behaved as if nothing bothered him. It was all in a day’s job. I admired him because I felt that it was really the measure of a great man so comfortable in his own skin. Toyin is no man of ceremonies. Everything for him is casual, as long as decency and respect abound.
Toyin’s place in the pantheon of world historians is assured and I do not know if anyone will stand beside him any time soon. If there ever was a hall of fame for historians, Toyin would be right in the front row because it is difficult to contemplate anyone who has written what this genius of a man has written, across disciplines. His boundless energy has seen him traverse the length and breathe of Africa and the Caribbean, Europe, America and the world at large, constantly and tirelessly resetting new templates for understanding Africa. He has raised a generation of historians and made History come alive again. It is to his credit that a generation of scholars across the continent and beyond have set up what is known as; The Toyin Falola Annual Conference on Africa and the African Diaspora (TOFAC). It is a well-deserved honour and a guarantee of a valued legacy.
Toyin, like Prometheus in another life, has successfully stolen the fire of knowledge from the gods and ignited the African continent. The world can now see Africa brightly and differently, thanks to him. Toyin has conferred respect to History and the study of African culture.
Reviewing our book with Toyin in 1998, one of the most famous and perceptive minds with the greatest authority on Nigeria in Oxford at the time, Anthony Kirk Greene of blessed memory, referred to Toyin as, “the most prolific African Historian in a decade.” Once, over coffee, the late John Peel of blessed memory and I were discussing Toyin and his writing. John leaned over and said to me, “Matthew, why is our friend Toyin writing to vigorously as if he is being chased by demons?” I said to John, “You should know better, you are an Ijesha Yoruba man in a white skin!’” We both laughed. But nothing prepared any of us for the amount of writing Toyin was going to take up. It was assessing Lionel Messi, while playing as a ten-year-old in Rosario, Argentina. No one could have imagined it would be like this.
In my view, Toyin will be the world’s most prolific historian this century, and it will be so for a long time to come. They don’t make them like Toyin anymore. Let me end where I should have begun by thanking Bisi, whom I will simply call his long-suffering wife. Without her, I have no idea what Toyin would have been but definitely, he would be nowhere near where he is today. She has been the conductor of the orchestra of ideas that have blended to make Toyin such an iconic scholar. Self-effacing and like the good Catholic girl, her steely mind has allowed Toyin to sail in different directions and still come back to a comfortable home. Young man, congratulations! The Lord be with you and bless you. Amen.
Matthew Hassan Kukah is Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and founder of the Kukah Centre, Abuja, Nigeria.
Reading Professor Olu Obafemi’s Melodies Of Inclement Climes
By Tony Afejuku
“Happiness is a crime in Nigeria.” This is a line – a line of distinction – I am lifting from a message sent to me as a response to my last Friday’s column on ‘“Professor Mabel Evwierhoma on Rubiales and “Wetin women want.”’ The owner of the lifted line is a positively dangerous poet, radical scholar and critic Professor Owojecho Omoha of the University of Abuja. I will at a later date revisit the full message of this literary scholar who is one of the distinguished boosters of this column.
Why is his quoted line meaningful or relevant to me today? For good reason, I have been trying to reinvigorate the idea or thought of happiness in Nigeria – your country my country our country – despite our common concerns concerning our dissatisfaction with our ungrateful leaders who significantly are our demonic consumers consuming this land, our land centuries and more than centuries ago. On my way to Warri last Friday I was thinking deeply about this when I was caught in the Benin-Ologbo obstacle on that cruel stretch of the Benin-Sapele-Warri Road of urbanized or almost urbanized jungle. I was clutching Professor Olu Obafemi’s very new book of poems, his fresh new volume of poetry which he quite properly entitles Melodies of Inclement Climes. I was looking at the moving poems in my desire to erase temporarily from my mind the vicious, tedious, muddy, degraded watery road which is evidently and steadily now the road of the unhappy people of the Niger Delta, and it was at this moment that Owojecho Omoha’s line found me. But I was already engrossed in the first offering, the first poem, in which the Niger Delta malaise stares at me – even though Professor Olu Obafemi is not from the Niger Delta, your Niger Delta my Niger Delta our Niger Delta. Ologbo where conservatively above three thousand trucks (trailers) and other uncountable vehicles – commercial and private – were practically at a stand-still, moving without moving because of the motorable-less motor-way, is one of the unfortunate or tragic by-products of urbanization that is no urbanization in the Niger Delta. Ologbo is a border town, a border community that links Edo State and Delta State. It is the most significant place that links Itsekiri, Urhobo and Edo (Benin) communities. It is the place where the work of cooperation and mutual help among the communities and travellers through the communities can find significantly honest expression that should capture our cultural and patriotic ethos that should give us good health and happiness. This is what Olu Obafemi seems to tell us, among other things, in “Those who gaze beyond today:”
While others like us
Bleed our land to death
Greedily erecting mansions
In other people’s lands,
Laundering filthy coins
Stolen from the sweaty brows
Of the poor and the deprived
In our own un-honed beaches and sandy shores!
Lay to ruin and waste and wreck
The black Gold!
As I read Professor Olu Obafemi’s Melodies at the shores of Ologbo two things emerged to me and rose to my dense imagination in a more than realistic way and manner. The first is that Olu Obafemi is a patriot and a national poet. His imagination extends beyond his Kiri-land (North Eastern Yoruba-land in Northern Nigeria) streams to dwell on national problems that depict our respective inclement climes – or, to put it differently, in his “Streams of Kiriland” (I am not alluding specifically to his poem that bears this title) we have a glimpse of our respective communal malaise that shows us our respective inclement land in our untamed beaches in Ologbo of the Niger Delta and elsewhere outside Ologbo or Kiriland. As beautiful and as nostalgic Kiriland is or may be it is strange that urbanization and civilization have not befriended it. It is this perspective that throws up to me the second vital aspect of Melodies of Inclement Climes. Olu Obafemi conservers what is best from his (and our) past in order for the merciless problems and inclementness of today can be properly addressed. So I am not reading Professor Olu Obafemi as an entire nostalgic poet after all! Our lives’ test is not and cannot be the past or the future. It is now. It is today. It is the present. It is the here and now. Are we happy today in our country – economically, commercially, politically, educationally, medically, technologically, hygiene-wise and otherwise? Without endorsing the present that is before us we cannot honestly face tomorrow. We live in an economy and in a political clime ruled and propelled by ingratitude, disaffection and dissatisfaction and exploitation and oppression. Let me quote our poet of melodies dwelling on our inglorious climes: “Let our earth be replenished again/As scavengers and scoundrels are rid of our land.” (39).This must be so if we must eliminate “Death [that] clings to our throats/As mortal Anopheles, King of Death –/Husband of malaria, swarm/And corpses hold parades on our shores” (44). What our country needs now is a renewed vision, a full insight into our shortcomings, limits and possibilities informed by our awareness and knowledge of our place in the comity of nations. This is an absolute necessity if we must live an adequately and properly human life.
Professor Olu Obafemi is a super ambidextrous writer and scholar of more than numerous parts. He is best known as a play-wright, dramatist and theatre personage, theorist and critic of a profoundly profound mind. But he is without question a poet of distinction as well – which the present volume superbly makes evident. Melodies of Inclement Climes appeals to me exceedingly from the perspectives of the rhetoric of poetic drama, phenomenology, biography, memory, wrap of childhood, autobiography, history, activism, politics, geography, social exploration, revolutionary revolution, psychology, public health, progressive variation in language and feeling. I am on purpose not dwelling on all these perspectives in this briefly appealing enterprise to engender every reader’s interest in Melodies. (I am thinking of something adventurous and enchantingly enchanting outside here). With respect to the last named subject, let me titillate my readers thus: I wish you to join me to think of Professor Olu Obafemi as a magnificent poet who concentrates everything feelingly into a sentence –“Melodies of Inclement Climes;” “And hardened villains of misrule;” “And love shall visit these shores again;” “This is the story of our nation now; Debtor-elephant.”
The beauty of Professor Olu Obafemi’s new volume of poetry is the trick of its language. The emotions or feelings the poet generates are significant enough to ensure full daylight in our inclement climes. It is thus not for nothing that Professor Olu Obafemi has been a recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) and wearer of other laurels. His rhetoric is not any adornment or inflation of words done for the reader’s unquestionable insight or for a particular effect but for a general creative power that has an intensity and concision of indubitably great poetry.
Melodies of Inclement Climes will leap in my arms, hands, and mind for a pretty long time of creative reading and critical happiness. This is not an ostentatious praise, but the true judgment of a reader and critic – this reader and critic – of esthetic and moral sensibility. I duly bow and salute the poet for this fresh volume. Join me in my bow and salutation.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
The West And The Hypocrisy Of Democracy
By Toyin Falola
Western deception has been with Africa forever:
1493: Pope Alexander VI issued a papal bull, “Inter Caetera,” proclaiming the right of Spain and Portugal to enslave Africans and own the land. They were subjects. They stole your people and your land.
1885: Africa was a Dark Continent. It required colonization to become civilized. Europe would bring change and civilize them. They stole your raw materials and truncated your self-development.
1940: When over a million Africans fought in Europe, North Africa and the Far East during the Second World War, the West convinced them they were dying for freedom and democracy. But where in Africa do they receive freedom and democracy? Indeed, Apartheid was inaugurated in 1948 in South Africa.
When will this deception come to an end? So, Gabon and Niger were democracies before the 2023 coups? You must be using the wrong dictionary to define democracy. Cameroon under the invalid Paul Biya is a democracy? You must be confusing the Mali Empire with the modern country of Cameroon. And the presidents who rule for as long as they want practising democracy?
You need a little education.
Recent developments in Africa’s political space, particularly the growing number of military takeovers, have informed fresh queries around the expressions of neo-colonialism in Africa and the commitment to liberal democracy as the ideal political model for the region. The point of reference for these queries is the ceremonial reactions from the acclaimed “champions of democracy” in the West, who waste no time issuing condemnations at every instance of “democratic failure” on the continent without any actual commitment to ensuring that power indeed lies with the people. Not only have these champions of African interests—the United States (US), Britain and France—touted democracy as the best system of political organization to achieve political stability and economic prosperity in Africa, but they have also prosecuted wars, allegedly in its defence, which cost millions of lives and destabilized entire regions. However, it is not enough to accuse our benevolent friends in the West of hypocrisy without providing compelling proof of double-dealing in delivering their duties as democratic crusaders. After all, in a democratic setting, all are innocent until proven guilty.
As a philosophy of government, democracy has existed since the Greco-Roman times. However, its foray into Africa can be traced to the eve of independence when Britain and France introduced forms of local representation as concessions to indigenous demands for independence. Thus, from 1959, parliamentary elections and other democratic institutions started to become commonplace on the continent. But, as it would turn out, this democratic experiment, which formed part of the third (global) wave of democracy, was to be short-lived—derailed as it was by fluctuating Western interests on the continent.
Guiding Western interest in Africa from the 1950s was the ideological war between the West (mainly the USA) and the Soviet Union. The “Cold War,” as it came to be known, was the first incident to unmask the real intentions of the West for post-colonial Africa. In their quest to emerge as the world’s sole superpower, the US and the Soviet Union, who actively strove to undermine each other’s influence by, among other things, advancing their political ideologies around the world, turned to Africa as another important frontier of conquest. While the Soviet Union armed African revolutionary movements against their Western colonial overlords and provided support to openly communist governments, Washington concluded that, to effectively check the spread of Soviet influence on the continent, it was more expedient to enthrone biddable leaders in African states than it was to woo them with any ideological arguments or economic incentives.
Anxious to ensure power was handed over to reliable politicians, Britain and France became eager participants in the US policy in Africa. Together, the US and its allies targeted venal local strongmen, preferably with military backgrounds and authoritarian tendencies, who, in collaboration with its intelligence agencies, ousted legitimate/democratic governments. Notable victims and beneficiaries of this plot included (in the former category) Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Patrice Lumumba of Congo DRC, Sylvio Olympio of Togo and (in the latter category) Idi Amin of Uganda, Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo DRC and Gnassingbé Eyadema of Togo, to mention a few. Consequently, thirty-three African countries that achieved independence between 1956-1970 became authoritarian immediately or not long after.
Another demonstration of the complete disregard that the West has for democracy, peace/stability and human rights in Africa is its willingness to engulf the entire region in conflict so that it can achieve its “strategic interests.” Once again, we begin from the Cold War era where, having recently come out of a highly destructive war in Europe (in 1945) and being cautious of engaging in another, the West and the Eastern Bloc turned Africa into the site of their proxy wars. In southern Africa, where the US considered both Angola and Mozambique as areas of “strategic interests,” Washington armed the 200,000 Portuguese conscripts, who went on to fight a protracted war against local nationalist revolutionaries, with imported weapons, which included defoliants and napalm. In Angola, the US, in cooperation with Apartheid South Africa, backed the National Union for Total Independence (UNITA) against the country’s (Soviet-backed) leading national liberation front, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). There were also similar cases in northern Africa where Sudan was funded and armed by the US against Egypt and Ethiopia, who had also pitched their tents with Moscow. These conflicts and the resultant proliferation of arms saw the loss of millions of African lives from war and famine and a general destabilization of the region.
While the West cannot be said to have been directly involved in all the occasions of transition from democratic to authoritarian rule, in more than a few instances, the leaders of newly independent democratic/multi-party African states seized the opportunity of Western patronage to quickly switch to one-party/despotic rule. In other cases, it was the corruption, resource mismanagement, “tribalism,” patrimonialism, clientelism and imperialism perpetrated by a Western-backed ruling political class which formed the basis of military takeovers (coups). Nevertheless, in this atmosphere of quasi-democratic rule, full-fledged despotism, military rule and Apartheid—where national resources were siphoned by kleptocratic regimes and millions of Africans either became refugees or died as a result of civil wars, hunger, and human rights abuses—our western “friends” were content to look the other way if the government in place proved itself an ally of Washington.
Perhaps the most glaring example of the West’s democratic hypocrisy in Africa was its age-long support for the highly racist and politically repressive Apartheid regime in South Africa. Like the French, who were able to cajole Washington into believing that they were fighting communist-backed insurgents in Algeria, the South African Apartheid regime, for forty years, posed as the last bastion against communists in Africa—an attitude that was able to secure a steady flow of western arms. This, alongside the West’s tacit approval, allowed for one of Africa’s most despicable shows of human debasement, carried out in the name of imperialism and racial superiority. After all, as President Ronald Regan remarked in 1981, South Africa was “essential to the free world in its production of minerals we all must have.”
The end of the Cold War changed Western attitudes towards Africa. Without the Soviet threat, the West leaned more towards development diplomacy and foreign aid regimes as the main thrust of its foreign policy in Africa. Foreign aid to Africa, however, turned out to be a Trojan horse. Already saddled with the task of building vibrant economies whilst also harmonizing the aspirations of the different ethnic nationalities which characterized them, African countries, especially in Francophone Africa, also had to grapple with the undermining economic and political agreements they had been coerced into signing with their erstwhile colonial overlord as a condition for independence and continued patronage. To make matters worse, some African countries were, at the end of the Cold War, either fighting or had just come out of civil war. This, combined with the widespread corruption and mismanagement of national resources which characterized Africa’s tyrannical governments, put many Af5rican countries at the mercy of international monetary agencies (the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank) and their financiers whose aid they were now heavily dependent on.
At first, these Bretton Woods institutions were content to grant loans/aid, at debilitating interest rates no less, to authoritarian leaders who used them to perpetuate themselves in power and, in return, provided the former with mineral and other economic concessions. However, without the Cold War pressures, more emphasis was placed on the liberalization and capitalist/free-market aspects of US foreign policy to guarantee return on investments. Soon enough, Structural Adjustments Programmes (SAPs) were introduced as a precondition for further loans/aid. Said adjustments, which demanded limited government intervention in the public sector, i.e., removing government subsidies in energy (fuel/gas), education and health care, brought untold hardships to already suffering populations. And as research has shown, poverty and non-tax revenue make for the ideal democratic environment. In other words, “when the government is not beholden to citizens for its funding, there is less accountability and less reason to democratize” (Tilly 1990). Instead, leaders simply use the “free” funding from natural resources (oil) and foreign loans/aid to buy enough support to remain in power.
Judging from the various expressions of Western interests in Africa over decades, it goes without saying that the West simply pays lip service to ideologies when convenient. Although many Africans might not object to the cynical pragmatism that has always guided Western foreign policy in Africa, I dare say they will not stand for the continued lies and hypocrisy that have characterized Western reactions to African developments. Even if the above-described instances of Western hypocrisy in Africa were to be argued to be in the past, it is a living past for Africa.
Africa, today, still has authoritarian governments in place whose political repression and human rights abuses go on unchecked by our democracy and rule of law-loving friends in the West. After being siphoned by kleptocratic governments, our commonwealth still finds its way to Western banks, where it sits and improves the local economy. Western interests continue to impoverish Africans and destabilize their regions. So, Africans are today saying to the West, its diplomats, presidents, and the other agents of its propaganda: “Your gambit in Africa is up. Our people are awakened!”
The West has sold you a fake product called democracy. Africans, your vote is not a sign of democracy. It is no more than a deception. There is no democracy without accountability. You are just voting thieves to power. There is no democracy without transparency. You are just using your votes in support of crooks and thugs. There is no democracy without good governance. Your vote is facilitating theft. Maybe you are waiting for your turn to steal. There is no democracy without development. Your vote is moving you back to the Stone Age. Even early humans knew when to replace stones with iron during the Stone Age. Africa, you don’t have a democracy. Anyone you have not appointed cannot disappoint you! Citizens are being deceived, and they are deceiving themselves. Organize yourselves at various levels and think of alternatives to democracy or, at the minimum, how accountability and transparency will form the core of your democratic practices. Your lifetime president is not a Democrat. He is an authoritarian kleptocrat far worse than the combination of Doris Payne, Stephane Breitwieser, Simon Leviev, Veerappan, Derek Smalls, Vincenzo Peruggia, Bonnie and Clyde, Natwarlal, Carl Gugasian, Frank Abagnale, Anna Sorokin, Albert Spaggiari, Jesse James, Anthony Strangis, and Bill Mason. Do you know these names?
Informaction: Theory Of Change And Witch Persecution In Africa
By Leo Igwe
A theory of change explains how activities, measures, and steps undertaken to address a problem could facilitate or help realize certain changes or outcomes. It articulates how an impact would be achieved and some progress made. In this case, the expected outcome is an end to witch-hunting in Africa. Unlike in Western countries, the persecution of supposed witches persists in the region. Witch bloodletting takes place in many parts of Africa. The persecution of people accused of witchcraft leads to horrific abuses and death. Alleged witches are attacked, tortured, lynched, imprisoned, or banished. They are subjected to jungle justice, trial by ordeal, forced disappearance, and internal displacement. Simply put, those who are accused of perpetrating occult harm are treated without mercy or compassion. Incidentally, the impression is that nothing could be done to combat or neutralize this dark and destructive phenomenon, that witch hunting is cultural to Africans. The impression is that seeking to eradicate witch-hunting in African societies is a futile effort. This notion is gravely mistaken and needs to be corrected. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches was launched in 2020 to correct these misconceptions and facilitate effective actions. It works to fill the missing link in the activism against witch persecution in the region. The AfAW is a protest initiative, and exists to challenge and dispel allegations of witchcraft.
The main goal is to end witch-hunting in Africa by 2030. This objective sounds like an ambitious goal or some pipe dream, but it can be achieved. And AfAW aims to end witch hunting based on an informactional theory of change. This theory rests on two pillars: information and action because witch hunting persists in the region due to lack of information, or misinformation, and due to lack of action, inaction, or infraction. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches uses this two-pronged approach to combat witch-hunting in Africa.
At the global level, there is a lack of information about witch-hunting in Africa. Although a lot has been written and published on witchcraft in African societies, many people in Europe and America claim do not know about raging witch hunts in the region. Part of the problem is that these publications are filled with misinformation and misinterpretation of witchcraft accusations and witch persecution in the region. Scholars have presented witchcraft accusations as benign and useful to African societies. Meanwhile these accusations are not in any way gentle or pleasant. Studies have portrayed witchcraft allegations as stabilizing and harmonizing mechanisms. They have overlooked the critical and skeptical perspective of witchcraft beliefs. Scholars have largely ignored the accused side of the story, the harmful and destructive consequences of witchcraft imputations. At the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, we work to correct the misrepresentation of witchcraft accusations in Africa. We campaign to draw attention to this imbalance in the perception of the phenomenon. But correct information is not enough. Balanced interpretation does not suffice. To combat witch persecution, information needs to be turned into action, into effective policies and interventions.
On the action side, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches takes measures to address the problem because lack of adequate information has occasioned inaction or infractions. Wrong information has resulted in apathy and indifference towards witch hunting in Africa. Many international agencies are reluctant to act; they have refused to take action or to treat the issue with the urgency it deserves. With adequate and balanced information, international organizations would take appropriate actions.
At the local level, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches works to fill the information and action gaps. Many people accuse and engage in witch hunts due to a lack of information or misinformation. Accusers act based on a lack of information about the cause of illnesses, deaths, and other misfortune. Many people persecute witches because they have incorrect information about who or what is responsible for their problems, because they are not informed about what to do and where to go, who or what to blame for their misfortunes. Many people do not know what constitutes sufficient reason and causal explanations for their problems. As part of the efforts to end witch-hunting, the AfAW highlights misinformation and disinformation about causes of misfortune, illness, death, accidents, poverty, and infertility, including the misinformation that charlatans and con artists, god men and women such as traditional priests, pastors, mallam and marabouts use to exploit poor ignorant folks. The AfAW provides evidence-based knowledge, explanation, and interpretation of misfortunes. It informs the public about the law and other existing mechanisms to address allegations of witchcraft. The AfAW sensitizes the public and public institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities. It sponsors media programs, issues press releases, makes social media posts, and publishes articles and blogs on witch-hunting in the region.
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