Opinion: Deconstructing the blackmails and cheap diatribes

By Mohammed Dahiru Aminu

There is also another type of blackmail or cheap diatribe being promoted by some of our ‘brothers’ back home each time you write that which doesn’t sit well with them. They say something along these lines: “…some of them think that they have to castigate their home country to earn the white man’s favors…”; or “…you shouldn’t wash your dirty linens outside…”

Each time I see comments like these, I not only recognize that its advocates have already acknowledged defeat as regards the argument put forward, they also have exhibited what could at least be described as an acute ignorance of Africa’s recent colonial history.

A perfunctory study of say, the British imperial past and its relationship with its own colonies would have made some folks understand that the imperial capital may not need me or you, at this time, to narrate to them the lived realities of present day Africa.

On the face of it, why would my British or European hosts wait on me to tell them that there is no stable, sustainable electricity in Nigeria, when on visiting Nigeria at any time within the present and the past several decades, any visitor could see for himself, right on arrival at the airport, that electricity is unstable.

Have you ever wondered why the Brits conquered Africans by effortless vigor? The answer lies in the fact that the imperialists understood the African reality at the time—they still do—that our forebears had no superior firepower.

Bringing you on to recent history, do you think that Westerners—here, I mean the inhabitants of both the geographic and the cultural West—do not know, for instance, that African leaders have always made decisions that create poverty and perpetuate underdevelopment? [1].

Do you think that Westerners are not already aware of the immoral behavior of say, Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s decision to erect a Roman Catholic Basilica in Yamoussoukro—when he was leading Ivory Coast—for an amount roughly equivalent to his country’s annual budget; an amount that was in the end embezzled? [2].

Do you think that Westerners are not already aware of the billions of dollars stolen by late General Sani Abacha and his family from the Nigerian government when he was head of state?

If you really don’t know all these that you think that it takes the obscure little writings of a certain African academic sojourner in the West to educate Westerners about the African condition, then you really need an education.

What we write here is not new narrative; we are not creating any new knowledge. We are only explaining the already known African realities; what Professor Moses Ochonu once described as the nuances, complexities, multilayered culpabilities, and cultural underpinnings of violence, famine, disease, poverty, waste, and bad governance that African leaders willingly imposed on their people [2].

Although my narratives are always simple, and are intended to tell the African realities to whoever that is willing to listen, nevertheless, I can very well afford to plead to the charge of guilt and arrogance; if you judge it to be so!

Recommended for Further Reading

  1. Acemoglu, D. and Robinson, J. A. (2012) Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. 1st New York: Crown, 529.
  1. Ochonu, M. (2008) The Dilemmas of Explaining Africa, The Chronicle Review/Chronicle of Higher Education, April 2008.


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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