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Strictly Personal

Is Morocco African? You decide, but I’ll judge you on your choice by Elsie Eyakuze

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Here is a radical proposition: You are African, wherever you are. You just strayed a little bit — or a lot — from the Continent of Origin.

I am siding with Noah Yuval Harari, who covers this when he discusses how Homo Sapiens became the default human genetically in his book, Sapiens. Oh, there were other kinds of humans in the past — Neanderthals, Floresiensis, for example — but Sapiens spread far and wide, with ultimate species success.

If you’re scared of science and the theory of evolution, feel free to ignore this introduction to the idea that debating Morocco’s Africanness is a study of contemporary racism.

So, is Morocco African? That depends: How racist are you? As the Moroccan team progressed wonderfully through the World Cup, I knew the topic would come up — and it has. I listened attentively as fellow East Africans expressed resentment against Morocco. The topic oozed into social media in the guise of anything “except outright racism.” What my college friend from St Croix once told me was evident here: “Black people can’t be racist, that is something only White people do.”

Self-serving myopia

Ha! No, I didn’t tell him about the East African Slave Trade. I was annoyed by his self-serving myopia. Africanists are allowed to disagree. Slavery and colonialism really did a number on us all. Race and racism are socio-political phenomena and I am trained to consider social constructs as just as “real” and powerful as physical phenomena. A lightning bolt can kill you, and so can a racist with a gun. Thing is, social constructs can be examined and dismantled. Gravity will always get you, but you can examine beliefs and discard those that are not useful. I find racism interesting, but I don’t see its utility beyond a certain point.

Also, countries and states are made up entities, no matter how old they might be. Ask a historian. Geography is real, the lines we draw on maps are fiction that we then treat as social facts. We do not have to be slaves to social facts, that is a fact. And, as facts go, Morocco is a member of the African Union and is on the contiguous African continent — unlike Madagascar —and it has its own complicated history with colonialism. They have a dark side: Currently embroiled in a conflict with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, prone to distancing themselves from Africa when it suits them. Whatever, man. Identity is political and complicated, just don’t hurt yourself or anyone else while you sweat it out.

Not stressed about it

So, is Morocco African? I am not stressed about it; of course, they are African as per the current geopolitical arrangements and agreements. Whether you consider Morocco African is really up to you to decide. Of course, I will be judging you on your choice.

I hope that France wins the World Cup because, as my little Gen Alpha reminded me, sometimes the game has to be about the game, not your boring politics. I paraphrase, but he is wise and smarter about football than I will ever be, and I have a soft spot for France, which I do not care to examine too deeply.

Allez, Les Bleus!

Strictly Personal

Irony of looters finding solution to looting crisis, By Tee Ngugi

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African heads of state met in Addis Ababa to discuss worsening political instability in many of its member countries. Instability includes coups, civil war, militia violence, ethnic violence, violent rebellions, street protests, hunger, refugees, and so on.

These are, indeed, apocalyptic times on the continent, thus the need for leaders to act in utmost urgency. Accordingly, the president’s cavalcades burst forth from palaces, heading to the airport.

The presidents, accompanied by an assortment of joyriders, then hop on to their presidential planes. On arrival in Addis, the capital of yet another country in political crisis, they hug like religious pilgrims.

In the bright Addis sun, their expensive taste in watches, belts and shoes are in full display. Seeing their ostentatious splendour and that of their entourage, you could easily believe that those pictures of starving people from their countries being beamed across the globe are fabrications of Western media.

But I digress. What I want to discuss is the idea of African heads of state solving problems of instability in Africa. That idea is an oxymoron. How does the root cause of underdevelopment and instability – political leadership – resolve itself?

Can leadership that loots or misuses public resources, or refuses to hand over power when it loses, or adds itself unconstitutional terms, or postpones scheduled elections, or appoints unqualified cronies, or incites tribalism, or suppresses freedom of expression and association, etc, purport to solve instability and development?

Instability and underdevelopment result from looting, despotism, tribalism and mismanagement. For instance, the creeping instability in Senegal is being orchestrated by Macky Sall.

The violence in eastern Congo emanates from many years of ineffectual and corrupt government. The crises in the Sudans are a result of competition for power among the elite. The coups in West Africa happen because of corrupt governance and attendant poverty.

There is not a single problem in Africa that is not a direct consequence of bad, corrupt leadership. Therefore, the imagery of people who are the problem bidding each other triumphal goodbyes after issuing communiqués purporting to have solved the problem is the greatest, tragic farce in modern history.

The AU was not designed to solve Africa’s problems of democracy and development. It was designed to protect African sovereignty from outside interference. Sovereignty, according to AU logic, resides, not with the people, but with presidents.

Thus, when African presidents are criticised by international human rights organisations, the AU rushes to protect them, claiming African sovereignty is under attack.

Likewise, when the International Criminal Court threatens prosecution of presidents for human rights abuses on the continent, the AU says it is interference with Africa’s sovereignty. Does the AU ever criticise African human rights excesses, plunder of resources by presidents, and murder of citizens by their leaders?

That we still expect much from the AU pantomime every year points to a crisis of rationality.

Tee Ngugi is a Nairobi-based political commentator

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Strictly Personal

Nigeria’s Currency Crisis: Time to deploy Amotekun, By Chinedu Chidi

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I have thought long and hard about just the right solution to the downward spiral of the Naira, and confidently believe I have come up with the perfect response. It is my humble proposal that the time is right to deploy the dreaded Amotekun to arrest this situation. I’ll explain why.

 

Since it is now clear that the Naira’s salvation is not in the hallways of the CBN or the gold-plated policy rooms of Bretton Woods, but in the battle grounds of the nook and cranny of Nigeria, all patriotic Nigerians must now rightly ignore suit-wearing technocrats and search for militant solutions with real promise. As a patriotic citizen, I have risen to this challenge. I would humbly like to thank the patriotic Nigerian leadership, from the CBN to the Executive, for leading us into this new era of mortal combat.

 

Only a few days ago, we were greeted with the live action scene of security operatives combating BDC operators in the nation’s capital, discharging live ammunition in broad daylight in an open civilian space like fearless patriots at the battle front. The EFCC and accompanying security operatives charged forward and backwards as the enemies of state dared challenge them. It was almost like a combat scene from Gibson’s Braveheart. I was touched. I’m not too sure, but I may have heard the humming of the national anthem from these fearless patriots as they battled the savage saboteurs. What a touching moment! Someone who was at the scene mentioned that these patriots recited the pledge before the onslaught. I can’t confirm this for sure, but if it did occur, it would be consistent with the new nationalistic fervour of the Tinubu administration as reported in the news recently that citizens would be required to recite the pledge at events. I also hear the operation is going on in different parts of the country. All these, coming only days after Sahad Stores, a retail supermarket in Abuja, was forcibly shut down for “economic sabotage”, fill me with great joy. Some unpatriotic citizens had shockingly opposed the move, claiming Sahad Stores was one of the good ones, and that deploying force would not resolve the inflation crisis. Cowards and co-conspirators! They’re too distracted by textbook ideas to see that we’re in war. Shame.

 

Normally, I would have recommended the army for this most important national assignment, but they’re overstretched. They’re battling terrorists, bandits, armed robbers, secessionists, their welfare; just about every violent aggressor around. The police would have been my second option but they too are preoccupied and, as some mischievous people claim, have a special DNA for compromise. For these and some other reasons which I will explain, Amotekun has my blessings.

 

I know Amotekun is also seriously engaged with battling bandits in the South West, but they must be pleaded with to spare some personnel for this all-too-important national emergency. Their stealth, daredevil disposition, and my favourite—charms from the gods— will come in handy.

 

I have heard rumours that some of the BDCs hide their stockpile of dollars in forests. This is the domain of the Amotekun warriors. Through their local intelligence gathering and tactical navigation of the forests, they can uncover these dollar chests and win for the country a huge deliverance. Their spiritual protection against wild animals and attacks from dark forces will be very useful here.

 

I am also confident that what has for so long appeared to be the near-impossible goal of finding the dollars some loud-mouthed people claim are hidden by politicians, bank executives and— I struggle to even contemplate it— CBN officials will be spiritually detected by Amotekun. We desperately need this.

 

It was with great joy that I also received the news that our gallant security personnel are now stopping truckloads of food from leaving the country. What took them so long! How can any patriotic businessman think of trade and profit at a time of economic crisis? This beats my imagination. I am even more infuriated by the argument of their unpatriotic defenders that we don’t have food scarcity, just food unaffordability, and that we can’t seriously let them abandon their goods in warehouses while the vast majority of Nigerians can’t purchase them. This is so inconsiderate and sad. Their argument that the exports bring in needed forex at this time of forex crisis is also another textbook nonsense. Shame on them.

 

I am particularly touched by Cardoso’s sincerity and humility. Realizing that the air-conditioned policies have hit the brick wall and that the fight has morphed into street combat, he did not try to deceive the populace about it. This is uncommon (apologies to Akpabio) pragmatism.

 

I want to enjoin the President to rally leaders in the South West towards mass mobilization of Amotekun for this national assignment. We can’t afford to fail!

 

Chinedu Chidi is a public affairs commentator. He can be reached via: chiobe24.cc@gmail.com

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