Connect with us

Strictly Personal

How polarisation is threatening democracy in US, By Tee Ngugi

Published

on

On January 3, the new United States Congress convened. The US prides itself in being a paragon of democracy. This boast is not without substance. The presidency, the Supreme Court, and Congress are co-equal institutions, each with substantial powers to check the other. There is the Bill of Rights that guarantees individual rights and freedoms.

These institutional, constitutional, and statuary safeguards make the country relatively safe for democracy. And yet a growing ideological extremism at both political and society levels is threatening American democracy. In the past two decades, American society has become cripplingly polarised.

On one side, you have the Right Wing vision of America. This side thinks that liberal ideas and increasing multiculturalism threaten core values and ideas upon which America was founded. These foundational values and ideas, they say, are informed by an Anglo-Saxon heritage, Christianity and Hellenic intellectual traditions. They claim that other cultures, races and religions, which are increasingly a part of mainstream American society and politics, are diluting a “pure core American ethic.”

When society changes, those who feel threatened begin to propagate myths of a wonderful past, now sadly being lost. We have so much of that myth creation even here in Africa. For instance, at the onset of colonialism, when a new worldview began to challenge a traditional world, fears about what would befall the society were propagated.

This epic struggle between the new and the traditional is famously captured in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Okonkwo, the tragic hero of the novel, was unable to accept the changing times. He went on to mount a futile and ridiculous struggle against the emerging society and its values.

America has never had a pure religious, racial or cultural core ethic. It was conceived as a country of many religions, races and cultures, living together under the banner of democracy and the “pursuit of happiness.”

American civilisation has been fashioned by immigrants from all over the world. But the Christian Right, now joined by the Republican Party, is fearful of an increasingly more culturally diverse America. So they create myths about a puritan moral past and warn of an apocalyptic end to American civilisation. Like Okonkwo, they are trying to mount futile and ridiculous struggles against the changing times. Their latest absurdity was the attempt to take control of Congress on January 6, 2021.

There is also extremist thunder from the Left. This side does not tolerate ideas that are not wholly in agreement with theirs. Anyone who even slightly disagrees with their view is “cancelled,” ridiculed, called a racist or sellout, and other choice insults. This polarisation undermines national harmony and democracy. Citizens of a country do not have to always agree. But they should be able to debate and agree on reasonable proposals. When a society loses “reasonableness” and is instead driven by inflamed passions, it invites doom upon itself.

Tee Ngugi is a Nairobi-based political commentator.

Strictly Personal

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

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Strictly Personal

The problem of DRC’s beautiful wife, maize it planted by roadside, By Charles Onyango-Obbo

Published

on

Watching the upheaval in the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent days, one is tempted to invoke the African proverb that “the man who marries a beautiful woman and the farmer who grows maize by the roadside have the same problem.”

The police fired tear gas on Monday to disperse protesters who burned tyres and US and Belgian flags near Western embassies and UN offices in the capital Kinshasa, angry about insecurity in eastern Congo.

The protesters claim the West supports Rwanda, which they and their government accuse of backing the M23 rebellion, whose advance could see them seize the strategic border city of Goma in the east.

This is a new phase of what has become an entrenched tradition of the Congolese oscillating between blaming everyone else but themselves for their problems, and demanding that other people solve these problems, including fighting for them.

In recent years — rightly — the Congolese have railed, then attacked, the long-running and ineffectual United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Monusco) for not ending the rebellion in the east.

In late 2022, DRC’s kin in the EAC dispatched the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) to separate the warring sides. Before long, Kinshasa and the people had risen against them, hounding them to go out to the jungle and fight the rebels for them. At the end of last year, EACRF left DRC with its tail between its legs.

Because the Congolese are our brothers and sisters, and we have a responsibility to love them, we also have a duty to tell them uncomfortable truths that will help them overcome.

So, we will return to our proverb. African proverbs are complicated. First, one needs to know that they passed into society through the mouths of men who were not feminists, so too many of them tend to portray women in bad light.

This one paints a heroic hard-working farmer (although it is mostly women, not men, who work the land in Africa) whose maize is stolen by passers-by, in contrast with the beautiful wife who betrays her husband and falls to the charms of other men.

However, African proverbs are also layered, so there is what they say, and the many things they mean. In this case, that people will covet a good thing — a good crop, a beautiful woman and, if we may add, a handsome, enterprising man. The “problem” here is how to keep your maize, beautiful wife, and enterprising husband. If you are better than all the men who hit on her, your beautiful wife will stay faithfully by your side.

Having your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend run off with someone else can be very hurtful, but if you have a cantankerous truth-telling African aunt or uncle, they will also whisper to you that a partner whom no other man or woman has ever or will ever want is probably not worth having.

In real-world Congo politics, then, the reality is rebels will have friends and allies at home and abroad. Even Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), as despicable as a rebel group can ever be, had friends outside who backed it.

The thing that should terrify everyone is a rebel group that no one wants to touch with a 10-metre pole, both in the day and night. The opposite is also true of rebels fighting to overthrow a government. If it is a government that doesn’t have a single friend even in the cynical world of geopolitics, then it’s probably worse than a cabal of cannibals.

For Congo, what is left is how to solve this “problem”. To stay with the farmer and the beautiful wife, what the Congolese are doing is like the strapping young man in old Africa who spent all his time attacking his parents, relatives, neighbours, and their friends because they failed to give him cattle to pay a bride price for a wife and build a hut for him to live in with her.

The scale of surrender of agency by many Congolese, including the political class and the government, is unsettling.

It’s partly understandable, too. The unusually brutal Belgian rule; the exploitation of all sorts of vultures for its vast minerals lasting over 100 years now; and an unbroken long spell of corrupt and cruel rule, have broken its self-confidence. The way to come to terms with the scale of failure and remain sane is to externalise all the problems to evil forces.

It has led to national paralysis, a belief that they can’t do much on their own to overcome.

DRC’s neighbours to the east, Uganda and Rwanda, offer good lessons. When President Yoweri Museveni took to the bush with his small band of rebels in 1981, the odds were stacked up against them. The British had a big programme with a special police force; the Tanzanian army that helped overthrow military dictator Idi Amin was on the side of the government, and hardy North Koreans soon got into the fight against them. They still won.

The prospects were even worse for the Rwanda Patriotic Army/Front when it crossed from Uganda and took to treacherous hills in 1990. Apart from Uganda, it was alone against the world, including one of the world’s superpowers at the time, France, which was in bed with the government in Kigali. They suffered setbacks, picked themselves up, and won.

Congo can win, but first, it will have to plant its own maize and fight its war for its own beautiful wife.

Charles Onyango-Obbo is a journalist, writer, and curator of the «Wall of Great Africans». Twitter@cobbo3

Continue Reading

EDITOR’S PICK

Metro46 mins ago

Despite hardship in Nigeria, Tinubu insists on harsh economic reforms

Despite the hues and cries of agony by Nigerians over the excruciating high cost of living and economic challenges occasioned...

Sports14 hours ago

Nigeria’s D’Tigers withdraws from 2025 AfroBasket qualifiers due to lack of funds

Nigeria’s senior male basketball national team, D’Tigers, have withdrawn from the 2025 FIBA AfroBasket qualifiers dunking off in Tunisia on...

Tech14 hours ago

Ethiopia’s Awash Bank partners Mastercard to launch international prepaid cards

Ethiopia’s leading private financial institution, Awash Bank S.C, has partnered with global payments company, Mastercard, to launch the Awash international...

Metro20 hours ago

Zambia: Opposition FDD calls for creation of agric bank

Zambian opposition party, the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), has called on the government to re-establish an agricultural bank...

Metro24 hours ago

Hardship: Nigerian govt to resume direct cash transfers to 12m citizens

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, has revealed that the federal government will resume...

Musings From Abroad1 day ago

US keen on expanding bilateral trade with Nigeria

According to the US Consulate in Nigeria, it is looking for ways to guarantee prosperity for Nigeria by increasing bilateral...

Strictly Personal1 day ago

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

I have thought long and hard about just the right solution to the downward spiral of the Naira, and confidently...

Sports2 days ago

Kelvin Kiptum: Autopsy reveals late Marathon record holder died from head injuries

An autopsy carried out by the Kenyan government has revealed that late world marathon record holder, Kelvin Kiptum, died from...

Tech2 days ago

M-PESA partners IFC to increase financial inclusion for farmers in Mozambique

Mobile money transfer and payment service provider, M-Pesa, has entered into a partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) aimed...

Culture2 days ago

Director of ‘Dahomey’ Mati Diop shines at Berlin Film Festival 2024

Senegalese-French writer and and director of African documentary movie, “Dahomey,” Mati Diop, made history when her movie was selected for...

Trending