Thought Leaders Series: 2018
Sadly, not many Africans understand that before the intervention from the West and Arabs, Africa had a thriving economy, high culture, backed by sophisticated religious and social institutions.
For those of us who see everything West as superior, those who suffer from White Saviour Complex, those that believe that everything African is either demonic or backward; we existed in tribes, sometimes in kingdoms, and we traded with each other harmoniously and efficiently.
According to missionaries who first visited our shores, poverty was a rare occurrence. But today churches are either manipulating members to give to the church as a way out of poverty, or praying earnestly against the ‘spirit of poverty’.
In terms of intertribal relations, cooperation and trade was fostered by oaths, people were given to marriage, and festivals were used to galvanise communities and maintain peace. Yes, there were occasional intertribal and even civil wars, like other continent on the face of this earth, but the Elders had ways of correcting these problems, and forging ahead.
Hence the Fulanis and the Ilajes did not have any problem traveling through the continent for their business. The former were allowed to graze their cattle and trade, while the Ilajes freely pitched their tents along the coast of West Africa.
Like Europe and Asia, I believe that our socioeconomic systems would have moved towards or even exceed the level of progress we see in dominant cultures today. Thinkers would have emerged who challenged bad norms, appealed for discontinuity of unethical customs, and advocate for more progressive practices.
However, slavery and later colonialism, deposed our monarchs, destroyed our education, philosophy, culture and traditions. Nation states were forcefully created because they were less costly to manage by colonialists. On a side note, you will notice that countries that are doing economically well seem to be smaller countries with fewer tribes and languages.
That said, I hasten to qualify that I am not advocating for the splitting up of countries like Nigeria either, I am simply trying to highlight the level of administrative complications created by colonialism. In fact I believe that we have learnt a lot from these problems, and that Africa is moving into a season of peace and prosperity, as we begin to reap the dividends of our pain and travails.
In the meantime there is so much against the continent. Not to mention the impact of the two dominant faith traditions: Islam and Christianity. It seems like anytime we take steps forward, something else comes up to remind us how much we need to reclaim knowledge from our history. In Nigeria, the brutal civil war, issues in the Niger Delta, Boko Haram, and now Fulani herdsmen and farmers.
Writer and author Terry Pratchett once said:
If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.
He is right.
I hear Mama Africa say: weep not child, a change is upon you. Stand tall, and keep pressing forward!
Healingsprings fellowship: Human Capital Development
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