“Racism is the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. It may be defined as the hatred of one person by another — or the belief that another person is less than human — because of skin colour, language, customs, place of birth or any factor that supposedly reveals the basic nature of that person” (adl.org). It is undeniable fact that Black people have paid dearly due to racism, particularly, institutional racism which has been defined as:
The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin which can be seen or detected in processes; attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantages minority ethnic people” (Macpherson report).
“Racism manifests itself as a structural inequality in society where, in general, Black people receive worse housing, social services, promotion prospects, etc. Racism (like sexism) is economically beneficial to the dominant group – one major reason why real change is resisted” ( Shahid Ashrif ). For example:
Only a handful of black and ethnic minority teachers are made headteachers each year because of an “endemic culture of institutional racism” in England’s schools, a study claimed today” (guardian.co.uk).
The evil of racism is illustrated by the experiences of the current president of the United States. The 2009 election of the 44th president of the US was hailed a milestone not only for enthroning the first African American president but also for the hopes it raised worldwide i.e. the hope of the beginning of the end to unnecessary wars, injustice of different shapes and colours, and armed race. President Obama of the past two years has failed to deliver on any of these fronts. The reason is simple; he has spent the past two years fighting to prove to America that he is an American and not a Kenyan. Despite US possession of space exploration technology, digital technology, advanced intelligence machinery, and sophisticated immigration and citizenship tracking systems, it beggars belief that the president of United States can be pressurised to personally publish his long birth certificate on the internet to prove his citizenship of America – (bbc.co.uk). The likes of Mr Donald Trump publicly state that Obama is not qualified to attend Harvard and Columbia, despite the generally acknowledged position that President Obama is an extremely capable academic and politician. Which other American president, dead or living, has been through this kind of public humiliation? Cast your mind back to the controversy surrounding raising of debt ceiling in USA under President Obama’s administration. It was like Obama was about to commit heinous and rare crime against the government and people of the USA. But did you know that raising the debt ceiling has been a relatively routine exercise for decades? “President Reagan did it 18 times. George W. Bush did it seven times” (Obama).
These Obama’s experiences and other encounters hidden from public view are significant, and not accidental, but a divine illustration of what the black race goes through daily, yearly and throughout life. Rather than judge a man by his abilities, and acknowledge his rare attributes, truth is fiddled, bars are raised, and goal posts moved to demean past accomplishments; all because the man looks different. If the most powerful president in the world, and a highly competent Harvard graduate and professor, can be subjected to such embarrassing pressure, despite the overwhelming evidence within the reach of America and irrespective of the elected will of the American people, then imagine the chains, hills, valleys and mountains that stack against an average member of the Black race. Describing the impact of racism on the progress of Black people, Kenneth Braswell, social activist, recounts:
It’s almost like climbing a mountain. You tell me that the top of the mountain is attainable, yet every time I begin to climb the mountain, you pull the rock from beneath me and so I fall and there is less and less tow hole for me to actually catch a grip to move up”.
While emphasising the evils of racism, let’s not forget that tribalism, nepotism and religious fanaticism are major challenges facing the progress and unity of the Black people of Africa. These variables have fueled political rivalries, sponsorship and election of political/economic liabilities into governments, the neglect of meritocracy and professional competence in favour of tribal and religious allegiance, senseless and endless civil wars, corruption, economic mismanagement, under development, terrorism and poverty.
5. Lack of Self-love
A dominant factor fuelling migration of African politicians, rich and famous, professionals and students to Europe and America is the sophisticated infrastructural developments and operational efficiency in these countries – good roads, quality education, quality health care systems, uninterrupted water and electricity supplies, fully stocked supermarkets at a price almost everyone can afford, salary and wage payments are regular, and the economies are strong. The principle of customer care/satisfaction is active from the president/prime minister’s office through the judiciary system and law enforcement agencies to dairy farms and supermarkets. What Africans fail to appreciate is that the driving force behind all these goodies is SELF-LOVE. Self-love is the strong sense of value and respect for and confidence in oneself, one’s people and one’s race (not racism). Self-love nurtures patriotism and national sacrifice; for one cannot intentionally hurt or destroy what one loves or fold hands while harm comes the way of what one values. European and US citizens, central and local governments, politicians, scientists, judges, armed forces, shopkeepers, medical staff, educators, police officers, and cleaners all channel their efforts genuinely toward making life comfortable for their own kind. Therefore, self-love is a game-changer and the mother of all political systems, research /development investments, military adventures, and the intense creativity and innovation cultures of the European, Asian and Middle Eastern races. Quality and health & safety standards and laws are the brainchild of self-love. Therefore self-love is important in the progress and survival of a nation, tribe, people and race. Until we restore self-love, no amount of natural resources, number of cathedrals and temples, bishops/prophets and evangelists, dickens and imams, prosperity preaching or speaking in tongs, will restore the dignity, freedom and progress of the black-race.
From USA through Europe, Asia to Africa, it is public knowledge that Black people lack the level of self-love that Whites, Asians, and Arabs possess. Credo Mutwa, a South African herbalist and poet points out “that Africans had lost all self-
The events which transpired five thousand years ago; Five years ago or five minutes ago, have determined what will happen five minutes from now; five years From now or five thousand years from now. All history is a current event.”
Dr. John Henrik Clarke
In speeches marking the Eid-El-Kabir festive season, Mr President, governors and prominent politicians called on Nigerians to sacrifice and exhibit the ideals and virtues of peace, harmony, brotherly love, selflessness, tolerance, honesty, fairness, justice and equity. The messages to the nation and followers from President Goodluck, ex-Vice president Atiku, Governor Tinubu, Lagos House speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji and Governor Ogbenu were outstanding in contents. They emphasised justice, sacrifice and fear of God. Indirectly, these messages reinforced the importance of loving our country and peoples. In a deride response, a frustrated Nigerian, tired of Nigerian politicians and their hypocrisy wrote:
President Jonathan has made his own sacrifice by planning to remove fuel subsidy, David Mark has made his own sacrifice by being the highest paid senate president in the history of Nigeria and running one of the most xxxxxx senate in the history of the world. Vice President Atiku Abubakar has exhibited the fear of GOD when he in conjunction with OBJ wasted 8 years of our national lives and reduced governance to area boy stuff. Governor Tinubu has shown us justice by hand picking people for elective positions in the ACN, Governor Ogbeni has made his own sacrifice by running his state without commissioners for 8 months. Adeyemi Ikuforiji put his people first by embezzling some 7 billion naira in 14 months. (Tbby777, Vanguardngr.com).
Though I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the claims in the above quote, the feeling of frustration in the writer is understandable. For example, one of the first acts of the President once in office was to work on a bill – single term for political office. The reason; worried by the rising cases of violence and tension across the country during elections, the Presidency concluded plans to send a bill to the National Assembly for a single term of seven years for governors and Presidents (BBC). This raises an important question in the mind of many. Is elongation of term of office really such a matter of national security and urgency to warrant such immediate presidential attention and priority? All year round, Nigerians continue to die from starvation, unemployment, crimes, terrorism, poorly equipped hospitals, and dilapidated network of roads, than from political violence that takes place every four years. Mr President and his advisers seem to fail to appreciate that what fuels political violence in Nigeria is the “cost-free and tax-free gold mine” which Nigerian political offices have become. It is equally for the same reason that the country has constantly been experimenting with self destruct buttons, and politicians, North and South, hardly notice the impact of their actions since blindfolded by selfish interests. In communities and countries where self-love prevails, addressing the sources of human suffering would take priority. Other heartbreaking examples of lack of self-love abound. For example:
- At a time when schools and hospitals are massively in need of investment, the sale of prime and historic national assets at below market value to politicians who are already extremely rich, and by world standards massively overpaid and non-value adding to the nation, beggars belief.
- According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes “by some estimates, close to US $400 billion was stolen between 1960 and 1999. Sani Abacha alone is estimated to have stolen the equivalent of 2 – 3 per cent of the country’s GDP for every year that he was President” – leading to victimisation of millions of poor and disadvantaged Nigerians by denying them access to basic health and education programmes or badly needed infrastructure such as safe roads and electricity”. Note: schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, airports, are left to rot and citizens are abandoned to suffer from poverty, unemployment, insecurity, and starvation.
- Imported technologies, systems, processes and practices soon become death traps and instruments of oppression and extortion. Take a trip into the Nigerian legal/justice systems and policing. Travel through our airports, bridges and roads. Visit public buildings and hospitals and observe death traps, poor maintenance culture and wilful neglect in action. Take a trip to Delta State and all oil producing areas and witness first-hand the destructive evidence of lack of self-love – pollution.
- The Nigerian power structure was dominated for more than 30 years by Northern political figures. Up until 1999, all presidential elections were won by northern politicians and consequently they formed government at the centre. Between 1966 and 1999, the North also produced all the military heads of State apart from Major Aguyi Ironsi (6 months, 15 days) and General Obasanjo (3 years). “As at 1999, the north had produced nine Heads of State/Governments”. Most official and strategic positions since 1960 were mostly held by Northerners. “Strategic national institutions have also mostly been located in the Northern part of the country: the Defence Academy (Air Force, Navy and Army), Ajaokuta Steel Mill, Defence Industry, the Federal Capital Territory etc. Major national positions were also held by the North” (nigeriavillagesquare.com). The National Assembly, Nigeria’s Supreme Court and the Central Bank of Nigeria are all located in the North. Despite overwhelming and lengthy control of power and administration, Northern Nigeria “lags behind other regions in both human and infrastructural development. And it also seems that the leadership of the region is not bothered or simply confused on what to do” (Zayyad Muhammed, Tribune July 30, 2008). At the same time a small percentage of citizens of the North have amassed wealth and transformed their personal and family lives. It’s the same story/experience in the south – a possible reason for the emergence of Boko Haram.
- “Considering that Nigeria is an inhospitable terrain; Bearing in mind that within 10 years of independence all things done by the British were consigned to the dustbin of history; Having regard to the fact that deceit, greed, self-interest, accumulation of ill-gotten wealth, total disrespect for human life, absence of respect for the rule of law; money laundering, embezzlement are a way of life for those in the corridors of power; Therefore, the presence of insurgency in Nigeria is a corollary from obscene accumulation of wealth by people in power whilst millions of their fellow citizens are drowning in muddy waters of poverty” (Andre John-Salakov, Leader, PLC Party, UK).
- Policies such as zoning, federal character and equal opportunities are extremely beneficial for societies, particularly as they aim to integrate societies and achieve inclusion and a sense of belonging. However, such policies, in the national interest, should not sacrifice the principle and practice of meritocracy, performance and achievement. In Nigeria today the policy of zoning and federal character has set Nigeria many decades backward by failing to place merit, competence and professionalism above everything else. As someone posted recently, “Federal Character is nothing but glorified ethnicity which has made Nigeria lagged back among forward-thinking nations”. Another posting described it as a “bastardised form of equal opportunities policy”.
- “Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, .. wept for Nigeria as a country with no more role model to take up the leadership struggle for the betterment and emancipation of desired society” (Vangaurd). “Young people now have as their role models the leaders who have made money as a result of corruption. Corruption destroys the future of our society” (General Obasanjo, May 1993). “The problem is: everywhere in this country, there is one Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba and Itshekiri man whose concern is how to get his hands on the pile and how much he can steal. Whether it is in the military or in the civilian government, they sit down, they eat together ..there is no evidence statistically that any part of this country has produced good leaders ” (Central Bank Gov. Sanusi Lamido Sanisi, 2011). These statements are clear admission that self-love is lacking in our communities and nation at large. In countries where self-love exists, leaders who fail their nation, resign and pave way for more effective leadership. The stability, interest and progress of their nations are considered greater than any leader or politician. Fore example, in Italy, Prime Minister Berlusconi has resigned in the interest of Italy. In Greece, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has replaced PM George Papandreou who just resigned in the interest of his country. Israeli President Moshe Katsav resigned once accused of rape. “Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the rape conviction and ordered him to begin serving a seven-year prison term” (yahoo.com). In Nigeria and most African nations, things work differently.
- Lack of steady electricity is costing the country dearly both in human health, disrupted business operations, environmental noise and air pollution, dwindling foreign investments, and divestment. A major reason for this state of affairs is that “some powerful people are holding the federation to ransom by importing and selling generators and their profit interest overrides that of a whole nation.
- Getting Nigerians to volunteer their time or money to a worthy cause or to unite around a common cause is a tall order. What is even disturbing and heartbreaking is the difficulty in getting many Nigerian professionals to support or unite around a mission to help their nation. Many profess their born again status openly and sometimes by the size of the Holy Bible they carry about. Many can speak in tong, manifest the presence of the Holy Spirit and quote the bible from Genesis to Revelation in a matter of seconds. Some are pastors, deacons, bishops and popes in their respective Evangelical churches springing up right, front and centre throughout the developing and developed countries. These credentials have not generated the level of love and sacrifice for others that the Christian faith demands. The only unifying call most Nigerians respond swiftly to are church service, wedding, birthdays, funerals, and other celebratory invitations involving refreshments – what has rightly been dubbed “rice and chicken syndrome”. So, where is the self-love they preach and read about every Sunday?
- Over the years, I have made time to discuss the situation of Nigeria with a number of Nigerian postgraduate students in universities across United Kingdom. In such meetings they express their frustration towards the actions of politicians and the state of the country. They switch off once I mention the role they could play in the interest of the nation and future generations. Yet, at the end of their master’s and doctoral degree programmes, many end up stocking shelves in supermarkets, cleaning offices, serving in fast food restaurants, washing plates in hotels, driving taxis and guarding construction sites as security staff in various parts of UK. That to me is a concrete indication of the extent to which the progress and survival of the Black race is in deep trouble.
- Even the church is not spared from lack of self-love. Nigeria today has more churches per kilometre than anywhere else in the world. If there is anywhere love for the black race should be exercised in abundance, it is in the church. As some one posted recently, “Yes, Nigeria, is a Godly country, as we have more churches and mosques compared to school, hospital, etc. But, what has that got us to? Nothing, other than 419ers, criminals, injustice, and social decay just to mention a few”. Pastors and their immediate families live ostentatious life style while their congregation wallow in acute poverty. Alters and the surroundings of the pastors and their rich donors are lavishly furnished while sections housing followers are lined up with plastic chairs and wooden benches. Church conventions and other major events bring traffic to a halt, paralyse normal business activities, unleash pain and suffering on the faithful and general public en-route the convention. This has been the case for years unending. Yet neither the church leaders nor state governors and the law enforcement agencies see the need to act and reduce human suffering during such events. Is that God’s will and self-love?
Given the resources at the disposal of Nigeria and the premium placed on religion, other races, governments and nations in similar position, will never allow the level of human sufferings and infrastructural decay in Nigeria to visit their citizens. From multiple angles, lack of self-love is harming the progress and prosperity of the black-race, looting/destroying the resources meant to care for generations to come, delivering unmerited hardships and poverty in the midst of plenty, shrinking the average life-span of the black race, and smearing the character and reputation of many hardworking, patriotic and professional citizens of the black-race, worldwide.
In the news this week, Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama were caught on microphone discussing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Sarkozy said “I can’t stand him any more — he’s a liar” and Obama replied “You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day” (thesun.co.uk). If the prime minister of a full democracy and an economically, militarily, scientifically and technologically advanced country like Israel can attract such criticsms, imagine what is often said behind closed doors about African leaders. Can you feel the heat in terms of the poor international image of Nigeria, resulting in humiliating entry visa requirements at foreign embassies, distrust of every Nigerian no matter the status professionally or in society, downgrading of Nigerian qualifications and, mistrust of official documents issued by Nigerian authorities etc? Can you now understand why we are not respected by other races? Can you see why they change lane when heading your direction on a street, despite your expensive suite and the number of letters after your name? Ever wondered why the seat next to you remains empty in a public transports in UK and other developed countries? The following statement sums it up:
Well the thing is a people or group of people will never have love for another group of people that treat themselves so horribly. I mean come on yall look at our people.. lets not pretend we are innocent victims and everyone is simply out to hate us by coincidence. People dont respect us because they see that we hate ourselves. They see we have no unity as a people and no common culture identity.
Arabs, Koreans, Indians, etc.. they see the disunity in our people which causes them to make inferences on us that suggest we dont love ourselves.. “Its kind of like, well if they dont love themselves, why should we” thing going on. It has nothing to do with color but more so character” (cdn.mediatakeout.com)