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The nation builders

By Goke Omolade
12 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
THEY manifest in various forms: monarchs, aristocrats, autocrats, democrats, plutocrats, technocrats and other types of governance and leadership styles. Nevertheless, the central focus of this cut-in-the-wood pack is the consuming zeal to make their society better and more fulfilled than they met it. 0bviously stepped in their societal role-expectation of a guaranteed future, sundry leaders…


THEY manifest in various forms: monarchs, aristocrats, autocrats, democrats, plutocrats, technocrats and other types of governance and leadership styles. Nevertheless, the central focus of this cut-in-the-wood pack is the consuming zeal to make their society better and more fulfilled than they met it. 0bviously stepped in their societal role-expectation of a guaranteed future, sundry leaders give what it takes to ensure just that. In the eras gone past, when there were less degree of wickedness to deal with, leaders had fewer of complex problems to tackle. The more leaders yield themselves to refined and truly liberated minds, the more such leaders and their society are steadily positioned in the long run.

  Even on a universal reckoning, humanity can be distinctly grouped on a three-dimensional classification: the upper, middle and lower cadre(s). While the upper echelon preoccupies itself with its self-defined supremacy, the middle-layer strives to remain relevant in the ‘scheme of prevailing intrigues’ and the lower rung fights for that oxygenating piece of survival! Regardless of individualities or memberships of each of these societal casings, one thing is predominantly quintessential and that is the relational build-up between and among these different groups. Indeed, no nation is totally insulated against one or another form of discriminations; rather it is the deliberate effort of consensual relationships that makes the whole difference.

   It may not be out of place to do some contrasting analyses of some remarkably solid nations whose conscientious leaders gave all their endowments to nurture their nascent nations along the charted course to full nationhood who their successor-leaders found as guiding relevances afterward. A legendary account once had it of the state of Israel which after its May 1948 hard-won independence had a couple of nagging problems on road construction in some difficult terrain and having exhausted all their then-known tricks on construction without breakthroughs; a hindsight of history came to their rescue on what Moses and Joshua did during their passage across the Red Sea and the Jordan River with the usage of salt!      

   Or the case of the United States(America) vis-a-vis its struggle for autonomy and self-dictated pace of independence, early in its formative years, from its former old fox-master(Great Britain) and this feat America got with the concerted efforts of its freedom, liberty and civil rights-agitators. Today these combined virtues are what the world at large celebrates as the bastion of democratic principles and representative governance. 

  Either by direct inferences or illustrative practicalities, the league of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Fitzgerald Kennedy plays the expected role of what contemporary American leaders should be. Nothing less or else. In a positive way, this is one basic and astounding reason why the son of an immigrant settler of a minority group, Barack Hussein Obama, could be so overwhelmingly elected, on two consecutive terms, to the highest office of an almost two-and-half-century republic of over 300 million citizens with hardly any iota of regret or reproach and this is characteristically American!

  Or the sacrificial life-style of Africa’s renowned icon, Nelson Mandela, who though already gone in the way of all flesh, his memorable landmarks are so conspicuous on the sand of time. Mandela, it was, who elected to spend 27 years of his productive years in torturing imprisonment for the sake of freedom and liberty, equity and impartial justice. As if on a sworn oath of self-immolation, Mandela not only  refused but also rejected all offers of freedom from incarceration of about three decades that was short of universal acceptability because sound freedom and accruing rights for one should be the same for another without any layer of ambiguity whatsoever the creed, race, status of such concerned.                     

  Even eclectic Europe which origin began with mostly the exogamous tips and traits garnered from comparatively developed civilisations of the then-world during its adventurist foray in other lands, it has over time standardised and improved on such borrowed developmental ethos and skillfully internalised them. Quite theatric enough, what Europe is now to yet-to-develop nations is like what a neighbourhood bully is to a sleepy kid whose roughened toys are taken off him and these toys having been cleaned and repackaged are exploitatively sold to him in another dimension. 

  However, one feature was so characteristic of the then Europeans on the prowl by seizing whatsoever good thing they encountered and these were taken back home and copiously reenacted. Perhaps going by the contention of  Walter Rodney’s book, How Europe underdeveloped Africa, this was how most of modern Europe was developed on the sweat, heritage and intrigues of what humanity now tags the developing or underdeveloped world.

   In the summit of nation builders, past or contemporary, certain ones have been so outstandingly worthy or disgustingly evil. At the outset of his so-called Aryan race-driven, selective programme, in the early 1930s, Adolf Hitler, condemn or commend him, wanted to wipe the entirety of the then-Soviet Union and turn the occupied space to an expansive fishpond. Similarly, it was during his tenure that Germany birthed what the world came around to know as the Volkswagen Bettle which, ab initio, was meant to be a common man’s automobile. Or the strides of Fidel Castro’s Cuba in training medical personnel which the world has grown so used to and this is underlain with its exportation of medical skills and related fields of knowledge.

  The instructive case of Chairman Mao’s China is a lesson indeed of how fundamental and foundational genuine builders are to their nations at the outset of any sound developmental process. Mao, it was, who initiated the required necessities which modern China now effortlessly prides itself as the world’s second largest economy. Before coming this far, China, way back in the late 1940s was shut from the negative influence and corrosive hypotheses of the outside world and having been made to look inward and internalise its bearish strengths, China has been so positioned that no nation on the earth surface can afford to be insulated against what this Han Race has come to present in the 21st century of the world, be it in sheer population size, diplomacy prominence, economic strength or military capability.

  Another nation builder of solid note was Julius Nyerere of Tanzania who gave his all by welding two hitherto discordant nation-states; Tanganyika and Zanzibar and while in charge of the nation-at-large, Nyerere, admirably called the teacher, made deliberate attempts to bequeath a unified people with a common destiny. However, just make fleeting comparisons of Nyerere’s legacies with a fellow president of his—Idi Amin Dada of Uganda during his reign—and it would be like echoing the obvious, nation builders build up while nations under the grips of tyrants are more or less disposable pawns in a messy game of musical chairs. 

  Drawing inspirational cues from the above-listed as well as other well-heeled individuals; the issue of nation building goes beyond mere wishes of good intents, possession of big pots of money, academic pursuits or other variants for that matter. To put it mildly, it is that caring elite so concerned with lifting up that lower rung of the society as aptly envisioned in Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the earth.

   Next comes Africa’s overburdened adult delinquent, Nigeria. Where does one really begin its sorry tales of misplaced hopes, sickeningly corrupt leadership, recurring culture of illegality and impunity, power tenacity, dislocated socialisation process, mindless killing or its almost limitless amoral vices? For how long can Nigeria afford to trudge on this lonely path of self-destruction when on all sides the red signals are glaringly suggestive of a sinking abyss? But are there no alternatives, better route to nation building aside the deafeningly and blindingly chosen one by Nigeria’s ruling pack since October 1960? Because virtually all directional signs ahead point to one ominous destination: “Road closed to sanity but wide to avoidable self-destruction”!

  Over and above prevailing circumstances and situations, leaders go the whole hog to dare the unknown by shooting from all directions so as to hit the right targets. Take the cases of these two under listed war veterans as exemplary instances; America’s General Douglas MacArthur who was devastatingly defeated in March 1942 during the 2nd European War (1939-45) on his first foray to the Philippines and following this he sharply reacted:  I shall return. Not only did he launch another offensive attack but he triumphed afterward. Or the other warlord whose fighting troops were said to be so wearied by cowardice and on this, the commanding officer was said to have blown the connecting bridge for any retreat and faced with this fight-and-survive-or-die option, they fought their way to victory.

  If anything, nation builders are like the needed catalysts in the developmental processes who from time to time readily explore all weapons in their arsenal to vanquish their opponents. When towards the tail-end of the 20th century, the combined forces of both deceased Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher led the capitalist battle royal against their communist antagonists, their own-defined world was spared the consequential onslaught of the then tagged evil empire. In like manner, our contemporary existence can be voided the further machinations of tyrants, kleptomaniacs and power perverts where genuinely patriotic nation builders are not only in government but also in the commanding saddle.

• Omolade, gokeomolade@hotmail.com