Do not panic or despair
AS the year draws to an end, with Christmas only days away, it is tempting to conclude that this is probably the most violent period in the entire history of mankind. A case in point is the longstanding war along the border of Uganda and the Congo. It has gone on for almost 15 years with heavy casualties but the rest of the world has chosen to ignore it entirely. It is also instructive that the United States of America, Britain and France are in real anguish over terrorism and random shooting.
On CNN, U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump capitalised on the climate of fear by calling for a total and complete shutdown/prohibition of Muslims entering the United States – immigrants and visitors alike (except diplomats and sportsmen) because of what he describes as hatred.
A recent front page report in “The Times” is enough to keep all of us awake at night. It has gone viral. “Russia gets ready for war with West”
“Russia is preparing for war with Britain and its NATO allies”, according to an analysis of Russian military exercises.
The alert, from a European think tank, comes after Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, warned yesterday that the conflict in Ukraine was “red hot” and Russian-backed separatists could yet take more territory.
He said he saw no end in sight to the hostilities, which this week involved the rebels launching their heaviest artillery attacks on government positions in six months, according to Ukraine.
Britain announced plans yesterday to expand a programme to train the Ukrainian armed forces in response to an increased threat from improvised explosive devices. Mr. Fallon said he would also consider a request to send additional military trainers on top of the 75 who are already in the country.
The European Leadership Network think tank said that analysis of a major military exercise earlier this year by Russia and a smaller exercise by NATO showed that each side was training with the other side’s capabilities and war plans in mind.
As for Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen, they are in a special category where death and cruelty are the staple diet. The contest is between barbarism and savagery. Even if we focus our attention and energy on our continent, Africa we are confronted with a most chilling dossier, in respect of which France has refused to comment or issue a rebuttal.
“14 African Countries Forced By France To Pay Colonial Tax For The Benefits Of Slavery And Colonisation”
When Sékou Touré of Guinea decided in 1958 to get out of French colonial empire, and opted for the country’s independence, the French colonial elite in Paris got so furious, and in a historic act of fury the French administration in Guinea destroyed everything in the country, which represented what they called the benefits from French colonisation.
Three thousand French left the country, taking all their property and destroying anything which could not be moved: schools, nurseries, and public administration buildings were crumbled; cars, books, medicine, research institute instruments, tractors were crushed and sabotaged; horses, cows in the farms were killed, and food in warehouses was burned or poisoned.
The purpose of this outrageous act was to send a clear message to all other colonies that the consequences for rejecting France would be very high.
Slowly fear spread through the African elite, and none after the Guinea events ever found the courage to follow the example of Sékou Touré, whose slogan was “We prefer freedom in poverty to opulence in slavery.”
Sylvanus Olympio, the first president of the Republic of Togo, a tiny country in west Africa, found a middle ground solution with the French.
He didn’t want his country to continue to be a French dominion, therefore he refused to sign the colonisation continuation pact De Gaule proposed, but agreed to pay an annual debt to France for the so called benefits Togo got from French colonisation.
It was the only conditions for the French not to destroy the country before leaving. However, the amount estimated by France was so huge that the reimbursement of the so-called “colonial debt” was close to 40% of the country’s budget in 1963.
The financial situation of the newly independent Togo was very unstable, so in order to get out of the situation, Olympio decided to get out of the French colonial money FCFA (the franc for French African colonies), and issue the country’s own currency.
On January 13, 1963, three days after he started printing his country’s own currency, a squad of illiterate soldiers backed by France killed the first elected president of newly independent Africa. Olympio was killed by an ex-French Foreign Legionnaire army sergeant called Etienne Gnassingbe.
Olympio’s dream was to build an independent and self-sufficient and self-reliant country. But the French didn’t like the idea.
On June 30, 1962, Modiba Keita , the first president of the Republic of Mali, decided to withdraw from the French colonial currency FCFA which was imposed on 12 newly independent African countries. For the Malian president, who was leaning more to a socialist economy, it was clear that colonisation continuation pact with France was a trap and a burden for the country’s development.
On November 19, 1968, like, Olympio, Keita was the victim of a coup carried out by another ex French Foreign legionnaire, Lieutenant Moussa Traoré.
In fact during that turbulent period of Africans fighting to liberate themselves from European colonization, France would repeatedly use many ex Foreign legionnaires to carry out coups against elected presidents: On January 1st, 1966, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, an ex French foreign legionnaire, carried out a coup against David Dacko, the first President of the Central African Republic.
On January 3, 1966, Maurice Yaméogo, the first President of the Republic of Upper Volta, now called Burkina Faso, was victim of a coup carried by Aboubacar Sangoulé Lamizana, an ex French legionnaire who fought with French troops in Indonesia and Algeria against those countries’ independence.
On October 26, 1972, Mathieu Kérékou who was a security guard to President Hubert Maga, the first President of the Republic of Benin, carried out a coup against the president, after he attended French military schools from 1968 to 1970.
In fact, during the last 50 years, a total of 67 coups happened in 26 countries in Africa, 16 of those countries are French ex-colonies, which means 61% of the coups happened in Francophone Africa.”
It is somewhat overwhelming to retrieve from the archives that: “As far back as 1898 Dr. John Kehinde Randle; Dr. Akinwande Savage; and Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford (of the Gold Coast) the founders of the National Congress of British West Africa had begun to agitate for the Independence of Nigeria and the rest of West Africa.”
Their mission was to leverage on western education to which they had had been exposed, to lift up their fellow men and women. Since then, all we appear to have been doing is a race to the bottom – hence our continent is in chaos and turmoil. Perhaps we should avail ourselves of the wisdom of the late multi-billionaire founder of Apple Computer, Bill Gates who on his death bed wrote in 2011:
Indeed, it is tempting to add that when Barewa College was founded in 1921, admission was strictly limited to the elite – sons of Sultans and Emirs (and the occasional District Head) who were accompanied by their servants to minister to their needs as well as look after their horses. They brought their horses to school because they had to travel long distances across the vast terrain of Northern Nigeria.
Anyway, the school has produced five Heads of State / Prime Minister of Nigeria : Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, General Yakubu Gowon General Murtala Mohammed, Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Alhaji Umoru Musa Yar’Adua.
The late Chief J.K. Randle belonged to a generation of Nigerians whose influence cut across ethnicity, religion, race or whatever. Patriotism and selfless service were the hallmark of their commitment to building a great nation that would command the respect of the international community. Several streets are named after Chief J.K. Randle in Lagos, Apapa and Surulere. Also, the Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall at Onikan, Lagos was built in his memory. Furthermore, Randle Secondary School, Apapa and Randle General Hospital, Surulere, Lagos are named after him. He has bequeathed a huge legacy of goodwill and sportsmanship.
• Bashorun Randle OFR, is a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN)