Stop mealy-mouthing to superpowers
The weak of any human groupings has of necessity to be assertive to vouchsafe its survival on equivalent terms with the strong. When the weak creatively engages the strong, nature stirs in rejuvenation and history pays attention. Although by the logic of natural selection, weaker organisms, contrary to asserting their right to life, are expected to yield their essence for the benefit of the stronger; thanks to the English biologist, Charles Darwin. But the pioneering work of Darwin, like those of few other great thinkers of his day, had introduced a magnitude of error in their monumental contributions to knowledge by paying scant attention to the spiritual forces, which prod and, or propel all living organisms. We have since learned that that omission has far-reaching consequences on the capacity of humans in relation to existential challenges. Two of these would be cited in this essay.
The first is Thomas Malthus’ elegant but fundamentally flawed theory on agricultural productive capacity in the light of human population growth of his day. Because Malthus didn’t transcend the physical realm in his extrapolations, he couldn’t see how the established linear growth of agricultural production would quickly translate into an exponential growth. In the same vein, the celebrated analytical psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung, the “father of modern psychology,” significantly erred by employing animals and terminally-ill persons in his study of human behavioural patterns. Jung hadn’t paid enough attention to the aspects of humans that set them apart from animals. What an incredible oversight! We can now exclaim; but the consequences of these and all such fundamental misunderstandings of the spiritual forces that drive human societies may never be fully quantified. Nonetheless, as most people would as soon agree, it has become urgent to deepen humans’ understanding of the mysteries of the spiritual forces that drive the universe – a convergence of religion and science, if you please.
Actually, that esoteric marriage is already happening, and very quickly too. It was something of a major turning point when astronauts first started indulging in “unscientific discourse,” by talking expansively about the spiritual impact of the “overview effect” of staring at the blue-and-white planet from some 250 miles into space. None of those astronauts have returned from space with the same mindset with which they had blasted off into it. Listening to the strikingly similar narrations of those space returnees one often gets the sense that the overview experience in a way revealed to the space explorers that God, from Creation, has always sought to work cheek-by-jowl with humans. One is so taken by this observation that it’s tempting to prescribe the overview experience as a pre-requisite for occupying any of the most powerful offices on planet earth. Consequently, I should like to submit that if the leaders of the most powerful nations of the world could undergo the humbling experience of the overview – that is see humans from God’s perspectives, I’m persuaded that the world would be effectively rid of much of the hubris and arrogance of power that we often witness at global engagements.
For the not so powerful nations, the indirect proceeds of the overview would be a quantum leap in self-confidence in the light of knowledge. Evidently, the “weak” nations are not as weak as is generally perceived, for the simple reason that both the strong and the weak nations draw their energies from the same pool. (Trouble is the latter draws from that pool with diminished confidence). Therefore, the “strong” and the “weak” could be said to be potentially equal – all are equal before God, says the religionist. It’s also now safe to surmise that physically marginal but globally significant nations like North Korea, Iran, etc must be fully seized of this knowledge when contemplating their foreign policy – consider the global relevance they have achieved as a result of their assertive engagements with the superpower nations. This should be an objective lesson for African nations who unfortunately still seem mesmerized by the technological advances of highly industrialized nations; so much so that most African leaders literally cringe before their superpower contemporaries when they engage directly.
The ongoing 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations provides another palpable evidence of this. It is doubly disheartening to observe that not even one of the African leaders in attendance plucked up the courage to speak poignant truths to the superpowers, in spite of compelling reasons. From the destabilizing unidirectional flow of global wealth and the 2008 global financial collapse, to the south/north mass migrations, through to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the rising threat of climate change, there exist many a bitter truth from which the African leaders could have chosen to address the leadership of the UN.
But rather than run that gauntlet, our leaders, as always, timidly chose to mealy-mouth. That tradition has become absolutely unacceptable. It bears restating here that Africa is no longer (at least in theory) an appendage of Europe; she must, therefore, begin to assert her full weight on international platforms, even at the expense of goring the American and European oxen. Expectedly, most people would think it misguided or suicidal even, to gore those overfed oxen; considering American and European territorial, albeit covert designs for Africa. But this exactly has been the principal challenge of post-colonial Africa. Africa’s post-colonial history is spangled with stellar Africans who had dared to call for a review of selfsame oxen’s decades of unhealthy diet. Because those calls were predominantly fuelled by the need for self-governance, advocacy for Africa’s politico-economic prosperity withered no sooner than the attainment of political independence.
Today (2018), new calls have assumed the proportions of the calls for political independence in the late 1950s to early 1960s. The new calls are christened Economic Independence, of which attainment would necessitate sweeping reviews of existing financial and trading relations with Africa’s past colonial masters. This presupposes that the apparent master/servant relationship between the two must be substituted with an evident co-equals mindset. And since no senior partner willingly relinquishes its privilege position, the onus is on Africa to bring that co-equals mindset into being. Examples of how to actualize that transformation abound in living memory, of which North Korea is most recent. Today, North Korea, the erstwhile “rogue state” negotiates with the western superpower, US, on nigh-parity basis. It’s trite to state that North Korea hadn’t arrived at her present destination by strolling through a rose garden; or by being mealy-mouthed. North Korea resolutely stood up to the US with a huge dose of global reasoning and sprinklings of counter-threats.
Julius Nyerere, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Patrice Lumumba, Obafemi Awolowo, Kwame Nkrumah, Tafawa Balewa, among other African nationalists, had instructively emphasized that Africa’s political independence would remain short of full effect until she attains economic independence. Therefore, no endeavors should be spared in pursuing that narrative-changing objective, even, as experience suggests, at the expense of incurring a bloody nose for the continent. Contemporary African leaders must now climb out of that humdrum valley of rehearsing hackneyed speeches at international conferences, and contemplate those lofty mountaintops of questioning the sustainability of existing international finance and trade. If Africa must exit her perennial cycles of extreme poverty in the midst of corn-in-Egypt natural resources, her leaders must “cultivate the balls” to speak truth to the superpower nations.
• Nkemdiche, a consulting engineer, wrote from Abuja.
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