Thursday, 30 October 2014

Igbo and Nigeria’s “election” season

“Election” time in Nigeria is time-of-death. It is also time-of-destruction, time-of-desolation, time-of-waste, time-to-waste...

Obasanjo: Prelude

Olusegun Obasanjo captures the characterisation of this season most vividly, if not horridly, in a February 2007 proclamation at Abeokuta, west Nigeria: “it’s do or die” (, 11 February 2007). And Olusegun Obasanjo should know. Olusegun Obasanjo knows exactly what he is talking about: he has been head of regime in Nigeria for 11 years and had been schooled for this role whilst commander of Nigeria’s death squad in south Biafra during the Igbo genocide, murdering tens of thousands of Igbo people in towns and villages in the region in addition to personally ordering the shooting down of a clearly-marked international Red Cross aircraft flying in urgently needed relief supplies to the besieged and bombarded Igbo in June 1969 (Olusegun Obasanjo, My Command: 1981: 79 ). Nigeria murdered 3.1 million Igbo or one-quarter of this nation’s population between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970. Arguably, among his colleagues, Olusegun Obasanjo most espouses the haematophagous signature of this genocide-state he has served so assiduously since 29 May 1966.


Already  the strains of  “it’s do or die” anthem shrill ominously in Nigeria 3-4 months before “elections”, if indeed these are eventually held, heralded this time round by that “dog-and-the-baboon-would-all-be-soaked-in-blood” prologue scripted by Muhammadu Buhari (The Vanguard, Lagos, 15 May 2012), another Igbo genocide commander, and prospective candidate for head of regime in the “polls”. Junaid Mohammed, a public official from Kano, north region, had lately, at last, worked through a chorus for this anthem with the predictable, recognisable, hate-filled line to incite the next Igbo murder trail: “Igbo [are] devoid of any shame to show their greed, selfishness and contempt” (, 26 October 2014). The Igbo and the world, surely, have not failed to take note of this evident trigger, in October 2014, to expand, even further, the Igbo genocide.

Position paper

The Igbo response to this Nigerian time-of-death can’t be any clearer and more focused. Igbo must resolutely and totally safeguard Igbo life and property in Igboland forthwith. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”, as Wendell Phillips’s aphorism invokes, aptly becomes the overarching banner of reference to work with.  Igbo in the Nigeria diaspora must similarly take great care of their lives and interests during these times. Inevitably, Igbo will respond to the political platforms of the contending parties and coalitions for the “polls”. For any of these parties/coalitions or whosoever interested in seeking the Igbo vote at any level in any constituency in Igboland or in Nigeria, the following position paper is squarely on the table, articulating Igbo demands for their vote:

1. Publicly acknowledge the Igbo genocide carried out by Nigeria from 29 May 1966 to 12 January 1970. Nigeria murdered 3.1 million Igbo people or one-quarter of this nation’s population in this foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa.

2. Pay comprehensive reparations to all Igbo survivors and families of this genocide since 13 January 1970.

3. Support Igbo current efforts to prosecute all persons and interests involved in the Igbo genocide. Genocide is a crime against humanity. There is no statute of limitations in international law for the apprehension and punishment of those responsible for this crime.

4. Return in full, including interests since 13 January 1970, the sum of Igbo savings and other bank accounts sequestrated by Nigeria soon after the end of that phase of the genocide when a surviving “male-head” of an Igbo family was doled out £20.00.

5. Return in full Igbo property assets sequestrated by Nigeria since 13 January 1970 and pay full compensation for the non-use/loss of earnings on these assets since.

6. Comprehensively account for the pillaging of the oil and gas reserves in the Igbo oil and gas fields in Rivers, Imo, Abia and Delta administrative regions since 13 January 1970. Return in full, in addition to accruing interests, the billions of dollars worth of oil and gas sales from these reserves since.

7. Comprehensively pay compensation for blanket policy of Nigeria’s non-development of Igboland after the latter’s destruction/degradation of the Igbo economy in the wake of the phase of the genocide, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970.

8. Comprehensively pay compensation for Nigeria’s deliberate policy to ignore ever-expanding soil erosion/landslides and other pressing ecological emergencies particularly in northwest Igboland since the mid-1970s.

9. Comprehensively pay reparations to tens of thousands of Igbo people who Nigeria state/quasi-state operatives have murdered since 1980. There have been 21 cases of premeditated pogroms against the Igbo, particularly in north Nigeria, between 1980 and 2014, in which tens of thousands of Igbo have been murdered. 90 per cent of the 54,000 people murdered in Nigeria by the state/quasi-state operatives and agents since 1999 are Igbo people. At least 80 per cent of people murdered by the Boko Haram across swathes of lands in north/northcentral Nigeria since the outbreak of the insurgency are Igbo. Hundreds of thousands of Igbo families have abandoned homes and businesses in the affected region and returned to Igboland.

10. Igbo will not vote APC or any parties/fractions/tendencies affiliated to this party. This party’s Lagos region regime deported Igbo people from Lagos to Igboland twice in the past 24 months (
These deportations are clear violations of the human rights of the Igbo deportees, rights guaranteed by the United Nations relevant conventions and articles to which Nigeria, a UN member state, is a signatory. No APC functionary, at any level, has unambiguously condemned this outrage.

11. Completely dismantle Nigeria’s military and administrative occupation of Igboland, enforced since 13 January 1970. Comprehensively pay reparations for this occupation.

12. Support current Igbo efforts for an internationally organised referendum in Igboland to determine Igbo goal for the restoration of sovereignty. The right of a people to self-determination is inalienable, guaranteed by the UN relevant conventions and articles to which Nigeria, a UN member state, is a signatory.

(Booker Little Sextet, “Moods in free time” [personnel: Little, trumpet; Julian Priester, trombone; Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone; Don Friedman, piano; Art Davis, bass; Max Roach, drums; recorded: Nola’s Penthouse Studios, New York, 17 March 1961])
Igbo are arguably the world’s most brutally targeted and most viciously murdered of peoples presently. Not since 29 May 1966-12 January 1970 has Igbo life under Nigerian occupation acquired such a gripping existential emergency.

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

FWD: “Cargo cult mentality”, Nigeria, and the illusions of NEPAD

(This essay is a slightly amended version of a study first published,, July 2002, and is reissued due to continuing demand)

The great Chinua Achebe once described as the “cargo cult mentality” (Chinua Achebe, The Trouble with Nigeria, 1983: 9) the illusion, or rather the delusion of many leaders of so-called developing countries who feel that without sustained hard work, internally, their states could somehow achieve the status of socio-political transformation that they had envisaged in many a “development programme”.

This mentality manifests in the form of a perpetual gaze across the seas, across the horizon, hoping/awaiting a “fairy ship [to] dock in their harbour laden with every goody they have always dreamed of possessing” (Achebe: 9). This gaze, as can be imagined, is frustratingly a chore that triggers bewildering ranges of emotion: … When, for instance, is this ship arriving? Where is it coming from? What will it contain that will transform our existence? More loans? More aid packages? A privatisation scheme? Oh! Is that the mast of the mysterious ship coming over the horizon – at last? Oh yeah! The ship is already here… Good news: the goodies are here, fellow countrymen (and women, presumably!). We are now developed, We are a world power… No, not yet… We need the arrival of 3, 4, or 5 more of these ships to achieve this target. Oh dear! How long will this now take? The time span for all these arrivals will be in the order of 10 years… No, twice as long; sorry, to be more precise, 21 years… Therefore, my administration needs another term, maybe two, perhaps three, to oversee these arrivals, the offloading of the goodies, and the sustainable implementation of this multisectoral development programme!

Spurious developmentalism

To focus more specifically on the Africa example, perhaps less humourously, the “cargo cult mentality” is pointedly a perverse case right from the outset. African regimes in the late 1950s/1960s (baseline decades for the “restoration of African independence” after centuries of the European conquest and occupation) uncritically keyed into the Fraudulent Developmentalism music of the age which was trumpeted noisily and widely by the Western World – led strategically by none other than Britain and France, the core conqueror states of Africa (Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, African Literature in Defence of History: An Essay on Chinua Achebe, 2001: especially chap. 1). Thanks to the nauseating naivety of these “leaderships”, Britain, France and other European World states and institutions that had committed heinous crimes of conquest and occupation in Africa for 500 years, were overnight “entrusted” with a role, the central role for that matter, to embark upon Africa’s seeming project of societal reconstruction in the wake of the holocaust.

South Korea, for instance, has demonstrated that if the country’s leaderships in the late 1940s/1950s (after the country’s liberation from Japanese conquest and occupation) had “allowed” Japan to play a similar role in their reconstruction project as the Africa example just cited, their society would not have been “endowed” with the scientific know-how in the very short 50 years time lag to co-stage the recent World Cup Football competition with Japan and with such comparable dazzling technological finesse as the latter.

In Nigeria, in 1979, nearly a decade after it had murdered 3.1 million Igbo people in the most devastating genocide in Africa since the Herero genocide of the early 1900s, few in the country were prepared for the extraordinary pronouncement of  “optimism” on the country’s future from the regime in power. There was no semblance of any reconstructionary programme on the ground to support this claim. Olusegun Obasanjo, then head of the country’s military junta, had, in effect, gazed across the hallucinatory horizon of expectation embedded in the “cargo cult mentality” and made the following prediction with all the certitude at his disposal: “Nigeria will become one of the ten leading nations in the world by the end of the century” (Achebe: 9).

Anything but a world power...

Of course in 1999, 20 years later, Nigeria was anything but a world power. This outcome is not because the country lacked a resourceful population nor because it is deprived of an “enabling” natural resource infrastructure to accomplish such a task. On the contrary, many countries in history with a fraction of Nigeria’s staggering human and natural resource capacity as at 1979, not to mention 1999, have achieved major societal development in very limited timeframes. Presently, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan are three examples that illustrate, acutely, this point. On material resources, for instance, Nigeria, the world’s sixth largest petroleum oil producer, had by 1999 earned the sum of US$300 billion from this product after 40 years of exploitation and exports. Unfortunately, this revenue had by and large been squandered by the country’s regimes of the epoch through their legendary, institutionalised corruption and profligacy. They literally lurched ravenously into the public purse in frenzy. Between 1972 (when Yakubu Gowon was in power) and 1999 (end of the tenure of the Abdulsalami Abubakar junta/beginning of the current Obasanjo regime), one fifth of this sum, or US$60 billion, was looted personally by these furacious leaderships and transferred to Western banks and other financial institutions. Elsewhere in the economy, this was the infamous epoch of dubious contractual deals and dealing that yielded enormously-inflated financial returns for thieving public functionaries: the importation of everything from cement, sand, nails and rice to air (?), champagne and lace, and the staging of innumerable feasts and festivals usually dreamt up in a whiff! At some point in 1983, at the apogee of this scramble of an economy, Nigeria’s entire external currency reserves were reduced precariously to about US$2billion. Inevitably, this scramble has churned out the directory of the nouveau riche of millionaires and even billionaires whose names and gory legacy make up the haunting epitaph of a failed state. It is in this context that Edwin Madunagu’s description of this shenanigan as the “political economy of state robbery” could not have been more evocative.

It does not require emphasising that with the judicious use of the gargantuan sum of US$300 billion (which few comparable “independent” African countries have earned since the beginning of the European conquest and occupation of the continent in the 15th century), not only Nigeria but also the entire African World would have been radically transformed beyond recognition. No one would dare equate “disaster, degradation, desperation” with contemporary African existence as it is often the norm in many a standard discourse. On this very “squandering of [the peoples’] riches”, ignoring, for once the other striking features of the kleptomania and maledictive incompetence of successive Nigerian regimes of the era, all those who describe themselves or have been so described as Nigeria’s heads of regime particularly in recent decades must be eternally ashamed of themselves. They, as well as those intellectuals who surrounded them as aides and advisors, do constitute the most vivid tragedy of Africa’s recent history. They have frittered away the treasured trove of several generations of peoples. Furthermore, they were and remain a monumental disappointment and disgrace to millions of Africans elsewhere in the world.

Internal logic

In effect, Nigeria’s regimes appear to have ignored the salient feature of the development ethos, any development ethos, that the engine of such an enterprise is anchored internally – right there at the very locale of the projected activity. Or do they? Alas, the “perpetual gaze across the seas” for socio-economic salvation serves these regimes. It absolves them of any responsibilities to their long-suffering peoples or so they imagine.

In the last three years of the 4-year term of his regime, Olusegun Obasanjo has been out of Nigeria at least 80 times on official trips. He has visited virtually every key country in Europe, Asia, North America, South America/the Caribbean and, of course, Africa during the period. As for his European and North American and Asian destinations, he has been to Britain, France, Italy, Germany, the United States and Japan more than twice. The average time duration for a trip is three days and the average number of aides and other officials is 30 except in the North American and European destinations when this figure is often doubled and at times tripled and on some occasions even more.

With 80 overseas trips during 1999-2002, Obasanjo makes a foreign trip approximately every fortnight. He and other regime spokespersons have repeatedly indicated that these junkets are important for Nigeria to attract “foreign investment” and help seek some relief or cancellation of Nigeria’s foreign “debt” of about US$30 billion. Each of these visits costs Nigeria at least US$200,000 on the average and this sum shoots up with the larger entourage that embarks on the North America/Europe/Japan ventures. In total, Nigeria has spent minimally the sum of US$16 million on these trips without any concrete returns especially on the subject of investment or relief on Nigeria’s so-called debt to the West. Indeed on the latter, Obasanjo stated openly during the March 2002 conference on development in Mexico that Nigeria had failed to secure “a single cent of debt relief… In the past three years, Nigeria has had to spend five billion dollars in servicing its foreign debts, even though the same debts had been repaid two times over”.

According to Jerry Gana, the regime’s information minister, Nigeria’s annual “debt service of about [US]$1.5 billion is nine times our budget for health, and three times our budget for education”. But it is Nigeria’s failure to attract meaningful foreign investment (a miserly US$2.25 billion per year on the average in the next four years, according to projected estimates by the London Economist Intelligence Unit) during the period and the direct link of this failure to Obasanjo’s junkets which is most heart-rending. In an interview recently with the London Financial Times, Obasanjo could not but admit: “In three years I went round the world and did not get anything… I went round the countries in Europe, twice over, I went to Japan, to America, to Canada and got good words… but no action at all” (Financial Times, London, 9 April 2002).

Yet if Obasanjo continues his current rate of travel overseas in the remaining 12 months of his regime, he will make a further 30 trips with the whooping cost of US$6 million to Nigeria’s forlorn economy. These visits should now be cancelled and the savings invested in the collapsing primary schools of the country to enable millions of Nigerian children have a better future than is presently the case. Those who advise Obasanjo should for once show responsibility. So, by May 2003, the Obasanjo regime would have spent US$22 million of scarce resources on four years of travel in pursuit of an illusory but calamitous enterprise of “gazing across the seas” for Western “goodies” to salvage an economy that his own regime (twice: 1976-1979, 1999-expected May 2003) as well as others have virtually destroyed in the past 40 years. The gross insensitivity of the lifestyle that encapsulates these junkets at a time when the overwhelming majority of Nigerians have been reduced to dire straits of existence is particularly obscene.

Current key social statistics on Nigeria are disastrous. Seventy per cent of the population of “120 million” live below the poverty line of about US$1 a day and the country is one of the 20 poorest countries in the world. Forty eight million of the people or “about 40 per cent wallow […] in abject poverty” – to quote the very words of Obasanjo himself in July 2000 (The Guardian, Lagos, 2 July 2000). Even though the monthly minimum wage is a paltry US$75, many public and private enterprises have routinely not paid their workers their salaries. Millions are therefore owed several months of unpaid wages and several sectors of the economy are more often than not strike-bound. Two months ago, a group of Nigerian professionals known as “concerned professionals” questioned the regime’s claims to have spent US$100 million on “poverty alleviation” and US$500 million on the improvement of electricity supplies in the past fiscal year. On the former, the organisation rightly observes that no “dent in the poverty profile across the land” has occurred despite the huge sums the regime supposedly spent nor has there been a change in the notorious national electricity power supply. Very worryingly, the professionals conclude, 70 per cent of the regime’s budget allocation goes to recurrent expenditure and the implication of this for the rest of the economy is predictably troubling: “the cost of running government therefore crowds out the rest of the economy even before the budget is implemented”.

Equally concerned, the country’s senate’s public accounts committee has since published a critical report on regime spending. It criticises the large size of the recurrent expenditure and the regime’s concomitant “under-funding of capital provisions”. It also finds serious discrepancies in the accounting of sequestrated funds from the overseas bank accounts of Sani Abacha’s (an ex-head of regime) which had been returned to the Nigeria treasury. The report was so compelling that moves were made in the senate to begin impeachment proceedings on Obasanjo last month. These moves soon floundered due to sustained pressure on key senators by Obasanjo. In the cesspool that is politics in Nigeria, the media has been awash with news of massive bribing of senators by the regime to halt the impeachment.

Never expect progress and development...

It is evident that following the failure of Obasanjo’s frantic and expensive overseas tours in the last three years to secure both the ever illusory “dividend” of international investment and “debt” relief for Nigeria, the regime head has now broadened the parameters of the observation post from where to continue his existential “gaze across the seas” – for the goodies to supposedly transform Nigeria! In other words, Obasanjo has continentalised the quest for the illusion and the name given to it couldn’t even mask its plasticity: NEPAD or New Partnership for Africa’s Development. Just as Nigerians know, unmistakably, that NEPA (Nigeria Electricity Power Authority), an acronym which in fact shares the same root origins as NEPAD, really means Never Expect Power Always rather than any worthy energy generating organisation, we will now show that NEPAD does instead mean Never Expect Progress And Development.

Obasanjo and other African “leaders” have promoted NEPAD as a “neo-Marshall Plan” reconstruction programme for Africa. It envisages the “eradication” of poverty, sustained economic growth, and development. “Good governance” is promised with qualitatively transformed “leaderships”’ accountability and transparency towards both the population (with regards the respect of their human rights) and the management of natural resources, especially the critical revenues derived thereof. But, crucially, the fulcrum of NEPAD’s own sustainability hinges on Africa’s declared partnership with the leadership of the West World.

This “partnership”, a term we should stress emanates from the African side of the bargain, operates or is actuated in the format of a quid pro quo: African “leaders” embark on providing “good governance” and the like to their people and the West would, in return, “invest” in Africa. The amount of investment the leaders claim they require is US$64 billion per annum. This will take the form of substantial “debt” relief package for the continent where most countries spend about 70 per cent of total annual export revenues in “debt”-servicing obligations currently. Africa is also asking the West to cut vast agricultural subsidies that the latter pays its farmers. These limit “fair competition” to the detriment of African farmers who in the past 10 years have lost virtually all subsidies, thanks to the eagerness of their states to implement IMF-World Bank directives of “structural adjustment programmes”. Finally, African “leaders” want the West to cut the high duties that African manufacturing exports are subjected to in the former’s markets. If there is any of the unrelentingly statistical surveys churned out on contemporary Africa by studies after studies, the latest from the World Bank captures the severity of the Africa situation and its projected “hopelessness”. According to the bank, about half of Africa’s population of nearly a billion presently live on the “equivalent of [US]$1 a day or less”. More seriously, the bank forecasts that the number of people within this poverty bracket will increase by about 60 million in the next 15 years. For its African proponents, NEPAD assumes that the West World is particularly concerned by the ever-worsening condition of African socio-economic life.

Lectures and seminars

For the West, on the contrary, Nigeria, just like the rest of Africa, “works” – in the sense that the humanity of this country (and continent) has not ceased to create wealth for the West in spite of the obvious deterioration of local social existence. The European World, it must never be forgotten, created and sustains the tragedy that is present-day Africa. The principal beneficiary of this tragedy both in material and philosophical terms remains the West. Africa has yet to recover from the West’s half a millennium-long brazen conquest and occupation of Africa. The West’s perpetration of the African holocaust during the period (the most dehumanising and extensive in history) and its seizure and transfer to its homeland of Africa’s immense wealth, ensured that it catapulted to an unassailable global power where it has since remained (Ekwe-Ekwe: 2001: chap. 1). Despite the so-called restoration of African independence, the West’s exploitation of Africa has worsened, thanks to its implanted “Berlin-state” murderous contraption in the continent and the lobotomised creatures that parade as African leaderships.

In the past 20 years, Africa has consistently been a net-exporter of capital to the West, a trend that has been accentuated by the debilitating consequences of Africa’s servicing of its so-called debt to the West. In 1981, Africa recorded a net capital export of US$5.3 billion to the West. In 1985, this transfer jumped to US$21.5 billion and three years later it was US$36 billion or US$100 million per day. In 2000, Africa’s net capital transfer to the coffers of the West stood at US$150 billion. (We should stress that these figures refer to 48 African countries including Nigeria and do not include the national accounting of the five Arab states of North Africa – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.)

It has taken 10 generations of West governments to accomplish their control and exploitation of Africa, and no future government there would voluntarily abandon such a lucrative harvest of conquest. The West will always wish to exploit Africa. It does not have any other choice, except, of course, it is stopped. For a typical Western government therefore, including the present one whose majority of members were ironically born on the eve of the African “restoration of independence” 50 years ago, the West’s continuing control of African resources does not cease to be an ontological preoccupation. In emphasising that NEPAD is a “partnership” between Africa and the West, the African regimes have essentially tried to re-enact the Fraudulent Developmentalism of the 1950s/1960s. But everyone knows, including the West particularly, that the African version is a desperate one indeed. If Fraudulent Developmentalism I is a tragedy, Fraudulent Developmentalism II, its sequel, is more of a hallucination than a farce in the sense of that marxian negation (Ekwe-Ekwe: 2001: chap. 1)!

None of the West leaders who met Obasanjo and the other African “leaders” during the June 2002 G-8 summitry in Kananaskis, Canada, really thinks or feels that the latter are their partners in the sense of the mutual pursuit of a commonly agreed cause and outcome by two or more parties. West leaders, who strive and age overnight in office as the continuing responsibility and accountability to their electorate and population take their toll, are understandably contemptuous of African “leaderships” who always appear rejuvenated, as if they have walked out of cosmetic surgery every Friday lunch time! West leaders therefore lecture these imposed heads-of-regimes-of-Africa anywhere and anytime: “Respect the Human Rights of your people”; “Stop murdering your people – you have slaughtered 15 million from Biafra to Darfur since you took over power from us in 1960”; “You are corrupt, very corrupt! You steal your peoples’ money – Stop it! You must be transparent and Accountable!”; “Institute a bill of rights, Respect the rule of law”; “Run free and fair elections! Don’t turn your presidency into a life-long estate as we really don’t want you to deal with our own next generation of leaders, our sons and daughters”…

There is of course nothing in these apparent pro-African sentiments by Western leaders to suggest that the latter really look forward to the day when they will deal with a democratic Africa where its leaderships are accountable to their home publics. If that were to occur, the West would cease to exercise the stranglehold it currently has on the continent. No responsive leadership will play the overseer role which these African regimes engage in.

What the West has obviously done (as expressed above) is to appropriate the popular language of disgust against African “leaders” across Africa. Even the innocence of African children has not been spared the disastrous blunders and disgrace that African “leaderships” have now come to represent to the eagle-eyed scrutiny of a global audience. Two months ago, during the UN children’s summit in New York, Joseph Tamale, a 12 year old Ugandan delegate stunned the audience when he made the following declaration on African “leaderships”: “When you get the money, you embezzle it, you eat it”. The proceedings and outcome of the Kananaskis conference sum up this contempt. The African “leaders” emerged from the proceedings with nothing concrete to show from their hosts except promises of a modest increase in the overall Western “aid budget” to Africa which had been in fact mooted earlier on in the year during the Mexico conference on development.

The visiting African heads of regime in Kananaskis had been noticeably unimpressed by the total sum of US$6 billion involved which wouldn’t even be available till 2006! The West once again tabled this dubious package at Kananaskis but this time round none of these African “leaders” dared show their disenchantment. It was left to Phil Twyford, a director of OXFAM (the British non-governmental organisation), to bellow with anger: “We’re extremely disappointed… They’re offering peanuts to Africa – and recycled peanuts at that”. There was no mention at all in the summit communiqué on the vexed subjects of investment, “debt” cancellation or the opening up of Western markets to African exports. On the latter, both the United States and Canada had announced substantial increases in subsidies to their own farmers on the eve of the summit, dashing any hopes of any concerted accommodation to the African “leaders”’ so-called demands for access to these important Western markets. For Messrs Obasanjo & Co, the humiliation at Kananaskis means a return to the observation post – and the resumption of the gaze until the next ripples of movement across the waves… Never Expect Progress And Development, after all, has been what NEPAD has been all the while since its inception…

(Booker Little Sextet, “We speak” [personnel: Little, trumpet; Julian Priester, trombone; Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone; Don Friedman, piano; Art Davis, bass; Max Roach, drums; recorded: Nola’s Penthouse Studios, New York, 17 March 1961])

“Berlin-states” can’t do it; African constituent nations are bases for transformation

In 1987, I held a wide-ranging weekend interview in London with Abdulrahman Mohammed Babu, the eminent Zanzibari public intellectual. On Africa-European World relations, I had asked Babu what he thought was the essence of the West’s thinking on Africa at the height of the IMF/World Bank-driven devastating “structural adjustment programme” on the continent. His reply is deftly panoramic:
Quite simply, the West sees Africa as the rural sector of Europe… to guarantee Africa’s historic role as the supplier of cheap labour and raw materials to Europe… This remains the West’s view of Africa. Definitely the West is hostile to Africa’s development. We continue to fool ourselves if we think the contrary is the case. The West will never develop Africa. Our under-development is dialectically linked to their development. Europe is aware of this historical relationship and cannot do otherwise.
Despite NEPAD, or precisely because of the very assumptions on which NEPAD is frantically pursued presently by the failed crop of the imposed heads-of-regime-of-Africa, nothing in the past 15 years since Babu’s observations gives cause to suggest that that definitive trajectory of the West’s mission in Africa is about to change course. The more pressing point to note, however, is that the immediate emergency that threatens the very survival of African peoples is the “Berlin-state” encased in African existence coupled with the pathetic bunch that masquerades here and there as African leaderships but whose mission is to oversee this enthralling edifice. African women and men will sooner, rather than later, abandon this fractured, fracturing, conflictive, alienating and terror contraption. Africans must now focus on real transformation – the revitalisation and consolidation of the institutions of Africa’s constituent nations and polities, or what Okwuonicha Nzegwu has described, succinctly, as the “indigenous spaces of real Africa” (Nzegwu, Love, Motherhood and the African Heritage: The legacy of Flora Nwapa, 2001: 41). In these institutions and spaces of African civilisation lie the organic framework to ensure transparency, probity, accountability, investment in people, humanised wealth creation, respect for human rights and civil liberties, and a true commitment to radically transform African existence.

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Monday, 27 October 2014

92nd birthday of Ruby Dee

(Born 27 October 1922, Cleveland, Ohio, US)
Celebrated award-winning actress and human rights activist who continues to work till her 90th birthday, with signature film performances including The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), Edge of a City (1957), The Raisin in the Sun (1961), Gone are the Days (1963), The Incident (1967), Peyton Place (television: 1968-1969), Roots – The Next Generation (television: 1979), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (television: 1979), With Ossie and Ruby! (television: 1980-1982), Go Tell It on the Mountain (television: 1985), Do the Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), Their Eyes were watching God (television: 2005), American Gangster (2007)

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 26 October 2014

63rd birthday of Catherine Acholonu

(Born 26 October 1951, Orlu, Igboland)
Prolific and indefatigable scholar on Igbo origins and civilisation and relationship with neighbours and rest of the world

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 25 October 2014

114th birthday of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti

(Born 25 October 1900, Abeokuta, Nigeria)
Educator and a leading women’s rights and other rights’ activist from the 1940s who campaigns on a broad concourse against retrogressive feudal order in her region and the predatory surge of the foreign conquest and occupation regime

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

97th birthday of Dizzy Gillespie

(Born 21 October 1917, Cheraw, South Carolina, US)
The world this week celebrates the 97th birthday of virtuoso trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie who, with alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, plays a vanguard role in the bebop revolution in jazz, Africa American classical music, in the 1940s/early 1950s, and whose creative genius has influenced a stretch of trumpet luminaries subsequently: Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown,  Booker Little, Donald Bryd, Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan,  Art Farmer, Clarence Shaw, Richard Williams, Nat Adderley, Ted Curson, Johnny Coles, Woody Shaw, Lester Bowie, Don Cherry, Alan Shorter, Donald Ayler Dizzy Reece, Freddie Hubbard, Jon Faddis, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard

(Charlie Parker Quintet, “Hot House” [personnel: Parker, alto saxophone; Gillespie, trumpet; Dick Hyman, piano; Sandy Block, bass; Charlie Smith, drums; recorded: Dumont Television Studios, New York, US, 24 February 1952])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 19 October 2014

70th birthday of Peter Tosh

(Born 19 October 1944, Grange Hill, Jamaica)
Celebrated self-developed musician and Rastafarian who plays a seminal role, beginning in the 1960s, to transform reggae, Jamaica-originated music genre, into an international cultural movement engaged in opposition to all forms of oppression and for the promotion of a fairer, equal forms of human relations, offering his prodigious compositional output to the goal, especially: “Get Up, Stand Up”, “400 Years”, “Equal Rights”, “Love”, “No Sympathy”, “Mama Africa”, “No Nuclear War”, “Africa”, “African”, “Here Comes the Sun”, “Sun Valley”, “Creation”, “Oppressor Man”, “(You Gotta Walk And) Don’t Look Back”, “Vampire”, “Apartheid”, “Why Must I Cry?”, “Go Tell it on The Mountain”, “You Can’t Fool Me Again”, “Keep on Moving”

(Peter Tosh and 14-piece band, “Get Up, Stand Up” [Tosh and Bob Marley composition]; recorded: Randy’s Studio, Kingston, Jamaica, 1977)
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 18 October 2014

What census and restoration-of-independence? In Nigeria?

Harold Smith, ex-official of the British conquest and occupation regime in LagosNigeria, has written:

The British loved the North [Nigeria] and had arranged for 50% of the votes to be controlled by the Northern 
People’s Congress ... Because of this, independence was to some extent a sham because the results were a foregone conclusion. The North [Nigeria] and the British would continue to rule – from Harold Smith, “How the British undermined democracy in Africa”.

On the Northern People’s Congress, Harold Smith notes: 
[NPC was] largely a creation of the British and hardly a normal political party in the accepted sense. It was funded by the British controlled [local government] Authorities and was quite simply a tool of the British administration” – Smith, How the British undermined democracy in Africa”.

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Friday, 17 October 2014

86th birthday of Lerone Bennett

(Born 17 October 1928, Clarksdale, Miss, US)
Distinguished journalist, essayist, editor and historian who has published prolifically on race relations in the United States with influential titles that include Before the Mayflower (1962), What Manner of Man (1964), Pioneers in Protest (1968) and Forced into Glory (2000)

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Salute to intellectuals in defence of the people during the Igbo genocide!

Let it never be forgotten that, four decades ago, Igbo intellectuals and others, many very talented and widely accomplished men and women in their varying fields of expertise – writers, academics, artists, diplomats, bankers, military officers, clergy, accountants, scientists, physicians, lawyers, engineers – contributed most profoundly to the eventual survival of the Igbo during phases I-III of the genocide, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970, when only few in the world thought they would accomplish such an improbable feat. The following names are etched in our memories forever: Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Louis Mbanefo, Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, Flora Nwapa, Kamene Okonjo, Godfrey Okoye, Michael Echeruo, Ifeagwu Eke, SJ Cookey, Sam Mbakwe, Janet Mokelu, Obiora Udechukwu, Uche Chukwumerije, Kalu Ezera, Philip Efiong, Ignatius Kogbara, Alvan Ikoku, Celestine Okwu, Benjamin Nwankiti, Benedict Obumselu, Donatus Nwoga, NU Akpan, Adiele Afigbo, Michael Okpara, Chukwuka Okonjo, Akanu Ibiam, CC Mojekwu, Okoko Ndem, Agwu Okpanku, Tim Onwuatuegwu, Chudi Sokei, Pol Ndu, Ben Gbulie, Chuks Ihekaibeya, Conrad Nwawo, Dennis Osadebe, Osita Osadebe, Chuba Okadigbo,  Okechukwu Ikejiani, Winifred Anuku, Francis Arinze, Anthony Modebe, Alex Nwokedi, Zeal Onyia, Chukwuedo Nwokolo, Pius Okigbo, Godian Ezekwe, Felix Oragwu, Ogbogu Kalu, Kevin Echeruo, Emmanuel Obiechina, Uche Okeke, Chukwuma Azuonye, Onuora Nzekwu, Chukuemeka Ike, Eddie Okonta, Cyprian Ekwensi, Nkem Nwankwo, John Munonye, Gabriel Okara, Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Eni Njoku, Okechukwu Mezu, William Achukwu.

(John Coltrane Quartet, “Lonnie’s lament” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood, Cliff, NJ, US, 27 April 1964])
For contemporary Igbo intellectuals, this, surely, is an historic legacy to contend with particularly in response to phase-IV of the genocide. The Igbo genocide is one of the most comprehensively documented crimes against humanity. 3.1 million Igbo, one-quarter of this nation’s population, were murdered by Nigeria and its allies during those dreadful 44 months of unrelenting slaughtering and immiseration. Igbo intellectuals must contribute robustly to continue to inform the entire world of the nature and extent of the genocide, examining, pointedly, the variegated contours of the expansive trail of the crime, the parameters and strictures of the monstrosity of denialism of the crime (especially by some clusters of the core perpetrators of the genocide in Nigeria and their collaborators abroad including some in academia and media) and the debilitating and oppressive burden of 40 years of Nigeria’s occupation of Igboland. 

The crime of genocide, thankfully, has no statute of limitations in international law. Igbo intellectuals should therefore double their efforts to work for the prosecution of all individuals and institutions involved in committing this crime, and effect the restoration of Igbo sovereignty, Biafra.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

76th birthday of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti

(Born 15 October 1938, Abeokuta, Nigeria)
Celebrated Afro-beat musician, bandleader and one of just a handful of Nigerian public figures who consistently and unequivocally condemns the Igbo genocide (as he evocatively reminds the world in his authorised biography, Carlos Moore, Fela: The Bitch of a Life, Lawrence Hill, 2009: “The Biafrans were right … That’s evident now … The Ibos were right … The Biafrans were f***ing right to secede” [47-49]), untiringly and expansive critic of regimes in post-Igbo genocide age-of-pestilence Nigeria, employing the expressive lyrics of his compositions and the operatic drive of his orchestra to assail genocidist generals and sergeants and colonels and financiers and politicians and their cohorts who control and wheel and deal in the kakistocratic lair that is Nigeria

(Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Africa 70, “Everything Scatter” [recorded: LP Nigeria, Coconut PMLP1000, 1975])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Monday, 13 October 2014

112th birthday of Arna Bontemps

(Born 13 October 1902, Alexandria, Louisiana, US)
Award-winning prolific poet, novelist, children’s writer, editor, biographer, historian, and librarian, whose work plays a cardinal role in the emergence of contemporary African American letters

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

105th birthday of Art Tatum

(Born 13 October 1909, Toledo, Ohio, US)
Piano virtuoso, arguably the most influential jazz pianist of all time

(Art Tatum Trio, “Blues in C” [personnel: Tatum, piano; Benny Carter, alto saxophone; Louie Bellson, drums; recorded: Pablo Group, New York, US, 25 June 1954])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Sunday, 12 October 2014

106th birthday of Ann Petry

(Born 12 October 1908, Old Saybrook, Conn, US)
Pharmacist, award-wining and influential novelist and journalist – publications include the classic, The Street (1946), Country Place (1947), The Narrows (1953), Tituba of Salem Village (1955, novel for children), Harriet Tubman: Conductor of the Underground Railroad (1960, non-fiction)

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 11 October 2014

95th birthday of Art Blakey

(Born 11 October 1919, Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Prodigious drummer and bandleader whose band, The Jazz Messengers, cofounded with pianist Horace Silver in 1954, becomes a conservatory for over 30 years, developing the careers of  scores of graduates who would subsequently contribute immensely to the landscape of improvisation and composition in the jazz repertoire – Messengers’ alumni include the following, grouped by their key performing instrument: trumpet (Clifford Brown, Donald Bryd, Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard), trombone (Curtis Fuller, Julian Priester, Slide Hampton, Steve Turre, Robin Eubanks), alto saxophone (Lou Donaldson, Jackie McLean, Bobby Watson, Donald Harrison), tenor saxophone (Benny Golson, Johnny Griffin, Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter, John Gilmore, Billy Harper, Bill Pierce, Javon Jackson, Jean Toussaint, Branford Marsalis), piano (Horace Silver, Kenny Drew, Walter Davis, Jr., Benny Green, Wynton Kelly, Bobby Timmons, Jaki Byard, Keith Garrett, Cedar Walton, John Hicks, Mulgrew Miller, James Williams), and bass (Doug Watkins, Wilbur Ware, Spanky DeBrest, Jymie Merritt, Reggie Workman, Charles Fambrough, Lonnie Plaxico, Essiet Okon Essiet)

(Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, “Moanin’” [personnel: Blakey, drums; Lee Morgan, trumpet; Benny Golson, tenor saxophone; Bobby Timmons, piano; Jymie Merritt, bass; recorded: live (venue ?) Brussels, Belgium, 30 November 1958])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Friday, 10 October 2014

97th birthday of Thelonious Monk

(Born 10 October 1917, Rocky Mount, NC, US)
Perspicacious pianist and composer whose seminal works include a range of contributions to the jazz repertory standards with his “Round Midnight” being the most recorded standard of all time

(The master at work! O di egwu! Monk’s solo here on the classic “Blue Monk” begins at 3.10 minutes into this performance [Thelonious Monk Quartet] for 3 minutes after tenorist Rouse’s own majestic offering [personnel: Monk, piano; Charlie Rouse, tenor saxophone; Larry Gales, bass; Ben Riley, drums: recorded: University Aula, Oslo, 15 April 1966])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Thursday, 9 October 2014

108th birthday of Léopold Sédar Senghor

(Born 9 October 1906, Joal, Sénégal)
One of the most outstanding poets of the African World, academic, and race and culture theorist, statesperson, first African president of Sénégal, September 1960, following the termination of 300 years of the French conquest and occupation, who lays foundation for transforming the country to Africa’s most successful nations-state

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

94th birthday of Yusef Lateef

(Born 9 October 1920, Chattanooga, Tenn, US)
Very influential tenor saxophonist and multiinstrumentalist (flute, oboe, arghul, shofar, shanai, xun), composer and academic who works uninterruptedly into his nineties

Yusef Lateef Nonet, “The centaur and the phoenix” [personnel: Lateef, tenor saxophone; Clark Terry, trumpet; Richard Williams, trumpet; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Josea Taylor, bassoon; Tate Houston, baritone saxophone; Joe Zawinul, piano; Ben Tucker, bass; Lex Humphries, drums; recorded: Riverside, New York, 9 May 1960])
 Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Igbo genocide: Asaba, 7 October 1967

Today, Tuesday 7 October 2014 is the 47th anniversary of the mass execution of 700 Igbo male, boys and men, in Asaba (twin Oshimili River port) by genocidist Nigeria military brigade commanded by Murtala Muhammed and Ibrahim Haruna and Ibrahim Taiwo. This was during phase-II of the Igbo genocide which Nigeria launched on 6 July 1967. Emma Okocha’s Blood on the Niger (TriAtlantic Books, 2006), a compulsory reference in the study of the Igbo genocide, meticulously catalogues the savagery and aftermath of this massacre. Okocha, who lost most of his family during the slaughter, survived the execution as a 4 year-old.

Hundreds of other Igbo boys and men were also slaughtered by the Muhammed-Haruna-Taiwo brigade in several other towns and villages in this Anioma region of Igboland, west of the Oshimili, as  Okafor Udoka writes recently (Okafor Udoka, “Lest we forget the genocide of Asaba”, Skytrend News, 6 October 2014). Ifeanyi Uriah, now 60, another survivor of the Asaba execution, recalls, in an interview with Udoka, the haunting memory of 7 October 1967:
I cannot tell this story without tears in my eyes … They [genocidist brigade] ordered everyone to come out to the [Asaba] town square … They were honest with us. They told us they were going to kill us. They took us to the mounted machine guns. Then it dawned on us that it was true. I was standing with my older brother at the edge of the crowd. He was holding my hand. He had always taken care of me. We shared the same bed. He was the first to be dragged away by the soldiers. He let go of my hand and pushed me into the crowd. He was shot in the back. I could see the blood gushing from his back. He was the first victim of the massacre. Then all hell let loose. I lost count of time. To this day, I live with the smell of the blood of my brethren that night. Even the heavens wept for the victims of this holocaust. Finally the bullets stopped (Udoka: 2014).
Nigeria murdered 3.1 million Igbo people or one-quarter of this nation’s population during the three phases of the genocide – 29 May 1966-12 January 1970.

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe