Buhari, Pan Africanism And The Sahelian Drought

By Ikenga Chronicles December 30, 2019

–By Agha Egwu

Whether you call him President or Major General is irrelevant and a pittance to what the Punch Newspaper has done in promoting the coming of this Government to power. President Buhari will go right ahead with what he wants to do, irrespective of the new self-serving, puny protests of the Lagos Press. They laid their beds, together with Sowore, let them lie in it.

Zik of Africa was an enfant terrible to the British Empire. Under the tutelage of the Marcus Garvey movement in the United States, he saw the black race as one. A people enslaved on every continent. He swore to liberate his race, and with the lacerating sting of his pen, he sent withering missiles at the British Empire and awoke leaders across Africa. New dreamers like Nkrumah of Ghana, Kenyatta of Kenya, Nyerere of Tanzania all rose up across Africa and fought for the liberation of their people from colonialism.

Zik just saw the unified suffering of the blackman, and together with other fighters for Independence sought to liberate us. Our freedom today, from the Empires of Europe can be laid at the tips of their pens and barrels of their guns.

When Zik first returned to Africa, he began in Ghana, then came to Nigeria. He saw all Africa as one and did not differentiate between Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Asante, Kikuyu or Zulu. He was so pan-africanist that he was competing for elective posts amongst the Yoruba people of Lagos, and winning. He teamed up with Herbert Macaulay, a Yoruba man, to form NCNC, a great national Party that sort to unite all tribes of Nigeria till they ran full blast into the hard rock cliff face called tribalism.

If Zik had continued with his pan-africanism with Emperor Haile Selasie of Ethiopia in the Organisation of African Unity, with visionaries like Nkrumah and Kenyatta, Africa may perhaps have had greater cooperation now.

But it was not to be. These early visionaries were cut down by all combinations of religion, ideology and vacuous military men in coups and counter coups that was to make Africa a continent riddled with crushing poverty.

Within 6 years of Independence, Nigeria was plunged into a genocidal war of frightening proportions spurn by religion, tribalism and myopic militarism. We have never survived as the early pan-africanism of the Ziks, Nrumahs and Nyereres died with them.

Recently there has been a new spate of pan-africanism. A pan-africanism that may be driven by different considerations from the idealisms of Zik, Nkrumah and Sellasie.

In the Sahel of West Africa, stretching from Central African Republic through Niger Republic, Mali to Mauritania live the Fulani with their cattle and the Tuaregs with their camels. There are 100s of other tribes. Most are Muslims. Some are animist. They are a people made tough, wiry, angry and hard by the desert they live in.

Sometimes they will have rain and collect waters in their villages. These rains will provide grain and water for the rest of the year, but the sun will return to burn up the craggen earth. The Sahara desert has now expanded to cover the Sahel of Niger Republic. Those people now have dry homelands. The green has disappeared and grass for their cattle and grain for the people are permanently gone. Thousands are dying.

There is a huge humanitarian disaster. From a purely humane point of view help is needed, but something else is happening. They are looking South to the green fields and rain forests of Nigeria and want to enter and become a part of it, possess it or to take it by force. Restless young men and women have joined Islamic militant groups and interpreted the situation in religions terms. Many hungry young men are being recruited by ISIS. Some have just become robbers and joined the gangs in our forests we sometimes wrongly call Fulani Herdsmen or Fulani militia. Some are just plain bandits.

Enter Buhari with new ideas of a pan-African dream and opens all our doors to all Africans to come to Nigera. This idea was announced in Egypt. When it was announced I felt a certain elation that this could be the first step of the pan-africanism of Zik, Nkrumah, Walter Rodney and all the ideological inspirers of a United Africa.

But then this was hatched in Egypt, the home of the Muslim Brother Hood, but also of the Arab Spring. I thought this policy will open doors for the millions of hungry, desperate honest citizens of the Sahel who just want food, water and a way of living. But then it will also open doors to all the religious gun-toting nuts across the Sahel who believe in an Islamic dream to conquer the South of West Africa and the Southern parts of Africa.

Although this religious dream shall in time, collapse like ISIS in Iraq or like Al Bashir’s Sudan, but by the time it’s over, thousands, even millions, will die in a religious quest to emptiness.

Still, I wondered what was the true reason for this policy that on paper looked like the Nigerian big brother is taking a first step in the direction of uniting Africa. But again it could be that Buhari with ancestral roots in Niger Republic just wants to help his tribal cousins stranded in the Sahel. The second reason would not be that bad, but it could be better if it was managed by the United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS without threats of RUGA and Cattle Colonies.

Then Buhari returned from Egypt and in less than a week summoned some Northern Governors on a trip to Niger Republic. When I first heard this I smiled. From Egypt to Niger? What could be the connection?

I do not know what the future holds. I pray it will be a rosy, cozy exchange with our neighbours. But somehow I feel: This is not the pan-africanist dream of Zik and Nkrumah. The omens portend something, perhaps, more ominous. Something the Punch, The Nation, Sahara Reporters and the entire Lagos compromised Press, should seriously be investigating, if they have truly suddenly woken up to their responsibilities to the nation, rather than calling a General, a Major-General; wondering how we got where; or playing student politics in the name of revolution.

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