NewsReel 29/9/13 - Tower of Babel: Nigeria And Africa's Future Lies in self determination

 [ Masterweb Reports: Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu reports ] –  The Bible is a great book of wisdom that captures all human experiences within it. The “Tower of Babel”  which is a famous biblical story of a community with a single language that set out to build a city and tower  that would be tall enough to reach into the heavens and how that audacious project was scuttled through the introduction of different languages is symbolic of the near impossibility of building a nation from a contradiction of languages and cultures. In Genesis chapter 11 verse 6, 7, 8, the lord said, “behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have decided to do.”  “Let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  “So the lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off building the city.”


As the biblical story aptly demonstrates, all it took to destroy the solidarity and harmony of an ambitious community trying to build a city and the tallest building in the world was to change their language. It is a symbolic testament to the real time experience and impossibility of Nigeria and most African nations created through colonial fiat without considering the implications of the ethnic and religious divides.  Soon after independence Nigeria and most African nations plunged into genocide/ ethnic cleansing and sustained conflicts across ethnic and religious lines. Not surprisingly, more than 90% of African conflicts since the post-colonial period have been internal civil/tribal wars, with different ethnic and religious groups pitted against each other in endless battles that most often come with shocking barbarities and human rights violations. From Nigeria which infamously pioneered genocide in Africa, to Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Congo, Chad, Uganda and Central African Republic amongst others,  Africa has been in an endless inferno of unrelenting conflicts. 


The consequence is an African continent  with countries  that lacking the cultural homogeneity,  solidarity and harmony needed for development has remained stagnated, undeveloped and locked in perpetual strife. Like the Tower of Babel, the inherited contradictions in Nigeria and most African countries have ensured that the different ethnic nationalities and religious groups spend all their time devising how to subjugate, dominate, marginalise and even kill members of other ethno-religious groups and no time on development. Consequently the greatest factors of marginalisation, poverty and inhibitions to development in Nigeria and Africa are from within each individual country.  Nigeria and most of Africa was quite simply created to fail.


The 1884 Berlin conference that arbitrarily carved Africa into lines of colonial control without any consideration for cultural and religious homogeneity must count as one of the most callous, selfish and immoral acts in history, second only to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. That single perfidious act created an African continent with nations designed to fail from the onset and it wasn’t done from ignorance.  Europeans for several centuries fought wars on ethnic and religious divides that sought to define and claim sovereignty on the basis of their cultural identities. The 1648 peace of Westphalia and subsequent treaties established the concept of nation states anchored on cultural identities from whence the evolution of European states as nation states founded on cultural homogeneity and autonomy commenced.  Indeed the evolution of European states into culturally homogenous nation states has continued apace into the 21st century with newly independent   Eastern European nations such as Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania and more than 10 new nations in the last two decades. In the West of Europe, Scotland is scheduled to hold a referendum on independence from Britain in 2014. Thus the 1884 European cabal and subsequent colonial and post colonial administrations that took and upheld the inglorious decision to marry alien ethnic and religious cultures in a combustible brew in Africa knew the consequences. 


It was a deliberate decision designed to keep Africa in perpetual crisis mode and consequent underdevelopment. The price has been high in blood and human suffering with estimates of more than 10 million dead, 11 million maimed and another 5 million displaced as a result of conflicts since the post-colonial era. The ravages of poverty, famine, preventable/ treatable diseases and social dislocation is also estimated to have killed more than 30 million and consigned more than  200 million to total penury.  The blood, gore and human suffering occasioned by the contradictions of most African countries have been apocalyptic.


The failed states syndrome is also more endemic. There are more failed states in Africa than anywhere else with the increasing danger that such states could become outposts of global terrorism.  In light of the evident  contradictions  and consequent  tragedy of African nations, the future of Nigeria and Africa’s lies in self determination  through the ambit of international  law as established in the 1941,1945 and 1960 United Nations  charter  for  ethnic nationalities  who so desire. A peaceful redefinition of boundaries organised and supervised by the United Nations through democratic means to create more culturally homogenous nation states   that can ensure a measure of socio- political stability and economic prosperity.


Nigeria and Africa must travel Europe’s well travelled road of self determination to be saved from eventual collapse. This can easily be done through respecting the existing tenets of international law as it concerns self determination. There needs to be a genuine apolitical reckoning with the mistakes of Africa’s colonial birthing and take urgent steps to correct them in the interest of global security. The present situation where countries like Nigeria and other African countries continue to force nationhood on unwilling ethnic nationalities is unsustainable in the long term and a threat to global security.  Africa can only become stable and prosperous when the rights of all the ethnic nationalities are recognised and respected by way of self determination.  Then and only then can Africa join the comity of nations in contributing to world peace and prosperity.  The time is now!


Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu ( ).


*Photo Caption - Tower of Babel.

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