Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Readings from Reading
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature (Dakar & Reading: African Renaissance, 2011), ISBN 9780955205019, paperback, 236pp., £19.95/US$29.95/CDN$30.68/EUR23,99/￥2,580
The essays here in Readings from Reading underscore Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe’s continuing optimism about the possibilities of Africans constructing post-“Berlin-states” as the launch pad to transform the topography of the African renaissance. Readings from Reading is a timely publication, coming on the eve of the historic January 2011 referendum in south Sudan in which the people of the region will choose to vote to restore their national independence or get stuck hopelessly in the Sudan, the first of the “Berlin-states” that Africans tragically “inherited” in January 1956. Ekwe-Ekwe insists that the contemporary Africa state, imposed on Africans by a band of European conqueror-states and currently run by what the author describes as a “shard of disreputable African regimes to exploit and despoil the continent’s human and material resources”, cannot serve African interests. The legacy, as this study demonstrates, has indeed been catastrophic: “The [African] overseers pushed the states into even deeper depths of genocidal and kakistocratic notoriety in the past 54 years as the grim examples of particularly Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan ... depressingly underscore. 15 million Africans have been murdered by African-led regimes in these states and elsewhere in Africa since the Igbo genocide of 1966-1970”. Ekwe-Ekwe argues that there is no future for African progress, especially in ensuring that the peoples, themselves, exercise an unfettered self-governing ability to develop their lives, reconstruct centuries of a battered heritage and transform their societies, except Africans dismantle the “Berlin-state” on the continent. This state remains a conqueror’s/conquest principality as its original creators have indeed sought and reinforced unrelentingly and cannot, therefore, respect not to talk of safeguard the human rights of African peoples. On the contrary, the future for Africans predicates on an extensive sociopolitical decentralisation process where constituent nations, however “small”, exercise their inalienable right to control and develop their human and natural resources and decide, freely, on the nature of the relationship that they wish to establish with their neighbours and those elsewhere in the world.
Readings from Reading is an engaging, incisive, wide-ranging and multidisciplinary discourse, salient features that have come to define Ekwe-Ekwe’s groundbreaking scholarship of the past three decades. The author covers an assemblage of diverse topics and themes which include the Igbo genocide, the Jos massacres in central Nigeria, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab’s failed attempt to blow up an incoming aircraft over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, African presence in Britain, Robert Mugabe, Muammar Gaddafi, Obafemi Awolowo, Omar al-Bashir, Yoweri Museveni, Charles Taylor, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ali Mazrui, Andrew Young, the G8 and Africa, Africa “debt”, African émigrés’ remittances to Africa, “sub-Sahara Africa”, reparations to Africans, African representation on the UN Security Council, African choices for the Nobel Peace Prize, Africa and the International Criminal Court, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, the Sudan and the Congo, arms to Africa, arms-ban on Africa. Finally, on the subject of the restoration-of-independence, the key connecting thread that links all the visitations, Ekwe-Ekwe critically examines the contributions made variously on this cord by an impressive line up of some of the very best and brightest of African intellectuals: Achebe, Adichie, Césaire, Damas, Coltrane, Diop, Equiano, Ngũgĩ, Okigbo, Senghor.
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