(Professor Ifeanyi Menkiti)
Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Universidade de Fortaleza (paper presented at conference on “Rawls in Africa” in honour of Professor Ifeanyi Menkiti’s outstanding career as professor of philosophy at Wellesley College, Saturday 10 May 2014)
The most reasonable principles of justice are those everyone would accept and agree to form a fair position – John Rawls
Political instability undermines human and economic development. And the more that economic and human development is undermined, the more disordered the political situation becomes, creating a vicious circle – Ifeanyi Menkiti
(http://www.utexas.edu/conferences/africa/ads/1519a.html, accessed 18 January 2014) and notes that “Nkrumah, in hindsight, appears to [be] more right than he imagined though not for the reasons he imagined”. I couldn’t agree more with Professor Menkiti and it this “though not for the reasons” that Kwame Nkrumah “imagined” that I wish to reflect on in my paper today. I will situate the presentation within the overarching banner of the Rawlsian reference above.
(Thelonious Monk Quartet, “Misterioso” [personnel: Monk, piano; Johnny Griffin, tenor saxophone; Ahmed Abdul-Malik, bass; Roy Haynes, drums; recorded: live, Five Spot Café, New York, US, 7 August 1958])
African countries, unsurprisingly, fare most poorly at each and across these 12 crucial variables at the centre of the fund’s research, but particularly in the following, with the inescapable crushing consequences on the lives and wellbeing of the peoples:
[accessed 2 July 2013]): 16 out of the world’s “worst 20 states”; 20 out of the “worst 30 states”; 34 (well over one-half of all the continent’s so-called sovereign states) of the “worst 54 states”. It is not inconceivable, given this rate of state failure, that in the next six years, by the time the beginning of the next decade, 2020, “54 out of the worst 54 states” in the world could be in
This is vital in the discourse to the effect that a state, such as
Those crucial African capital exports referred to earlier, legitimate or/and illegitimate, are funds of gargantuan proportions produced by the same humanity that many a commentator or campaign project would be quick to categorise as “poor” and “needy” for “foreign aid”. In the past 30 years, these funds could and should easily have provided a comprehensive healthcare programme across Africa, the establishment of schools, colleges and skills’ training, the construction of an integrative communication network, the transformation of agriculture to abolish the scourge of malnutrition, hunger and starvation, and, finally, it would have stemmed the emigration of 25 million Africans, including crucial sectors of the continent’s middle classes and intellectuals to the Americas, Europe, Asia and elsewhere in the world since the 1980s.
In a sentence: The African humanity currently generates, overwhelmingly, the capital resource that at once sustains its very existence and is intriguingly exported to the Western World. It is precisely the same humanity that those who benefit immeasurably from this conundrum (over several decades and are guaranteed to benefit indefinitely from it, except this is stopped by Africans) have consistently portrayed, quite perversely, as a “charity case”. The notion that Africans are in any way dependent on a European World/Western World or any other overseas’s “handout” is at best a myth or at worst an all-out lie – perpetuated by a circle of academics and in the media who in fact in the not-too-distant-past would have been in the vanguard “justifying”/“rationalising” African enslavement or/and the conquest and occupation of Africa.
Crucial reminders: rich
http://www.stopafricalandgrab.com/author/emeka-akaezuwa/[accessed 14 May 2013]).
It is an inexplicable and inexcusable tragedy that any African child, woman, or man could go without food in the light of the staggering endowment of resources in
Aimé Césaire, the poet, playwright and essayist, once told an interviewer (Annick Thebia Melson, “The liberating power of words: An interview with Poet Aimé Césaire”, The Journal of Pan-African Studies, Vol. 2, No 4, June 2008,
http://www.jpanafrican.com/docs/vol2no4/2.4_The_Liberating_Power_of_Words.pdf [accessed 26 February 2014]) during one of those illuminating discourses of his on history: “History is always dangerous, the world of history is a risky world; but it is up to us at any given moment to establish and readjust the hierarchy of dangers” (2008: 7). It is indeed in the very course to disrupt and “readjust” this hierarchy in this age of pestilence in the “cursed” (Davidson, 1992) “Berlin-state” in favour of Africa and African peoples that the constituent Africa nation or people (Igbo, Darfuri, Gikuyu, Wolof, Ibibio, Bakongo, Jola, Mongo, Akan, Luba, Ndebele, Mende, Serer, Bamileke, etc., etc) – so long maligned, so long impoverished, so long brutalised, so long humiliated and dehistoricised with often unprintable epithets (t****, n****, n*****, n******, p********, b******, w**, sub-*******, sub-*****, e*****, c***, c******, m*****, d******, h*******, f******-b******, b****, m***, b********, c*******, b*********…), so long massacred, is recognised, at last, as the principal actor and agency of its being and geography.
So, for all African peoples or nations, the message on the unfurled banner for their freedom march couldn’t be more confident and focused: “We are because we are free; We are free because we are”. Abandon the “Berlin-state” now. Create your own state today, now. Now is the time! This nation, this people, can and should create its own state if it so desires. Freedom. It is its inalienable right.
(http://re-thinkingafrica.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/rights-for-scots-rights-for-igbo.html [accessed 1 May 2014].)
It does not, therefore, have to explain to anyone else why it has embarked on this track of freedom. It can now decide what precepts, what aspirations, what trajectory, what goals, it has set its new state to embark upon. As Césaire deftly puts it in the interview referred to, the challenges of the times become the “quest to reconquer something, our name (sic), our country … ourselves” (2008: 2).
Thus, the pressing point to reiterate here 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, now, 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 F Nzegwu has described, succinctly, as the “indigenous spaces of real Africa” (Nzegwu, Love, Motherhood and the African Heritage, 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.
***Refined columbite-tantalite, coltan, is critical in the manufacture of a range of small electronic equipment including, particularly, laptop computers and mobile phones; 80 per cent of the world’s reserves of this mineral is in the
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