By Dr. Ignatius Odianosen Okosun (PhD).
Afri was a Latin name used to refer to the inhabitants of Africa, which in its widest sense referred to all lands south of the Mediterranean (Ancient Libya).This name seems to have originally referred to a native Libyan tribe. The name is usually connected with Hebrew or Phoenician ʿafar ‘dust’, but a 1981 hypothesis has asserted that it stems from the Berber ifri (plural ifran) “cave”, in reference to cave dwellers. The same word may be found in the name of the Banu Ifran from Algeria and Tripolitania, a Berber tribe originally from Yafran (also known as Ifrane) in northwestern Libya.
Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.3 million km² (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers six per cent of Earth’s total surface area and 20.4 per cent of its total land area. With 1.1 billion people as of 2013, it accounts for about 15% of the world’s human population.
The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognized sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition.
However, the awful exit of Britain from the European Union has compelled me to choose this important piece. The sudden reality of the exit of the United Kingdom from its alliance with the European Union holds great ramifications for the future of Europe and the rest of the global village that is the 21st-century world. However the deep-seated evolution of this impending split, it holds special relevance for Africa and other countries with great diversity, as to the solution to divisions and angst that always dog plurality in these challenged sociologies.
An earlier referendum for Scottish Independence produced a result couched in realism and level-headedness. However, as political opportunists in the British Conservative and the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) smelt blood and the opportunism provided by economic recession, wage inequality and the fear of uncontrolled immigration reminiscent of the “Rivers of Blood” prophesy of Collin Powell, the racist Conservative MP of a previous era, they moved in to reap from the angst of a befuddled and mostly politically and intellectually challenged voting public , to entice the United Kingdom out of the comfort and certainty of the European Union.
Almost immediately after the outcome and of the Brexit referendum became apparent, the ramifications of this decision dawned on the British people and sanity immediately returned to the masses, now realising that they were fed lies and innuendo by the sleek politicians that always want to reap from the disenchantment of the people with their reality
Britain has chosen to take a monumental risk. There is nothing wrong with taking risks. It is part of growing up as a people. They will learn from it in the long run, either positively or negatively.
Russia was once very powerful but it had its influenced greatly whittled down after its cataclysmic breakup. I am sure the old people of Soviet Union would wish to turn the direction of the clock backward and bring back those good old days.
Russia has been fighting back trying to bully and re-annexe its old family members once upon a time. But it is no longer a simple matter. No matter its regret today, it must live with the consequences of allowing a once powerful nation to dismember itself in a fit of recklessness.
That is why all those calling for the collapse of Africa as one continent should take a pause and think through the acute frustrations that may have necessitated their clamor for confederation or outright secession and consider the consequences.
However, I am almost certain that if a referendum is to hold in Africa today to consider a renegotiation of the statehood of the continent many would vote for an immediate dissolution without a blink. What is very unfortunate is the fact that this decision would not be based on any hard fact or guarantee that this action would bring long-lasting peace or progress to the reconfigured nation-states.
I dare say that whatever entities are created would soon find themselves bedevilled by the same assumed ills that would have caused the cataclysm and collapse in the first place. I have always postulated that if Africa should fall into the temptation of falling apart, we may find up to a thousand countries within a single continent.
The reason is very simple. We are all very strong-headed and self-opinionated. We want things our own individual ways. Any other way is no way. That is why we use religious, ethnic, political and social excuses to cause mayhem in our polity when the real reason for our disaffection is our personal ambition and greed.
It does not matter to us that the ultimate result of our actions would be to the detriment of the generality of the people as long as we perceive that in the long run there would be something in it for us. That is what we are. But this selfish attitude must change. Some of the greatest countries on earth including the United States of America and Canada are all massive. This is not to say smaller countries cannot make it. It is this ‘smallness is good’ mentality that is one of the reasons that I find the success of Brexit in the British referendum amazing.
I still cannot fathom how a continent that once prided itself in controlling empires spanned almost all the continents of the world would now lessen itself to one that is contented to remain in its little corner of the world fighting imaginary enemies.
Whatever contrary view you hold, at least in their own case you will find that the reason why the majority chose to go the way they did was largely a result of patriotic zeal rather than self-gratification.
My religious instinct always tells me that Africa was not created big for the fun of it. It was for a purpose, and it is one that we shall realise in the fullness of time. Why should we use divisive methods to annihilate such a formidable continent because of the rascality of a few people? We can never strive in the global fight for recognition if we allow politicians to separate us for personal aggrandizement.
Our core values have always been “strength in unity and diversity”. This is not a contradiction in terms. It is what makes cosmopolitan cities and countries survive what would otherwise be loaded time bombs in their corporate structures and existence
As a continent our favourite inspirations has been drawn from great postulations including ‘Africa Must Unite’ by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, a former President of Ghana and struggles of great men like late Nelson Mandela of South Africa. We always ponder on what inspired them to come up with their “hypothesis on Africa” but I was undoubtedly inspired by the position canvassed by them. You can imagine my excitement when the countries of West Africa decided to come together and promote economic ties and freedom of movement of their diverse citizens. But decades after this glorious union, we are yet to take full advantage of that beautiful vision of the founding fathers of Economic Community of West Africa States.
It is pertinent for Africa to embrace the foresighted advice of Dr Nkrumah. Africans should stop waiting for crumbs from donor nations. Africa is richly blessed with human and mineral resources. The expertise required to develop can be sourced from different parts of Africa. I believe that our human resources capabilities are one of the best in the world.
If precisely harnessed and channelled to productive sectors of the African economy, the people of the continent would be much better for the effective and efficient utilisation of the abundant natural resources. The investments we desperately seek in Europe and America can be found in Africa. African leaders must be willing and ready to provide the enabling environment for business to flourish.
One of the ways in which the continent of Africa can spout into the rich collection of human talent that abounds within its fold is to positively encourage migration of its citizens from one country to another by removing all impediments and obstacles that would militate against free movement and by implication wealth creation.
There is no justification for some African countries to waive visas for European and American countries while insisting African passports must go through the horrendous process of obtaining visas. It is demeaning in all its ramifications. For a start African passport holders must be approved to enjoy visa-on-arrival facility in every part of the continent. This should be the goal of the African Union. It is gratifying to know that some leader have already put plans in place for this great initiative.
President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, vision of pushing such a laudable agenda in this age of global xenophobia epitomised by the Brexit campaign in Great Britain and the emergence of the openly racist and bigoted phenomenon that is Donald Trump in the United States of America should be appreciated. In this regard, President John Dramani Mahama has demonstrated an uncommon courage by breaking down one of the walls of superstitions that have divided us for far too long and other African leaders must emulate this positive gesture.
According to Nelson Mandela “Difficulties there are, and we do not underestimate them. To name but some of them: we have to find ways of ensuring that growth translates into employment; that the region – and the African continent – secures an equitable share of world trade; and that investment into the region matches its record in creating an ideal destination for investment. Overcome these difficulties we must. The fact that poverty and deprivation continue to define the condition of most of our region and of humanity is an indictment of the past from which we are emerging. But should we fail to build the partnerships for development in Africa which can eradicate these scourges, then history will make a harsh judgment upon us too”
Dr. Ignatius Okosun is a researcher, prolific writer on various national/global issues and a social commentator. From: Toronto-Canada. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org