Sunday, June 7, 2020 4:01 pm
By Ademola Araoye
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Emmanuel Ellis and Tnika Tate are the lucky dead. They died not unrecorded as mere faceless statistic among the estimated 1240 persons that are wantonly killed annually by the police across the United States. Actually, the tally of the lives that institutionally are not valued and “don’t matter” and therefore susceptible to discretionary wastage, to deploy our local parlance, by individual white agents of the American state is not known. Although the Attorney General had since 1994 been instructed by United States Congress to keep statistical record of these deaths in the hands of the Police, no definitive records exists even in 2020. Informed speculation is that the overwhelming majority of these obscure faceless wasted are black. They are persons of African descent. They are African. The unlucky dead, mere insignificant statistic, don’t count except for some coarse tearful brouhaha in some obscure enclaves. They are bitterly mourned in the hearts of their loved ones who dwell in terrified communities. These brutal exterminations of lives are without telling consequences for the executioners who are most often while. That was the destiny of the unmerited dead until the public asphyxiation of George Floyd that was watched live by a horrified country. The public execution was brought to America’s living rooms by the ubiquitous television. And hell broke loose.
The brutally truncated life, full of trials and tribulations, of George Floyd are synonymous with the deep seated crisis of the United States of America. It also reenacted America’s old but still enduring dilemma of what to do with emancipated blacks. In the crippling challenge of race relations is embedded what has been described as the terrible birth defect of America. Yet this historic pathology at the very inception of the American society and state and an associated irresolvable dilemma in relation to its black citizens have also brought to the fore the seemingly irresolvable existential crisis of black humanity. The story replicates itself everywhere this abused and maligned humanity is found surviving, Everywhere black humanity survives as against thriving. By implication, the globally untenable circumstances of black communities everywhere are intrinsically linked to the up to now ostensibly immovable fallacies and the entrenched operative illogicalities of the homeland; an Africa rendered prostrate by its largely contrived internal contradictions.
The public lynching of Floyd et al, as has been demonstrated as only one episode in the appalling stream of similar publicized legalized killings of blacks by white agents of the American state, is the historic accepted norm. Unfortunately, the snuffing of the life of Floyd has come at a terrifying moment in a mass consciousness of the deteriorated global ethical and moral sensibilities in race relations. The unhinging of the ethical and moral moors of global society has translated into open advocacy of virulent white nationalism as a legitimate end of social and political policy across the globe. This major reversal in the ethical underpinnings of race relations in domestic and international life has been evident from Brazil in South America through Scandinavia to mainland Europe, Eastern and Western, to North America in Canada and the United States. The ugly tendency is also observable in the Middle East, including North Africa, where blacks are historically perceived as inferior to Arabs and still commodified for sale as a human beast of burden or for sexual gratification or both. It is not unusual since African men have been transported to northern Europe to service often old run down white women. The common denominator in this is the sharply depreciated value of black life and the visible, even if unspoken, mantra that black lives are cheap and expendable. Black lives exact little or no cost. There remains no iota of doubt in the sober realization that the extant state of affairs threatens the very existence of black humanity. The global outrage that the mindless execution of George Floyd has commanded may thus be the beginnings of a reawakening to the imperative need of a constancy and permanence of vigilance by all well meaning creations of God, black, brown or white. The global effort at revalidating the equality of all human strands of God’s creation is an urgent call. But there exists the paralyzing fear that beyond the galvanized symbolic mass call for action elicited by the execution of Floyd, the mobilized emotions would sooner than later subside and life will revert to the dangerous status quo.
Yet, at the present heights of the struggle riding the mobilization of raw and unfiltered emotions that have assailed the world on television screens in the last fortnight, the drive to real life black emancipation remains an uphill endeavor given the historical context of how the United States, or indeed, the entirety of the human race, ensnarled itself into this horrendous moment. As the good and truly godly human constituencies across the globe contemplate a counter offensive on these reversals that question the legitimacy of the wisdom of that one presumed infallible God, it is affirmed that the primary challenge in the redemption of black humanity lies in how Africa responds to this threat. The counter threat promises catastrophic consequences for any attempt to re-inflate the badly devalued integrity of black lives. The constancy of the horror associated with black existence, poignantly dramatized in the life and death George Floyd, impose on Africa a courageous critical soul search on its own culpability and undoubted responsibility in perpetuating the vulnerabilities of a whole race. The momentous failures of Africa impacts not only Africans resident on the continent but all hues of humanity with a drop of black blood outside the continental homeland. Africa’s main timeless character deficit remains its perpetual lack of courage, both physical and moral, to think and act right by itself. The dearth of courage implies Africa is afraid to think boldly and to break out of the constrictions of the imposed mold. It refuses to think robustly because it is, ab initio, frightened of the outcome of critical thinking. In the institutionalized absence of critical thinking, mediocrity is enthroned continentally. In this setting, the articulators of vision and major drivers of the direction of its trajectory are those enthroned best of the worst that is available in the face of the hemorrhage to foreign shores of the crème de la crème of its sons and daughters across all realms of continental life; politically, economically, intellectually, socially. In fact, even the jetsam and flotsam of prefer death by drowning in the oceans in their struggle to a certain inhuman servitude than die under the stringent impositions in the African environment. In Nigeria, the largest aggregation of black humanity in any given territorial space, one needs not look too far to confront a horrifying exemplar of this horrifying debilitating continental woe. Africa, at home and abroad, is not well served by the self contrived trauma of a giant castrated by its internal iniquities to a very predictable demise. But that is a story for another day.
For a start, the anti black mainstream narratives and clashing alternative progressive appreciations that set a context to this horrendous global moment of immeasurable black grief for an assumed one God of all mankind is crucial. Mainstream anti black narratives are forged by the right to ultra right analysts to drive an anticipated conservative resurgence to translate the defects of the beginnings and the sanguine and turbulent American odyssey into a plank for social policy. It is a deep seated consolidated context designed to rationalize, with view to validating, the horror of the American moment. More saliently, is the context of that narrative as a premise to stifle hope in the curing of America’s natal defect. The unvarnished candor in relation to white America’s historic understandings of its heritage has been again been articulated by Jerry Taylor of the American Renaissance; a powerful ultra conservative group dedicated to the idea of the original conception of the United States of America with it birth defects. Principally, Taylor debunks the progressive and revisionist notions that America at its inception was dedicated to the idea of equality of all races. He notes that nine of the first eleven presidents of the United States were slave owners. The exceptions were John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Slavery was pervasive, rather than the simplified version of slavery being an exclusive preserve of the southern states. The implication, in an unapologetic tone, is that the birth defect was national and not regional. From Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, none was sympathetic to the idea of the citizenship of blacks. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the often quoted phrase the “ all men are created equal”, held slaves and did not believe what now haunts his memory. James Madison wanted the United States government to buy up all the “useless and pernicious if not dangerous portion of the population (blacks)” to be deported to Africa. James Monroe, in whose honor the capital of Liberia, Monrovia is named, who is also associated with the American Colonization Society founders of Liberia, (ACS) was not out to liberate blacks. He was more concerned about preventing the mixture of blacks and white. The removal to Liberia and Haiti of blacks was in conformity with the policy of “Blacks Out, Whites In” that was the dominant national sentiment. The original American Constitution limited citizenship to only free white persons. It was not until 1868 that the Constitution was amended to grant citizenship to blacks. These historical facts are recalled in 2020 to buttress the resurgence of anti black neo conservatism in the United States, More importantly, the timing of the release suggests that it is to counter the now vociferous claims that “Black Lives Matter”.
That black lives matter and the assault on the integrity of black identity resonates or should resonate beyond the shores of America. All black lives emanate from Africa. Blacks are the dominant population in Africa. Africa is the home of blacks. The rise of global conservative ideology poses an existential challenge to all Africans. So the challenge to defend the integrity of blacks falls squarely on Africa. Given the state of Africa, it can be expected that Africa is not prepared to meet this historic challenge. This massive lack of preparedness by Africa at a critical juncture in the evolution of global sentiments with a real possibility of the institutional and formal devaluation of the integrity of black lives should elicit a sober and candid analysis of its role in sustaining the historic vulnerability that have wreaked catastrophic consequences in its history. A robust interrogative analysis of the uncomfortable facts around Africa is required. We submit that the most debilitating defect of Africa is a pervasive moral cowardice to do right by itself. The operation and dynamics of the continent are premised on atrocious false axioms that merely serve to perpetuate the global sense of the inferiority of the black race. The outcome is the criminal negligence that is expressed in the abysmal incapacity to protect its people. Against the resurgence of open animosity to blackness, Africa is criminally incapable of providing a credible, secure alternative home for its embattled children. That must radically change within a very tight timeframe.
The imperative of radical change demands a first critical point. This is the acknowledgment of Africa’s current numerous sovereignties as mere convenient fictions. African states are traumatic falsehoods like a joke carried too far. The nightmarish joke has cost black humanity incalculable pain in misery, blood and tears, including the contempt and unwarranted killings of all with a drop of black blood across the globe. The continued unquestioning embrace of this falsehood is reminiscent of African kings profiting from slavery and selling off the best human asset for a pitiable piece of mirror. The whole of black Africa is organized as slave camps in territorial spaces inviolable to every other slave master. That’s the notion of sovereignty in Africa. In all the various camps called states a few elites at all levels plunder the wealth. And they kill too in the process of appropriating the totality of the inherited territorial space. There is thus a reason to the illogical defence of the status quo expressed in the fictive sovereignty of their various slave camps.
In 1963, the strident demand for a unified continental state by visionary pan Africanists was derailed by the forefathers of these contemporary slave headmen who call themselves leaders. The Organization of African Unity that emerged was a compromise stop gap to work towards a one integrated political entity. Half a century of internal ravages later, rather than consolidate the people, the African Union is formed with a timeframe of another half a century to achieve continental integration. That would mean a total of a hundred year uncertain journey to political consolidation. Another half century of sanctioned state criminality still led by a discredited elite in the slave camps against all peoples of African descent. From the analytical viewpoint of classic Pan Africanism, this fangled AU is the very opposite of pan Africanism in fossilizing those externally imposed political divisions that authentic pan Africanism sought to cure. The same logic or illogic, the same forces and the same operational dynamics continue to hold down Africa. The rhetoric of rationalizing the AU, as pan Africanism institution is fostered largely by quack intellectuals feeding fat from the crumbs off the table of the slave camp headmen. In their convenient intellectual dishonesty, they provide nonsensical rationalizations as accessories to the criminality of the African slave camps. They exhibit an incredible elasticity in the capacity to rationalize evil. There is also a whole cargo of bureaucrats fixated on making a living. It is admittedly a difficult political economy to dislodge, but the larger interest or the continental and racial public good must prevail.
The continental and racial public good with immeasurable urgency is building structures, however imperfect, to guarantee that anyone with a drop of black blood in the African Diaspora has a home in, ideally, anywhere in Africa. But given the realities on ground, this could be on the basis of the extant nebulous states that are floating aimlessly around. This proposed structure is not another mechanism to fleece Africans abroad who seek emotional connection to the homeland. It is an investment in the emotional stability of the black race and in the re-inflation of the depreciated value of the integrity of the black identity all over the world. It calls for the creation of a permanent Commission for the Return, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of the African Diaspora (CRRRAD). The Commission would define the operational parameters and manage the RRRDA program. This incentivized return from the Diaspora would entail setting up a large fund, housed in a specialized financial institution dedicated to the cause of rehabilitating and reintegration, to help resettle and fund projects related to and proposed by returning blacks. The CRRRDA would be responsible for providing tentative homes for returnees in need. Among other considerations would that a specified percentage of all government contracts for all projects must be reserved for black owned enterprises in the Diaspora, initially even at less than competitive terms. A returnee must enjoy full citizenship rights that must be constitutionally guaranteed. This massive priority project should be jointly managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs. The idea is to signal to the black Diaspora that there is credible welcoming alternative home in Africa. Nigeria, our warts and all, is still well placed to set the pace on this noble enterprise. Given the current climate no let up in anti black sentiment in the United States can be realistically anticipated. The open animosity to black identity is too deep seated to be completely uprooted a liberal administration that succeeds the current anti black government. That is, if that happens.
In the CRRRDA, Nigeria would be starting a historic process with unimaginable possibilities for the total and holistic emancipation of black humanity. It also promises incalculable potential for the transform