Liberty And The Traditional African System – Peter Ojo

Liberty is the freedom of the human spirit. There are no barriers and there are no bottlenecks! You can do whatever you like, at anytime you like, however you like, and at any place that you like, in as much as you don’t interfere with the ability of others to do the same.

It starts with the realization that you have a dignity, and some call it pride. Dignity prevents you from begging, it stops you from stealing, it tells you that you must be able to cater for yourself and your family, and stop them from suffering from hunger and disease, and hold your head high. These are fundamental moral principles, which have always formed the core value of traditional African communities.

Because our forefathers, and of course, our present African parents, are molded by these principles, they know they have to labour. Have you ever heard of the saying that there is dignity in labour?

Our African forefathers were willing to work. They farmed, and so they had enough, first to cater for themselves, and then to assist the needy in the communities. And if there were anything they could not produce by themselves, they exchanged what they had with what they lacked. You remember Trade by Batter? It is an African System. That is the spirit of voluntary exchange, creating mutual benefits. Our forefathers did not steal – it smeared their dignity, and they did not loot community fund in their care nor did they force their fellow kinsmen, to take care of their personal problems.

My mother told me, that our forefathers used to go from our village to another village, to cultivate yam, and cassava, which they made into garri. As you might guess – there were property rights. The land did not belong to the community chiefs, it belonged to every member of the community, who is free to give it to anyone he deemed fit to put it to productive uses.

And then, they gave the produce of their farms to their wives who carried it on their heads, to the upper part of the Niger river, and exchanged them for fish and shrimps. And as you probably might be wondering, they did not need any police escorts or guards, and there was no custom duty to pay. That is the spirit of free market and the core principle of true prosperity.

You know what? That was how the true African communities, the communities of our forefathers, were before the coming of the West – the colonial “task masters”. It was peaceful, and there were no restrictions and one could dream without fears of bottlenecks, and you could create a better life for yourself using your own hand and skills, and give the excess of your abundance to help your community, without anybody forcing you to do that. And mind you, they did not claim to serve any “true God/god”; however, they were subject to their “true conscience”.

But what happened when they came to Africa, I mean the colonial masters? They told our fathers that they were living in darkness, and that they have brought a special kind of light. They destabilized our free, peaceful, mutually benefitting economic system. They impose their greedy, wanton, self-seeking and self-serving, restrictive economic shackles.

If they had brought light, why did they carry our people away as slaves? And when the truly enlightened fought them, and brought geographical liberation, they devised some other means to enslave us, but this time in a more subtle way. They told us we need to live together as one, and have a “commonwealth” when obviously we have different blood running in our veins.

Of course, they knew what they were doing. They were just using us as objects, stepping stones, to achieving their selfish ulterior motives of siphoning our enormous natural/mineral resources to feed their insatiable appetite for economic survival, luxury, and exquisite lifestyles.

And then the truly enlightened Africans rose against them and their demeaning antics. They fought for our “true independence.” But yet, the white colonial masters were not through with us. They devised yet another means of enslaving us, this time; it seems it is going to last for a long time.

They promised to help us. They claimed to have the complete solutions to all of Africans problems and misery. They brought their religion which they claimed would liberate us from the demons that are troubling Africa. They brought their medicine, which they claim would cure all of African’s diseases. They brought their education which they promised would better equip us “to be fit for the job market”; by the way, they never told us to create the job market in the first place.

They brought their political system, which they claimed is the best for solving all of human conflicts. Of course, they told us their market system is the best way to create wealth and prosperity, but they did not tell us it creates greed and leaves the participants with bitterness, unfairness, and destroy our environment and sources of livelihood.

By the time all of their lies started coming to our knowledge, they quickly coined another mercenary: Financial Aid for African. Of course, these are supposed to help us fight poverty and misery, to help us build better education institutions, have a better healthcare facilities, a world-class state security force. But we, and they, know better than that.

Today, we know what Africa is like. How we are ravaged by war, poverty, underdevelopment, hunger, diseases, unending power struggles, corruption, insecurity, poor educational system, illiteracy, and all these are happening in spite of our rich natural resource, unimaginable revenue from oil boom, and of course, foreign aid, and the many promises of westernization.

So what happened, what went wrong? The truth is westernization is not civilization; and westernization does not translate to development.

Truth be told, civilization has brought tremendous benefits to Africa. It has helped us to refine and develop our traditional systems; it has helped us in better education, which should have translated to self-empowerment to adopt our own thinking, and our own solution to solving our own problems.

And that is the opposite of westernization – keeping us perpetually dependent on some external forces or systems or methodology to provide solution to our problem. Westernization will never help us.

The solutions to all of African’s problems lies in Africanism – adopting African solutions to solving African problem. Or put in another way, adapting and modifying western models and systems to African contexts in solving African problems.

There is no system (political, military, economical, social, legal) that the West are introducing to Africa that we don’t already have, traditionally.

If they really want to help us, let them stop all their interference, in all its various forms, particularly, “aid to Africa”; and let them leave us to take our destiny into our own hands, by adopting the traditional system, of our forefathers, to solving our own problems.

– Peter Ojo

Views expressed above are solely that of the author

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In the beginning...Let there be Light

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