The past week has been hard for me. Many things have happened that have required a strong response from African intellectuals all around the world. Things like Greece thinking of leaving the Euro zone (and becoming a poor, third world country, and cheap holiday resort for Germans), like white Rachel Dolezal colouring herself brown at the age of five and reading Baratunde Thurstons’s “How To Be Black” and emerging from white ashes to become a black woman, like America donating 5 million dollars to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram (yes 5 million not 5 billion), like the president of Sudan, Al-Bashir leaving South Africa in spite of a court order stating that he must not leave the country before a warrant for his arrest was considered.
Many Africans have gone head to head and ended up insulting each other because of differing positions. I think there should be a weekly meeting of Africans online to decide what our position on global issues will be.
Let us take the case of the Sudanese president for example. Some Africans were of the opinion that Omar al-Bashir should have been handed over to the ICC to face the music for war crimes in his country. They made passionate arguments about how he allegedly killed hundreds thousands of people and should be locked away for good. They called him a war criminal and demanded justice. They urged the South African government to respect the court order preventing him from leaving the country. But somehow, after shopping, Bashir drove to the airport and left. I don't know what he bought. Maybe he bought some Jack Daniels which I hear is hard to find in Khartoum. Or maybe some good chocolate and designer wristwatches for his wives. In Hausa we say, zato zunubi ne. Assumption is a sin. It is Ramadan. I will not sin.
Now, there are other Africans who loved the fact that the South African government bumped fists with al-Bashir and told him he could shop and leave whenever he wanted. They complained about the ICC and the West being selective about the application of international justice. They cited the cases of George Bush and the American government who, knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, invaded Iraq and turned the country into the mess it is in today. They said that we do not need white people telling us what we can or cannot do. That we do not need white people enforcing justice in Africa. That it is disrespectful for the South African government to invite al-Bashir and then turn around and arrest him just because white people said so.
The arguments made me dizzy. Respected African intellectuals were on different sides of the debate. And me, I had made a resolution in 2015 not to take part in these kinds of arguments. I have resolved to make peace with all persons. So I watched as people quarrelled. Black people. This is what got to me. White people weren't fighting. White people always know what they want. For example, look at how the white media in America unitedly showed empathy for Dylann Roof, the white terrorist who killed 9 black people in a Charleston church. They told us that he was troubled, that his father was mean, that he was so thoughtful he almost didn't go through with it because everyone was so nice, that his sister had to cancel her wedding because of his murders, that he was taking medication that could have made him go crazy. They humanised him. If it was Africans, we would have been insulting each other on Twitter. This is why I think we should resolve things in-house. That way white people won’t see how divided we are and won’t know that it is easy to divide and rule us.
That is why I am happy about the Rachel Dolezal story - the woman who took tips from books and the internet and successfully became black for over a decade. We were united there. We came out en masse to condemn Rachel for pretending to be black. She had perfected her scam so much that she became a prominent black voice. And when she was interviewed after she was caught, she said that she had begun identifying as black from the age of five when she started colouring herself with brown crayons. (A crayon can do great things I tell you.) As black people we were united in our condemnation for this now ex white woman. We wanted to throw her down a tall building because she had desecrated our blackness and made it a joke. I prefer knowing what our position is.
There is at least one position I wish we could take. Like when the United States of America thought it was necessary to put out a message correcting the news that they had donated 5 billion dollars to help us fight Boko Haram. They said that what they promised was only 5 million dollars. Someone should give America a few tips about donations in Nigeria. In Nigeria, when you are making a tiny donation, you do not come out in front and take a microphone to announce your donation. You roll the money in your palm and sneak it into the palm of the person you want to give. The only persons allowed to use the microphone are those making huge donations. You may think 5 million dollars is huge, but when you remember that Nigeria is spending 43 million dollars on clothes for just 469 members of the National Assembly, 5 million is chicken change. America should have secretly called Buhari and squeezed the check into his hand. That is how we do it. I hope someone from the American government is reading this and will take correction. God bless them as they do.