FEMI FANI-KAYODE: "THE AFRICAN RENAISSANCE, A MYTH OR A REALITY?"
I have dedicated my life to Africa, I love Africa and I am very proud to be an African but the truth is this: that, generally speaking, Africans do not love themselves or love their own. Our continent, as beautiful and blessed with human and mineral resources as she is, is plagued with more bitterness, frustration, envy, hatred of self, hatred of others, backbiting, wickedness, deceit and evil than any other that I know. If he or she sees anything good in his brother or sister the African's first instinct is to diminish it and destroy it.
Other than that he attempts to play it down, ridicule it and discredit it. We kill and destroy our brightest and our best, we sacrifice the future of our children and we choose to believe the very worst about one another, about our future and about our past. And that is precisely why we are so far behind everyone else. Have you ever asked yourself how many Africans really know their own history, where they are coming from and whether they know anything about the great and noble heritage that was bestowed upon them by their forefathers and fallen heroes?
A man will give his life for his people and his community in Africa and he will be killed by the powers that be for it and yet within 5 to 10 years after that noble act of sacrifice and martydom not only is he forgotten and despised but his name will not even be mentioned in the classrooms for future generations to learn about him or to acknowledge or appreciate the great sacrifice that he has made for his country. The list of those that have been treated in this way is endless: Gamal Nasser, Thomas Sankara, Samora Machel, Anwar Sadat, Patrice Lumumba, Tunde Idiagbon, Milton Obote, Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Chris Okigbo, Steve Biko, Kwame Nkrumah, Ken Saro-Wiwa, M.K.O Abiola, Kudirat Abiola, Shehu Musa Yar'adua, Dele Giwa, Alfred Rewane, Isaac Adaka Boro, Bola Ige, Joe Slovo, Chris Hani, Murtala Mohammed, S.L. Akintola, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Baguda Kaltho and so many others. I could go on and on. Every single one of them long gone, yet none given their proper dues or the respect that they deserve and neither are they given a place in the pantheon of world greats. And then the soul -searching questions begin.
How do you explain the fact that this is the only continent in the world that has very few first-class world historians? And yet if we know nothing about our glorious and illustrious past or if we continuously distort it with subjective, self-serving, dishonest and inaccurate embellishments or the usual fancy far-flung tales and ancient folk-lore, how can we possibly expect to build a greater future for our people? For example in Africa your enemies have no history and memories of them are not only annihillated and erased from the human psyche and public records but their descendants must be ridiculed, scorned and treated with contempt from generation to generation.
That is our way. The question that then comes to mind is this: can we possibly gain anything from a past that we refuse to learn anything about and that we habitually distort ? Are we not condemned to repeating it's mistakes if we continue to glibly ignore it and refuse to dig deep and learn from it like those from other climes continuously do? Yet we pray for and often talk about an "African Rennaissance". And we glibly tell the world that "Africa's time has come". But can there be a renaissance without us first changing our mindset? Can our time come without us first changing our ways and the way we perceive and treat one another? The truth is that none of these things can happen until we turn to our hearts to God, love our neighbours as we do ourselves, acknowledge and imbue the spirit and power of unconditional love and at at least attempt to completely renew our minds. Until we rid ourselves of the evil cancer of ''the hater'' in Africa we are not going anywhere and we will not achieve our full potentials.
Now you may resent me for writing this but sadly this is the bitter truth. And it is only when we accept such home truths about ourselves and resolve to re-dedicate ourselves to God, to commit ourselves to one another and to join hands and change our sordid ways that we can rise up to where we belong in the comity of nations and that we can truly achieve our God-given potentials. It is only then that Africa can truly shake the world and that the African Renaissance can truly begin. May God help us and may He deliver us from one another. God bless Africa.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode was former Special Adviser to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and later Minister of Aviation under Obasanjo leadership. He is currently aspiring to be Governor of Osun State in 2011.