Is Benin under Biafra
Colonial Continuities Biafraland and a doppelganger from the past that never existed
In many African countries, the upheavals and susceptibility to crises can often be traced back to the colonial legacy. In his critical analysis of the situation in Nigeria, Richard Ali names further causes and offers possible solutions.
From Richard Ali
"Of course, of course, but I claim that an African's authentic identity is solely due to his tribe," said (Odenigbo). “I'm Nigerian because a white man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am black because the whites have constructed the black as the greatest possible antithesis to their white. But I was an Igbo before the white man came. "
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in "Half the Sun"
A hijacked visionBiafraland goes back to the appropriation of the former movement for the realization of a sovereign state Biafra (Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB) in 2012 by the operator of its London pirate channel, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (MNK). MNK calls its splinter group the Independent People of Biafra(IPOB) and continues the cult around his person with the help of a symbolism with a Jewish touch and the image of an enfant terrible of jingoism. While the MASSOB strived for the self-determination of an administrative unit created by the British, the IPOB wanted the rule of a solidarity tribal community, which did not exist before the arrival of the Europeans.
- © AP Photo / Sunday Alamba, File
Archive Photo February 29, 2012: Igbo men on motorcycles with Biafra flag on a street in Nnewi, Nigeria. Nigeria's military killed at least 150 peaceful demonstrators in a "deterrent campaign" to suppress renewed calls to create a breakaway state of Biafra in the southeast, Amnesty International said on November 24, 2016
- © Lekan Oyekanmi / picture alliance / AP Photo
In this archive photo dated May 28, 2017, Uboha Damia, a 75-year-old Biafra veteran, holds a Biafra flag while members of the Biafri separatist movement gather at an event in Umuahia, Nigeria.
- © Lekan Oyekanmi / picture alliance / AP Photo
In this photo taken on May 28, 2017, members of a Biafra separatist movement sing and clap as they gather during an event in Umuahia, Nigeria. Members commemorate their fallen heroes 50 years after the Nigerian civil war in which more than a million people died trying to create a state for the Igbo people.
- © Ian Langsdon / picture alliance / dpa
Nigerians from the Igbo tribe in traditional clothing gather on December 9, 2013 in front of the house of the recently deceased South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, to pay their respects to the anti-apartheid icon.
- © Sunday Alamba / picture alliance / AP Photo
Igbo tribal chiefs, Nigeria, photo taken on May 23, 2013
Kleptocracy as a systemAfter the end of the war in 1970, the strategy was “no winner, no defeated”. As a result, a multiethnic elite was formed that jointly managed the country's petrodollar income into its own pocket and at the same time set up a system of patronage. This elite included all ethnic groups in the country from the private sector, the military and the civil service. The deterioration in the quality of life and public services, the widespread corruption among civil servants, and the growing gap between rich and poor that we are witnessing today all took their course during this period.
The fact that Nigeria cannot reach its full potential can be directly traced back to the exploitation of the state by an elite that can only perceive itself to be of magnitude from the time of colonial confrontation, as competition and limitation at the expense of cooperation and inclusion in the Were in the foreground. In order to capture the common prosperity, they saw themselves forced to introduce ever closer identities and ever lower standards of performance. By setting new priorities, fellow citizens were marginalized and marginalization protests justified, whereby this elite was able to legitimize itself in ever smaller sub-national units. This is where MNK comes into play with its Biafraland.
“From this perspective, Biafraland and comparable separatist movements, regardless of whether they are religiously or culturally motivated, are basically about colonial continuities and not about the upheavals that they are supposed to have as their goal. "
Seen from this perspective, Biafraland and comparable separatist movements, regardless of whether they are religiously or culturally motivated, are basically about colonial continuities and not about the upheavals that they are supposed to aim at. Their advocates are not really revolutionaries, but doubles from the past that never existed.
"If we want a revolution, we have to equip ourselves with the weapons of modern technologies and the right self-image - as Africans - that is rooted in the past."
Solution approaches on the continentIf we want a revolution, we have to equip ourselves with the weapons of modern technologies and the right self-image - as Africans - that is rooted in the past. But the point cannot be to choose the convenient version of history, which was only sixty years ago, when our entire history spans a period of seven thousand years.
If our ancestors had no idea of geographic or anthropological boundaries, why should we insist on them today? Revolutionary thinking can possibly already consist in recognizing that our ancestors did not think within limits and that we should not do this either. That all people in Africa are Africans and that we should strive for a continent where different peoples with common ancestors and common ancestry live together in harmony on the largest island in the world. And not after a breakdown into small, insignificant power structures based on the affirmation of firmly lashed colonial concepts of language, geography and identity. As would be the case in MNK's Biafraland.
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