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Divide and rule strategy

Africa Map 67.png Africa must rise again, unite, and take its rightful place in the world.

Tue, 9 Mar 2021 Source: Sampson Boamah

I begin with an apology for my inability to have not written in a long time. A lot has transpired since the last time I wrote. I found myself in a very tight situation that gave me little or no time to update and write on pertinent national issues. I want to thank those who reached out to find out when my next article would be out.

Since this is my first article for the year 2021, I believe it will be right to wish you a happy and prosperous new year, may this year be better than what we experienced in 2020. The year 2020 brought a lot of difficulties and hardships to mankind globally due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I urge us all to stay safe as we eagerly fight this virus.

I have decided to write on a very delicate and critical matter which alarms Africans. This piece is of no means or in any way trying to remind Africans of the dark days some centuries ago but it is important for us to always learn our history. Even though we may not hold grudges or any antipathy, it is better for us to know what happened before and enable us be vigilant and conscious so we do not fall into such quarry anymore.

In 1884-1885, some people who claimed to love Africa sat in Berlin, the capital of Germany to partition Africa without the knowledge of Africans. This meeting is what is referred to as The "Berlin Conference."

The conference was called by the then German Chancellor Bismarck and the King of Belgium, King Leopard II. This meeting was attended by those countries who seemed to love Africans more than the indigenes of the continent. It will interest you to know that no African country or individual was invited to this so-called conference.

I still do not fathom how such an important meeting which affected the people will be conducted and none of its representatives will be present or in the known. The major actors were; Great Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Netherlands and Belgium. Even before this meeting, these countries were already on the continent and were busily fighting for lands that were never theirs. The sole purpose of the conference was to split Africa into regions and share among themselves to end the fight among these European countries. Is this not sad and funny at the same time that foreigners will fight over something that was never theirs?

Even before this Berlin Conference, the European powers had toured and toiled the continent for their gains. The evil and barbaric Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade which took place more than four centuries before the partitioning of the continent shows the presence of these greedy and desperate countries whose aim was to impoverish the continent and make it desolate.

Africa is a very stunning continent endowed with many natural resources. Aside from these gracious blessings, Africans have lovely cultures which unite them than they gulf them. Even though there are many ethnic groups in the Sub-region, the continent had always lived in peace and unison.

The European powers knowing this bond and unity which existed between these people had to devise a plan which would shatter the bond and pave way for them to manipulate the people and achieve their egotistical interest. This evil plan may have served their parochial interest but this devilish plan also caused the continent a lot of grave harm.

All they did was to set enmity between these people and pitch one ethnic group against the other. Africans did not understand and notice the plan and also fell for this surreptitious plot.

When you look at some of the civil wars and even some of the political upheavals which took place in Africa they are mostly ethnically inclined. I would touch on a few of these countries which have suffered from these diversionist tactics and have caused the continent a lot of resources and talents.

I begin with the Democratic Republic of Congo popularly known as DRC and formerly known as Zaire. Congo is one of the richest and well-endowed countries in the world in terms of natural resources and one of the poorest countries in the world as well. This is the paradox of the situation as the eminent Kenyan professor Ali Mazrui, rightly put it "Africa is the richest continent in the world yet the poorest".

I am not going to talk about this great paradox in this piece. There are two major ethnic groups in DRC. The Kongo ethnic group and the Tetele ethnic group. The Kongo ethnic group is the largest ethnic group in the country.

The first president of the country after their independence Joseph Kasa-Vubu belongs to this ethnic group and their first Prime Minister the prominent nationalist Patrice Lumumba also belongs to the Tetele ethnic group. Because there had been this divide and rule manoeuvres which had been used in that part of the land to set division and confusion amongst these people, this canker resulted in a sharp division between these 2 ethnic groups. These two could not work together to foster the progress of their country.

Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was ousted and assassinated some few months after Congo had its independence from the Belgium Colony in 1960. This was a bright opportunity for them to have healed the wounds that were inflicted upon them for centuries.

The grand agenda of divide and rule had gained deep root in the country and had gone in a long way to affect the very people who had once lived in peace and unity. Congo has never been the same after the overthrow of Patrice Lumumba as his ethnic group felt this was a plan to dim their people and had engaged in various battles for so many years.

As was in DR Congo, so it was in Nigeria. Nigeria, a beautiful and blossom country is blessed with oil and other enviable natural resources but when it comes to development, it is not as rich as its natural resources are. There is no time to dwell on this paradox. Nigeria was not left off the hook with regards to this divide and rule strategy. Before Nigeria became one as a country, there was Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria.

In 1914, then governor Lord Fredrick Lugard merged both the south and the northern Protectorates. Even before this amalgamation, there had already been a divide and rule scheme that had unglued the people for so many years.

Some forty-six years later after the merger, Nigeria gained its independence. This canker had already affected their deep fibres. The damage had been caused and what happened afterwards was just a manifestation of the grand scheme. There are many ethnic groups in Nigeria but the major three are, the Hausa, the Yoruba, and the Igbo.

There are some frictions amongst these ethnic groups as a result of this tactic which aimed at dividing the people so they can achieve their motive. In 1960, Nigerians had their independence, led by Nnamdi Azikiwe their first Ceremonial President, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa their first Prime Minister, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and other prominent Nigerians. Six years after their independence, the country was plunged into pandemonium as the country witnessed one of the deadliest ethnic pogroms in human history.

The genesis of this war was as a result of the military coup d tare which had toppled and assassinated Prime Minister Balewa who was from the northern territory and some Yoruba leaders by some Igbo military personnel. Even though the orchestrators of the revolution said this was done base on economic and bad governance and not on ethnic line. This was seen by the Hausa people as a mean for the Igbos to have dominion over them. There was another counter-coup in 1966, six months after the first one.

This time around the coup was organised by the Hausa or northern soldiers led by General Yakubu Gowon who overthrew and murdered the head of state General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi who was an Igbo man. These happenings resulted in what is mostly referred to as the Biafra war (The fight between the Northern Territory and Eastern region of Nigeria). The killings did not just end after the overthrow and killing of the head of state but escalated into the butcheries of innocent Igbo civilians who lived in the northern territory of Nigeria. At the end of the Biafra war, there were about 3 million innocent Igbo civilians who had died.

The issue is not different in Rwanda as these same tactics of divide and rule strategy had caused grave damage to the people of Rwanda. The Hutus and Tutsis form the majority of the ethnic groups in Rwanda. Some Hutus believed that the Tutsis are not real aborigines of Rwanda and that they were brought into the land as slaves but this has always been denied by the Tutsis people.

During the colonization of Rwanda, the Belgium government had pitched the Hutus against the Tutsis. The Tutsis were the favourite of the Belgium colony and as such were favoured in some prominent positions. In comparison, the Hutus are the largest ethnic group in Rwanda followed by the Tutsis.

This favouritism did not go down well with the Hutus as they exploded as soon as the country gained its independence in 1962. They thought it was time for them to also show their ‘powers.; It is the ramification of this divide and rule strategy that resulted in the Genocide of 1994. By the time the genocide ended, there were more than 800 people who were exterminated

These countries are not the only countries that have suffered from this malicious design of divide and rule agenda.

I dare to say that all African countries have suffered from this menace and the evidence is the poor and deplorable state at which the continent found itself. The colonial powers knowing how united and at the same time how fragile we were as a people, devised this plot for them to get us and lo and behold we fell for this machination. This has shattered and wrecked the continent. The only way any civilisation can stand is to unite no matter what the circumstances may be. Can you imagine where this continent would have been if we had not fallen for this evil and clandestine trick? We let ourselves down and we are paying a lofty amount for our action.

As the scripture rightly put it, any Kingdom divided against itself shall fall and any house divided against itself shall not stand (Matthew 12: 24-25). If we are not united we will fail in everything that we do. Unity is the key to the survival of progression.

All civilisations which have survived have done so because they believed in unity. Even though the harm has been caused which may be irreparable we can still as a continent get ourselves up and unite to fight for what we are left with.

Africa must rise again, unite, and take its rightful place in the world.

Africa must work again. YOUNG POSITIVIST, a concerned citizen of Ghana.

Columnist: Sampson Boamah