End of the Dilemma: The Tower of Babel—(ll)

Mon, 23 Sep 2013 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

I hope we had enough issues to deal with in “The End of the Dilemma: The Tower of Babel—(l). It is quite clear, even if imprecise, in my writings that my intellectual and political biases are defined in no uncertain terms. I make this disclaimer so as to avoid putting you, my well-informed and decent readership, in “unnecessary” interpretive conundrums—as far as where my ideological allegiances lie.

Having said that, let’s go straight to our preoccupation. In the prequel, I ended with ex-President Kuffour’s transformative ideas for improving Ghana’s parliamentary democracy, as it particularly relates to the political pathology of the so-called “winner-takes-all.” I didn’t, however, delve into the political economy of the pros and cons of the idea because of apparent lack of space and time, an ideological strategy otherwise called for by analytic depth as well as by explanatory seriousness. Besides, I presumed such pertinent questions of analytic contrasts fell within the bailiwicks of think tanks, political scientists, philosophers, sociologists, social scientists, and policy makers, experts who, I acknowledge, are more qualified than I. Finally and more importantly, I did not want to attempt a prima facie treatment of the subject. That said, I believe we can take it up again at an opportune occasion. Seeing the death and ultimate interment of the “winner-takes-all” is my primary preoccupation, however. Let our leaders do their part.

Now—to the topic of today. Pointedly, it comes as a major surprise to me to see how our traditional institutions—“devoid” of the trappings of modernism—have managed to insinuate themselves into the cultural psychology of the masses—across time and space—while our institutional instruments of modernism hardly breathe the air of survivability. From where must the epidemiological trajectory of our national ailments begin? Once again, I have dealt with this question elsewhere. That said, we can certainly say the judiciary requires radical reforms to make it more “independent.” Of course, “independent” judiciaries don’t exist anywhere, not even in heaven; the Devil wouldn’t have had a chance with God, simultaneously the judge, constitution, prosecutor, police state, Supreme Court Justice, bail bondsman, bailiff, President, law-giver, prison warden, all rolled in one. Meanwhile, South Africa’s jurist Dr. Shadrack Gutto, a fellow at the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies, suggests the judiciary is one area Africa needs to strengthen the most.

There is a serious problem, however. The English political scientist Prof. Christopher Clapham, for instance, discusses the politics of “African bribery” in his book “Third World Politics,” adding another dilemmatic layer to the culture of bribery in Africa—the problem of monarchic or royal patronage. He believes the patronage of African royalty feeds the fire of bribery. But whether his claim of affirmed assertiveness as regards the traditional roots of “African bribery” has sociological, anthropological, or historical basis in fact is beyond the scope of this article. Further, it is a question he himself fails to explore in appreciable depth, with the institution of bribery being human, global, as it were. After all, we don’t need externalized exotic armchair theorizing to tackle our earthy problems! However, its humanized globality does not imply or preclude our ignoring it to fester in the body politic! Admittedly, it’s a canker in the body politic for sure. Africans must take the initiative, as Kwame Nkrumah taught us.

That is why judges must be able to punish political miscreants without fear of recriminations and of loss of political patronage. That is why judges must also be well-protected by the state and sufficiently remunerated. That is why our law schools must do their part in “churning out” decent and qualified lawyers. That is why the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) must be technologically and professionally, not cosmetically, retooled, and, thereby, brought back home from the cemeterial Stone Age of relative incompetence to the living actualities of creative modernism. That is why the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and others of such “social justice”-oriented formulations must desist from having illicit sex with political patronage and kleptomania lest they be charged with political “statutory rape” themselves. That is why Ghana’s Freedom of Information Bill must pass parliamentary approval without bureaucratic complications. Let’s start from there.

Again, Gutto believes if we have strong judiciaries in place, then, as other legal scholars have also noted, there would not be the political need for our “war criminals” to be tried in the West, at the ICC. And his politico-philosophical reasons are not farfetched. For one thing, men like Charles Taylor and Mobuto Sese Seko, were institutional inventions of the West. As I said a moment ago, Charles Taylor, for instance, represented one of Africa’s most favored nymphomaniac political prostitutes throughout the 1980s by JB Danquah’s gonorrheal CIA. Namely, most of the crimes these African leaders were accused of committing were, most of the time, actualized via the ideological tube of Western calculated complicity. Later, these sycophantic or slavish Afropean servants became institutional pariahs in Western political psychology only when they had fallen out with their “white supremacist” slave masters!

Therefore, in these contexts, Gutto’s moral-philosophical suasions, without a doubt, must be taken with the analytic seriousness they deserve. Also, many aspects of our constitutional instruments are imbued with antiquated Roman-era ideas, ideas which, I believe, must be purged via intra-national and intra–continental plebiscitary consultations. Finally, Uganda’s Rev. Canon Byamugisha, further, says European colonial laws make ethnicized pluralization of African, particularly of Ugandan, societies a difficult process! Such draconian rusty laws must definitely go! Alternatively, we may, however, have to reconsider our progressive customary laws in their stead.

Interestingly, the analytic immediacy of the culture war between Eurocentrism and Afrocentricity is not lost on us: Eurocentrism has designated itself the sole ideological spokesperson for humanity, then shutting out other equally knowledgeable methodological mouthpieces. Clearly, this comes against the philosophical backdrop of Gutto’s moral arguments in favor of sweeping continental judicial reformation within an African context. On my part, though, I think if our learned judges and lawyers want to be taken seriously by the public eye, then, as other cultural critics have also observed, they must stop wearing those asynchronous magical “tie-wigs” and “bob-wigs,” which put them in the concrete likeness of legal gargoyles. Actually, I don’t know how much the white ghosts of jurisprudence influence their judicatory decisions via the agency of these foreign wigs. Figuratively, it’s as if the ghostly foreign wigs think for them.

Another observation: We must give plaudits to Rawlings and Kuffuor for their social and political activism in the service of Ghana and of Africa. Their respective activism in Somalia and Mali is commendable. I strongly believe the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation are watching. That brings us to another preoccupation: Are we ready to turn Nkrumah’s African High Command, rather than the West’s AFRICOM, into an institutional instrument of continental oversight as far as Africa’s strategic interests are concerned? Interestingly, that, too, leads us to the corollary question: The political economy of globalization! But globalization connotes internationalist collaboration, and, if so, has international collaborationism served Africa’s strategic interests well? I will want us to view the answer(s) in the epidemiological context of AIDS, a question which Edward Hooper carefully tackles in “The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS.” Simply put, globalization is imbued with its own moral, psycho-cultural, and political bankruptcies. African leadership must take note of them. Inherently, globalization also has the potential to argue us into thinking our time-tested cultural institutions are comparatively inferior, although I am not overlooking its potential “benefits”—all it takes is cost-effectiveness analysis!

Also, African leadership has to be wary of the psychology of external influences. The “holy” American Christological fundamentalist Reverend Pat Robertson, for instance, did the “unholy” bidding of Charles Taylor and of Mobuto Sese Seko in the political corridors of the US Congress. Both political prostitutes and polyandrous kleptomaniacs even had carnal knowledge of J.B. Danquah’s syphilitic CIA. Again, as noted elsewhere, the colonial etiologies of African problems, a question Mahmood Mamdani fastidiously takes up in “Define and Rule: Native as Political Identity,” and the part we play in our own self-destruction, again, as he carefully describes in “When Victims Become Killers,” must be acknowledged with moral courage and sufficiently addressed, for we don’t want to bequeath these dangerous, unhealthy, and seemingly infectious political and cultural maladies to generations yet unborn. Our posterity must not suffer the fate of retroactive comeuppance for our sake—our irresponsibility.

Finally, we must also teach our children to devour the books of Kwame Nkrumah and those of other progressive African thinkers with gluttonous appetite before they even mature to aspire to political officership. It is with emotional pain I dare say our present crop of political leadership has not read Nkrumah. Even if it had, it obviously did not do so with the critical or analytic thoroughness typical of open mindedness. Predictably, the political epidemiology, prognoses, and diagnoses of Africa’s myriad ailments are there for all to see. Remember, psychological decolonization is a powerful arsenal we must deploy against our continuing politico-cultural de-personalization! Indeed, African leadership must lead by example.

What is the source of Africa’s problems? Some say lack of education, education, education! But what sort of education, Afrocentricity, psycho-cultural manumission, or Eurocentrism, psycho-cultural (re)colonization? Let’s look at the political economy of “education” in relation to the existential evolution of Africa across the evaluative spaces of social-culture and economics: Wole Soyinka for one blames Africa’s problems on the leadership style of men like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, while Yoweri Museveni blames Africa’s problems on educated Africans. But both men are educated Africans? So what is the source of our problems? Wole Soyinka even said Museveni should go back to the “bush,” an obvious euphemistic reference to Museveni’s guerilla days in the forest, where he rightly belonged. According to Milton Allimadi, himself a Ugandan, and author of “The Heart of Darkness: How White Writers Created the Racist Image of Africa,” cited a quotation from the “Atlanta Monthly Magazine,” Sept. 1994 issue, which he attributed to President Museveni:

“I have never blamed the whites for colonizing Africa: I have never blamed whites for taking slaves. If you are stupid, you should be taken a slave.”

Were those Africans who were enslaved by Europe stupid? No wonder the West dotes upon Museveni! Meanwhile, do we need such irresponsible statements from our leaders, supposedly from men of political and social exemplariness? I don’t think so. Incidentally, Steele Pulse’s “There Must be a Way” says: “Now that we’ve reached the new millennium…Let’s stop a while and readjust our minds…Cause this oppression has gone on too long…Find some way…There must be a way…Let’s do it today…”

Think about those words! I shall come Back with “End of the Dilemma: The Tower of Babel—Part lll. Stay tuned!

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis