I recall sitting in a West-African classroom in the coastal town of Cape-Coast, Ghana, transfixed by the revelations trickling out of the mouth of my history teacher; amazed that the entire West African region was once the playground of Kings and the vista of colossal empires and dynasties. A noted and evident moral of that history lesson was kingdoms, empires and dynasties naturally rise and fall.
The “Political Tsunami” of Dec 2010 – Jan 2011, presently touted as the Jasmine Revolution, which ebbed from the shores of Tunisia, engulfing Egypt and spattering Yemen with its wake, has penned fresh pages in the history books of this beautiful yet troubled continent, and may yet coax the pages to turn on a new chapter for the regions concerned.
The issue is by no means new; it is indeed no secret that African nations are plagued with leaders of regimes and governments whose idea of a short stay in office is a decade or two, a throwback perhaps from the ancient foundations of the ancestral thrones of Pharaoh, Kush, Songhai, Dahomey, Mwene a Mutapa, Great Zimbabwe and the like?
Africa’s romance with dynastic power did not begin in the twentieth century. In fact, this panacea has been well documented by historians and anthropologists alike, indigenous and foreign. The theories of these
schools of research suggest the rule of these ancient empires was — as often is the case in recent history — one of tyranny, laced with a hierarchy of military rule, the benevolence of dictatorship, and wielded by the hands of a respected, or rather secretly loathed, few.
The parallels are plain to see, and make of them what you will, but consider this, Africa, the second largest continent in the known world, in area and population, takes precedence in this trait, given its number of countries.
I was taught to learn from history, and build upon its many lessons, which in a sense we all do quite literally; how many unearthed earthen pots, tools, fossils, villages, towns, and cities do we tread beneath?
As a young boy, in very early 80s England, the ‘sitting room’ of my father’s house was often the venue of heated political discussion as several of my ‘uncles’ who belonged to the diaspora of the 60s and 70s congregated, tongues wet and loosened by the chemical reactions of Carlsberg, Heineken and Stella Artois. I would watch wide eyed and listen to the openly heated debate on the mismanagement of Africa and its resources and the exasperating influence and meddling of ‘The West’.
Arguably, we continue the debate today and with seemingly no change, just a new interpretation of the status-quo, but the sands of ‘Time’ do etch their own mark, however, more often than not, only at the hands those who have the courage to turn its hourglass.
There can be no government without the governed, and our leaders, no matter how entrenched, are only such when graced with those who follow.
Can the wave of socio-economic and political outrage seeded from Tunisia change the tides’ of Africa, as it will Arab-Africa and the Middle East?
Perhaps the season has arrived in which the socio-political arena of government will actually be determined by the governed, at least it’s beginning on some level, and no longer the ‘Political Sorcery’ practiced behind the impregnable doors of some of today’s versions of ministerial and political office. I guess it remains to be seen… in the history of things to come. Tempus est optimus iudex.