Keeping The Faith

They say I seek after an Africa that may never be found, but I seek it nonetheless. And though the finish line may seem beyond sight, I will run the run towards a better Africa. With the spirit of a Zulu, the grit of an Olulumo and the resolve of a Maasai, I run the race towards the unity faith, peace and progress that has eluded the land and the people of Africa since the birth of slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism.

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Friday, 29 May 2009

Juju-Man needed

Was hope here only when the Amazon queen Nzhinga
and Nehanda, the Mbuya, of Zimbabwe fought to shield us from slave ships?

Was pride gone after Yaa Asantewa addressed the chiefs
in that secret meeting in Kumasi?

Did the warmth of home die with Queen Kahina, when she wrestled
into the swords of the camel riding men?

Was leadership only when Shaka ruled over Zulu?
When Mansa Mussa ruled over Mali? Or when Askia ruled over Songhay?

As dark as the ages were, King Khufu built the pyramids
As dark as the ages were, a University stood in Timbuktu
As dark as the ages were, Imhotep out shone the moon with wisdom

Today shines like it was twin with the sun
yet we cannot see our way to a better tomorrow.
How heavy was the blow of slavery and colonialism
that we still stagger and collapse, many years after?


Kwame Nkrumah chanted his incantations
Sacrifices were offered by Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Jullius Nyrere performed his rituals,
Patrice Lumumba cooked his concoctions:
These native Juju-men have tried their muscles
but the land is too sick for a few of them to heal,
who will complement their works?

Will South Africans let 27 years of Madiba Mandela’s
life wash down the Orange River like an orange peel?

Will the naked witty words that land on the Afro-beats of
Abami-Eda Fela be left to inspire the hills to a dance of truth?

Will Bishop Tutu’s white dove be chased from the olive tree with sticks and stones?
And will the greens of Wangari Mathaai be left to rust?

Will the writings of Achebe, Soyinka, Sehene, Kofi and
other minds of Iroko be left to the forests to read?

Will the tears and blood of Rwandans, Sudanese, Congolese
and Somalia’s be washed with more?

When elephants have lost weight from worrying about our tomorrow-
What is left of the antelope?

When you see crocodiles cry at the state of Africa, you wonder what tears are left in the eyes of the praying mantis.

Even eagles cannot see why
a new leaf in our rough African book cannot be turned.

Uniting Africa (The Konye Obaji Ori Manifesto)

Since the dawn of neocolonialism, my nights have been filled with the ballads of Nzingha- the Amazon queen of Matamba, the sonnets of Nehanda- the Mbuya of Zimbabwe and the odes of Yaa Asantewa- the queen mother of Ejisu of Ashanti: I have become the spirit of their poetries and the notes of their songs, for even when I sleep, I am awake to the pulchritude of the African night that they have graced. In my dreams I hold the staff of Osei Tutu and look like Chaka the Zulu in the robes of Desmond Tutu. My mornings are brightened by the philosophies of Affonso the first, the King of ancient Kongo, King Askia Toure of ancient Songhay, and Mansa Kankan Mussa of ancient Mali. My threnodies, chants and expressive verses of compositions have been from cognitions deep as the abyss where my love for Africa is rooted.
Out of the root cap of this adulation I have found a political voice and a passion to lead my generation- a passion born from the ill-fated chronicles of the African people. My shoulders have been strengthened and my mind broadened by the mentors, families and friends that I have been blessed with on my quest for a better Africa. With them I have been able to breathe in the lamasery of the ancestors of ancient Kement, Abyssinia, Kush, Bechuana, Basuto and Ashanti. With them, I breathe Africa.
I am driven on by the aphorisms of Mosheshoe, Mutato and Kwame Nkrumah: to unite Africa, to seek after a better life for her people and set her on the path to retain her lost glory. And yes they are many like me who have tried and failed, they are many like me who have yelled in the morning and have been silenced by nightfall. They are many like me who have been changed by the system as it is silhouetted, and they are many like me who have given up and decided to let things be the way they are. Yes they are many like me who have decided to let lions be lions and zebras be zebras. But the wounds, the scars and the pain of Africa, her tears, her blood and her songs fuel my voyage. I cannot find a reason to give up on my quest. They say I seek after an Africa that may never be found, but I seek it nonetheless. And though the finish line may seem beyond sight, I will run the run towards a better Africa. With the spirit of a Zulu, the grit of an Olulumo and the resolve of a Maasai, I run the race towards the unity faith, peace and progress that has eluded the land and the people of Africa since the birth of slavery, colonialism and imperialism.
I am not just an African with a voice for socio-economic and political freedom but an African with a humanitarian credo to uphold; I am a good-will ambassador for a one world community where a sense of oneness, credence, peace and collective advancement is inherent. I am Konye Obaji Ori and I seek a better world.

PeaceKeeping

With the number of civilians (non-combatants) deliberately killed by rebels and warlords, during conflicts, there is a need to readdress the mandates of the UN peacekeeping missions, deployed with a responsibility to protect civilian populations in conflict zones. This issue is important because over the past decade, various forms of conflicts have erupted across the globe; war crimes and crimes against humanity have been easily committed by warlords and rebels and the United Nations Security Council is yet to determine the best way to reduce civilian casualties in the conflict zones around the world.
In July 1995, with a UN peacekeeping mission present, a massacre took place just outside the ‘safe area’ of Srebrenica, a city in Bosnia Herzegovina. During the civil war in former Yugoslavia, thirty thousand Muslim refugees had found protection in Srebrenica until the army of General Ratko Mladic deported them and subsequently killed eight thousand men. The United Nations had sent a peacekeeping mission to Srebrenica to ‘ensure full respect for these safe areas.’ Apparently, the UN could not live up to that promise. In 1994, a different, yet comparable debacle occurred in Rwanda. While millions were slaughtered in the African country, the United Nations stood by and watched. Peacekeepers that had been deployed to the area were withdrawn, while Rwandan civilians were left at the mercy of genocide minded Hutu militias.
Currently there are UN peacekeeping operations running in 16 different locations, throughout five continents from Haiti to Timor, but the organization’s history is strewn with examples of its inability to keep the peace in places such as Srebrenica in Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur and Congo.
The UN peacekeeping mission is mandated to protect civilians, nevertheless their rules of engagement limits them to do so effectively. After reviewing the failures and successes of previous peace-enforcement (military might) missions and peacekeeping missions (humanitarian aid), I believe that a simultaneous deployment of both missions during humanitarian intervention may be more effective in reducing humanitarian crisis as the UN assumes the responsibility to protect non-combatant populations.
According to Swedish peace and conflict researcher, Hultman Lisa, in civil wars, rebel groups often target civilians despite the fact that their actual target is the government. “Rebels are almost always considerably weaker than the government and are often lacking the means for defeating government forces by military action. Therefore, they seek alternative means to pressure the government into making concessions. Violence towards civilians is one such strategy,” explains Hultman.
Researcher Tom Woodhouse insists that there is no such thing as a military quick fix: In some cases like Somalia, he points out, military intervention did not work, and in other cases, the winning side went ahead to commit genocide against the defeated side. Researcher Walzer Michael however insists that De-escalation of violence is vital. But at the most general level, studies carried out through structured focus comparison of the humanitarian casualty records of conflict zones suggests that the number of civilian deaths in conflict zones also depend on whether or not the deployed missions are mandated to utilize military force against the rebel groups and warlords responsible for civilian deaths and humanitarian crisis.
Researchers like Clapham Christopher have argued that warring factions can be made to retreat from civilian safe-zones or surrender and agree to peace talks when military force is utilized: “The war in Rwanda was ended not by the three and a half years of international mediation, but by the military victory of the Rwanda’s Patriotic Front,” stated Clapham. According to researcher, Berdal Mats, it was Operation Deliberate Force (The Air campaign initiated by NATO/UNPROFOR) utilized against Bosnian-Serbs throughout the country in August and September 1995 and it alone which produced the results that allowed peace agreements to be reached.
Peacekeeping missions which often comprise of soldiers are sometimes armed, but do not have to engage in combat: Restricted by their rules of engagement they have often allowed rebels and warlords the opportunity to attack civilian populations and commit crimes against humanity.
UN peacekeepers may be mandated to use collective action (including necessary military force) against genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The soldiers that constitute the peace missions should be able to defend themselves and the civilians they are there to protect. They should be able to respond to efforts by rebels and warlords to undermine peace agreements, or attack civilians.
Although there are quite a lot of issues to consider when deliberating over military force and humanitarian intervention, the necessary first step by the UN Security Council in future deployment of peace missions, should be to reflect on the fact that the aim of an intervening army is simply to stop the killing of civilians.
Peacekeepers mandated to use military force prevent, contain, moderate and terminate hostilities, frequently in protracted social conflicts within states. Conflict resolution theory suggests causes of violent conflict and a contingency model for de-escalation, within which military peacekeepers separate warring factions, stop the violence and work closely with civilians to reduce its causes. Military doctrine suggests that liaison, negotiation, and force deployment help to control violence.
The initiation of numerous UN peace operations by the Security Council since the end of the Cold War has been bolstered by strongly worded and finely crafted resolutions. However, the emphasis placed in such resolutions on restoring peace and security by all necessary means loses its resonance when UN troops are constrained by their national law from employing sufficient force to achieve mission objectives.

A Speech For Obama (January 20th, 2009)

Today we have become America. We have rowed our boats through the turbulent and trying seas of time, and with dreams and hopes we have paddled to the shores of America- the America built on the creeds of equal rights and justice. We have arrived at the America that existed in the dreams of Martin Luther king. America, the Land where our fathers died, the land of the pilgrim’s pride, the land where freedom now rings from every mountainside. Let us hold unto this America.

For 232 years we have searched for the land of the brave and the home of the free. And today we as Americans have shown our bravery by virtue of our choice, a choice that has made each and everyone of us free. 45 years we have dreamed. Our lips have ached to sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual. But today with dancing feet and merry hearts we can sing of the sweet land of liberty: Not as Blacks, or as Asians, or as Hispanics or as Jews but as Americans, for we as a people have reached this landmark together.

Today we have a man of color as our president, a man who does not just represent the dream of the black community but the dream of every suppressed people or minorities; Asians, Hispanics, Jews, gays, women, and disabled. He represents our dream. He represents the American dream. And it is on this beacon of history that we have become true Americans. We have slept together, dreamed together and we have woken up together to a day break America, to live the dream together.

It has been a long sleep, but morning has come at last, good morning America. Now is the time to rise up from our beds, knowing that we are free and that we can live our dreams. The beauty of our diversity shall be our strength.

This unparalleled fit from a new generation of elected leadership where democracy has stood strong, in its true essence, where a candidate has been judged by the content of his character and quality, colour-blindedly and unconditionally, emphasizes our position as a model to every other nation. The achievement is yours America. You have made this outstanding progress and you will forever be on the lips of history for what has happened on this day, January the 20th 2009.

The gates of dreams have been thrown open, for every American; gay, straight, woman, man, able, disabled, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Jew and gentile to seek a dream.

Every rain drizzle from now on would feel like the joyful tears of our fore-fathers past, the joyful tears of those who were bonded, bought and sold, and the joyful tears of those who fought for their freedom; our heroes past.

The sun from now on will feel like God smiling down on us saying: Good morning America. We have woken up to this new dawn not just because our spirits have found home in its brightness, but because when it rains we will be soaked together, when it shines we will be warm together, because we have found that bond of community and because when our anthem is played, we shall become the essence of its music, for we have made history together. Together we have searched and found the riches of freedom, the equality of rights and the security of justice that we have lacked. Let us sing with gladdened hearts on this glorious morning for the wails of they stripped of self hood and robbed of dignity has been replaced by the songs of brotherliness, unity, victory and love, and the nightscapes have given way to daylight. Let us sing for a stone of hope has been hewed from our mountains of despair. Let us sing for it has been a long night sleep, but morning has come at last, good morning America!

Involving marginalized tribes for a better Nigeria: The country should be home to a people with a fair sense of equality

Nigeria as a country has seen very little socio-economic and geo-political development since its independence in 1960. Now it is no new-fangled thought that when political marginalization exists amongst tribes and ethnicities in a country, collective growth and relative progress is difficult to attain.

Toward the end of colonialism, the British in 1951 were willing to grant sovereignty to any of the regions of Nigeria that wanted independence. This did not happen, however, because the west and the east, who wanted Nigeria in one piece, decided to wait for the north to be ready. The Northern Nigerian tribes, at the time, would not merge with the other tribes to constitute a sovereign country if they were not assured of political power. Political historians claim that when power was assured the Northerners, independence was attained making Nigeria a ‘free and united country.’

The standards of democracy suggests that the ideals of a free country — a country with a united people— should not condone the division of its people into a ruling tribe on one hand and a marginalized tribe on the other hand. It should rather be home to a people with a fair sense of political, social and economic equality. Many a political expert would agree that with true democracy comes fairness and political power diversification within a sovereign state and with this comes social and economic stability. Therefore, until political power is held by patriots with proven leadership-acumen and character, democratically and transparently elected, obligated to a social contract and daring to take a country forward, unselfishly, then social and economic stability, growth and development could not be realized any time soon.
For the wide divide between the very rich and the very poor to be bridged, political power should not just revolve around a certain group of people or tribes, who by any means, will seek power for the pleasure of it, as has been the case in Nigeria where smaller tribes like the Ijaws, the Ibibios, the Efiks, the Anangs and every other undersized tribe has been sidelined, politically and economically by the majority Eastern Igbo tribes, the Western Yoruba tribes and the Northern Hausa/Fulani tribes.

The seat of the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been a position occupied by a select few. To achieve true democracy, measures should be put in place. To this regard, such measures as a more reliable political structure, policy or legislation that would ensure that power is equally distributed amongst capable and deserving hands will go a long way to improve the country. The transparency of Nigeria’s democracy can indeed be questioned as only the Hausa-Fulani’s (Northerners) and the Yoruba’s (Westerners), have ruled Nigeria since its independence from the British in 1960- a nation of 36 states, 250 ethnicities and over 140 million people. A new chapter in the country’s history book surely needs to be opened.

Nigeria as a country does not belong to any particular tribe but to every Nigerian citizen. People must understand that to be a strong and progressive unit, they must see past ethnicity, tribes and geographical boundaries. But most of all, there must be a political will amongst the powers that be to find a way to bring the marginalization of minority tribes to an end in a country that deserves a leader ready to foster national unity and prosperity for all, a leader ready to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, a leader ready to improve the living standards of the average citizen and foster social and human development amongst other economic proliferations.
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