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Barbarism, xenophobia and Africa’s leadership challenges

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IT will certainly be a herculean task to find an African who keeps close tab with the barbarism and extreme violence in many African countries who will contradict the mordant animadversions of the civilized polities against leaders in Africa who are bedeviled with enormous and intractable challenges. To say that there is apparent leadership failure in African continent is merely stating the obvious.

The xenophobic attack against foreign nationals in South Africa recently has reinforced the denigration by the civilized countries of the world against African leaderships. It is exasperating that these African leaders, many of which were thrown up mainly through brazen electoral malfeasance and the barrels of the gun, have not deemed it proper and expedient to emulate the good governance and outstanding leadership paradigms in civilized countries of the world, even as many of them travel to these countries and admire their mode and styles of governance, especially in the areas of rule of law, respect for human rights, and abiding with international institutions laws and conventions. The problem is that African leaderships have shown that they cannot think deeply and come to grips with what it takes to accord due cognisance to good governance and sacredness of human lives.

Bible commentaries locate leadership challenges and failure to a “generational curse” inflicted by Patriarch whose descendants later occupied the African continent.

In Genesis Chapter 9, verse 18-29, Noah was highly infuriated with one of his sons named Ham. Noah was a successful farmer with vine yards that produced brands of delicious wine.  It happened that one day, he was overwhelmed with joy at the best brands of the wine and carelessly drank more than he used to take and he became drunk.

He went to his tent and slept off but as the alcohol was pushing him where he was lying, his loin cloth could no longer cover his nakedness. Incidentally, Ham walked into the tent and only God knew what led him to the tent and observed his father’s nakedness and made a jest of it with his other two brothers, Shem and Japheth. The two brothers perceived that such story was not a laughing matter and quickly got a piece of cloth and entered the tent by walking backwards to where their father was lying naked so that they would not see his nakedness and covered that part of the body.

When their father woke up and got wind of what had happened, he summoned the sons and showered blessings on Japheth and Shem but pronounced curse on Ham. After the flood, it was Noah and his children that replenished humanity in the world. Verse 19 of the Bible says “These are the three sons of Noah; and of them was the whole earth over-spread…Noah’s curse of Ham’s descendants is the first recorded human curse…but the Canaanites did become slaves of Shem, Father of the Hebrews during Israel’s monarchy”. The curse he pronounced on Ham, who was also known as Canaan, was that he would be servant to his brothers; and later the descendants of Canaan occupied Africa.

So, when one takes a realistic look at the Africans’ disoriented leaderships and their failure to restrain their people due to lack of effective security architecture for the protection of human rights and ensure rule of law, you will understand the ready resort of the people to barbaric gambits, mindless killings, burning of houses at the slightest provocation or no provocation at all, regular indulgence in grossly irrational religious fundamentalism and discrimination that lead to slaughtering of people like Sudan’s Janjaweed militia, religious upheavals in Rwanda, incessant inter-boundary skirmishes between Ebonyi State and Cross-River and Ebonyi and Benue State, Nasarawa, etc. and butchering of Christians in the northern part of Nigeria without the law taking its course. For instance, the beheading of Gideon Akaluka in Kano in the 1980s and the recent killing of the wife of Deeper Life pastor, who was in her usual early morning preaching.

In sane and organised polities, the rampaging and murderous Boko Haram [whom President Buhari unfortunately chose to regard as bandits and criminals when they are captured instead of being instantly executed as being done in Chad, Cameroun, and other neighbouring countries where they carry out religious war], would have been  nipped in the bud and prevented from escalation in a full scale war with huge cost in human and material things.

Taking a closer look at governance and leadership in Africa, one would believe that the “generational curse” is at the root of the barbarism of the people and the quixotic conduct of their leaders, including brazen manipulation of the constitution for the extension of tenures. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who died recently held on to power for 37 years in spite of the flaws in his administrative style.

It is ridiculous and preposterous how the Nigerian leadership is effusive in condemning the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the supposed “Rainbow Republic”. That was very ironical going by the failure of the leadership to unleash the law enforcement agents on the “foot soldiers of Islamisation from the Sahel Region that masquerade as Fulani herdsmen”, who have been unchecked by the police and soldiers while they slaughter Christians, burning churches and taking physical occupation of the ancestral lands and homes of Nigerian indigenes in the Christian dominated part of the country. The question is: what is the difference between what the foreign invaders masquerading as Fulani herdsmen and slaughtering people and burning their houses and property while the law enforcement agents look elsewhere with the xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals in South Africa? Both the security agents in Nigeria and in South Africa failed to carry out their constitutional responsibility due to leadership challenges in Africa. Where is the moral template for Nigerian leadership to be angry with the South African leadership?

Due to disoriented and uncivilised styles of leadership, the lawless goons in both countries go hare-wire as if there is nothing like an organised society or government that was instituted to check lawlessness and protect the led from beasts in human form.

Taking a resounding animadversion on the apparent leadership failure in Nigeria, a cerebral face-book personage, Mathew Ejiko said: “Xenophobic in South Africa, what’s new? Nigerians are angry. The president and his government are pretending to be angry. When a band of Fulanis went to Benue State some months back, unprovoked and massacred innocent people of the state, what did the President do? What did his government officials do?

“What did they say? What was their overall reaction to the scandalous show? Was this not xenophobia? Pogrom too? May be it did not matter because you can really call that domestic xenophobia. Let us hide our heads in shame. The Nigerians afflicted will come back home from South Africa to join hordes of unemployed people at home. Some will become armed robbers and kidnappers. Some will join the “runs” to make life go on. Some will commit suicide Oh Nigeria”.

In the accounts of the xenophobic attacks, the police and the soldiers were looking elsewhere while the unruly South Africans were wrecking havoc on the foreigners, while government failed to give marching orders to the security agents to keep law and order. The same ugly scenario obtains in Nigeria whenever the foreign invaders that masquerade as Fulani herdsmen are killing people, raping women, burning houses.  What sort of leadership disorientation is found

in African countries, one may ask?

According to records, “xenophobia is a policy driven right from the era of President Jacob Zuma and it is driven by the South African police. In the presence of the police, people are slaughtered like chicken”.

The convener of Say No Campaign Nigeria, Ezenwa Nwangwu, believed that these shameful episodes stem from leadership conundrum in Africa and lack of good governance. He said: “There is leadership failure across Africa. We have sold out to extraneous forces and what we are facing now is a consequence of leadership failure. We had this kind of situation in the past when diplomatic dispute between Nigeria and South Africa led to deportation of South Africans from Nigeria”.

Can you imagine a grossly irresponsible official statement from the top official of South African government, Dr. Naledi Pandor with the effect that compensation would not be paid to Nigerians who suffered and lost billions of their property in the xenophobic attacks? Such disoriented disposition cannot be taken by the civilised nations of the world. This is how the generational curse is adversely affecting Africans and their leaders.

In his hypocritical stance, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila said the House would do everything to get compensation from South Africa even as he condemned the xenophobic attacks. This is one of the members of the ruling party who never condemned the slaughtering of people by the Fulani herdsmen and the occupation of their ancestral lands in Benue State and other places.

He said: “Let no one be left in any doubt, we will seek and will obtain by whatever means available, due restoration and recompense for all that has been lost in this latest conflagration and all the ones that have come before”. In the light of the unfortunate scenarios, one would say with all sense of responsibility that leadership challenges led to barbarism in African countries hence its baneful influence in the expected significant and sustainable socio-economic growth and development in spite of the abundant mineral and natural resources in Africa.

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