A Post-Truth World After Mandela


The Horizon By Kayode Komolafe kayode.komolafe@thisdaylive.com   0805 500 1974

Today is the centenary of the birth of that authentic hero of our age, Nelson Mandela.
The seeming lack of enthusiasm here about this important date in African history is a measure of how the post-apartheid leadership in South Africa has alienated other Africans especially Nigerians. Certainly, the mood could have been markedly different even a generation ago regarding the celebration   of the Mandela centenary.  The situation has since worsened since Mandela died five years ago.  The hostility of South Africans towards other Africans is simply unjustifiable. Not even the objective factor of poverty of the majority of the black people would serve as a sufficient explanation. The subjective question of socio-political orientation is also important in trying to understand the ugly trend. After all, the Nigerian people had material problems   when the nation was mobilised against apartheid and other forms oppression in southern Africa. Poor people donated to the South Africa Relief Fund.

Forty years ago, Mandela celebrated his Diamond Jubilee in prison. In Nigeria it was a day of expression of solidarity by the government and people of Nigeria in support of the liberation struggle in southern Africa. You don’t notice a similar ferment on the street or official circles anymore. Not with the killings of scores of Nigerians by some disoriented persons in South Africa who lack the sense of history of the solidarity and friendship between Nigeria and South Africa.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was here a few days ago to seek improved relations between the two countries. In response to legitimate questions on the barbaric killings of Nigerians in South Africa, all the comrade president could do was to blame this shameful trend on “criminality” as if it is not the responsibility of the South African government to have put an end to the killings that have become a culture for years now. Nigerians and other foreigners who break South African laws should be punished according to the rule of law and not the rule of mobs.

Every report of killings of foreigners in South Africa, a country that has enjoyed the universal solidarity of lovers of freedom, would readily provoke a question: is the leadership in South Africa conscious of the fact that such acts negate the essence of   Mandela’s pan-Africanism and, indeed, humanity?

Indubitably, Mandela represented tolerance, inclusivity and solidarity of peoples. This truth is, perhaps, not being sufficiently told to the post-apartheid generation in South Africa. For instance, Ramaphosa, himself as a leader of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) enjoyed a relationship of solidarity and comradeship with the Nigerian labour movement in the 1980s in the same way that cadres of the now ruling African National Congress (ANC) including one of Ramaphosa’s predecessors, Thabo Mbeki, was at home in Nigeria during the struggle.

On his release from prison, Mandela upheld the historical truth of solidarity and friendship. The sage not only told truth, he acted it in an admirably principled manner. For instance, during the dark days of General Sani Abacha, Mandela ignored all the diplomatic niceties to speak the truth about the unacceptable situation in Nigeria to the whole world.

He saw Nigeria’s debacle on the road to democracy as South Africa’s problem. That was pan-Africanism in action in the true tradition of Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe and other African heroes. The criminals, who are killing Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa, and the leaders of the country, who have not done enough to stop the barbarism, are not upholding this truth held firmly by Mandela.

There is a huge deficit of    pan-Africanist consciousness in South Africa. South Africa after Mandela   needs to work hard on this aspect of the nation’s moral landscape. Mbeki attempted to do something about it by provoking some thinking about African renaissance.

Unfortunately, his less intellectually endowed successor, Jacob Zuma, seemed not to have a full grasp of the idea.  Hence the official embrace of the campaign was not significant in the Zuma years. It is not clear what Ramaphosa would do in this respect.  Such a renaissance   could have possibly doused the fire in the upsurge of xenophobia in an otherwise exemplary multi-racial society in constitutional terms.
So it was fitting that the Mandela lecture was given yesterday by the first black president of the United States, Barack Obama on the theme of  “Renewing the Mandela Legacy & Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World.”

Worried about “strange and uncertain times,” Obama used the lecture to draw attention to the danger posed to the development of democratic culture by the practitioners of post-truth. Apart from post-truth, Obama also topically spoke on other associated “strange” happenings in the world at his time. Not a few would notice this categorical criticism of his successor, Donald Trump, even though his name was not mentioned in the course of the lecture. More than anywhere, perhaps, the doctrine of “alternative facts” has been legitimised in Trump’s America.

For example Obama said: “: “I can’t find common ground if someone says climate change is not happening when almost all the world’s scientists say it is. If you start saying it is an elaborate hoax, where do we start?” The position of the climate change deniers is an extreme case of the damage that post-truth could ultimately inflict on mankind.

The former American president defended the sacredness of facts, the way Mandela did in struggling against racism. Obama is against post-truth just like Mandela fought the lies of racism. The apartheid regimes in South Africa invented their own “alternative facts” to justify apartheid for decades to the consternation of all defenders of social justice and freedom in the world. The “strongman politics,” which Obama implacably detests can only be sustained by the distortion of reality of the people by the purveyors of lies, hate and prejudice.

It is remarkable, however, that Obama’s tone in this matter is decidedly optimistic. It is not only Africa that needs hope in the confusion of the post-truth age; the whole of mankind should keep hope alive.

Yet, Obama did a good thing by telling his South African audience that immigration could be enriching to every society in many ways. The valid point about the racist anti-immigration movement in the U.S. inspired by Trump also speaks to the xenophobic killings in South Africa. He made a good reference to the multi-racial composition of the French team that won the World Cup on Sunday.

Obama clearly spoke in the tradition of Mandela.
As the world celebrates the centenary of the birth of Mandela today, the deep lessons about freedom, genuine solidarity and our common humanity embodied in his life should be learnt beyond the shores of South Africa.

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Governors and the Nigeria Police Council

Femi Falana
Like majority of concerned citizens I have watched with dismay and frustration the unabated killing of thousands of innocent people including children and the wanton destruction of properties by terrorists, herders, kidnappers, armed robbers and other bandits.

Having taken over the monopoly of violence the armed gangs have continued to unleash mayhem in various communities despite official assurance that the Federal Government is committed to the protection of the life and property of every person living in Nigeria.

In view of the worsening security situation in the country I am compelled to call on the 36 state governors to request President Mohammadu Buhari to convene an urgent meeting of the Nigeria Police Council to deliberate on the organisation, administration and general supervision of the Nigeria Police Force with a view to designing strategies for effective policing of each state of the federation and the federal capital territory.

It is pertinent to point out that this request is based on the following legal grounds:
• The Nigeria Police Council is one of the Federal Executive Bodies established pursuant to Section 153 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
• By virtue of Paragraph L, Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution the Council is constituted by the President, the Governor of each of the States of the Federation, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission and Inspector-General of Police.

• The functions of the Council include the general supervision, organisation and administration of the Nigeria Police Force and other matters relating thereto.
• The Council is also required to advise the President on the appointment of the Inspector-General of Police in accordance with section 215 (1) of the Constitution.

• But due to the failure of the Council to hold regular meetings in line with the provisions of Section 159 of the Constitution its functions have been performed exclusively by the Presidency since civil rule was restored in the country on May 29, 1999.

• Instead of insisting on joint control and management of the Nigeria Police Force with the President as envisaged by the Constitution the 36 state governors are currently campaigning for the establishment of State Police, thereby giving the impression that we have in place is a Federal Government Police Force.

• It is doubtful if the governors are familiar with the case of the Attorney-General of Anambra State V Attorney-General of the Federation (2005) 9 NWLR (Pt 932) 572 wherein the Supreme Court held that, “The Constitution in section 215 subsection (1) clearly gives the Governor of Anambra State the power to issue lawful direction to the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State, in connection with securing public safety and order in the State.”

In the light of the foregoing, the Council may wish to take advantage of the proposed meeting to direct the Attorneys-General of all the states of the Federation to embark on the immediate prosecution of the hundreds of suspects that have been arrested by the combined teams of the Police and the Army for culpable homicide, kidnapping, armed robbery and arson which are state offences.

Apart from this proposed meeting I call on the governors to ensure that the Council meets on a regular basis to review the security situation in the country.
The security of the nation cannot afford to wait for the planned establishment of State Police.
• Mr. Falana is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria