MALI AND DEMOCRACY RENAISSANCE
There is need for imaginative measures, argues Okello Oculi
Modibbo Keita, founding leader of post-colonial Mali, joined Sekou Toure of Guinea and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to dream big. The ‘TROIKA’ shared a vision of their three countries being foundation stones for the birth of a ‘UNITED STATES OF AFRICA’. It is likely that while still in their mother’s wombs heard them sing of ancient empires of: Songhai, Ghana and Mali.
Nkrumah probably remembered that song about constructing empires when as a student in the United States of America he learnt about 13 colonies (on the country’s Atlantic coast), starting a political SAFARI to a vast country. This seized his imagination
The proclamation of ‘’GHANA-GUINES-MALI’’ became a song blown across Africa. Racist dictatorships by European immigrants from Tunisia, Algeria, Kenya, to Southern Africa went into urgent panic and resolved to fight the impending freedom hurricane.
Nkrumah’s 1958 ‘’ALL-AFRICA CONFERENCE’’ attracted charismatic politicians, including: Patrice Lumumba of Belgian Congo; Tom Mboya (from Kenya), Mohammed Babu (from Zanzibar) and Franz Fanon (from Martinique-Algeria). This panicked Colonial fascists which turned to military coups; assassinations of warriors of democracy for enhancing Africa’s sovereignty, economic welfare and patriotic struggles. Blood-stained silences took over.
Of the TROIKA for realising a United States of Africa, Modibbo Keita and Kwame Nkrumah lost power to military coups. The national interest of external countries overrode commitments to building democracy.
From under this political silence have come mixed efforts to construct democratic politics. In Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda and Sudan, the gun has accompanied governance. In Algeria and Sudan resilient mass protests have defied guns by incumbent rulers in their thirst for a ‘NEW DEMOCRACY’.
In Mali and Guinea (Conakry), corrupt and brutal suppression of critics and opposition politicians were used to prop up a facade of ‘’Democracy’’. Governance eroded the role of TRUST by the people for their rulers. The power of that Trust is in governors serving the material welfare of the GOVERNED. The process of elections both serve to put the PROMISE to serve in power, and reviews the Record of Performance in keeping the sanctity of the PROMISE.
In economies in which household farmers are denied the injection of funds for building their income; education, health care and transport; higher conditions of living, combined with a swelling population who flee from rural poverty but become trapped in unemployment, there is lack of capacity for removing from power officials who have betrayed the TRUST and WELFARE of the people.
Using claims of upholding ‘’DEMOCRACY’’ to hold on to power, incumbent rulers discredit the credibility and honour of the doctrine. It becomes a bitter slogan in the ears and eyes of the people.
In Sudan under Omar Bashir, the facade of democracy also discredited the legitimacy of ISLAM as cloak of legitimacy for the government. In Mali and Guinea, loss of legitimacy ensured popular welcome for the MILITARY COUP which overthrew civilian elites whose corruption denied the military effective weapons for protecting the people against slaughter by Islamist invaders.
The loss of trust also eroded the dignity of ECOWAS in upholding the principle of keeping out military coups as a political tool for governance. This was deepened by the silence of ECOWAS leaders when governments were clearly corrupt and not devoted to protecting their citizens. The situation echoed past criticism of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) as a Club of corrupt leaders who gave priority to protecting each other while ‘’elephants of poverty trample on their peoples’’.
There is need for imaginative measures. While at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Conference Centre in Bellagio, a Pakistan military Officer attributed lack of military coups in neighbouring INDIA to an ancient IDEOLOGY which allocates political rule exclusively to the BRAHMIN Class.
However, as in JAPAN, the BRAHMIN class are intensively indoctrinated with VIRTUE and FEAR of losing their status in future cycles of life.
In Japan, Germany, France, Britain and the United States of America social engineering to ensure high quality governance converge on establishing select universities for the most brilliant students who are groomed for leadership in political and economic sectors.
Their academic training is very rigorous. Stanford University, for example, has an Internship scheme which attaches students to Members of Congress. Bill Clinton recalls the positive influence of, as a Secondary School student, working in the Office of Senator Fulbright.
In Japan, those trained for the political sector do not engage in business. Old Boy ties enable easy dialogue between top politicians and top businessmen.
In 1962, Prime Minister Julius Nyerere resigned after one year in office; travelled around the country to consult with TANU leaders, and evolved CREATIVE COMPETITIVE elections within a popular SINGLE PARTY. In 1961 his party won all seats in parliament in elections organised by British officials. No votes were cast.
Prof Oculi writes from Abuja