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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #48 of 52: Syncretism of African and European Religions | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #50 of 52: Can There Be an African Psychology? »

April 04, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #49 of 52: Can There Be an African Political Philosophy?

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Africans love to talk politics, but not psychology and philosophy. Whenever they gather, they talk politics. Politics, politics, politics. Politics offers them the opportunity to offer their opinions on how their society ought to be governed. Good.

However, there is certain sadness in Africans talk of politics. They tend to talk politics outside a philosophical context.

When Europeans and Americans talk politics they do so within the context of settled political philosophies. They have a political frame of reference guiding their discussions. The West has grappled with political theory and came to conclusions as to how they think man ought to be governed.

Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, Rousseau, Montesquieu, John Stoat Mill etc are some of the framers of Western political discourse.

Simply stated Westerners have come to certain conclusions about the nature of man and his society and practice their politics in that context.

Asians pretty much have done the same. The Asian is rooted in Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, and the political philosophies implicit in those apparent religions. Thus, when the Asian talks politics he is doing so in the context of what his people have accepted as the nature of man and the nature of man’s society.

Africans have not taken the time to think through the nature of man and what his polity ought to be like.

Some of them went to Western schools where, generally, they obtain superficial education on the nature of the West. Very few of them have actually tried to understand the spirit of the West.

To understand the spirit of the West, one must study Western philosophy, and religion (Judeo Christianity) and, of course, science. One must grasp the struggles by the rational elements of society to overcome the strictures of the faith community; the nature of the Renaissance, the struggle between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church, the struggle between the Christian Church and the secular movement, the nature of reformation, enlightenment, urbanization, scientism and the other forces that shaped the West.

Pseudo educated Africans seldom understand what any of these things mean. In fact, they even do not know what politics is all about. They jabber about politics and think that politics is only free for all talk and that it is up to each individual to say and do what he likes. It is a pity.

My heart cries out for Africans, as I see them jabber nonsense. Listen up, folks. Politics is war by other means (to stand, Von Clautzwise definition of war as politics by other means, on its head). When you are engaged in politics, you are at war with your opponents. It is cold war. Each of you is trying to win and have his will, his idea as to how the polity should be governed prevail.

This is an existential struggle, a titanic struggle. In fact, it is a struggle between men and gods. As it were, men have wrestled power away from the gods and are trying to make their will prevail in the world, their corner of it, anyway.

In normal politics, you go about this war in a cold manner but where talk fails, it becomes hot war and people shoot it out.

Thus behind the smiling faces of legislators must be military men willing to settle matters with bullets. Generally, politicians backed by stronger militaries win debates in politics.

Political realism tells us that war is always right around the corner, at any time in the affairs of men. Therefore, those engaged in political discourse must be very careful in what they say or do for if their talk becomes unacceptable to their opponents war breaks out. A minor thing like insulting ones opponents can lead to war where thousands, even millions die.

After the First World, liberals and their brain dead understanding of human nature took over. They gathered at Versailles, in France, and listened to Woodrow Wilson’s hare brained liberal agenda (the so-called fourteen points) to remake the world for liberal democracy. They ignored political realism and decided to humiliate Germany.

That is correct; they degraded the most warrior race on planet earth. Those Liberal fools actually went home thinking that they could sleep. But they had murdered sleep and Adolf Hitler soon showed them how. They paid dearly for their political immaturity. Fifty million of them died for them to come back to their senses, the recognition that you cannot degrade a man and get away with it.

Every man has the capacity to kill other men. You can kill me, and I can kill you. This is our existential reality. Either of us can choose to exercise that reality at any time.

So, if you insult a man and he looses face, there is no reason why he could not kill you.

Is there a reason why you should not kill me and I you? Religion? God? Where is God? Grow up and think empirically.

Human beings have the capacity to harm and or kill each other; therefore, if you want to live, you must treat them carefully. Failure to do so and you live to regret it.

But you see Africans insulting each other etc and you know that they will sooner or later shoot it out and kill each other. Just look at Africa and what do you see? You see incessant wars.

In Nigeria, the various tribes insult each other. The Igbos carry themselves as if they are better than other ethnic groups, thus inviting them to slap them around. If you pretend to be superior to others, all things known about human psychology suggests that they would attempt to slap you down. That is a fact, so, grow up and give up your delusion of superiority and accept the reality of our sameness and equality.

In that same Nigeria, some tribes, Hausa-Fulani, rule others. In their infantile minds, they probably believe that they can go on ruling others for ever.

Didn’t we resent it when white men ruled us? If we resented powerful Britain ruling us what makes you believe that the rule by primitive African tribes would be tolerated?

But no, Africans seem brain-dead, so the tribe in power continues ruling others and others keep quaffing in anger, seeking an opportunity to kill the rulers. Sooner or later, war breaks out and people are killed and these idiots see themselves as victims. No, you are not a victim; you are a fool and know nothing about human nature.

People are like birds, they seek freedom. You can cage them for a while but they never lose their desire for freedom. When the opportunity presents itself they will fly way. The subordinated tribes will break free, by and by.

If that is the case, wouldn’t the right thing to do be to structure the polity so that all its members feel respected hence feel happy to be in it?

That is what reason would suggest, but nobody ever accuses Africans of being a reasonable people.

Nigeria, indeed, most African countries are hastily put together by Europeans. Nigeria is not a country in the real sense of that word. But it can be made a country. Instead, of seeking ways to make it a real country, the rulers, foolish as ever, do things that make Nigeria’s break up inevitable.

Here is what would make Nigeria a country. How many tribes are in Nigeria? Perhaps, there are ten major tribes and numerous small ones. Divide the country into twenty states with each major tribe a state. Alaigbo state (comprising all Igbos, from Abo to Port Harcourt), a Yoruba state, an Edo state, an Ijaw state, an Efik state, an Urhobo state, a Tivi state, a Hausa state, a Bornu state (The smaller tribes who are generally similar to their neighbors can be grouped into states.) Altogether Nigeria should be no more than twenty states. It simply does not have the money to support more state expenses.

The twenty states should have no more than four hundred counties (also called districts or local government areas). This limit reduces administrative costs.

Each state would rule itself (have its own legislature, governor and judiciary) and send delegates to a national government (unicameral legislature of no more three hundred members, a president elected for six years with two term limit, and a judiciary headed by a supreme court) .

There would be true federalism where each state is almost independent and controls its resources. All citizens pay taxes to the national government (as well as state and local governments) to perform common services such as military, foreign affairs etc.

This is the only solution that, in the long run, will work well in Nigeria and in other African countries.

African countries must be restructured and made realistic to their ethnic compositions. You may pretend that all is fine but all is not fine in the land until you do the right thing by all the tribes. You cannot have internal black colonialism and not expect political strife.

Do Africans need to reinvent political philosophy? Is there such a thing as African political philosophy?

I do not think that there is such a thing as African political philosophy, but there is such a thing as political philosophy applied to Africans.

Africans can study philosophy, Western, Eastern African, and apply it to the particular exigencies of their world.

With regards to what existed in traditional African societies, they were not unique to Africa, they were found in all traditional societies in the world.

Human beings are the same all over the world; therefore, philosophy is the same all over the world.

Posted by Administrator at April 4, 2006 01:47 AM


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