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May 27, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #23 of 54: Guinea Bissau

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 23. GUINEA BISSAU Flag of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau

Formal Name: Republic of Guinea Bissau.

Term for Citizens: Guinea Bissauns.

Capital: Bissau. Population: 292,000.

Independence Achieved: September 10, 1974, from Portugal.

Major Cities: Bissau.

Geography:

Guinea Bissau is in West Africa. Guinea Bissau covers an area of 13, 948 square miles. Guinea Bissau is bounded by Senegal, Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is mainly low-lying land and covered with mud flats and mangrove swamps. The swamps are often inundated by rising tides. The lowlands gradually give way to the Futa Djalon highlands in Guinea. The country also has islands in the Atlantic. It has two seasons, wet and dry. There is substantial rainfall at the coast.

Society:

The population is estimated at 1,493,000.

Ethnic Groups: Fulani, Balantes, Mandigo (Manyako, Malinke, and Papel).

Languages: Portuguese and several African languages.

Religion: Christianity and Islam.

Education: primary school education is available to all children. Literacy rate is estimated at 55%.

Economy: Farming is the primary activity in the country. Rice, sorghum, sweet potatoes, cassava, maize, beans, and other crops are raised for food and cashew is raised for export. Fishing is also an important economic activity. In the higher lands, herding of sheep, goats and cattle is prevalent. Bauxite mining is becoming a prominent economic activity. GDP estimate: $1.1 billion; Per Capita GDP: US $160 (World Bank, 2005). Monetary Unit: CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF).

History and Government:

Portugal was the colonial ruler of Guinea Bissau until 1974. Portugal refused to give the country independence when it demanded it and a long protracted war ensued, a war that ended only in 1974. Military persons in Guinea Bissau quickly overthrew the civilian government. The competition between civilians and the military to rule the country has not died down to produce a genuine democracy. The country is divided into 9 regions. An interim president governs the country.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


Guinea Bissau was part of the ancient empire of Mali. However, its contemporary history began with the Portuguese visits to the Guinea coast in the fifteen hundreds, to buy African slaves to be shipped to the Americas. Guinea Bissau became part of Portugal during the European scramble to colonize Africa. It was part of Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde. Portugal essentially transformed the territory to cashew plantations and exported cashew nuts from the area to the rest of the world.

Portugal regarded its African territories as part of itself and was not interested in giving them independence. Whereas the British and French made plans to give their colonies independence, after the Second World War, Portugal claimed that her African territories were continuous to Portugal and did not make such arrangements.

Seeking independence from Portugal, African nationalists formed a group called The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, PAIGC, in 1956. The group engaged in war with Portugal, and in 1973 unilaterally declared its independence from Portugal. In 1974, the dictatorial Salazar government of Portugal fell and the United Nations recognized the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde.

PAIGC leader, Amilca Cabral was installed as the President of the country. Mr. Cabral proceeded to nationalize the economy and turn it towards socialism. Thereafter, the economy went south and the people suffered. He appointed Joao Bernardo Vieira his military chief. Six years later, complaining about the country’s economic mismanagement and corruption, Vieira successfully carried out a military Coup and removed Mr. Cabral from office.

Subsequently, there was a falling out between the more Europeanized persons living at Cape Verde Islands and the more Africans living at Guinea Bissau and the later separated from the joint republic. Mr. Vieira continued to rule Guinea Bissau.

In 1994, there was a brief uprising by the army and in 1998/9 there was a civil war when Mr. Vieira removed the leader of his military. In an election conducted in 2000, Mr. Vieira lost and went into exile.

Mr. Kumba Yala was elected the president. In 2003 there was a military coup against Mr. Yala and he was removed from office. In 2005, another presidential election was held and Mr. Vieira, who had by now returned from his exile in Portugal, won the election and is the present President of Guinea Bissau. Mr. Vieira changed the direction of the country, from Mr. Cabral’s socialistic tendencies to a more pro-western, capitalist economy.

Guinea Bissau is divided into eight regions, which are, in turn, subdivided into 37 sectors.

The economy of Guinea Bissau is based on the exporting of cashew. This is not much of a resource and the country is poor, with an income per capita of only US $160 (World Bank, 2005).

The economic future of Guinea looks bleak. However, if democratization becomes real, it is possible for the country to attract foreign investment and that would improve things, some.

ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #22 of 54: Guinea

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 22. GUINEA Flag of the Republic of Guinea

Formal Name: Republic of Guinea.

Term for Citizens: Guineans.

Capital: Conakry. Population: 1, 272, 000.

Independence Achieved: October 2, 1958, from France.

Major Cities: Conakry.

Geography:

Guinea is in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, and Liberia and the Atlantic Ocean. Guinea encompasses an area of 94, 926 square miles. The coastal regions tend to be forested and that gradually gives way to savanna, and eventually to the Sahara Desert. Climatically all of Guinea has two seasons: wet and dry. The wet season (April to October) witnesses’ heavy rainfall in the coastal regions, and less rainfall in the interior, and even less rainfall in the north. Conakry on the coast receives over 170 inches of rainfall annually. Upper Guinea receives less than 60 inches of rain annually. Temperature is topical, around 82.F but generally hotter in the north of the country.

Society;

The population of Guinea is estimated at 8, 480,000.

Ethnic Groups: The main ethnic groups are: the Susu, Mandingo, Dialonke, Landoma, Bega, and Nalou.

Languages: Fulbe, Badyaranke, Basari, Coniagui, Mandingo, Dialonke, Mandinka, Kpelle, Loma, Kissi and others.

Religion: Sunni Islam is the dominant religion. Small Christian and Indigenous populations exist.

Education: There is free and universal primary education. Literacy rate is estimated at 36%.

Economy: Agriculture and some mining remain the dominant sectors of the economy. Rice, cassava, millets, sweet potatoes, corn, bananas, palm oil and kernel, coffee, groundnuts, pineapples and citrus fruits remain the chief agricultural products. Iron ore, bauxite, and diamonds are extensively mined. GDP estimate: $15.9 billion; Per Capita GDP: US $460 (World Bank, 2005). Monetary Unit: Franc (GNF)

History and Government:

France ruled Guinea. When the fifth French Republic came into being with the 1958 constitution that brought Charles De Gaulle to power, De Gaulle gave France’s African colonies the choice to remain in France or to have their independence. Guinea demanded immediate independence from France in 1958 and was granted its wishes by Charles de Gaulle. France immediately pulled all its personnel out of Guinea and dismantled the administrative infrastructure it had set up to govern Guinea. The country thus began its independence with very few trained personnel to govern it. Sekou Toure, the new African leader, embarked on a socialist cum personalistic rule. Post Toure Guinea is still not fully democratic although on the surface the framework for democratic governance seems in place: parliament, judiciary and executive branch of the government. The country is divided into 4 administrative regions and one special zone. At present, President, General Lansana Conte governs through a prime minister, the typical French pattern of presidential democracy.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS

Present day Guinea was part of the three middle ages African empires of Ghana, Songhai and Mali. As part of those empires, it had substantial contact with the Arab-Moslem world and the country is largely Muslim.

The name Guinea is derived from contact with North Africans, for it is of Berber origin, meaning “land of blacks”. (Guinea Coast, as the Coast of West Africa was called, meant black folks coastal lands.)

Europeans (Portuguese) came to the Guinea coast in the fifteenth century and initiated slave trade from many outposts.

During the scramble for Africa, France took over Guinea in 1890 and established their capital at Conakry on Tombo Island.

Guinea was part of French West Africa until 1958 when its leader, Ahmed Sekou Toure, opted to separate from France rather than join the French community proposed by Charles De Gaulle. As a result of that decision for independence, France withdrew from any role it had hitherto played in aiding Guinea. It was reported that the French even took their telephones when they left in 1958, leaving Guinea to start from the scratch.

President Sekou Toure embraced socialism and joined forces with the socialist world. Naturally, the capitalist world shut Guinea out and very little economic development took place in Guinea during the 26 year rule of Sekou Toure.

Sekou Toure died in 1984 and the military took over governance. Mr. Lansana Conte, the military strong man, took over and is still in power. He made an about turn and embraced capitalism and turned towards the West for help.

Unfortunately, Mr. Conte is an autocrat and permits no opposition to his rule. He continued the stifling of the people, particularly the Press. Very little criticism of the government is permitted. In this atmosphere of repression, very little economic development takes place.

Guinea is divided into seven administrative regions, which in turn are subdivided into thirty three prefectures.

Guinea’s economy remains stymied in underdevelopment although the country has many natural resources that were they well managed would make the country prosperous. Guinea has the largest reserve of bauxite in the world and produces 30% of the world’s bauxite. If the government could become well managed, it is probable that Guinea could become industrialized and prosperous. As it is, the population is so grossly illiterate and suppressed by a brutal autocrat that very little creative thinking goes into improving anything. People are too afraid for their lives and devote their energies trying to survive to have any energy and time left to put to productive ends.

Many well meaning observers believe that unless Guinea mends its way that it risks becoming another failed third world country. Mr. Conte appears bent on becoming president for life. In a recent referendum, he intimidated the population into removing the two term limits his earlier constitution had stipulated and is now free to rule for however long he wants to.

Mr. Conte manages to accomplish his self serving goals despite being a recluse who is seldom seen in the public. Apparently, his agents, including his hand picked Prime Minister, Mr. Cellou Dalein Diallo, are able to control things for him.

Needless to say that Guinea is a fragile state that could explode at any moment. This political instability makes it difficult for her to attract foreign investors and the cumulative effect is that the country remains grossly underdeveloped and is one of the poorest in Africa, with a per capita income of only US $460 (World Bank, 2005).

ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #21 of 54: Ghana

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 21. GHANA Flag of the Republic of Ghana

Formal Name: Republic of Ghana.

Term for Citizens: Ghanaians.

Capital: Accra. Population: 1,925,000.

Independence Achieved: March 6, 1957, from Britain.

Major Cities: Takoradi, Secondi, and Kumasi.


Geography:

Ghana is located in West Africa. It is bounded in the East by Togo, in the West by Ivory Coast, in the North by Burkina Faso and in the South by the Atlantic Ocean. Ghana’s south is in the Guinea coast; the south experiences heavy rainfall and is forested. Mangrove swamps mark the coastal region. The middle section of the country is savanna and the North is semi arid. The total area of Ghana is about 92,456 square miles.


Population:

Ghana’s population is currently estimated to be about 20,922,000. Roughly half of the population lives in urban areas, much of it concentrated in Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi.

Ethnic groups and languages:

The major ethnic groups in Ghana are the Akan peoples; they are composed of the Ashanti, Fante and Twi. The Akan people live primarily in the coastal and forested mid section of the country. Towards the Ivory Coast border are the Agni and Baule people, who are also found in the Ivory Coast. The Ga people live around Accra. The people bordering Togo speak Ewe. The people of Northern Ghana speak the different forms of Moshi-Dagomba language. Towards the border with Burkina Faso are Mamprusi and Dagati speaking groups.


Religion:

Ghana is about 60% Christian, 20% Muslim and the rest a syncretic mixture of African and other religions.


Education:

Primary education is mandatory and compulsory. About 25% of primary school graduates go to secondary schools. Less than 10% of secondary school graduates go to universities. Literacy rate is estimated at 74.8%.

Economy:

Ghana has a private enterprise economy. There is extensive government participation in the economy. About 60% of the population practice subsistence farming. Cash cropping on small plots of land is wide spread. (Cocoa, palm oil, bananas, coffee, maize and yam are the major cash crops.) The industrial sector is gradually taking off, with light manufacturing emphasized. GDP estimate: $42.5; Per Capita GDP: $2, 100. Monetary Unit: Cedi (GHC).


History and Government:

Ghana has a long pre-colonial history. The Ashanti were one of the more established African kingdoms with a centralized government and a king at its head. Beginning in the late fifteenth century, the various European groups established slaving posts at the coastal regions of Ghana. From these “Castles” slaves were exported to the new world. The Coastal peoples of Ghana had extensive contact with Europeans and were one of the first African groups to acquire Western education and initiate the struggle for independence from foreign rule. Ghana was the first black African Country to gain its independence from Europeans. Dr Kwame Nkrumah established the first postcolonial government in Africa in 1957 and was an inspiration for other Africans fighting for their liberation from European rule. Initially, the government of Ghana was modeled after the British, with a House of Representatives, political parties and the majority party forming the government with a prime minister and cabinet. This has since changed into American oriented presidential system of government. Ghana now has an elected president, an elected legislature and an independent judiciary. After a period of military interventions in government, Ghana is today one of the most stable African countries where elections are regularly held, and power smoothly transferred to the party that won the election.

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


The name Ghana is derived from the tenth century West African empire called Ghana. The area itself was the home of many African groups, including the Ashanti and Fante.

During the transatlantic slave trading, Europeans built forts on Ghana’s coasts and from there bought slaves to be sold to the new world. Gold was also bought.

In 1874, Ghana, then called the Gold Coast, officially became a British colony. Ghana gained independence from Britain in 1957; she was the first black African country to do so.

Between 1957 and 1966, Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, ruled the country. In 1966 were a military coup and thereafter a series of military coups. The last of these military interventions in governance was by flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981.

In 1992, Rawlings wrote a constitution and was elected as a civilian President. He was reelected in 1996 and at the end of his second and final term, according to the new Constitution, relinquished power to his successor, John Kufuor. Mr. Kufuor was reelected in 2004 and all indications are that he would hand over government to a successor. Ghana appears to be on the path to true democracy.

Ghana is divided into ten regions which are in turn subdivided into 138 districts.

John Kufour appears to be managing Ghana’s economy rather well. Whereas subsistence farming still plays a key role in Ghana’s economy, the country appears to be making headways in becoming an industrialized nation. The economy is considered stable enough to attract international investors. The government seems very transparent and corruption is on the decline.

Ghana, of all the West African countries, probably has the most disciplined civil service. The country has produced a number of well known civil servants, including the current Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan.

Education is well developed in Ghana; in fact, Ghana, relative to other African countries, has produced many well educated persons. Elementary and junior secondary schooling is free to all children. Senior secondary schooling and university education is available to those who can pay for them. But the most important thing is that education is available and many Ghanaians have access to modern education.

On the whole, Ghana is one of the most stable African countries. The various ethnic groups appear to get along well with each other. However, in 1994/5, there was substantial ethnic unrest in the Northern part of Ghana that resulted in the death of over 1000 persons and the displacement of over 150, 000 persons. Nevertheless, ethnicity does not seem to play a major role in Ghanaian politics, as in some African countries.

The Press in Ghana appears relatively free and not muscled by the government. There is private ownership of many outlets of the media.

The future of Ghana looks bright: with a well educated labor force and non-corrupt leaders, Ghana appears finally poised for economic take off.

ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #20 of 54: Gambia

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 20. GAMBIA Flag of the Republic of Gabon

Formal Name: Republic of Gambia.

Term for Citizens: Gambians.

Capital: Banjul. Population: 418, 000.

Independence Achieved: February 18, 1965 from Britain.

Major Cities: Banjul.

Geography:

Gambia is in West Africa. Gambia covers an area of about 4, 361 square miles. It is a strip of land along the Gambia River. Gambia is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Senegal on three sides. Gambia is generally well watered by the river Gambia. Rainfall, especially along the coast, is over 60 inches annually. This permits subsistence farming. Herding of sheep, goats and cattle is also practiced. There are two seasons, wet and dry.

Society:

Gambia has an estimated population of 1, 426, 000.

Ethnic Groups: Mandingo, Fula, Serahuli, Jola, Diola and Wolof.

Languages: Mandingo, Fulani. English is the official language.

Religion: Muslim 80%, Christian 16%, the rest indigenous beliefs.

Education: Free primary education. Literacy rate is estimated at 40.1 %

Economy: Subsistence farming along the river Gambia. Herding of sheep, goats and cattle. Tourism industry is well developed in Banjul. GDP estimate: $2.6 billion; Per Capita: $290(World Bank, 2005). Monetary Unit: Dalasi (GMD).

History and Government:

Upon independence from Britain, Gambia inherited British type parliamentary system. A military coup disrupted that situation. At the present, there is stability under president Yahya Jammeh. The country is divided into five divisions and one city.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


What is now called Gambia was part of the middle ages successive African empires of Ghana, Songhai and Mali. In that sense, it has been around for quite a while. However, the modern history of Gambia began with the Trans Atlantic slave trade. The various European Countries, at one time or another plied the Gambia River, a river that crosses the middle of Gambia, buying slaves.

Portugal set up shop in 1588 and thereafter was replaced by emergent European sea powers, including, at one time, the Polish (1651-1661).

The British abolished slave trading in 1807 and sent her war ships to patrol the coast of West Africa, indicting ships carrying slaves. The British set up camp at what they called Bathurst, now the capital of Gambia, Banjul. In 1857, Britain officially claimed Gambia and in 1888 Gambia became a British protectorate.

Gambia was not exactly a crown jewel of the British Empire, for it had very little economic resources for Britain to exploit. Most of the land is arid except for the strip of land along river Gambia, where groundnuts are planted. The chief crop of Gambia, to the present, remains groundnuts, a crop whose price fluctuates in the world market.

Not much was heard about Gambia until Britain gave it independence in 1965. Mr. Dawda Jawara was elected the Prime Minister and remained in that office until 1994 when a military coup overthrew him.

The leader of the coup, Lt. Jammeh, became the head of state, and two years later wrote a constitution that called for a strong president, and was promptly elected the president in 1997. He has been in office since then.

Gambia is divided into five divisions, which are further divided into 37 districts and one city, the capital.

The politics of Gambia is the politics of the activities of two men, Mr. Jawara and Mr. Jammeh. These men have managed to make Gambia attractive to European tourists and Gambia’s economy is these days reliant on tourism (and allied vices that go with that industry). As long as the rulers of Gambia maintain peace and tourists keep coming to enjoy her beautiful beaches (Europeans find them as attractive as the beaches of Spain and Portugal), the economy is doing as well. Moreover, Gambians contact with foreigners has made it possible for them to travel to all over the world and repatriate money home and that helps the economy, too.

On the whole, Gambia is doing as well as might be expected of a small country that lacks natural resources.

ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #19 of 54: Gabon

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 19. GABON Flag of the Republic of Gabon

Formal Name: Republic of Gabon.

Term for Citizens: Gabonese.

Capital: Libreville. Population: 573, 000.

Independence Achieved: August 17, 960, from France.

Major Cities: Libreville.

Geography:

Gabon is in West Africa. Gabon covers 103, 347 square miles. Gabon is bordered by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Congo and the Atlantic Ocean. Gabon lies on the equator. The coastal lands is flat, followed by a rugged higher lands covered by tropical rain forest. The entire country lies in the Ogooue River Basin. Most people in Gabon live along the banks of this river and its tributaries and practice fishing and or farming. Gabon has tropical climate and has two distinct seasons, wet and dry.

Society:

The population of Gabon is estimated to be 1,329,000.

Ethnic Groups: Fang, Bakota, Shira, Adouma, Galoa, Orungu, Enenga, Okande, Seke, Mbede, are the major ethnic groups.

Languages: Fang and other African languages. French is the official language.

Religion: Christianity and indigenous beliefs.

Education: Universal free primary education and junior secondary education. Literacy is estimated at 63%.

Economy: Traditionally, the people farmed their lands and fished. But with the discovery of petroleum the oil industry has become the dominant sector of the economy. Urbanization attracts people to cities, particularly the capital and they engage in non-agricultural trades. The public sector is expanding. GDP estimate: $7 billion; Per Capita GDP: $3940 (World Bank, 2005) Monetary Unit: CFA Franc BEAC (XFA).

History and Government:

Portuguese and Dutch traders visited the coast of Gabon beginning in the fifteenth century. In the 18th century French trading ships began to call on Gabon’s ports. The French annexed the country in the 1880s. Slaves who rebelled in 1849 established Libreville, the capital. Upon independence from France, French presidential democracy was established but soon President Omar Bongo transformed the country into a one-man government. He has been in power since 1967. Opposition leaders are generally severely dealt with and or forced into exile. The country is divided into 9 provinces.

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS

The earliest people who lived in what is now called Gabon were the Pygmies. The Bantus from West Africa swept into the region during the Bantu expansion. Gabon today is largely composed of Bantu groups, the largest of which is the Fang.

The Europeans made incursions into what is now Gabon during the three hundred years slave era (1500-1800s).

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Europe scrambled to colonize Africa and France, in 1885, colonized what is now called Gabon. Gabon was part of French Equatorial Africa until 1959.

In 1961, Gabon gained independence from France and Leon Mba became the first elected President and Albert Bongo was his vice president.

Upon the death of Mr. Mba in 1967, Mr. Bongo became the president. He is still the President, and is Africa’s longest serving president.

Gabon was an insignificant agriculture based economy until oil was discovered off shore. With oil money Gabon took on more geopolitical importance; the French and other Nationals poured in. It is estimated that there are over 10, 000 French men alone in Gabon.

The politics of Gabon is the political behavior of its one man ruler, El Hadj Albert, Bernard Omar Bongo (he converted to Islam in 1973). He structured the government after France’s fifth republican constitution, with a president elected every seven years, a nominal National Assembly and a putative independent judiciary, except that the President essentially determines every thing in Gabon. In 2003, Mr. Bongo amended the constitution to permit him run for office however many times he wants and has been in office a year short of forty years.

Gabon is divided into 9 provinces and 37 departments.

The economy of Gabon is currently based on Petrodollars. As long as oil prices are on the rise, Gabon enjoys a thriving economy, but tends to suffer financial difficulties when oil prices plummet downwards, as was the case during the mid 1980s. At present, Gabon is enjoying plentiful oil revenue. This revenue gives it the opportunity to develop the country. This is enhanced by the fact that Gabon has a small population hence the people can benefit more from the oil revenue than they would if the population is large. Even after pilfering by Bongo and his coterie, enough money is still left for the people of Gabon. Gabon has the highest income per capita in black Africa, US $3940 (World Bank, 2005). Gabon’s population is so small that it imports foreign workers to meet its labor demands. Africans from other countries flock into Gabon for work.

Omar Bongo is an autocrat, no doubt about that. However, he has managed to procure political stability for his country. The ethnic tensions that mark several African countries seem absent in Gabon. This social stability attracts foreign investors to Gabon and currently Gabon is a haven for foreign investors and the economy is thriving. But Bongo obtains this ability by repressing dissent. Though nominally he changed the constitution in the 1990s to permit multi party completion for political offices, but the system is structured in such a manner that his ruling party has the upper hand. Opposition parties often boycott elections for they believe that the outcome of elections are already predetermined before voting. Whether the claims of opposition parties are true or not, the fact is that unless Gabon becomes truly democratic, it would, sooner or later, descend into political Chaos, particularly when the Bongo crowd is finally driven out of office or when their head, Bongo, dies, as he must (he was born in 1935). In the meantime, the government controls the media and makes sure that there is very little opposition to Bongo’s one man rule.

ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #18 of 54: Ethiopia

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 18. ETHIOPIA Flag of the Republic of Ethiopia

Term for Citizens: Ethiopians.

Capital: Addis Ababa. Population: 2, 753, 000.

Independence Achieved: Ethiopia is the only African country that was not colonized, though Italy briefly gained a foothold in the land.

Major Cities: Addis Ababa.

Geography:

Ethiopia is in East Africa. It is bounded by Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Kenya. Ethiopia covers an area of 437, 794 square miles. The center of the country is high plateau, through which runs a depression, the Great Rift Valley. The plateau region has mild temperature and is fertile for agriculture. Southeast of the plateau is dry and desert like. Rainfall is very sparse and drought is quiet common.

Society:

The population of Ethiopia is estimated at 74, 678,000.

Ethnic Groups: Ethiopia has many ethnic groups but the major ones are the Amhara, Oromo, Falasha, Danakils, Gallas, Shankils, Somalis, Arabs, Greeks, and Armenians.

Languages: Each of the ethnic groups speaks its own language. The major languages are Amharic, Geez, Arabic and English.

Religion: Ethiopia is evenly divided between Orthodox Christianity and Islam.

Education: Free primary education is available to all children. Literacy rate is estimated at 42.7%.

Economy: The highlands are fertile and people plant crops for subsistence living. Cattle are raised in the semi arid lowlands. Ethiopia is a very poor country with underdeveloped economy. What money there is seemed squandered in endless wars with its neighbors, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and ideological wars such as the effort to turn the country into a socialist state? GDP estimate: $50.6 billion; Per Capita GDP: US $110 (World Bank, 2005). Monetary Unit: Birr (ETB).

History and Government:

Ethiopia is the only African country without a history of colonial rule. However, Italy did try to colonize Ethiopia, and after major wars withdrew its ambition. For centuries, Amhara groups and their kings who claimed decent from the biblical Queen of Sheba and King Solomon ruled the highlands of Ethiopia. The last of such rulers was Haile Selassie, who was overthrown in 1974. A series of military and socialistic adventurers then ruled Ethiopia. At present, President Zinawi appears to have restored some stability in the country. However, some restive groups, such as the Oromo, seem poised to separate from the country and may generate another round of political instability. The country is divided into 9 regions, and 2 chartered cities.



CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS

Ethiopia is the pride of black Africa, for it is the only African country that was not ruled by foreign powers, except during a five year interregnum, 1936-1941, when Italy occupied it, and even then, the Ethiopians waged a vigorous war, and with the aid of the British saw the defeat of Italy, a first for an African country. (Africans are so proud of Ethiopia that they selected her as the headquarters of their Africa Union; Ethiopia is a symbol of black people’s independence.)

The history of Ethiopia is long, going as far back as the tenth century BC. However, the ascertainable history of Ethiopia began a century before the Birth of Christ, with the rise of the kingdom of Axum.

In the fourth century AD, Ethiopia was converted to Christianity and has remained so since. However, in 616 AD, some followers of Prophet Mohammed came to Ethiopia, that is, during the life time of the Prophet, and Islam has flourished in parts of Ethiopia ever since. Christianity and Islam have coexisted in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia moved along until its encounter with modern European states. The rulers of Ethiopia, being a Christians, embraced Christian Europe, and the latter supplied their armies with weapons for their ceaseless wars with their neighbors. Indeed, the Catholic Church sent in missionaries who began converting Ethiopians to Roman Christianity until the resentment of the local Coptic Christianity led to conflicts, conflicts that were resolved when foreign missionaries were banned from Ethiopia.

In 1882, Italy tried to colonize Ethiopia and the two countries waged their first war. A peace treaty signed between Italy and Ethiopia in 1896 affirmed Ethiopia’s independence.

The early 20th century Ethiopian history was the history of its emperor, Haile Selassie. He successfully fought off Italy in the 1930s (1936-1941) and with the aid of the British defeated Italy in 1941. The defeat of a European power by an African power, sort of (Ethiopians are mostly Semitic whereas Africans are Negroid) led blacks in the Caribbean’s to adopt Hailie Selassie as their god. The Raftarians movement in Jamaica saw Hailie Selassie as their savior, their Jesus Christ.

Haile Salassie ruled Ethiopia until 1974 when Hailie Mengistu Mariam and his socialist band won control of Ethiopia. These socialists formed a revolutionary ruling council called the “Derg”, and proceeded to nationalize just about everything in Ethiopia. They formed alliance with the Soviet Union and became a Soviet outpost in the horn of Africa.

The United States, perhaps, not to be outdone, after all this was during the cold war era, aligned with Somalia and encouraged the later to attack Ethiopia, and in 1977 the war between Ethiopia and Somalia, supposedly over the Ogaden, a Somali speaking part of Ethiopia, began. America supplied weapons and money to Somalia and the USSR armed Ethiopia. The proxy war between the two superpowers devastated the economy of both Somalia and Ethiopia. Ethiopia had to devote a considerable part of her already meager resources to military purposes. And this enhanced military spending was in the face of famine and starvation in Ethiopia.

Mengistu’s high handed ruling led to opposition to his rule. The various ethnic groups that constitute Ethiopia have traditionally hated the ruling Amhara group. These groups formed militias or armies and started a war against the government of Mengistu. In 1991, these groups finally chased Mengistu out of office and into exile.

In 1993, after a referendum, Eritrea was permitted to secede from Ethiopia. What was left of Ethiopia was reorganized along ethnic lines.

The emergent Meles Zenawi government divided Ethiopia along its ethnic make up: Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumaz, Gambela, Harari, Oromia, Somali, Tigray and Southern Nations. These nine ethnically based regions appear to have, more or less, effectively addressed the ethnic problem that bedeviled Ethiopia. Each region governs itself and levies taxes to do so, but sends representatives to the national government to address their common issues.

Zenawi appears a very realistic and pragmatic new breed of African politician. He was reelected in 2000 and in 2005 (although the later election was challenged by losing opposition parties, who alleged rigging; investigation by both domestic and international organizations did not seem to corroborate the allegation of rigging, so the election holds).

Ethiopia remains a very poor country. The economy is dependent on agricultural produce, such as coffee. Agriculture employs over 80% of the labor force, and generates over 41 percent of the gross domestic product. The income per capita of Ethiopia is US $110 (World Bank, 2005).

Mr. Zenawi appears a breed of realistic politicians that is beginning to emerge in Africa. These politicians understand the need to give the various ethnic groups constituting their countries relative autonomy; if they are to have internal peace and tranquility. He was one of the architects of the 1994 constitution that made Ethiopia over into a Federal Democratic Republic, real Federalism, with each ethnic group essentially semi autonomous, and grouping of the small ethnic groups into a region that they collectively have control over.

Finally, the Zenawi government has instituted freedom of the Press and allowed privately owned newspapers (as opposed to the nationalization of the media by the Mengistu government). One the whole, whereas there is still some subtle repression of the Press, Zenawi, after all was a Marxist-Leninist who, though he has turned a new leaf, is now a capitalist-democratic, is still aware of how the old Leninist apparatchiki worked, and applies it when it suits his desires. During the demonstrations following allegations of rigged elections, several people were shot to death and hundreds arrested and sent to prison camps, where they are still languishing. Old Stalinists seldom become totally (Thomas) Jeffersonian democrats. A loaf of bread, however, is better than none.

ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 11:00 AM | Comments (1)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #17 of 54: Eritrea

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 17. ERITREA Flag of the Republic of Eritrea

Formal Name: Republic of Eritreaa.

Term for Citizens: Eritrean.

Capital: Asmara. Population: 503,000.

Independence Achieved: May 24, 1993 from Ethiopia.

Major Cities: Asmara.

Geography:

Eritrea is in northeast Africa, the horn of Africa. Eritrea covers a land area of 46, 842 square miles. Eritrea, until recently, was part of Ethiopia, the northern tip of it. Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia and the red Sea border Eritrea. The country is mostly grassland and mostly dry. The coastal regions tend to have enough rainfall to encourage subsistence farming (corn, sorghum). Herding sheep, goats and cattle is a major economic activity.

Society:

The population of Eritrea is estimated at 4,141,000.

Ethnic Groups: Eritrea, Tigray, Arabs.

Languages: Eritrean.

Religion: Eritrea is evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.

Education: Primary education is available to all children. Literacy rate is estimated at less than 58.6%.

Economy: Subsistence farming and herding are the primary economic activities. Eritrea has just concluded a brushing war for its independence from Ethiopia and is currently devastated and very poor. Its economic infrastructure is grossly underdeveloped. GDP estimate: $3.3 billion; Per Capita: $180. Monetary Unit: Nakfa (ERN)

History and Government:

Eritrea was until recently part of Ethiopia, as part of Ethiopia’s Northern province. Prior to absorption into Ethiopia, it was ruled by Italy. Eritrea’s location on the Red sea had made it a land where many cultures and faiths met, Christianity and Islam for example. People from different religious communities battle for power and control of the country, and the result is conflict between the combatants. At present, after winning its war with Ethiopia, Eritrea appears stable. The government is a strong quasi-military democratic one. The country is divided into six regions.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


Eritrea has a long history, and along with Ethiopia, is one of the longest in black Africa. For our present purposes, however, we can start with her modern history.

The Ottoman Turks occupied parts of what is now called Eritrea in 1557. In one form or another, the Turks were in control of Eritrea’s Red Sea ports for three hundred years.

The late nineteenth century was the era of European scramble for the control of Africa. In 1885, Italy purchased a sea port in Eritrea and subsequently occupied much of the country. The Italians remained the colonial power occupying Eritrea until 1941 when the British displaced them and Eritrea became a British protectorate.

After the Second World War, Eritrea became a United Nation’s trust territory. But Ethiopia claimed ownership of Eritrea. A negotiated settlement between Ethiopia and Eritrean nationalists, who were clamoring for independence, resulted with Ethiopia agreeing to form a federation with Eretria in 1952. In 1960, Ethiopia annexed Eritrea and Eritreans declared a war of independence with Ethiopia that lasted thirty years.

The Eritrean Liberation Front (drawing mainly from the Moslem part of Eretria) and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (drawing mainly from the Christian part of Eritrea) joined forces with rebellious Ethiopian forces fighting against the Marxists-Leninists Mengistu Haile Mariam government of Ethiopia.

In 1991, these combined forces chased Mengistu out of Ethiopia and into exile in Zimbabwe. In 1993, a referendum conducted by both Ethiopia and Eritrea had Eritrea overwhelmingly vote for independence from Ethiopia and thus Eritrea became independent and the leader of EPLP, Isaias Afewerki, became the leader of Eretria.

A new constitution was drawn and a National Assembly of 150 members was elected, all from the same party, EPLF, and they elected Afewerki the President of Eritrea.

A new election scheduled for 1997 was canceled and another election scheduled for 2001 was also postponed. In that same year, 2001, the Afewerki government restricted freedom of the Press. Essentially, Afewerki became another African undemocratic leader.

In the meantime, Eritrea has on-going border settlement issues with its neighbors, particularly Ethiopia. In 1998, a border war erupted between the two countries, a war that lasted until 2000 and saw the death of thousands on both sides of the border. At present, a United Nation’s peace keeping force is separating the two countries, and every indication is that without that force they would resort to a shooting war. Eritrea also has border wars with Yemen, across the Red sea, and border disputes with Somalia.

Eretria is divided into six regions which are further subdivided into 55 districts.

Much of the economy of Eretria is based on Agriculture. Eritrea is very poor; her income per capita is $180 a year. Eritrea depends on foreign aid to feed most of its population.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #16 of 54: Equatorial Guinea

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 16. EQUATORIAL GUINEA Flag of Republic of Equatorial Guinea

Formal Name: Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

Terms for Citizens: Equatorial Guineans.

Capital: Malabo. Population: 33,000.

Independence Achieved: October 12, 1968, from Spain.

Major Cities: Malabo, in Fernando Poo/Bioko.

Geography:

Equatorial Guinea is in West Africa. Equatorial Guinea covers an area of 10, 831 square miles. Bioko Island is off the coast of the mainland, Rio Muni, on the West African Coast. The country is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon and the Atlantic Ocean. Bioko originated in volcanic eruptions. Rio Muni’s topography is mangrove swamps and low plain of forested lands following it.

Society:

The population of Equatorial Guinea is 521,000.

Ethnic Groups: Fang 80%, Bubi 10% and others.

Languages: Spanish and French and others.

Religion: 90% Roman Catholic and the remainder indigenous African religions believers.

Education: Primary Education is available to all children. Literacy rate is estimated at 85.7%.

Economy: Chief crops: cocoa, coffee, peanuts, sweet potatoes, corn, yams, cassava, Fishing; saw milling, and plantation farming. Uranium and natural gas are mined. Since oil was discovered, it is increasing becoming the dominant industry and money generator. GDP estimate: $1.3 billion; Per Capita: $930 (World Bank, 2005). Monetary Unit: CFA Franc BEAC (XAF).

History and Government:

The country is divided into seven provinces for administrative purposes. It has witnessed a series of military coupes and the rule of strong men. A prime minister assists the President.



CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS

The original people of the area now called Equatorial Guinea were the Pygmies. The Pygmies were displaced by Bantu peoples from West Africa. The Fang, a Bantu group, with over 80% of the population, are the dominant group in Equatorial Guinea.

The Portuguese came to the area in the fifteenth century and later were displaced by the Spaniards. These Europeans had a strong presence in Equatorial Guinea; particularly on the Islands that constitute the economic hub of the country, such as Fernando Poo (now called Bioko island; the capital, Malabo, is on that Island).

People from many parts of West Africa, particularly Igbos, were drawn to work in the coffee and cocoa plantations of Fernando Poo. Thus, there are considerable foreign peoples in Equatorial Guinea, people who have mixed with the local population to constitute present day people of Equatorial Guinea.

Spain gave Equatorial Guinea independence in 1968. Since then, two Presidents, both from the same family have ruled the country. First was President Francisco Marcias Nguema, who was put to death by his cousin, now, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, after a military coup in 1979. Mr. Obiang, as he is called, is still in office since 1979.

In the 1990s oil was discovered in Equatorial Guinea. This changed the dynamics of politics in the country as foreign powers were suddenly interested in the hitherto sleepy agricultural economy. The economic and political big boys of the West descended on Malabo and things began to get a bit heated. In 2004, the son of the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, Denis Thatcher, reportedly participated in an attempt to overthrow the government of Obiang.

Equatorial Guinea is divided into seven provinces. Nominally, there is the facade of democracy: a legislature, Supreme Court, a prime minister appointed by the President who supposedly governs the day to day affairs of the country. But, in fact, the President micro manages the politics and economy of Equatorial Guinea, including deciding who is appointed a minister and how long he or she serves. This man and his uncle, the one he killed, are dictators and to escape their brutal rule refugees flee to neighboring African countries.

The economy of Equatorial Guinea is now driven by revenue from oil. As in other African countries, however, that money is fretted away in corruption. Obiang, indeed, keeps figures on revenue from oil a state secret, perhaps, so as to better do with it as he feels? Mr. Obiang is reportedly one of the worst dictators in black Africa. Opposition to Mr. Obiang is destroyed. In a recent election, opposition was forced to withdraw from challenging Mr. Obiang and he was said to have won 99% of the votes.

Equatorial Guinea is one of those one man ruled countries. As long as the ruler appears to be strong he keeps opposition in check, and there appears stability in the country. But as in such matters, other folks eye the government and would like to chop off the head of the current dictator and take over the government. Thus, nobody knows what is going to happen the next day in the dictatorate of Equatorial Guinea.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

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Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #15 of 54: Egypt

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 15. EGYPT Flag of Arab Republic of Egypt Formal name: Arab Republic of Egypt.

Term for Citizens: Egyptians.

Capital: Cairo. Population: 9,586, 000.

Independence Achieved: 1951, from Britain.

Major Cities: Alexandria, Cairo.

Geography:

Egypt is in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Israel, Sudan, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt encompasses approximately 385,662 square miles. The topography is divided into four regions: Nile Valley and Delta. 99% of the population live here), Western Desert, Eastern Desert and Sinai Peninsular. There is moderate rainfall along the Mediterranean coast, and arid interior. Mild winters (November to April) and very hot summers (May to October).

Society:

The population is estimated at 74, 931,000 and mostly concentrated along the banks of the lower Nile and the Mediterranean coast.

Ethnic Groups:

Arabs are the dominant group. Greeks, Nubians, Armenians and Berbers are also present in considerable numbers.

Language: Arabic. The educated class tends to also speak English.

Religion: Over 90% Sunni Muslim; 9% Coptic Christians and 1% other Christians.

Education: Free elementary education. Literacy rate is about 57.7%.

Economy: Agriculture is the largest sector of the economy, with a nascent industrial sector. GDP estimate: $268; Per Capita GDP: $1,310 (world Bank, 2005). Monetary Unit: Pound (EGP).


History and Government:

Egypt has a long history spanning over five thousand years. The legendary Egypt of the Pharos, however, is not today’s Egypt. After Mohammed (570-622 AD) formed the religion of Islam, his followers swept into many lands, including taking over North Africa. The Arabs and their Islamic religion transformed Egypt into what it is today. There was an interregnum of Turkish (Ottoman) rule and European rule, but essentially today’s Egypt is an Islamic republic. The Arabs got rid of their last foreign rulers, Europeans, in 1951. A military coupe in 1952 got rid of king Farouk and established a secular government in Egypt. Egypt has a very strong presidential government. That government is a continuation of Gamal Nasser’s 1952 military coup against King Farouk. In effect, Egypt has a military dominated non-democratic government. President Hosni Mubarak has been in office since 1981, he took office when some fundamentalist Muslims assassinated his predecessor, President Anwar Sadat. There is tension between the quasi-military rulers and the fundamentalist Muslims who agitate to impose theocratic government on Egypt. The result is a tendency for the government to suppress the Islamists while at the same time allowing them to absorb frustrated unemployed persons. Religion is often where frustrated persons give vent to their paint up anger, this time redirected to Western countries. Egypt is divided into 26 regions with governors appointed for each by the president.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS
Egypt is an ancient country with a long history that cannot be reviewed in a few lines. Let us just observe that in the seventh century that victorious Arab Moslems swept into what is now called Egypt and began their rule. Thereafter, Egypt was converted to Islam and to speaking of the Arabic language and is now considered an Arab country. Indeed, Egypt is considered the headquarters of the Arab world.

In 1517 Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Turks who ruled her until the coming of the Europeans. The various European countries, at one time or another, made their presence felt in Egypt, Napoleon, for example, landed his troops in Egypt, and the French constructed the Suez Canal in 1869, but it was in the late 1800s that Egypt officially became a European colony. Apparently, Egypt owed Great Britain a lot of money, and the British had invested heavily in Egypt and feared loss of their investments and to protect their investments Britain invaded and colonized Egypt in 1882.

Britain ruled Egypt through the Second World War, although the Egyptians were given nominal self rule within the British Empire. In 1952, there was a military coup that overthrew the king of Egypt, King Farouk. In 1953, Egypt was declared a republic and Gamal Abdel Nasser began his rule, a rule that lasted through 1970 when he died while in office.

During Nasser’s rule, Egypt had several wars with Israel including in 1956, 1967. In 1956, fearing the radical rule of Nasser, Britain and her allies seized the Suez Canal and provoked an international crisis. The opposition of the United States prevented an out right war from breaking out between the Europeans and the Arabs.

Nasser attempted to form what he called a United Arab Republic with some Arab countries, beginning with Syria. These did not pan out. Nasser died and was replaced by Anwar Sadat, another military General.

Under Anwar Sadat the Arabs launched a war against the Israelis in 1973 and were defeated. Thereafter, Sadat changed sides, from being a supporter of the USSR to being the ally of the United States of America. In 1979 Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel and Egypt recognized Israel and got Sinai back from Israeli occupation.

The signing of peace treaty with Israel and the recognition of Israel did not sit well with nationalist Arabs and pro-Palestinian Muslims. Sadat was assassinated in 1981 and was replaced by another military General, Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak has been in office since 1981.

Essentially, Egypt is ruled by the military. However, in 2005 Mubarak made a show of tolerating Democracy and for the first time said that he was going to permit many parties to compete in the elections. But he proceeded to make it difficult for opposition candidates to register and challenge him and was, of course, declared the winner of the presidential election. Let us not be detained by this sham show of democracy. What we have in Egypt is the rule by the military in civilian uniform. The president appoints a prime minister and other ministers and has the ability to remove from office whomever he chooses to remove; hence Egypt is ruled by a strong man.

Egypt is divided into 26 governorates (regions with governors ruling them). These regions are controlled by the central government.

All Egyptian males over the age of 18 are required to serve in the military, although they can defer their military service if they are in school but must serve by age 28.


The military rule of Egypt has seen some economic development of the country, including the construction of the Aswan High Dam in 1971. The signing of the peace accord with Israel brought financial support from the United States and guaranteed the inflow of foreign capital from the West. Last year alone, $2.2 billion dollars of American aid came to Egypt. (To put that amount in perspective, consider that during the same period, all of black Africa, over 500 million persons, received about $250 million in American foreign aid.)

By African standards, Egypt is doing well economically but by Western standards she is a backward country. The income per capita of the 77 million Egyptians is US $1310 a year. Many Egyptians irk out marginal living from farming, which is done mostly along the banks of River Nile (the rest of the country is arid).

Interestingly, the original Egyptians tend to be found in rural farm areas, as the Fellahin, while their Arab conquerors tend to be concentrated in the cities, particularly around Cairo region. It is estimated that about 60% of Egypt is composed of descendants of original Egyptians. The ruling class of contemporary Egypt is of Arab origin.

Egypt is a strong ally of the Americans. Therefore, Americans seem to look the other way rather than insist that pure democracy prevail in Egypt. Moreover, it is evident that if democratic elections were held that the result might not be to the likings of the Americans. The recent democratic election in Palestine that saw the victory of Hamas may not be what the West desires. Such an election in Egypt may result in coming to power of fundamentalist Muslims who are hostile to the West. Therefore, the West seems to condone the rule of undemocratic elements in the Arab world, provided that these elements support it. Thus, the continued rule of the Mubarak government.

The military rulers of Egypt are noted for their repression of decent. However, these days they seem to be increasingly permitting free press, up to a point, any way. As it were, they feel it fit to keep a strong lid on fundamentalist Muslims who would like to move Egypt into a theocratic form of government with Sharia, Muslim law, as their preferred jurisprudence. Nevertheless, the media seem to be alive and thriving in Egypt; they self censor and do not go to any “no-go areas” and if they do, well, they become unemployed or worse.

Ozodi@africainstituteseasttle.org

Posted by Administrator at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #14 of 54: Djibouti

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 14. DJIBOUTI Flag of Republic of Djibouti

Formal Name: Republic of Djibouti.

Term for Citizens: Djibouti.

Capital: Djibouti. Population: 542,000.

Independence Achieved: June 27, 1977, from France.

Major Cities: Djibouti.


Geography:

Djibouti is in northeast Africa. Djibouti is 8, 880 square miles. Djibouti is on the Horn of Africa, a tiny sliver of land. Djibouti is bordered by the Gulf of Aden, Somalia and Ethiopia. The land is mostly plain and some highlands in the west. Plant life is scarce. In the semi arid area, goats and camels are raised. Temperature sometimes exceed 120.F. Rainfall is rare and less than five inches annually.

Society:

The population of Djibouti is estimated to be 703, 000.

Ethnic Groups: Afar, Issa, Somali, Arab, and Europeans.

Languages: Afar, Somali, Arabic, and French.

Religion: Muslim and Christian are evenly represented in the population.

Education: Primary education is available to all. Literacy is estimated at less than 67.9%.

Economy: Evaporated pools of water leave salt. This salt has traditionally been traded with people surrounding Djibouti, such as Ethiopians, Somalis and others. Sheep, camels and goats herding is still a primary industry. The area has traditionally been an important trade route between Arab States and Africa. GDP estimate: $619 million; Per Capita GDP: $1,030. Monetary Unit: Franc (DJF).


History and Government:

This tiny country on the horn of Africa is made up of the Afars and Issas. The French claimed rule over Djibouti, reportedly to counter British influence in the area. The French built a seaport at Djibouti between 1887 and 1917. The French first called their small colony French Somaliland but in the 1967 changed its name to the French territory of Afar and Issas. Upon independence, the people opted for the name of Djibouti. The main ethnic groups: Afar, Issas and Somali work out power sharing arrangement. However, tension exists among the ethnic groups, and occasionally flares up in violence and bloodshed. The country is divided into 5 districts. A president rules the country.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS

Djibouti is a small country on the horn of Africa. It is composed of two major groups: the Issas and the Afars. The Issas are of Somali origin and the Afars are of Ethiopian origin. These two groups traditionally warred among themselves.
In the nineteenth Century, Europe got involved with the Horn of Africa, first the Italians and later the French. The area was colonized by the French as The French Colony of Issas and Afars.
In 1977, France gave the country independence, and the country renamed itself the Republic of Djibouti, from the name of its capital.
The Issas, Somalis, are in the majority (60%) and have been in control of the government from independence to the present. Indeed, the same family has been in control of the government from independence to the present. First, was President Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who, in 1999, was replaced in office by his cousin, President Guelleh. It runs in the family. In an election, in 2005, Guelleh essentially prevented opposition candidates from competing and was said to have been returned to office by 100% of the electorate!
The Afars section of the country has been in intermittent conflicts with the Issas. In the 1990s there was overt civil war which was concluded when the Issas dominated government co-opted the leaders of the Afars militia into the government and made their leader the prime minister.

Djibouti does not have economic resources of any significance. Its primary source of income is its strategic location. It is at the crossroads of the Arab world and Africa. Traditionally, trade between Africa and Arabia flowed through Djibouti. In the present, Djibouti’s ports are from where landlocked African countries like Ethiopia ship their goods overseas. Djibouti charges these countries fees for shipping their goods for them.

Djibouti’s location makes it of strategic interest to Western powers. France stations thousands of its troops at Djibouti. The United States of America stations thousands of its troops at Djibouti. American war ships operating in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf operate from Djibouti. These foreign military personnel pay the Djibouti government money for utilizing her territory. The country maintains strategic alliance with the West and the West finds its leaders, undemocratic as they are, convenient and prop them in office.

Over 80% of the population of Djibouti lives in the capital region. The rest of the people live in the county side, irking out a living from herding goads etc. Fruits are occasionally planted in the few arable lands in the mostly arid country. The country has no known economic resource and does well providing a heaven for international trade between Eastern Africa and the Arab world, and now, the Western world. Djibouti’s income per capita is US $1, 030 (World Bank, 2005).

Djibouti’s politics is of critical interest to Ethiopia since the later ships its goods through her seaports and without them would be cut off from world trade. It is, therefore, understandable why Ethiopia (as well as Somalia) meddles in Djibouti’s politics. Real politics requires Djibouti’s landlocked neighbors to be interested in who governs the country. Thus, balancing the various domestic and foreign interest groups interested in who governs this small country is a must for Djibouti’s leaders.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #13 of 54: Congo (Kinshasa)

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 13. CONGO-Kinshasa Flag of Democratic Republic of Congo

Formal Name: Democratic Republic of Congo.
Editor's Note: (During the reign of Mobutu (1965-1997), Congo (Kinshasa) was renamed Zaire. Laurent Kabila took power in 1997 and renamed the country Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Term for Citizens: Congolese.

Capital: Kinshasa. Population: 5, 064, 000.

Date of Independence: June 30, 1960, from Belgium.

Major Cities: Lubumbashi, Kinshasa.

Geography:

Congo is located in South West Africa. Angola, Cong-Brazzaville, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan and Central African Republic border it. Congo is the second largest country in sub-Saharan Africa with an area of 905, 567 square miles. Congo is in the heart of the rain forest belt of the world. However, savanna, grasses and woodlands cover its north and south. There are numerous lakes and rivers. The eastern part has high mountains, some rising well over 5000 meters. The climate is tropical with wet and dry seasons. Average annual temperature is 25.C.

Society:

The population is estimated at 56,000,000.

Ethnic Groups: It is estimated that there are well over 250 ethnic groups, but most of them are Bantu speaking. The largest groups are the Luba, Kongo, Mongo and Lunda.

Languages: French is the official language. Each of the ethnic groups speaks its own language. Four languages are given official status: Kikongo, Tshiluba, Lingala, and Kiswahili.

Religion: Christians 82%, Indigenous 16%, and Muslims 2%.

Education: About 80% of elementary age children go to school. About 25% of secondary age children go to secondary school. Adult literacy rate is estimated at 96.6%.

Economy: Congo is rich with minerals and natural resources. But its economic infrastructure is grossly underdeveloped. GDP estimated: $34 billion; Per Capita GDP: $120. Monetary Unit: Franc (CDF)


History and Government:

King Leopold of Belgium, in the 19th century took over the Congo as his private plantation. He undertook to work the people as slaves to produce rubber and other natural resources for him. He grew wealthy from treating Africans in a very inhumane manner. His cruelty towards Africans was such that he was forced by international outcry to relinquish control to the Belgium government. The later saw it fit not to develop education infrastructure in the Congo. Thus, upon independence in 1960, only a handful of persons had college education. Congo descended into chaos. The elected Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, was assassinated. His rivals, Moise Tshombe and Joseph Kasavubu, for a while, ruled. A military coupe led by Joseph Desire Mobutu removed the warring civilians from office. Mobutu ruled as a tyrant until 1997, when Laurent Kabila chased him out of office. When the later died, his son, Joseph Kabila, took over, and is the current unelected president. Congo has a strong presidential system of government. Mobutu Sese Seko ruled the country as if it were his personal property. Things have not improved much since he left office. The various ethnic groups jockey for power and whoever has strong hands reins them in. When authoritarian hands are missing the various ethnic groups seek to dismantle the huge real estate called Congo. Indeed, Congo’s neighbors have their eyes on its natural resources and often interfere in Congo’s internal politics, to get whatever they could from the country. Chaos still characterizes Congo. The country is divided into twenty five administrative regions.



CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


The area now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo was originally inhabited by the Pygmies. When the Bantus spread out from West Africa, they swept into this region and eventually mixed with the pygmies and, later, with other groups, primarily groups from Darfur and other parts of present day Sudan that moved into the area. Gradually, a Bakongo people emerged and established an empire that encompassed present day Gabon, Central African Republic, Congo Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. That powerful empire established wonderful trading routes that stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean on the East Coast of Africa. Unfortunately, with the coming of Arabs and Europeans, that empire degenerated into selling Africans into slavery, to the Arab world and to the Americas.

With the collapse of the Atlantic Slave trade in the nineteenth century, the Bakongo Empire disintegrated. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the King of Belgium, Leopold, engaged Stanley to explore the region now known as the Congo and eventually laid claim to it as his private property. He brutalized the natives and the public outcry against that brutalization eventually led to his transfer of the governing of the Congo to the Belgium government in 1908. The later seemed to have improved the lot of the Congolese a bit.
During the 1950s, a small cadre of Africans was sufficiently educated in European ways (evolues) to begin to demand that they be allowed to participate in the governing of their country. In 1960, without preparing the country for self rule, Belgium abruptly gave independence to the country and Patrice Lumumba was elected the first prime minister.

Right from the get go, Congo descended into conflicts. The President of the Congo, Joseph Kasavubu, sacked the prime minister and the premier of mineral rich Katanga province, Moise Tshombe, declared secession from the Country. The Army, under Colonel Joseph Desire, got involved, kidnapped and eventually killed Lumumba. The United Nations sent an African peace keeping army to the Congo but that not withstanding, several attempts at governing the country failed and in 1965 Joseph Mobutu declared himself the President of Congo. He ruled until 1997 when Laurent Kabila’s rebel forces, with the aid of Rwanda and Uganda, chased him out of power.

Mobutu’s reign was allegedly the most corrupt rule in even Africa. At one point, Mobutu was alleged to have over five billion dollars stashed away in foreign banks. This man, apparently, saw the country as his private property and made use of the country’s resources as he saw fit.

Congo is a vast country, the third largest in Africa. It is composed of many ethnic groups (some estimate them to be at 250, with four major ones). Groups not affiliated with Mobutu’s tribe resented his rule, and civil strife became the standard faire of the country. But as long as Mobutu presented himself as a friend of the West, particularly America (which obtained its uranium for exploding the first atomic bomb from the Congo), America supported the repressive regime of Mobutu. But with the end of the cold war, Congo was no longer of strategic importance to America. America had no more need to prop a corrupt African thief in office and, thus, Mobutu, the great thief of the Congo, was swept out of office by Kabila’s forces in 1997, and died ignominiously, as is mostly the case with Africa’s tin can dictators.

The allies of Kabila soon turned against him and the surrounding countries jumped on board to divide the spoils of war. Angola, Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and others aligned themselves with the various parities fighting for the control of the sprawling country called Congo. In 2001, Kabila was killed in an unsuccessful coup and his son, Joseph Kabila, was propped into office by the faction that thwarted the coup.
Young Joseph Kabila, he was barely thirty years old, surprised all by calling for a negotiated peace settlement of the civil war that has killed over 3 million Congolese.

In 2005, Joseph Kabila wrote a new constitution that divided the country along its ethnic lines; making each of the twenty five regions semiautonomous. The constitution was approved by the people. A national election is scheduled on April 29 to elect a new President.
Joseph Kabila appears to have brought some semblance of peace in the Congo, except the eastern part of the country where lawless militia groups still roam around, causing havoc in the county side, killing whoever they deem not supportive of their cause. The United Nations has a peace keeping presence in Eastern Congo; nevertheless, what obtains in the country is fragile peace.

Congo is a classic African case where incompetent leaders are finding it difficult to meld the various ethnic groups into a sense of nationhood. Most of these leaders are corrupt and, apparently, have failed in building a sense of nationhood in their population. Kabila seems on the right track in recognizing that each of the ethnic groups, particularly the large ones, must have some sort of autonomy to rule itself while sending representatives to a national government that looked after their joint affairs. There is simply no way peace can exist in the Congo, or any other African country, if some tribes feel oppressed by others. Let us then hope that Joseph Kabila will succeed in his endeavors.

Despite Congo’s enormous economic resources, she remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Her income per capita is US $120 (World Bank, 2006).

Kabila has loosened the grip on the media that Mobutu initiated. Criticism of the government is now permitted, but whether those criticisms are listened to is a different matter. However, media freedom is limited because the various militia groups do not necessarily take marching orders from Kinshasa and do as they please; including arresting, even killing journalists, in areas that they control.

The success of Congo Democratic Republic is the success of all African countries, for her problems is a microcosm of African countries problems: the conglomeration of many ethnic groups in a polity, groups that do not have cultural affinity hence are in constant conflict with one another. The Africa Union and other international organizations are working very hard to make Congo a success case.


Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

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Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #12 of 54: Congo (Brazzaville)

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 12. CONGO-Brazzaville) Flag of People's Republic of the Congo

Formal Name: People’s Republic of the Congo.

Term for Citizens: Congolese.

Capital: Brazzaville. Population: 1, 360,000.

Independence Achieved: August 5, 1960, from France.

Major Cities: Stanley, Brazzaville.

Geography:

Congo-Brazzaville is in South West Africa. Congo-Kinshasa, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Central African Republic border it. Congo Brazzaville has an area of 132, 047 square miles. It has four natural regions: Coastal plain, Niari Valley in the central area, which contains most of the fertile soil, Central highlands of plateaus and rolling plains, and Congo Basin composed of dense equatorial forest and in its upper region, savanna. The climate is tropical with two well-defined seasons, wet and dry. The rainy season is from April to October and the dry season is from November to March.

Society:

The population of Congo Brazzaville is estimated at 3,724,000. The heaviest concentrations of people are in the South of the country. About 50% of the population lives in urban areas (mainly at Brazzaville, by Stanley Pool, right opposite Kinshasha, the capital of The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ethnic Groups: There are many ethnic groups, most of whom are Bantu, and speak the Bantu languages of Lingala and Monokutuba.

Languages: Lingala and Monokutuba. French is the official language.

Religion: 70% Christian, 2% Muslim and the rest indigenous beliefs.

Education: Elementary education is free and compulsory, scant secondary school attendance and even scantier university level education. Literacy rate is estimated at 65.5%.

Economy: Agriculture plays more than 60% role in the economy. Timber harvesting is a key sector of the commercial economy. Potassium chloride mining is a growing part of the manufacturing economy. GDP estimate: $2.5 billion; Per Capita GDP: $770. Monetary Unit: CFA Franc BEAC (XAF)

History and Government:

Congo was colonized by France and gained its independence in 1960. The country’s government is modeled after the French but the president tends to be the strongest of the three branches of government. Congo has had periods of political instability and military intervention in government but seems to be stabilizing. The country is divided into ten administrative regions, and six communes, each under the authority of a government commissioner; the regions are further subdivided into districts and towns.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


The history of modern Republic of Cong (aka Congo Brazzaville) began with the French explorer, Brazza, in the late nineteenth century. Of course, prior to him, there were people living in that real estate. The first known people living there were the Pygmy. The Pygmy were later displaced by the various Bantus tribes.

The Bantus formed the Bakongo Empire that stretched from present day Gabon to the Republic of Congo, Congo Democratic Republic and to Angola.

The Europeans, that is, the Portuguese visited the Kongo Empire during the fifteenth century and both had spirited relationships, a relationship that, unfortunately, became perverted into trading in human beings. Many Congolese were sold to the Americas as slaves and later to the Arab world.

With the end of the trade in human beings, the various Kongo Empires collapsed, for their basis for existence, selling of Africans to Europeans and Arabs was no longer tenable. They lost their sole economic resource: revenue from selling Africans.

The French came to the area during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and what is now the Republic of Congo became part of French Equatorial Africa (AEF). Out of that conglomeration of tribes emerged modern Gabon, Chad, Central African Republic and Republic of Congo.

During the Second World War, when the Germans occupied France, Brazzaville, for three years, served as the capital of Free France (1940-1943). This gave Brazzaville a head’s up in economic development. Railway lines and roads were built into the interior of the country.
In 1960, France gave Congo Republic independence. Fulbert Youlou became the first President. He was ousted in 1963 by Alphonse Massamba-Debat, who, in turn, was ousted by another military coup d’etat in 1968 by Captain Marien Ngouabi. In 1977, President Ngouabi was assassinated and another military junta took over, under Joachim Yhombi-Opango.

Opango was, in turn, displaced by a member of his military junta, Dennis Sassou-Nguesso. During the 1990s, African countries were under a lot of international pressure to hold elections and become democratic, if they wanted to continue receiving Western economic assistance. Sassou held an election in 1992 and was defeated by Pascal Lissouba. Mr. Lissouba ruled for the prescribed five years and planned an election in 1997.

During the 1997 Presidential elections the key candidates were Sassou-Nguesso and Pascal Lissouba. For four months, during the summer of that year, the two camps engaged in war; militias obedient to each party fighting the other. There seemed a deadlock. With the aid of Angolan troops, Sassou defeated Lissouba’s militia and declared himself the president. In the 2002 election, Sassou essentially prevented his opponents from running against him and was proclaimed the winner with 90% of the votes.

Having consolidated power, Sassou changed the constitution and made his term seven years (from five years).

The new constitution divided the Republic of Congo into 10 regions, which are further subdivided into 46 districts. There is a National Assembly and a Supreme Court, both of which are under the control of the president.

Mr. Sassou, however, is not home free in his new unfettered reign, for his rivals are in the background plotting, biding their time for a chance to cut his throat. And he knows that given the opportunity that his throat would be cut, so he devotes a great portion of the country’s resources to protecting himself.
Nevertheless, Congo Republic is financing large scale development projects and has averaged 5% annual growth rate in its GDP. The income per capita of the country, unfortunately, is still very low, US $770 (World Bank, 2005).

Currently, revenue from oil is the main source of funds for financing the government and developmental activities, but like most African countries, the majority of the people still irk out their marginal living from subsistence agriculture.

Mr. Sassou-Nguesso leans towards the West and appears to be managing the economy as well as can be expected of a man who hangs on to power precariously. Like other extant African dictators, he has learned to manage the Press by allowing it to exist and seem able to criticize the government without reporters going missing. The major media, radio and television, are owned by the government and reflect the views of the government.

The Republic of Congo appears to be enjoying a Carthaginian peace that could be shattered at any moment when the many enemies of Sassou-Nguesso find new life for their quest to oust him. There is no true democracy in the Republic of Congo, yet Mr. Sassou-Nguesso is the current Chair person of the fifty three members Africa Union.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

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May 09, 2006

The Aging Process and Women's Psychology

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- The physical aging process, with minor exceptions, is the same in men and women, black and white. As the human body ages, it looses its vitality and becomes weak. At age twenty five, the height of youthful vigor, the average individual can run the mile in under six minutes, but at age sixty five and above it is doubtful that he can.

The human body slows down as human beings become older and this is a natural process. Of course, with good living habits: good nutrition, medications, regular exercises, not smoking, absence of alcoholism and drug taking, it is possible to slow down the aging process. Scientists now project that before the end of the twenty-first century that human beings, at least in developed countries, would be living up to hundred or more years. (120 years is projected as the optimal longevity for the human body.)

Whereas the physical aging process is more or less the same for men and women, the psychological process appears to be different for the two genders. This difference is probably due to the social expectations from the two sexes.

In most extant societies, men, for example, are expected to be strong and not cry; they are expected to grit their teeth and bear pain and do what they have to do to cope with the exigencies of this tough world we live in. Men are not expected to be soft or show sentimentality. The result is that many men, in childhood, resolve to be tough men.

As they grow old and their physical powers wane these men seem unable to accept their weaknesses. Some of them continue to pretend that they are strong and resent it if they think that other people treat them as if they are weak. Thus, you see eighty-something year old men acting as if they are still in their twenties. Unfortunately, this may degenerate into pretending to be powerful.

Acting as if one is who one is not often leads to delusional thinking and behaving. The deluded person (as in delusional disorder) is a person who, generally, feels weak and denies his weakness and posits an alternative strong self and tries to become that imaginary strong, powerful and all important self. He wants the world to validate his preferred powerful self concept and self image and feels happy with those who collude with him and confirm his imaginary important self and feels angry at those who treat him as if he is an ordinary mortal.

The deluded human being, at any age, acts as if he is an all important, powerful, wealthy and famous person, when, in fact, he is none of those persons and need not be, for he ought to accept his imperfect self.

In old age, some men become delusional. Nursing homes and assisted houses where old folks live tend to have a high concentration of deluded men acting as if they are strong men. You find a ninety year old man challenging a twenty five year old man to a physical fight, to prove that he can whip the young man; an impossibility.

The deluded old man refuses to accept his aging, hence weakening body and desires a strong body; he is therefore not accepting the truth and wants to make the untrue, that he is powerful, seem true. Delusional disorder is belief in what is not true as true and acting as such. If one is a human being, hence weak and imperfect, and one believes that one is powerful and acts as such, one is deluded. One is not powerful, for all it takes is a bullet in ones head and one is dead.

Society is very vicious towards women. Women are judged primarily by how they look. Professional women like newscasters are generally let go if they get to a certain age whereas older men are allowed to keep their jobs to old age. You find seventy year old male newscasters but seldom do you find fifty something year old female newscasters. It seems that society prefers young faces to grace the broadcasting world. This is interesting given that older looking women actually look wiser and believable and one would think that they would make more believable newscasters for the audience.

In most jobs it is simply true that older women are discriminated against and that women who are pretty looking or meet whatever is current social idea of beauty are hired. God forbid that a woman is overweight, not attractive and she presents herself for job interviews.

These practices obviously take their tolls on women, for they are aware that they are judged on how their bodies look like and are discriminated against if they do not meet society’s idea of ideal womanhood, and that their intelligence is secondary.

Women tend to have a different set of psychological issues as they age. Most human societies tend to want women to be pretty bodies. Women are generally evaluated as good to the extent that they are beautiful and well dressed than to the extent that they are strong and achieving in society. In fact, most societies expect women to be soft and weak not strong. If a woman is overly physically strong, many men tend to see her as an anomaly and shy away from her. (Nwayi Ike wu onye ahuhu, the Igbos say, meaning that a strong woman is a suffering woman; that is, they expect women to be soft and pretty and not work hard.)

Because women are judged as good to the extent that they are physically good looking, as they age and their bodies become weak and not so good looking, they tend to become aware that society, especially male society, does not value their bodies that much.
Even older men in their sixties seem to prefer younger women (less than forty) for sexual activities.

If it were not for social strictures against older men marrying younger girls, it would be the case that older men would discard their old wives and marry young girls in their twenties. Apparently, being with a young woman makes these old men feel young, again. Being with a woman who still can bear children, it seems, makes old men feel that they are still youthful and able to produce children (which they can do at advanced ages). Being with a post menopausal woman tends to make men feel that they are old farts, and are no longer able to reproduce and they would rather not have that feeling. But since society frowns on older men frolicking with girls young enough to be their grand children, such men desist from gratifying their wishes to have young wives.(In biblical times, men in their seventies used to marry teenage girls.)

Until recently, society forbad older women from having younger boy friends. In many parts of the world, a woman in her fifties (and above) who has a lover under a certain age is material for social gossip, if not punishment, the least of which is ostracism.

Simply stated, women did not have the luxury to gratify their fantasies of youth, as men did. They had to reconcile themselves to their aging realities, and, perhaps, pretend not to be old.

(It is culturally considered unwise to ask a woman above forty what her age is, for she probably would feel embarrassed by that question. Many women apparently tell lies about their age; they tell you the age they think that they look like but not their actual age; thus, if she is sixty and thinks that she looks forty five, if you must ask about her age, she tells you that she is forty five and both of you collude and accept this fantasy, knowing that it is lies.)

As women age, their bodies weaken and look old; this is a natural enough situation but because of society’s insistence that women look young and pretty, women tend to experience psychological issues from their waning beautiful bodies. Those women who had been socially sought after because of their physical beauty (not intellectual accomplishments), who in old age are socially ignored, tend to experience this situation more severely.

The aging model, gymnast, ballerina or actress who earned her living from being seen as very beautiful and sexually desirable to men (men often masturbate from merely visualizing very beautiful models; that is largely why they buy pornographic magazines…in secondary school, this writer’s friends used to masturbate looking at playboy centerfolds) tends to be shocked that men who used to drool at her in her youth now do not even acknowledge her existence.

That is correct; men her age, that in her youth would have gone to war to have her, now do not even notice the presence of the sixty-something year old hitherto graceful ballerina. Of course, younger men totally ignore her (unless she has something to give to them and they tolerate her aging body; this phenomenon is called being a Gigolo).

Some women tend to experience narcissistic injury as they grow old; their pride is hurt because men no longer desire their hitherto desired bodies; they feel attack on their vanity, their fragile self concepts, and self-mages. Their self esteem suffers from the aging process. If they had seen themselves as desirable based solely on their physical appearances and are now objectively not desired they may, in fact, experience depression.

There are all kinds of depression. In clinical depression the individual feels that his life is not worth living, and loses interests in activities of daily living, such as lack of interest in eating food, lack of interests in sports, work, making friends, grooming; fatigue and tiredness, to the point of not wanting to get up from bed and face the world, a desire to just lay there and mope; a feeling that since life is no longer worth living that he might as well kill himself; some depressed persons actually try and or commit suicide.

We are not talking major depression here, for that probably has something to do with the individual’s biochemical status. (The present assumption is that serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is not properly retained in the depressed individual’s brain, hence serotonin reuptake blockers like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil are given to him and they seem to help accumulate that neurotransmitter in his brain and dispel the symptoms of depression.)

We are talking about neurotic depression, dysthymia. In this type of depression, situational events makes the individual to feel that he is worthless and valueless and have low self esteem.

Loss of job, poverty, divorce, children leaving home, lack of friends, feeling that one is not sexually desirable to other people etc could contribute to depressed self view.

Older women tend to have situational or mild depression. Their depression is often exacerbated by the loss of their significant others (husbands, friends… as we age, we loose our childhood playmates to death etc).

Many women at nursing homes and assisted homes for the elderly tend to be mildly depressed and some of them are, in fact, on anti depression medications.

Whereas old men deal with their own depression by acting out (paranoia is a mask over underlying sense of weakness, pretence that one is strong when one is vulnerable), women accept their vulnerabilities, hence depression.

In old age, generally speaking, we see deluded men and depressed women. (Of course, there are deluded women and depressed men; we are speaking in general terms; exceptions exist in every general rule.)

Many of the older men at nursing homes are on anti psychotic medications to deal with their delusional thinking and behaving, whereas many of the women are on antidepressants to deal with their depressed thinking and behaving.


UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE SELF ACCEPTANCE

Clearly, a solution to this problem is for individuals, men and women, to have realistic and healthy self concepts. If the individual accepts himself or herself as he or she is, without external referents, he or she is less likely to become paranoid or depressed.

If a man says: so I am weak and powerless, so what, I will accept that reality and to hell with the fact that society expects me to be strong before it accepts me, he is likely going to avoid paranoia.

If a woman says: so I am not the most beautiful woman on earth, so what, I will accept myself the way I am, now, not the way that society wants me to become before it accepts me, pretty, she is likely to have a healthy self concept and positive self esteem.

Good psychotherapists enable their clients, women included, to develop positive self esteem and have high self confidence.

Good self confidence lays in trusting ones self to do what one needs to do to navigate this world without always wondering what other people think of one, or wishing for others to do things for one, what one could do for ones self. (Of course, we need each other and rely on each other’s help.)

Good self esteem and high self confidence means that one believes that one can do or, at least, try doing what existence on earth requires of one to do for survival, and if other people insist on preventing one from doing those things one insists on doing them. Women, for example, must tell men to get out of their way and not prevent them from doing anything they want to do.

I do not see why a woman should allow male dominated society to prevent them from doing any kind of job that they can do or accept being retired from doing certain jobs in middle or old age just because society prefers to see pretty young faces. A woman newscaster ought to do whatever she could to be on the job until she is in her seventies. (In my view, folks should not retire before age seventy; after that age folks are free to retire and spend the balance of their lives traveling the world and or sharing their wisdom with the younger generation.)

If people accept themselves in what Carl Rogers called unconditional positive manner, not conditionally, not when they meet some other persons’ standards for acceptance, they would not have to deal with the problem of paranoia and depression.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Most of us are products of society. Even our self concepts were influenced by our socialization process. We internalized the values of our society. We tend to think of ourselves as society thinks of us.

In North America, women are accepted to the extent that they are pretty. Just look at what the media does: the various magazines gracing newsstands show slim young women, seldom over age thirty-five. A woman over age thirty five in this culture is a goner. A fat woman does not even exist, as far as the media is concerned. All said, this culture prefers slim, athletic young women to older ones. The result is that women tend to construct self concepts to suit that social expectation.

Women tend to want to look slim and young and feel socially desirable as they age and become flabby and weak. Many older women, those in their fifties, patronize gyms trying to seem young…it is good to exercise, of course, it is good for our physical health…but the fact is that no matter what we do the culture does not prefer aging bodies. Nor does the culture even value the wisdom found in older women.

Women must consciously deconstruct social constructions of the role of women in society and reconstruct it. They must come to accept themselves as they are, not as society wants them to become.

A psychologically healthy person, man or woman looks at him, she, in the mirror, preferably naked, and says; this is who I am, I accept me as I am, not as I could become. I do not need to look different before I accept me. I am good as nature and nature’s god made me.

This is called having internal locus of control, as opposed to having external locus of authority. One accepts ones self internally, not because of what external others say of one.
The goal of psychotherapy is to enable human beings, men and women, children and adults, to accept themselves as they are, now, not as they should become, tomorrow.

One must accept who one is, not who other people think that one should become. It does not matter whether one is white or black, man or woman, boy or girl, tall or short, slim or fat, beautiful or ugly etc, one must accept who one is, now.

Accept your real self, not a neurotic ideal self. (The neurotic rejects his or her real self, uses his imagination to invent an ideal self, an ideal body, ideal ego and ideal everything and wants to become that idealized self. As a result, there is conflict between his real self and his desired ideal imaginary self. He lives in tremendous conflict and tension. The neurotic always has anxiety, exaggeration of human fears; this fear emanates from the conflict between his imperfect real self and his desired ideal perfect self. As long as one aspires after perfection, given our inherent earthly imperfection, one must feel inner tension, conflict and anxiety. The individual must accept his real self to reduce neurotic free-floating, generalized anxiety. If one accepts who one is, imperfect, one tends to become calm, peaceful and happy. See Karen Horney, Neurosis and Human Growth; also see her The Neurotic Personality of Our Time and her Feminine Psychology.)

Psychotherapy, of course, does not provide a quick fix. It takes years for the adult individual to understand his self structure and then attempt to restructure it through cognitive reorientation. Reading books on the self concept and attending workshops that teach the individual to accept his or her real self is always a good supplement to secular psychotherapy.

As I have pointed out elsewhere, human beings are more than their bodies. We are spirit having physical experience. We must, therefore, pay attention to our spiritual nature.

Religion generally provides people with insights into their spiritual nature. People are free to gravitate to a religion that makes sense to them. But where extant religions do not make sense to the individual, he or she could try Spiritual psychotherapy.
Spiritual psychology is not a religion and is not found in any one religion. It is an attempt to draw from the essence of religion and articulate human spiritual nature.

Spiritual psychotherapy consciously teaches the individual that despite appearances that he is body only, that there is a spirit of God in him or her. My spiritual psychology teaches that we are, in truth, unified spirit but in appearance seeming separated persons in body. We are the parts of one whole spirit, Holy Spirit, God.

As parts of the whole we must affirm that whole to feel complete. Love and forgiveness are means of returning to the awareness of our unified spirit nature. (See my writings on spiritual psychology.)

For our present purposes, the salient point is that women tend to suffer injury to their self concepts because as they age their bodies are no longer instruments for them to obtain social attention and sense of specialness. In as much as they still desire attention and approval from other people and still want to seem special, women tend to feel depressed self esteem in old age. This is what is, but what needs not be.

Psychotherapy, secular and spiritual (both are necessary, I think) can enable the average woman to accept herself in an unconditionally positive manner. She must come to love and respect what she is and love and respect all human beings, men and women. It is in love and forgiveness of ourselves that we find peace and happiness.

Any time hate enters our minds, be it self hate or hatred for other people, we disturb our peace, personal or social peace. In love lies mental health; love of ones real self and other peoples real selves and love for our unified spirit self gives us peace and happiness.

. Please read my “Real Self Therapy” to understand what this brief essay merely alluded to.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

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Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #11 of 54: Comoros

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 11. COMOROS Flag of the Federal Islamic  Republic of the Comoros

Formal Name: Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros.

Term for Citizens: Comorans.

Capital: Moroni. Population: 49,000.

Date of Independence: July 6, 1975, from France.

Major Cities: Moroni.

Geography:

Comoros is composed of four islands in the Indian Ocean. Comoros is an estimated 838 square miles in size. The four main islands are volcanic in origin: Grande Comore, the largest and where the capital, Moroni is located, Anjoun, Moheli and Mayotte. The climate is tropical with two seasons, hot and humid from November to April and cooler and dryer from May to October. Average rainfall is estimated at 2,000 centimeters annually.

Society: The population is estimated at 768, 000.

Ethnic groups: Arabs, Africans, and Malayo-Indonesian peoples.

Languages: Arabic is the official language. French and Shikomor (Comoran Swahili) are also spoken.

Religion: Sunni Muslim 86%, Christian 14%.

Education: Free elementary and junior secondary school education. Adult literacy rate is 56.5%.

Economy: Agriculture is the dominant part of the economy. Main cash crops are ylang-ylang, used for perfumes, vanilla, and cloves. Limited livestock and fishing Industries. GDP estimate: $441 million; Per Capita GDP: $530. Monetary Unit: Franc (KMF)


History and Government:

Over the centuries, Polynesian peoples settled on the islands, then East Africans and finally Arabs. Arab Muslim Sultans ruled the islands until the French took over in 1841. Upon independence from France in July 6, 1975, the Islands adopted French type parliamentary democracy. The president is elected for five years and nominates a prime minister from the party with majority seats in parliament to take care of the day-to-day affairs of government. There are over twenty political parties in the country. The country has three administrative islands and 4 municipalities.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS

The four Islands that make up Comoros have been a meeting place between Africans, Arabs and Malays. Beginning in the sixteenth century, the Portuguese and other Europeans became part of the population mix. The people are a mixture of these various peoples. Their language is a mix of Arabic, African and Malay.

In the mid 1800s, France occupied the four major Islands of the Comoros (Grande Comore, Anjoun, Moheli and Mayotte) and by 1912 annexed them and made them French colony. They were governed by the Governor General stationed at Madagascar.

In 1975, France gave the Islands Independence. (Mayotte, one of the Islands, opted to stay with France, while three chose independence from France: Grande Comore, Moheli and Anjoun). But before independence could come, there was already a military coup and the elected President, Ahmed Abdalla, was overthrown. The French mercenary, Colonel Bob Denard began his ten year adventure of destabilizing Comoros. Thereafter, it was one coup after another, with Denard playing power brokering role.

In 1997, Anjoun and Moheli declared unilateral independence from the Comoros, leaving only the Grand Comore left in the nation. In 1999, Colonel Azali Assoumani seized power from President Ben Said Massounde. Massaounde himself came to power in mysterious circumstances, upon the sudden death of his predecessor, Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim in 1998.

Azali, working with South Africa’s President Mbeki and the Africa Union, brokered a new constitution in 2000 that permitted each of the three Islands to have its own president and in every manner other than in foreign policy and control of the military be independent. Each of the three islands has its own president and the presidents are supposed to rotate as the national president. The President of Anjoun is scheduled to become the national president in April, 2006.

The new constitution created a 33 member National Assembly. In the 2004 elections to the National Assembly, Azali’s party won only 6 seats.

The Constitution established a Supreme Court, whose members are selected by the President (2), the National Assembly (2) and one each by the council of each of the three islands. However, whereas the Supreme Court and its tertiary courts are technically in charge of the legal system, most cases are settled in village Islamic courts.

Comoros is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Its income per capita is US $530 (World Bank, 2005). The country relies primarily on agriculture, which employs over 80% of the labor force. Much of the country’s foreign earnings are monies repatriated by Comoros living overseas, such as in France. However, given the pristine beaches of the Islands, it is clear that it has the potential to develop tourism industry that could generate revenue for it, if only it could have political stability.

There is precarious freedom of the press in the Comoros, with the media self censoring, so as not to run afoul of the political authorities. The National Radio and TV broadcasts in the main languages: Shikomor (a Swahili dialect), French, Arab, and Malagasy.


Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

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Interracial Relationships

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Before we embark on this discourse on interracial relationship, we must first answer the question: Is there such a thing as different human races? We must first ascertain the existence of race as a fact before we can talk of interracial relationships.

If there are no such variables as different races, what then are we talking about by talking about interracial relationships?

In every day language, folks generally employ the term race to mean those who have different skin colors. In this light, they talk of the Caucasian race (pale-white), the Negro race (brown-black) and mongoloid race (Asian-yellow?).

East Indians and Polynesians are fitted into whatever race category the individual wants to fit them. Generally, East Indians see themselves as Aryans (whites) and Polynesians see themselves as a mix of Asians. In America both East Indians and Polynesians would probably be treated as black persons, but since to be black is to be at the bottom of the American social totem pole, these people, understandably, would not want to be called blacks?

Are there three or more human races? And if so, what constitutes a race? Is race characterized by skin color only?

Molecular biologists tell us that all human beings, regardless of their color, are genetically 99.9% the same. The .1 % difference in them account for such things as skin color, hair type and other apparent differences. That is to say that biologically, people from everywhere on planet earth are more similar than dissimilar.

All human beings belong to the same animal species. A species are animals that can reproduce with each other. Europeans can reproduce with Africans and Asians but cannot reproduce with gorillas, for though gorillas look like human beings they belong to a different species.

Biologically speaking, the term race is amorphous and is probably better not employed. However, socially and culturally speaking, clearly, there are differences in people.

Human beings evolved in different geographical locations in the world. Each geographical location had a different environment compelling animals that want to survive in it to evolve certain biological and cultural mechanisms. Human beings adapted to the peculiarities of their geography. Those who adapted to the cold, arctic region, like Eskimos, adapted differently than those who adapted to the tropical world of Africa, and those who adapted to the temperate world of Western Europe adapted differently from how Africans adapted to their hot milieu.

Culture is the sum of what a group of people does to adapt to the exigencies of their world and subsequently pass it to their children, to help them adapt to their world.

Every known human group has a somewhat different culture from other groups and socializes their children into internalizing their culture.

People generally behave according to their culture. Of course, there is individuality within the uniformizing world of culture.

There is, in aggregate terms, something that can be called a European culture (within which there are national cultures, such as English, French, German, Italian, etc and within which are even regional cultures); there is a broad category called African culture (within which are national and ethnic cultures); there is a collective approach to life that can be called Asian culture (within which are national cultures, such as Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean etc) and there is such a thing as American culture (within which are, broadly, Caucasian, African-American, Native-American, Latin-American and Asian- American sub cultures).

In America, there is a cultural, not biological, phenomenon called white, Black, Asian, Native and Latino peoples. These groups, to the average American, constitute different races. When Americans talk about interracial relationships, they mean people from these apparent different groups relating to one another. (I said social, not biological phenomenon, for a person could have white skin color but if he identifies with black America and talks like black Americans do, he would be treated as black Americans are treated in America, as second class citizens.)

In actual fact, however, when people talk about interracial relationships, they are probably talking about the problems people from different cultural backgrounds have in relating to each other?

In the not too distant past America, the so-called races were legally (not justly) separated and prevented from relating to each other. This apartheid was based on unproven assumptions made about each race.

White persons were placed at the apex of the American racial pecking order and black persons were placed at the bottom; the other groups were placed in-between. To be white in America was to be superior to other races and to be black in America was to be inferior to other races and to be Asian was to be in the middle of the assumed superior white and inferior black persons.

The various groups that constituted the American polity, obviously, internalized the social constructs of whom and what people were, and those assumptions affected their relationship with each other.

Until recently, many, if not, most black Americans were taught that they were inferior persons. Whereas most of them probably knew that that idea was wrong, nevertheless, they were socialized to it and internalized it in varying degrees.

The idea of superiority and inferiority affected Americans social relationship, with those who were socialized to believe that they were superior to others condescending towards those socialized to accept that they were inferior persons. White folks, particularly in the Southern states, behaved as if they were superior to black persons. Until recently, the typical white American had a neurosis, the illusion of his personal superiority to black persons; in fact, some had a psychosis, the delusion of being superior to blacks. Inferiority and superiority feeling are delusions, belief in what is not true as true, for the truth is that all people, men and women, black and white are the same and are equal.

(Neurotic persons wish to be superior to other persons but know that they are not superior to others; psychotic persons believe that they are superior to other persons, when, in fact, we are all the same and coequal. When an illusion is believed it becomes a delusion, which is a psychosis. The neurotic wishes for something, ideal, but knows that what he wishes for, his desired reality, is not real; he is still able to test reality and knows the difference between ideals, wishes and reality, fantasy and facts, generally the neurotic is unhappy with reality but resigns himself to it, while wishing for an ideal form of it. The psychotic, on the other hand, has lost the ability to test reality and takes his wishes and desires, his mentally constructed ideals and fantasies, as reality; he has escaped from our shared world and now lives in his own self constructed world, a world of fantasy where reality is whatever he makes of it, not what it is empirically is. See further reading.)

Each human being, beginning from the moment of birth, constructs a self-concept, an idea of who he thinks that he is. He employs his inherited biological given and social experiences as building blocks in constructing his self-concept.

Once constructed, the self-concept is translated into a self-image and seen in the individual’s mind.

The individual also constructs concepts of what he thinks that other people and things are. Generally, the individual sees himself as separated from other people; he sees himself as limited to his body, and sees his body as boundary separating him from other people. He sees himself as living in a world of space, time and matter. He believes himself weak, puny and vulnerable and could be hurt by other people and things and devotes his life to defending his life via food, medications, clothes, shelter etc. Our lives on earth are no more than defense of our bodies and our sense of selves, egos.

The self-concept/self image is the same as personality. Personality is the individual’s habitual pattern of behaving, of responding to other people and to the world in general. Generally, personality is formed by age six and set in stone by adolescence and subsequently is difficult to change (except through conversion to religion, to different philosophies of how to live ones life, and or from trauma to the brain that makes the individual to think differently).

Generally, people are at sixty who they were at sixteen. Where there is a personality disorder, such as conflicted pattern of relating to other people, it is apparent by adolescence. (See George Kelly, Personality as a Personal Construct. Also see American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, Section on Personality Disorders.)

People have different self-concepts and approach each other with those different concepts. Each person’s concepts is individualistic but is influenced by the idea of race.

As Alfred Adler pointed out, there are individuals in every group that feel superior to other persons, and there are those who feel inferior to other persons. There are those with positive self-esteem and those with negative self-esteem, those with high or low self-opinion of who they think that they are. Each human being has different opinion of his worth and value.

These feelings are exacerbated by race. A black person who, for any number of reasons, feels inferior will probably feel more inferior as a result of the racial situation in America. A white person who feels superior will probably feel more superior to blacks as a result of the racial situation in America.

Clearly, the past de jure and present de facto strictures against interracial mixing in America played a role, and probably still does so, in how people relate to each other across race lines. Consider dating. In America, until recently folks were encouraged to date and marry only persons from their race and were frowned upon, even punished should they date persons from a different race.

This disapproval of interracial dating was particularly serious for black Americans. Since, socially, white persons were deemed superior and black people inferior, for a black person to date a white person was discouraged. Black men who had white girl friends risked death. Indeed, until the 1960s such men could be lynched, hung on the nearest tree.

Thus, on the whole, there was little overt interracial dating. But this appearance is deceiving. It has been estimated that over 75% of black Americans had non-black genes. They must have come into being as a result of sexual relationship between white and black persons.

In past America, generally, folks had interracial sex in the hide, not in openness. White slave masters had sex with their black female slaves and had children with them (and disowned them, of course). In the cities it was the case that white men would go to black sections of town to have sex with black women and then go back to their white neighborhoods, to their white wives. This way, white men would have both white children and black children (the later disowned). The recently dead senator Thurman had black children whom he denied as his children, of course. While the man was fighting racial integration he was doing his best to integrate the races in the bedroom (under the cover of darkness).

Fear and cowardice pervades the interracial sexual situation in America; folks do one thing and talk about another, afraid to let the whole world know what they actually do least they be socially disapproved.

Since white men were in power in America, they could pretty much get away with this sexual charade but if blacks tried it, it could turn deadly. Black men who had white girl friends had to hide that fact. It could mean physical death in the hands of white mobs. Indeed, it could also mean social rejection by fellow blacks.

Black women particularly hated black men who had white girl friends, for the implication is that those men preferred white women to them. The “sisters” are known to ask such “brothers”: “what does that white bitch got that I don’t have? You like them white pussy, nigger?”

The least a black man gets for fooling around with a white woman is job insecurity. Many a black man has been fired from his job when his white boss found out that he had a white girl friend.

White men, generally, reject white women who date black men. As it were, they see such women, often called white trash, as bringing their race downwards, reducing it to the lowly level of “niggers’. There is a lot of pressure for white women to stay away from black men.

Nobody fully understands why people are attracted across racial lines, for despite the pressure to stay away from persons of other races, interracial dating manages to flourish in the land of the Americas. Some white women, like some white men, sneak into black ghettos to have sex with their black lovers. In the past, if these women became pregnant, they had abortion and if they had children they most likely gave them up for adoption rather than risk rejection by their fellow whites. These days, with relaxed social opposition to interracial dating, some of these women keep their children. Statistics show that interracial marriages are increasing, though it is still less than 1% in the USA.


SOCIAL PATHOLOGY

As far as biology is concerned, there is no such category as races. In so are that there are races, it is social and cultural construct, not a natural one.

The social strictures against interracial dating produced a whole lot of psychological issues for those involved. As noted, until recently, white men killed black men who dated white women. Therefore, a black man who, for whatever reason, dated a white woman must be cognizant of the fact that his life may be threatened. Some such black men tended to exhibit paranoid symptoms: they were suspicious, untrusting, and fearful that both whites and blacks could harm them.
Many black men with white girl friends exhibit social paranoia. Some call this phenomenon African Americans functional paranoia, for there was realistic grounds for them to be cautious of whites, for the later historically did kill “niggers” who stepped out of line, who did not know their place, as defined for them by their white masters, second class citizens.
However, it is difficult to ascertain the origin of this exaggerated fear of harm called paranoia, whether it is due to interracial fears or independent personality issues. We know that paranoid persons tend to have grandiose self-concepts, big egos. To have a big ego in itself produces fear of those one looks down on, for one literally attacks whomever one feels superior to. Having attacked those one feels superior to, one then fears that they could counter attack one, by feeling superior to one. Paranoid persons tend to be filled with hostility towards other people, project their hostility out and come to believe that other people are hostile towards them.
Paranoid persons generally believe that other people are dangerous and that they live in a hostile world and that they might as well protect themselves. They are generally very defensive, and are always guarded and scan their social environment to ascertain that no one is out to harm or kill them.
People who feel superior to other persons, as paranoid persons do, may resent being prevented from dating whomever they want. Thus, superior feeling black paranoid persons may resent whites for preventing them from dating white women. They then date whites out of defiance of white opposition. They date whites to seem, at least, equal to whites.

Knowing that they are defying white society’s opposition to interracial dating, they may feel that whites are out to get them hence they become suspicious and exhibit paranoid symptoms.

Whatever is its origin, what is clear is that paranoid symptoms are often found in black men who date white women. Again, it is difficult to ascertain whether these paranoid ideations preceded such black men’s dating of white women or are a result of it? This is the usual chicken and egg question; which preceded which? Perhaps, the answer to this conundrum is that each caused the other? How about that?

White women who date black men have their own social psychological issues. They do what they do for a whole variety of issues. Some do it out of love (this is very few in number, for even in the so-called normal society very few date and marry for love). Others do it out of some unresolved neurotic issue (as is also the case in so-called normal society.

One such neurotic reason is the feeling that one is not respected by white men, and that black men would respect one. Black men are supposed to be inferior and, as such, ought to value and respect any white woman that condescends to associate with them. Apparently, these women want to be placed on a pedestal and feel that white men would not do so, and that black men would over value them and place them on a pedestal.
Others do it to feel superior to their black male lovers and in the process gratify their underlying neurotic desire to seem superior to somebody.

Again, it is really difficult to ascertain why people do what they do. What needs to be done is for the individual to ask himself or herself why he does what he does. Clearly, if his or her motivation is love, which means joining with the love object, and caring for the other, union, then that is a healthy motivation. But if the motivation is to obtain respect, when respect is deemed as lacking, or to seem superior to others, well, that is a neurotic, if not psychotic, basis for relationship, and such relationshiops will not work.
Some people have relationships based on sexual needs, only. There are men who just want to have sex with women, any woman, black or white; there are women who have similar motivations. If these people understand why they are doing what they are doing, and are honest and not deceptive about it, they harm no one. As long as they let their partners know what their goals are, they are not using any one. If two people just want to have sex and it is mutual and not exploitative that is their choice. Clearly, it is better if the two also loved one another (want to unify with one another: to love is to join, to connect, to unify with the person one loves and to care for one another, to return to a sense of oneness).

There was a view by psychoanalytic oriented persons that interracial marriages are substitute homosexual relationships. According to this view, those black men who date white women are latent homosexual men and paranoid. According to Sigmund Freund, paranoid persons are folks who repress their latent homosexuality, at least, so was the Judge Schreber case that he analyzed.
White women who date black men are latent probably lesbians. The idea is that the black man feels weak and allows a strong white woman to essentially marry and lord it over him, as a gay male would lord it over a weak male, and that the white woman is like a lesbian dike lording it over weak women, in this case, a weak black man. This view is fanciful, and like most psychoanalytic views, far fetched; nevertheless, there are some persons who believe it.

HOMOSEXUALITY

No talk on interracial relationships is complete without a word or two on homosexuality. So, let us talk homosexuality and possibly offend some persons. We currently live in a politically correct culture. In this atmosphere, the individual is expected to agree with whatever would please other people or else he is punished. The individual is discouraged by the gatekeepers of political correctness to express his opinion if it is contrary to prevailing socially approved opinions. One no longer dare hold views that challenge the views of vocal minorities such as homosexuals. The question is no longer what is right or wrong but who defends a position? If feminists, for example, believe that a point of view is detrimental to their position they would penalize men who express such point of view.
Political correctness has compelled several people to jump unto the “homosexuality is an alternative lifestyle” bandwagon. No one bothers talking about the rightness or wrongness of homosexual behaviors. My God, did one say wrongness? Who is the individual to talk about what is right or wrong? Who gives one the right to tell other people what is right or wrong, God? What God, does God exist; did not Nietzsche tell us that God is dead? Scientists, our latest high priests and arbiter of truth, have not demonstrated the existence of God.
Political correctness defines the individual’s role as merely to rubber stamp whatever is currently championed by powerful vocal persons who shape public opinion; the individual is not supposed to think for himself and ascertain what is correct or not. The human mind is dismissed as incapable of knowing the truth, except the truth told it by the gatekeepers of political correctness.

Homosexuality is sexual behavior that defies what seems the proper function of the male-female genitals. It would seem that the penis is meant for the vagina. But in gay sexual behavior, men stick their penis into other men’s mouths and anuses. Those organs do not seem to belong where gay men stick them. Homosexual behavior does not seem natural.
Who defines what is natural, gay men ask? They believe that they have the right to define what is natural for them.
As one sees it, homosexuality is an act of defiance against nature; it defies what is. It is oppositional defiant behavior; it is like the oppositional defiant behavior found in unruly teenagers. It seems a misguided effort to seem powerful, to seem like one created ones self and determines what is natural. It is an effort to seem like one is the author of reality. In this sense, it is unrealistic and childish, for, clearly, the individual did not create himself, did not create other people and did not create reality. The individual was produced by his parents; he did not produce himself. The rebellious adolescent may resent his parents for producing him, and wanting to produce himself, the fact is that his parents produced him, and that is the way it is despite his wishes for power to be his own creator.
Reality is what it is, we did not make it. Pretending that we made it is a delusion. I think that homosexuals are on a power trip; they are pretending that they can make reality what they want it to become.
Am I trying to change homosexuals, to get them to stop being homosexuals? I am not trying any such thing. They made a choice to be defiant and oppositional, an act of power, albeit childish power. If they are opposed by any one, they would redouble their efforts to be oppositional and seem powerful, and struggle to do their thing. Therefore, one does not oppose them. One simply leaves them alone to wallow in their, to me, absurd life style.
(Does one have the right to judge any behavior as absurd? Political correctness says no. Soon, thieves, pedophiles and other currently judged social deviants would gain political power and tell us that they do what they do because it is in their genes and, as such, that we should approve their behavior; why not?)
As long as Homosexuals do not try to impose their self abuse on one, the world is a large place; they are free to abuse their bodies in any which way they want. Their behavior is their choice and it is not for one to choose for them, provided that they do not choose for one.
We are thinking, cognitive, and mental human beings. We think, we ideate and we conceptualize what is or is not. We use our minds to make choices. We then deny that we made those choices and project them to our bodies and make it seem like our bodies made us do what we do.
Thus, these days, we are told that homosexuality is written in homosexual persons’ genes.
Genes, the information coded into our DNA, we shall ultimately find out were information systems written by some one. Genes are like software, computer program we store in our body hardware, information to enable us evolve bodies and bodies we need to live on earth.
Mind, that is, thinking, wrote the program in our genes. How this was done we do not yet understand.
In the meantime, it seems that homosexuals want to do what they do and wrote a program and place it in their body hardware and that program now seem to independently compel them to do what they do.
In fact, they wrote the program that seem to dispose them to do what they do; they programmed themselves to do what they do and are responsible for their behaviors.
Homosexual persons are responsible for their behaviors, just as murderers are responsible for their behaviors, even if they can demonstrate that they killed under the influence of mind-altering drugs. The criminal is responsible for what he does, as all of us are responsible for what we do.
In nature we do take the consequences of our behaviors. If one kills others, others could kill one. The principle of cause and effect, operative in this world, means that we are not passive agents unto whom bad things happen; we play active roles in what happens to us.
Homosexual men stick their penis into other men’s anus. Every time they do so, they risk infection by fungus, virus and bacteria. All things being equal, they must be sicker than heterosexual persons. They gave themselves their sicknesses and have no one to blame for them.

We cannot blame our genes for we are not only bodies but also minds that can think and make decisions. Homosexuals choose to be who they are and to do what they do.
What this means in terms of relationships is that one can choose to relate to them or choose to avoid them.
Political correctness does not mean political foolishness; folks who are nihilistic and self destructive and court death (infestation of germs with every sexual act they engage in) are not to be seen as the saviors of mankind; the destroyers of mankind, may be.

It is now fashionable to equate the struggle by homosexuals for social acceptance with black folks struggle for social acceptance. This conflation of two unrelated struggles is an outrage against reason. African-Americans are persons born with black bodies. They cannot choose to not to have black bodies.
Homosexuality is a behavior, homosexuals can choose to engage or not engage in their behavior. These folks can choose to be heterosexual.
A black man cannot choose to be white; he must be black until he dies. It is therefore unacceptable to equate homosexual struggles for social acceptance with black folks struggle for social acceptance.
If you want to approve homosexuality, that is your choice, some of us choose not to approve it. We choose not to encourage nihilistic self hating persons to self destroy. These nihilists want us to collude with them and tell them that their self destructive, anti life behaviors is appropriate; they want us to become partners in their self destruction so as to share the blame with us. They want to say: see what you did, you encouraged us to harm ourselves. They are free to harm themselves, but other people, society, is not bound by any rational logic to help them do so. One will not aid a person bent on self destruction, for one affirms life, not death. If one wants to die, one has a right to do so, that is ones choice, not other people’s choice. One should not shift the responsibility for ones choice to other persons. Act and take the consequences of your action. (Unfortunately, other people also take the consequences for your action, hence must be interested in it; we are all paying to cure the HIV-AIDS sexually irresponsible persons brought unto the world. Only one man-one woman, in heterosexual marriage, is responsible and realistic sexuality, as far as I am concerned.)

Black color is a status; in the temporal world, the here and now reality, blacks do not have the capability to alter their color (although black persons chose to be born black before they were born on earth).
All men and women black and white are equal and must be treated as such.
Homosexuality is not equal with heterosexuality; aberration is not the same thing as reality, deviancy is not the same as normalcy.


RACE AND CULTURE

From where I am standing, there is no such thing as race. However, I see culture as extant social reality.
Culture is not natural, it is a social construct, it is man made and can be remade. We construct culture and can deconstruct and reconstruct it. The only acceptable culture is one that serves social interests.
Culture is man made and ought not be deified and reified just because it exists, it is a pragmatic instrument for adapting to the exigencies of this world and where it is maladaptive it is to be changed and made adaptive.
In America, racist culture separates people. This is not good. People are the same and equal; that is the dictate of nature.

People ought to try to relate to other people only from the perspective of love, not for any underlying neurotic reasons. But this is easier said than done. Every human being has some neurosis and that affects his behavior.
Okay, even if neurosis is the original motivator of the individual’s behavior, what brought folks from different races together, they could work to understand their motivations and learn to improve them.

SECULAR AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOTHERAPY

Psychotherapy could help any couple to love themselves. Good secular psychotherapists can help couples, interracial and intraracial, to care for one another.
Therapists help people to understand the realities of this world and cope with them in the most effective manner. Secular, scientific therapists, the types licensed by states, are empiricists; they understand the empirical, that is, the egos world we live in and help people to adapt to it, as well as they could.
Two adults, male and female, need to love and respect one another; they need to have satisfactory sexual life, if they are to stay married. Folks who want to be in harmonious relationship must therefore love, respect and care for one another; they must understand each others ego structure and accommodate it.

Secular psychotherapy does not attempt to transcend the world, as it is, but to adapt to it. That is fine.
It so happens that human beings are more than their bodies; they are spirits having physical experience.
If individuals want to transcend the empirical world, they can avail themselves of the services of spiritual psychotherapists.
Spiritual psychotherapy, aka metaphysics, such as is found in A Course in Miracles, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, and Unity Church etc enables people to appreciate that they are spirit pretending to be physical beings.
According to A Course in Miracles, body does not even exist. Space, time and matter do not exist in reality. They seem to exist in a dream world. Our truth is unified spirit. While in unified spirit, aka God and his heaven, we wished to experience its opposite, separated selves housed in bodies. We could not satisfy our wishes in reality, in spirit, in God, in heave, and did so, or seem to do so in our world, a world that opposes the will of heaven.
We wished for separation and see ourselves in a seeming separated world, a world of separation, space, time and matter.
Separation between minds produced physical space, time and matter. Space, time and matter, our bodies, exist only in the dream of separation but do not in the unified world of God.
A Course in Miracles, like Hinduism and Buddhism, urges people to seek to experience their real self, which is said to be unified spirit self. They are told to do so through forgiveness and love. To forgive other people is to overlook what they do to each other in the dream of separation.
Other people do attack you, as you do attack them, for the world is a place of mutual attacks and defenses. A Course in Miracles asks you to overlook their attack, that is, to forgive them. It says that in forgiving other people’s attacks on you, in overlooking what other people did to hurt you, you forgive and overlook what you yourself did to hurt other people. Forgive others means forgive you.
It further says that when we forgive other people, hence forgive ourselves, we reawaken to the feeling of oneness with them. To forgive is to return to love, and love is union, hence to forgive is to return to the awareness of our underlying oneness.
Only the formless can join; the form must separate, body, form separates rather than unify. Indeed, matter, body, space and time were deliberately designed to enable those, us, who wish to seem separated, seem so.
In spirit, we are the same and coequal. Differences and inequality is only possible in the world of forms, the temporal world of matter, space, time and matter, the world that is the opposite of the world of God.

Spiritual psychologists can help people to affirm their spiritual self while they are still living in the world of matter, space and time. There are spiritual psychologists out there that could help couples recognize and validate their unified spirit self.
In the meantime, we live in the world of space-time and matter; that world has its requirements to adapt to it. We all need food, medications, clothing, shelter etc to adapt to the exigencies of this world.
To obtain what this world requires for our survival, we have to work for them. Affirming ones divinity, as religions do, does not mean negating the realities of this world.
Buddhists say: seek the experience of nirvana in meditation (oneness) but thereafter go chop wood and fetch water, that is, do what you have to do to cope with the realities of this world.
Go train for a job, secure a job, get along with other people and feed yourself and your partner. That is the reality of this world. Manna does not fall from the sky to feed us.
Secular psychology enables us to do what we have to do to adapt to the realities of this world, while spiritual psychology helps us to understand that there is another world, a spirit world, and that reassures us and gives us peace of mind.
Spiritual psychology gives us the understanding that this world is transient, ephemeral, impermanent and changeable. We are born, age and die. All living things must expire. Such is life, cest la vie. Do not cry over spilled milk; accept the world as it is, live with stoicism and equanimity; do not complain about the world’s apparent ugliness; act with courage what has to be done to survive in this world; tolerate the fact that life is pain and then we die. Die and move on to other realms of being.
On the other hand, there is a permanent world of spirit; the world of union, sameness and equality that remains the same forever and ever. Belief in that spirit world helps folks to cope with the transitory nature of things of this earth.
In my view, human beings need both secular and spiritual psychology to live balanced lives on earth, not either or, but both.
I pay close attention to behavioral psychology and neuroscience; I study the human body; yet I study spiritual science/mind science. Thinking influences behavior and I want to understand how my thinking affects my behavior. Simply stated, I study both secular and spiritual science for I think that human beings are both body and spirit and that those two aspects of them must be fully understood and taken care of, for them to be happy and peaceful.




NORMAL PSYCHOLOGY

We have talked about some putative abnormal psychologies that possibly influence interracial relationship. However, human begins are not only sick but they are also healthy. What are the healthy motivations that could possibly bring people from different races together?

CURIOUSITY

Some human beings are very curious. They want to know who other people are. Some children want to play with children who look different from them. These types of people actively seek out those who seem different from them to relate to them. They feel more at home when they are relating to people from diverse backgrounds.
Whereas some persons comfort zone is to be with those who are like them, some persons find comfort in being with seeming different persons. This observer, for example, growing up at Lagos, beginning around age six, preferred to be with children from other tribes and so-called races. He had children from different Nigerian tribes, Lebanon and England as his friends. He found it boring to be with those who were only from his Igbo background. As an adult, he prefers to have friends from all over the world: White, Chinese, Japanese, East Indian and so on.
The relevant point is that there are human beings who have insatiable curiosity about other people. Some of these probably marry from outside their so-called race because of their love of diversity.
A variegated rose garden is more beautiful than a rose garden with only one color. Nature is wise in making people come in different colors and shapes.

RISK TAKERS

Many persons do not take risks, certainly not big risks like trying to relate to folks from outside their race. Having friends from outside ones race is certainly stepping into an unknown world where one may not have the cultural skills to navigate that more complicated world. Most people have social skills to cope with stimuli emanating from their in-group members but are at a loss relating to cues from outside their group.

Some persons take risk and deal with that which is different from them. They thrive in risk taking.

Ordinarily, if you attempt to make friends from members of your own group you risk being rejected. Many persons fear social rejection so much so…to be rejected makes ones ego feel belittled…that to retain their false pride they do not take the initiative to talk to other people. This problem is compounded when it involves relating to those from outside ones race. A black man trying to make friends with a white persons risks being rejected by the later and vice versa. To avoid social rejection and thus retain his vanity, his sense of importance, he could avoid reaching out to other people to be his friends.

It takes extraordinary sense of security and positive self esteem for the individual to not care whether other people liked or did not like him, accepted or rejected him. Very secure persons with positive opinions of themselves reach out to all people for friendship, and in the nature of things risk being rejected by some. As they say, you win some and you lose some; you cannot win them all. If you approach five people for friendship, perhaps, four will probably reject you. You take that rejection in stride and move on and not permit it to deter you from reaching out to all people.
It is egoism, fear and cowardice to permit social rejection to lead one to withdraw from other people. The human ego leads to isolation.


AMBIGUITY

Many persons like the known and predictable world; very few persons like ambiguities and uncertainties. The few who like ambiguities gravitate to relating to those who are different from them. Trying to figure out how to relate to different persons and their culture gives them a sense of satisfaction.

ALONENESS ISSUES

Human beings are creatures that individually feel all alone in this world. Aloneness feeling is not a pleasant feeling. Thus, human beings struggle to feel connected to each other. In in-groups where people feel joined to one another folks tend to feel happy.
Generally, people have easy sense of connectedness with members of their own group. One has to make efforts to relate to those from outside ones group. Imagine an African trying to relate to a German or a German trying to relate to a Chinese, it is difficult for them to form a sense of oneness, given their color and cultural divides.
Very few human beings can tolerate a sense of aloneness for long. The human ego feels primordial anxiety, fear and depression if it feels alone. It reduces its existential sense of aloneness and fear by joining other people. Human beings will join with anybody that offers them a feeling of association and fellowship hence reduces their intolerable sense of aloneness.
Helen Schucman believes that our fear of aloneness is rooted in the fact that originally, in spirit, aka God, we are unified. As she sees it, our true nature is union with all creation and our creator, God. We are, therefore, happiest when we are in union with all people.
As she also sees it, the ontology of the temporary universe lay in our wish to be separate from our creator and from each other. As it were, we wished to experience the opposite of our true nature. We are unified and wish to experience separateness; we are spirit and wish to experience body; we are immortal and wish to experience mortality; we are changeless and wish to experience change; we are all knowing and wish to experience not knowing; we are in heaven and wish to experience non-heavenly life on earth. We came to the earth to experience our opposite nature.
But while on earth, we feel like aliens, for the earth is not our true home. We vaguely remember that our nature is unified, and at any rate we feel happy and peaceful only when unified with all.
Thus, on earth while we came to be separate from each other, we inevitably seek union. Consequently, we have two concurrent opposing trends in our minds: desire for union and desire for separation. These two contradicting wishes create conflict in our minds.
We want to be with other people and we want to run away from other people; we cannot quite make up our minds for one or the other desire.
Actually, we cannot completely avoid other people, for complete separation from other people would result in our death; we are always connected with people but may not actively affirm it.

For our present purposes, some people seek connection mostly with those who look like them, their so-called race, and fear the sense of aloneness they feel when around those not like them.
On the other hand, some people seek out the company of those not like them and in connecting with these seeming strangers feel more joined and peaceful.
This observer certainly feels more at home, peaceful and happy when he is with folks from diverse races. If he finds himself in a room with whites, blacks, Chinese etc he feels very comfortable, but if he is in a room with folks that all look like him, he feels bored and antsy and gets out. He needs all humanity to feel truly joined, unified and complete hence peaceful and happy.
Our completion and perfection lies in union with all humanity and with the creator of humanity, a nameless spirit force the various religions of mankind call God. Apart from each other and from God we feel incomplete, imperfect and unhappy; with each other we feel happy.

UNIVERSALISTIC VERSUS PARTICULARISTIC TRIBAL IDENTIFICATION

The run of humanity identify with those like them in color and culture. It is easier to relate to those who look like one. The majority of mankind feels comfortable with, as they say, “their kind”.
On the other hand, there are those who see “all human beings as their kind”. There are children who see children from all races as members of the same human family (some children have to be trained to reach this level of identification, if at all).
For any number of reasons, some known and others unknown, some human beings prefer fellowship with all human beings irrespective of their place of origin. This observer remembers as a college student traveling all over Europe and North America. He felt at home wherever he went. Even in the blondest Scandinavia he felt that the people were part of his people. In the Southern United States he felt kindred spirit with both blacks and whites (even though there was still racial segregation…he ignored those and made friends across the racial divide). The concept of race was anathema to him; as far he was concerned, there is only one race, the human race. As he sees it, all people are children of one family, God’s family. Any talk of racial separation is unacceptable to him.


GENERAL RULES OF INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS

Every university offers courses on interpersonal relationships (also called interpersonal communications or social skills/life skills development). The reader should take such courses and or read books on how to improve his or her interpersonal relationships.
This essay is not a substitute for the more comprehensive information taught in college courses on interpersonal relationship. My goal here is to express my own opinion on the subject of interracial relationship. An essay is supposed to be a reasoned subjective point of view but not necessarily objective and necessarily scientific. (Did I say anything here that is not verifiable in the empirical world? I try to employ both inductive and deductive logic in my essays.)

In courses on interpersonal relationships, folks are taught that to make friends that one must be friendly.
So you want to have other people to become friendly rewards you, eh? Good idea. You have to do one thing: become friendly towards other people.

Do you want to be loved and respected by other people? What did Jesus Christ say on this subject? (See the four gospels, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.) He said: do unto other people as you want them to do to you. He also said that all the laws and prophesies can be summarized to one word: love.
If you want other people to love and respect you, then love and respect other people, for as you do unto others they are more likely to do to you. If you love other people, the chances are that they would love and respect you in return, and if you hate other people, the chances are that they would hate you in return.
Giving is receiving; what you give is what is given to you. Love begets love and hate begets hate.
As far as human experience is our guide, most normal human beings desire to be treated as dignified by their fellow human beings. Deep down most people feel unimportant and want their fellow human beings to treat them as if they are important. Only a few persons feel unimportant enough not to demand importance from their fellow human beings.
Only the masochist who enjoys pain desires to be humiliated by other persons. Do you want other people to see you as respect worthy? If so then treat them in a respectable and dignified manner.
Do you want other people to care for you? If so care for other people. Do you want other people to be kind, gentle and warm to you? If so be kind and warm and gentle towards other people.

Generally, the normal human being does not like it if other people exploit and or manipulate him, use him to get what they want and then discard him. If the individual feels used, he feels angry, and wants to attack, even kill the person who he perceives as using him against his will.
Given this truth, do unto others as you want them to do to you. Do not ever use, manipulate or exploit other people to get what you want and then discard them as scrap iron. (Persons with personality disorders, such as those with narcissistic, and or histrionic, borderline and antisocial personality disorders often feel a sense of entitlement; they feel that they are special and superior to other people and justify using other people, those they deem as inferior to them, to get what they want and discard them; those they use resent them. This way, persons with personality disorders tend to generate interpersonal conflicts.)

It is necessary for you to always treat people in a positive manner if you so want to be positively treated. Why do I need to repeat this truism? It is because human beings are free agents and as such can make choices and behave accordingly. You can choose to see other people as shit and treat them as such.
Human value is a social construct. As American racists and Adolf Hitler demonstrated, you can choose to devalue other people, to see them, as worthless and valueless and useless and treat them as such. If you choose to, law or no law, you can harm even kill other people? In the past, white Americans chose, cowardly I might say, to exploit black people, to use them as salves. The great cowards knew that they were technologically more advanced than blacks and instead of using that technology to help their fellow human beings, chose to use it to exploit them.
The relevant point is that in this world of ours, any human being can choose to do to others as he pleases and, by and large, get away with it. (Although he will eventually be repaid in kind, for what goes around comes around. If you exploit others, others will exploit you.)
If you have been a parent you recognize how weak, vulnerable and dependent children are and you can choose to take advantage of them. We do not do so because we have love for all them. We care for those we love, even if they are weak.
Criminals take advantage of the weak and vulnerable. These cowards abuse children, physically and sexually. Men who are physically stronger than women, like cowardly criminals, impose their sexual will on women. Rape is a power and control motivated behavior.
The salient point is that in the real world we all have the capacity to harm other people, if we choose to. We also have the capacity to help and love other people, if we choose to. The critical variable here is choice: to do good or evil? This is the question always facing human beings.
(Recently, a bunch of criminal oriented Nigerian chose to exploit me and I turned my knowledge of the world on them; I sought to punish them in the severest manner. I have exhaustive understanding of human psychology and that led me to appreciate that they are personality disordered creatures who thought that my civility is a sign of weakness. I chose to love and forgive them while insisting that they do the right thing. Forgiveness does not mean that one should condone evil. I will not hesitate putting any one into jail if he did antisocial things. However, in jail I will do my best to teach him prosocial behaviors. When my cousin’s husband beat her up, I worked to have him jailed, but while in jail insisted that he take domestic violence, anger management treatment. He had to understand his paranoid jealousy and work to improve it, for as long as he retained that malady he was a danger to women and children. I insist on psychotherapy for the personality disordered.)

Always choose to help and to love. Always ask: how can I help my fellow human beings? It is in service to humanity that we find our salvation and certainly find peace and joy.
Whoever thinks that he can exploit other people and find peace and happiness is a fool? Love and be happy; hate and be unhappy.

I will not write a treatise on how to relate to other people, for you can read that in many books and or take courses on them. All I will say is that love, respect and serve all people and you will not do any better than that.
Do not just talk about lover and social service, do it. Start right now. Love and help the person next to you.
Do it and do it now, not tomorrow. If you do it, love and serve all, you will know the peace and joy that Paul tells us passes human (ego) understanding.



THE FUTURE

Until recently, most people did not even know about other people, Africans, for example, had no contacts with Europeans and Asians.
People lived in particular parts of the world and adapted to the exigencies of their world. They evolved particularistic cultures that enabled them to cope with the demands of their world. (Culture enables people to adapt to their world.)
People who adapted to the temperate world of Europe had a particular culture; those who adapted to the tropical world of Africa evolved a particular culture and so on.
Culture is a living thing, it changes to adapt to changed environments. Today’s culture is from yesterday’s adaptation to the physical and social environment hence is already dated and ought to be updated with information from our current experiences.
These days, as cultures confront each other and are in an existential fight to die or live, some misguided persons see their culture as static and defend it at all times. They cling to what they call their (past) culture, unaware that that culture is supposed to change the moment it confronts different environments. A culture that is not dynamic does not enable the people to survive but, in fact, may aid them to die out.
A temporary expedient alternative to this misguided behavior is what folks now call multiculturalism. This view believes that all cultures are the same and that the truth is relative to the culture one came from. In this light, the culture of Hinduism that burned widows with their dead husbands’ bodies is seen as the same as the same as the Christian culture that respects all life.
Culture is the last refuge of the scoundrel. In time, all this cultural relativism nonsense will come to pass; human beings will let go of their past and evolve a present universalistic culture that adapts to the real world.


Improvements in transportation and communication technologies have made it now possible for individuals to travel all over the world. The individual can be in three or four continents in as many days. This observer has been in North America, flown to Europe and then Africa, all within two days. This means that the cultures of the world are now in close contact.
Proximity leads to cultural diffusion, which is taking place at a greater speed than at any other time in human history.
In the future, it is clear that there will emerge a universal culture that is not anything like today’s particularistic cultures.
The United States of America is already a veritable United Nations with folks from all over the world living in it, their cultures mixing into a universalistic culture. The diversity of America is her strength and if that diversity is meld into one universal American culture, rather than encourage folks to live in their particular enclaves, the United States will remain the greatest nation on planet earth, at least for the foreseeable future.
Homogeneous societies like China cannot compete with heterogeneous societies like the United States of America. If racism ends in America and the country fully utilizes the talents of all her peoples, no country on earth can compete with her.
If China, the much lauded empire of the twenty first century, wants to rival America’s economic and cultural strength, it has to go to Africa and import millions of Africans to give its culture the dynamism Africans have given to the Americas. Just think of what Africans have contributed to America’s culture, music, for example. Can Russia compete with America in the world of popular music? If and when America finally incorporated African Americans into its mainstream and stops discriminating and marginalizing them it would unleash talents that would make it second to none in the world. No one else can compete with America that has Africans as the equal partners of Europeans, nobody. Though shunted to the margins of America, look at what African Americans have contributed to America; just imagine what they would do when they are respected? God, a creative force, the like of which the world has not seen before, would be unleashed in the world.
America’s cultural imperialism is inevitable because of the fact that it is a culture that unified many cultures.

CONCLUSION

To cope with the exigencies of a multicultural world, we all have to learn to understand each other’s cultures; additionally, we have to learn to feel comfortable around each other.
Whether we like it or not, a universal human being is emerging. Even the color of that human being would be different from the skin colors of present human beings. If you use the computer to simulate what the future man would look like, mix all the colors of the peoples of the world, what would emerge is a brown race, like contemporary Brazilians.
Brown is the future of mankind. The future world is one people with one culture and we might as well deal with that fact and stop wasting every ones time by fighting the inevitable. We ought to make sure that all children born in this world go to school and study science. No child should have less than university level education in the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics). This education must be free and available to all children. This is the only way to guarantee the evolution of mankind to higher levels.
Reality is what it is; it is not for us to determine it; our role is to adapt to it. We are one human race and must live with one another, as loving and forgivingly as is humanly possible.
It is in love and forgiveness that peace and joy lies. Forward, ever; backward, never.




* For books on the effect of racism on black Americans see Akron, The Negro Personality; Gardiner and Overstay, The Mark of Oppression; Thomas Pettigrew, A Profile of the Negro American; Franklin Frazier, The Negro Middle Class; Franz Fanon, Black Skin White mask; Albert Mimi, The Colonizer and the Colonized; Moaning, Prospero and Cali ban, the Psychology of Colonized Persons, Gunnar Myrdal, The American Dilemma and Kenneth Clark’s studies showing black children choosing white dolls over black ones thus indicating self hatred.


__________________
FOR FURTHER READING

Adler, Alfred (1999) The Neurotic Constitution. New York: International Library of Psychology, Routledge.

Allport, Gordon. Pattern and Growth in Personality. Also see his The Nature of Prejudice.

American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, (1994) Washington, DC. American Psychiatric Press.

Ansbacher, H.L. The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler.

Ayer, A.J. (1968) The Origins of Pragmatism. London: Macmillan.

Beck, Aaron. (1990) Cognitive Therapy for Personality Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.

Camus, Albert, (2003) The Stranger. New York: Sparks Publishing Group.

Ellis, Albert. (2004) Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. New York: Prometheus Book Publishers.

Eriksson, Erik. (1993) Childhood and Society. New York: W.W. Norton.

Freud, Anna. The Ego and its Mechanisms of Defense.

Freud, Sigmund. (1961) The Life and Works of Sigmund Freud, Ed Ernest Jones. New York: Lionel Trilling and Steven.

Fromm, Eric. (1947) Escape from Freedom. New York: Routledge.

Horney, Karen. (1991) Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: W.W. Norton.

Jung, Carl G. Basic Writings of C.G. Jung. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Kelly, George. (1955) The Psychology of Personal Constructs. New York: W.W. Norton.

Laing, R.D. (1960) The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness. New York: Penguin.
(1961) Self and Others. New York: Penguin.
(1964) The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise. New York: Penguin.

Maslow, Abraham. (1998) Maslow on Management. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

(1970) Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper.

Meissner, William W. (1994) Psychotherapy and the Paranoid Process. New York: Aronson, Jason Publishers. Also see his Paranoid Process.

Pierce, C. S. (1955) Philosophical Writings of Pierce, Ed Buchier, J. New York: Dover.

Popper, Karl. (1963) Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. London: Routledge. and Kegan Paul.

Rogers, Carl. Client Centered Therapy. (Many editions)

Ross, Elizabeth Kubla. On Death and Dying. (Many editions.)

Sartre, Jean Paul. (2003) The Philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre. New York: Knopf Publishing Group.

Schopenahuer, Arthur. The World as Will and Idea. (Many editions.)

Schucman, Helen. (1976) A Course in Miracles. Tiburon, CA. Foundation for Inner Peace.

Shapiro, David. (1999) Autonomy and the Rigid Character. New York: Basic Books.
----------------- (1999) Neurotic Styles. New York: Basic Books.

Skinner, B.F. (2002) Beyond Freedom and Dignity. New York: Hackett Publishing.


Sullivan, Harry Stack. (1953) The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry. New York: W.W. Norton.

Swanson, David et al. (1970) The Paranoid. Boston: Houghlin, Mifflin.

Tsaz, Thomas. The Myth of Mental Illness. (Many Editions)

Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism. (Many editions)

Vaihinger, H. (1935) The Philosophy of “As If.” London: Kegan Paul Publishers.

Wittgenstein, L. (1969) Zettel. Oxford Blackwell.

Zimbado, Phillip. Shyness.


Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

April 30, 2006


This essay was hurriedly (yesterday) written for M. Isaac; she had requested it a few days ago, during the week, and I had promised to put it together on Saturday. As with my other essays, I will eventually edit and publish it. Since I write very fast but do not like the drudgery of editing, the editing may have to wait for a while. Ozodi Thomas Osuji, PhD

Posted by Administrator at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #10 of 54: Chad Republic

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 10. CHAD REPUBLIC Flag of Chad Republic

Formal Name: Republic of Chad.

Term for Citizens: Chadian.

Capital: N’Djamena. Population: 735,000

Independence Achieved: August 11, 1960, from France.

Major Cities: N’Djamena.

Geography:

Chad covers a land area of 495, 755 square miles. It is located in Central Africa and is bounded by Libya, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. The country is part of the Sahara desert. Eastwards, after Mount Tibesti (12, 000 feet), the land is barren. The southern part of the country, particularly close to Lake Chad is savanna. Lake Chad is nearly 150 miles long and 100 miles wide, but in many places only four feet deep. Most of the people in Chad live in the Lake Chad basin, in Southern Chad. Rainfall is sparse even in the savanna region and almost nil in the north deserts.


Society:

The population of Chad is estimated at 9,598,000.

Ethnic Groups: Kirdi, Sara, Salamat, Fulani, Teda.

Languages: Arabic, French and a number of African languages.

Religion: Islam, Christianity and Animist.

Education: Primary education is available to all but scantly accessed. Literacy rate is estimated at 47.5 %.

Economy: Fishing on Lake Chad and herding of cattle, sheep and goats were the traditional economic activities. Only about one third of the country is suitable for agricultural activities. Two thirds of the people are farmers. Chad also grows cotton and coffee, for export, and produces manioc, millet, corn, peanuts, sweet potatoes and yams for local consumption. Chad is a landlocked country with few good roads to transport its agricultural products. GDP estimate: $10 billion; Per Capita GDP: $260. Monetary Unit: CFA Franc BEAC (XAF).

History and Government:

France ruled Chad. Upon independence, Chad inherited French type presidential democracy. Military coups soon follow. Civil wars and border disputes with Libya are on going and retard the country’s modernization efforts. President Idriss Deby and his prime minister seem to have restored peace in the country. The country is divided into 14 prefectures.



CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS

In 1900 Chad was colonized by France. In 1960 Chad became independent from France. Francois Tombalbaye became Chad’s first modern president.

Tombalbaye is a Christian southerner. His rule was not accepted by Northern Muslims. Thus, a period of political instability ensued in Chad, largely due to the political cleavage between the Muslim North and Christian South. The North essentially did not recognize the government of Tombalbye and engaged in low key guerilla war to topple him. In 1975, Tombalbye was killed in a coup by Noel Milare Odingar. Odingar himself was quickly eliminated by Felix Malloum.

Libya then got involved in Chad’s politics and funded a Northerner, Goukouni Oueddei, whose forces by 1979 toppled Malloum’s government. A Full blown civil war ensued. Essentially, the Christian South and the Muslim North were at war, with Libya supporting the North and France and other Western powers supporting the South. Chad was devastated by this incessant war.

In 1980, Muammar al-Qaddafi’s Libyan troops occupied most of Northern Chad. France and the United States supported Hissene Habre and he came to power in Chad. Habre’s forces and Qaddafi’s forces battled for the control of Chad until 1987 when Habre’s forces eventually defeated Qaddafi’s forces.

In 1990, a Libyan supported military, under Idriss Deby, toppled Habre’s government and Habre fled into exile in Senegal. Deby became the dictator of Chad and essentially embarked on a one man rule.

However, during the 1990s, it was said that there was a wind of change blowing across Africa; that African countries were passing from dictators to democracies. Deby accommodated this democratic movement and, for show, wrote a constitution and held an election in which he promptly defeated his challengers in 1996 and 2001. Deby later amended the constitution in 2005, to permit him to compete for more terms in office. Deby is still the President of Chad.

The new constitution established the office of the President, Prime Minister, and National Assembly, Supreme Court, Political parties and regularized elections. The President is elected by all Chadians above the age of 18. He appoints the Prime Minister from the Party with the majority of seats in the unicameral Parliament. (He also appoints the members of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, Criminal Courts and Magistrate Courts.)

The country is divided into 18 regions, which are further subdivided into 52 departments and 348 sub-prefectures.

Chad is primarily an agricultural country but recently oil was found and a pipe line, financed by International Financial Institutions, was constructed from Chad to the Atlantic Ocean in the south. This makes Chad’s economy relatively well financed. Nevertheless, Chad remains one of the poorest countries in the world and the per capita income of the country’s nine plus million persons is U.S $260 (World Bank, 2005).

To construct that pipe line, apparently, Chad promised not to redirect money from her oil to non-developmental areas. Recently, there was brouhaha over the government’s efforts to redirect money from oil to purposes other than economic development. Some suspect that this was meant to siphon the money and put it to corrupt purposes.

President Deby appears secure in his power and is now permitting freedom of the Press. Nevertheless, the government controls radio broadcasting, the main means of communication in the country. A few private radio stations exist in Chad but they are heavily regulated by the government and can hardly provide dissenting opinion. The only Television station in the country, Telechad, is owned by the government. Some private newspapers circulate, especially in the capital; they seem free to criticize the government, who equally seem determined to ignore them.

The major problem of Chad is the North- South cleavage. The North Is Muslim and has long association with Libya, Egypt and Sudan and considers itself Arab (or is Arabicized), and, indeed, speaks a form of pidgin Arabic. The South is either animist or Christian. These two regions do not see eye to eye.

Complicating the situation is Libya’s constant meddling in Chad’s politics. Qaddafi seems to believe that Chad is his sphere of influence; indeed, at times he seems to believe that he could annex parts of Chad, but for the international community that opposes that adventure.
Another complicating problem is the situation in Darfur region of Sudan. The killing of Africans by Arab Janjaweed militia in Darfur caused Sudanese refugees to spill over into Eastern Chad. Some of these Africans form their own militia and fight their Arab tormentors. They seem to launch their attacks into Sudan from Chad and that led to Sudanese troops pursuing them into Chadian territory. At some point in 2005, Chad announced that it was at a state of war with Sudan. All these fighting means that money, already scant, is devoted to military purposes, while the people of Chad live in abject poverty.

ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)


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