The Importance of Revitalizing African Religious Cultures

The Importance of Revitalizing African Religious Cultures

By Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

Torulaghareports.com

 

 

Introduction

Human beings on planet earth are currently categorized into three races. The races are: Asian, Black, and Caucasian/White. Of the three races, Caucasians and Asians are very adept in perpetuating and promoting themselves and their cultures, beliefs, values and practices throughout the world. This is why Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are the most predominant religions in the contemporary world. On the other hand, blacks seem not to be proud of themselves, hence, do not perpetuate and promote their cultures, beliefs, values and practices.

 

Instead, they tend to deny, denigrate and run away from their cultures while unquestionably imbibing, mimicking and perpetuating the cultures of the members of other races. Thus, while the members of the two other races actively promote their religious cultures, blacks run away from theirs and increasingly identify with the religions emanating from the other cultures. This is why almost every day somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the black world, a writer is writing and or publishing a story in a newspaper or a magazine or on the web about the importance of the Bible or the Koran and or living as a Christian or as a Muslim. On the other hand, it is rare to see or read about any African or black write-up promoting or touting the importance of maintaining African religious cultures. Apparently, at the frenetic speed in which the globalized religious cultures are being spread and adopted by African people, it is inferable that in fifty or more years, most educated Sub-Saharan Africans might likely become totally ignorant of their own cultures. This means that blacks are either consciously or unconsciously contributing to the demise of their own cultures, without even thinking about the implications.

The downward trend in the black cultural world began when other races invaded, conquered and imposed their cultural beliefs and values on the black race. Today, almost every educated black person is embedded in the political, legal, cultural and religious traditions of other cultures. This is why most Sub-Saharan Africans and black people generally who have gone through the formal educational system are capable of regurgitating various sayings in the Bible and or in the Koran in a twinkle of an eye. Yet, the same individuals might find it exceedingly difficult to intellectually discuss the tenets of their traditional religious cultures.

 

Arguments

 

The need to revitalize traditional African religions, otherwise, known collectively here as Ancestralism is overdue. The word Ancestralism is used here since in traditional African religions, including Voodooism in Benin and Haiti, Candomble in Brazil and Santeria in Cuba, God is worshipped through ancestral beings. In other words, just as Christians worshipped God through the teachings and beliefs of Jesus Christ, Moslems worship Alllah through the teachings of Prophet Mohammed and Buddhists worship God through the teachings of Buddha, Sub-Saharan Africans, like Native Americans, Hindus and other Asian societies, worship God through their ancestors. Thus, the following arguments are made to support the revitalization of Ancestralism:

 

  1. Political independence without cultural and religious independence amounts to no independence;
  2. It is cultural suicide for Sub-Saharan African people and their descendants to continue to subscribe to religious cultures that have nothing to do with their own cultural heritage;
  3. Black people have no respect in the world because they allow themselves to be mis-educated to believe that their own religious cultures are satanic, idol and devil-worshipping and ungodly;
  4. Political responsibility, transparency and accountability in governance will only take place when African religious cultures become the standard for determining ethical and moral conduct of society rather than the amoral precepts originating from secular humanism that are spreading like wild flowers throughout the black world;
  5. Africa will achieve greatness when African people fully embrace their cultural world.

 

 

  1.  Political independence without cultural and religious independence amounts to independence.

 

It is self-defeating for Sub-Saharan Africans to assume that the colonially-induced political entities in the continent are independent states. In theory they are but practically they are not. They are not independent states because of the following reasons:

a.  Almost all of them with the exception of Ethiopia were created by foreign politico-military powers. However, the African countries can change their dependent status by purposely conducting referenda or plebiscites to allow their citizens to determine the nature, structural configurations, institutions and the territorial integrity of the states.

b. The boundaries of the African states were established arbitrarily, thereby, violating the natural rights of some ethnic groups to exist in contiguous territories. In other words, the natural rights of some African ethnic groups are violated through being scattered into different countries.

c.  It could be said that African political independence is meaningless without cultural and religious independence. This is due to the fact that an independent state supposed to have political, social, judicial and religious institutions and processess that are compatible with the cultures of the people. Currently, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the political and legal systems are not compatible with the cultures of the ethnic groups. This is why many educated Africans are not familiar with their cultural systems. It is always strange to see judges and lawyers in many African countries wearing wigs as if they are in European courts. It is amazing that the United States which was established by Europeans decided to do away with the wig while Sub-Saharan Africans continue to maintain that costume.   Due to the fact that some European judges wear wigs, should African judges also wear wigs? Why can’t they design official attire that reflect the African cultural world, instead of wearing those Europeanized outfits that make them look like aliens in their own countries?

2. It is cultural suicide for African people to subscribe to religions that have nothing to do with their cultural heritage.

a. Due to religious propaganda leading to mis-education, a considerable number of Sub-Saharan African people have been educated and socialized to believe that the only way they can worship God/Allah is either through Christianity or Islam. If they continue to follow this path, they risk destroying their cultures, themselves and the qualities that make them unique in the world. Already, it could be said that a sizable number of educated African people today are cultural illiterates, in the sense that they know very little about their cultural heritage. Many ethnic groups in Sub-Saharan Africa are losing their rare cultural practices because of increasing adoption of foreign religious and political cultures. No other part of the world can be compared to Africa when it comes to music and dance, yet, the cultural richness is not appreciated by most educated black people in the continent and elsewhere.

b. Indeed, there is a symbiotic relationship between culture and religion. The culture molds the religion and the religion molds the culture. Both must go together in order for social equilibrium and psychological and spiritual compatibility to take place. It is not possible to be an Amhara or Aka or Baka or Banda or Chewa or Gbaya or Ijaw, or Igbo or Hausa or Yoruba or Kikuyu or Fulani or Masai or Ewe or Ashanti or Shona or Zande or Zulu by claiming the ethnicity while ignoring or denying the culture and religion that go with the ethnicity. Currently, Sub-Saharan Africans are probably the only people in the world that live in a state of suspended cultural hibernation. They claim their ethnicity but generally tend to run away from the religious cultures that are intrinsically associated with their ethnic groups. As can be seen, religious crusades emanating from the two globalized religions are increasingly creeping into Black Africa as the adherents of the religions extend their age-old rivalry. This is why many African countries now have religious fault lines that lead to violence and political instability. Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Central African Republic and so forth, are a few of the countries in which the two major globalized religions are breeding hatred and sowing seeds of violence.

c.  It is interesting to note that while Sub-Saharan African people are encouraged to reject their religious cultures, the Europeans, Native Americans and Asians embrace their cultures without any hesitation or reservation, even while adhering to the globalized religions. This is why a visit to Cambodia, England, France, Ireland, India, Russia, Germany, Italy, Greece, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Peru, Mexico and so forth, is like paying a visit to the historical, political and cultural past of these countries and societies. The citizens of these countries are very proud of their Pre-Christian, Pre-Islamic and Pre-Buddhist past and celebrate the achievements of their ancestors with exuberance. Similarly, the Mayans, Incans and the Aztecs of the American continents too celebrate their cultures with eagerness, even though they have lost much of their cultural and political existence after the bloody Spanish conquest of the Americas.

d.  In countries like Mexico and Peru, some aspects of Native American Ancestralism have been incorporated into Christian religious rituals. This is done to legitimize Christianity in the eyes of many Native Americans, who also worship God through their ancestral deities, like the Sub-Saharan African, Japanese, Indian and Chinese people. In Brazil, especially in Salvador, Bahia, traditional African religious practices are also incorporated with Christian practices. In some cases, the practitioners of Candomble are allowed to carry out their religious services in proximity to Christian churches. In many parts of Asia, particularly in Indonesia, some elements of Ancestralism are merged with Buddhist and Hindu practices.

Thus, while people from other societies consciously continue to perpetuate and promote their cultures, Sub-Saharan African people risk becoming cultureless if they follow the path they are embarking upon. The proclivity towards avoiding anything having to do with African cultures and the tendency towards doing everything possible to embrace everything that has nothing to do with African cultures means that they are incrementally committing cultural suicide and would end up with no culture at all.   Therefore, it was very timely when Prof. Christopher Orubiu and Dr. Emmanuel Biri of Delta State University in Nigeria “condemned the demonization of Urhobo culture under the façade of Christianity” (Egufe Yafugborhi, Vanguard, January 7, 2015).

3.  Black people have no respect in the world because they allow others to convince them to believe that their own religious cultures are satanic, devil-worshipping and ungodly.

a.  Of the three races in the world, namely, Asian, Black and Caucasian/White, it is only the religions that are associated with the black race that are characterized as satanic, devil-worshipping, and ungodly even though these religions are similar to Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, and various traditional religions among Native Americans. In short, there is not much difference between Hinduism, Shintoism and Taoism because they are all based on Ancestralism and are characterized by many deities. Yet, it is only the religions that are associated with Sub-Saharan Africans and their descendants in the Americas that are stigmatized. Why?

b. In fact, Ancestralism, which is the African traditional religion, is also the religion of all traditional societies in Asia, Europe, Native America and the Middle East. In other words, the worshipping of God through ancestral deities is the most widespread and practiced religion in the world. Yet, it is only the African version that is condemned as being satanic and ungodly.

c.  While the Asians, Europeans and Native Americans embrace Ancestralism, it is only Sub-Saharan African and black people who have accepted to deny their own religious heritage by running away from it. The question is, why is it that the Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thais, South Koreans, Japanese, Native Americans and others, have no qualms about paying homage to God through their ancestral deities while Nigerians, Ghanaians, Kenyans, Congolese, Cameroonians, Chadians, Senegalese, Zimbabweans and so forth, are running, hiding and rejecting their own ancestral religions? The answer lies with the educational systems in the African sub-continent and in the black world which continue to produce deAfricanized educated class of citizens.

d.  As a result of the fact that many educated Africans tend to run away from their ancestral religious cultures while working so hard to embrace other peoples religions, they have no respect in the world. The Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thais, Koreans, Japanese, Native Americans are respected because anywhere they go, they carry along with them their religious cultures, foods, attires and other important characteristics of themselves while Sub-Saharan Africans and black people generally are not respected because they find it difficult to carry their own religious cultures, foods, and attires along with them.

In terms of clothing in the African continent, it is North and West Africans who wear their traditional attires proudly, without any hesitation. The Central, Eastern and Southern African regions are devoid of any recognizable formal traditional attire. This is why the political leaders of the countries in these regions always appear in Europeanized suits during major conferences or gatherings. In other words, in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Central African Republic, Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, with the exception of the Masai, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, etc., there is no formalized traditional attire. Hence, the leaders always appear in suits whenever they attend major conferences or travel overseas. On the other hand, North Africans, like other Arabs in the Middle East, have a formalized traditional attire and the leaders wear them proudly. West Africa is filled with very colorful traditional attires and the leaders wear them. In Nigeria, it is expected that their political leaders and important personalities wear traditional attire most of the time when they attend major conference. In fact, in Nigeria, people wear their traditional attires to the office very proudly.

e. Similarly, African states have no respect in the world because African leaders and political elites do everything in their power to embrace the political, judicial, religious and cultural systems of other societies while ignoring and denigrating African political, judicial, religious and cultural systems. It is not surprising that not a single African country has made a conscious attempt to Africanize the political and judicial systems. As a result, they force their citizens to embrace systems that are alien to their cultural world.

f.  Whenever the leaders of Britain, France, Russia, India, Japan, China, South Korea etc. travel to any other part of the world, they carry along with them their cultural worlds or perspectives. The Indians, Japanese, Chinese, South Koreans, Thais and so forth, build their religious temples, spread their foods by establishing specialty restaurants, publicize their cultures and actively promote their existence. On the other Hand, African leaders travel to other parts of the world with nothing of African value to show. This is why it is very rare to see or hear of an African country that actively promote African cultures as part of its diplomatic effort to create a better understanding of black Africa. Similarly, Sub-Saharan Africans travel to other parts of the world without promoting themselves and their cultural world. As a result of the failure to actively promote African cultures, the image of black Africa is very negative in other parts of the world. This contributes to the perpetual violation of the rights of black people in many parts of the world. Africans in the Diaspora pay severely for the failure of African countries to promote and perpetuate black cultures in the world.

History shows that the globalized religions have been the most destructive to peaceful coexistence and godliness. Their imperialistic tendencies have led to brutal wars of conquest and conversion. On the other hand, iniquities committed under African Ancestralism pale in comparison to the evils that have been committed in the names of the globalized religions. Even the Holy Bible, especially the Old Testament, is filled with gruesome wars in which people were massacred aimlessly. In some instances, even the name of God was used to justify the need for one ethnic group to massacre another and claim the ownership of land that belonged to the massacred group. African Ancestralism is considered to be so sacred, hence, forceful conversion of people is not encouraged.

Yet, despite the historical facts, it is African religions that are generally condemned for being evil. The sad thing is that African people buy into this erroneous twisting of historical fact by running away from their religious heritage in the hope of catching a ride to heaven through some other cultural bandwagon.

4. Political responsibility, transparency and accountability in governance would be enhanced when African religious cultures become the standard for determining ethical and moral conduct in governance.

Sub-Saharan Africa is bedecked by massive political and financial corruption as public officials embezzle public funds to enrich themselves and their immediate families while subjecting the rest of their citizens to perpetual poverty. Similarly, the continent is filled with political and military leaders who want to rule for life. They do so by rigging elections and intimidating the citizens to allow them to remain in power endlessly.

Due to the aforementioned ills, the law enforcement and judicial systems are fractured, corrupted and toothless, in many instances. As a result, highly connected individuals tend to act as if they are above the law while the politically and financially powerless individuals are subjected to the full weight of the law. Thus, the elite can embezzle with impunity while the rest of the citizens cannot. In Nigeria, for example, about twenty to thirty individuals are given oil blocks (shares/stocks) while the rest of the population are rendered poor. Those with the oil stocks make billions of dollars without even doing anything and the rest of the population scratch their heads and watch helplessly. The elite are able to beat the law enforcement and judicial systems by the hiring the best lawyers and using technicalities of the law to frustrate the legal process. This is why many public officials are not afraid of the law because they know that they can beat the system.

a. It is strongly believed here that as far as Sub-Saharan African countries continue to mimic political, judicial and law enforcement systems that are borrowed from other cultures, Sub-Saharan African countries would always remain unstable due to the contradictions that exist between the African cultures and the foreign cultures.

b. To ensure political responsibility, transparency, rule of law and accountability, it is necessary to compel public officials to swear their oaths of office based on the traditional African religious cultures. If appointed or elected to office, the individual should swear in the name of his or her ancestors to uphold the law and the obligations of the office. Similarly, when someone is suspected or arrested for allegedly committing a crime, the person should be obligated to swear in the name of his or her ancestors to tell the absolute truth. This is very important since no Sub-Saharan African will lie while swearing in the name of his or her ancestors.

c.Swearing in the name of the ancestors would result in the minimization of corruption and an increase in political accountability and transparency.

d. It would also increase integrity, thereby, lessening the threat posed by the two major globalized religions on the national security of many African countries.

5.  Africa will achieve greatness when African people fully embrace their cultural world.

 

It is strongly believed here that as soon as Sub-Saharan Africans realize that it is not possible to exist culturally as Africans without embracing the African religious culture, they would begin to change the world in a dramatic way. Indeed, it is not possible to live in one culture while embracing religions and political systems that originate from other cultures, for the following reasons:

a.  As stated above, the culture molds the religion and the religion molds the culture. Both have symbiotic relationships and must always go together in order to avoid psychological, spiritual, political and cultural incongruity.

b.  Both the culture and the religion that goes with the culture are molded by the environment and the spiritual forces that members of the society experienced in their lives.

c. The culture and the religion help to establish moral and ethical norms that guide the behavior of the members of any given society. Thus, Sub-Saharan Africans are traditionally molded to embrace certain norms by their religious cultures.

d. When people embrace a religion that is quite different from their cultures, cultural and psychological incongruity takes place immediately. They begin to act in ways that create social disequilibrium. As can be seen, corruption is endemic in Black Africa. Similarly, the countries are very fragile because the structures and institutions of the states are embedded in cultures that have nothing to do with the African people. This is why any African country can experience instability due to the cultural contradictions that exist. Similarly, an increasing number of black people are bleaching uncontrollably to lighten their skins. Similarly, artificial hair has increasingly replaced the natural hair for most black women throughout the world.

e.  Indeed, Chinua Achebe was very prophetic when he wrote Things fall Apart.

The Rationale for ReAfricanization of African religious Cultures

To prevent the disappearance of African cultures, after centuries of practicing religions that came to Sub-Saharan Africa through conquest, imposition and colonization and decades of experimenting with political, and judicial systems embedded in secular humanism, it is time to re-traditionalize by consciously revitalizing African religious cultures. African religious cultures should serve as the basis for achieving true cultural, spiritual, psychological and political independence. Moreover, it is essential to use African cultural normative values as the basis for determining ethical and moral conduct and maintaining social equilibrium in society.

Re-Africanization is necessary for the black world to make its presence and its contributions to the world clearly known and appreciated.

 

It is sad that in the 21st century, Sub-Saharan Africa and the black world have no global cultural identity. This means that black people simply exist by mimicking others instead of proactively contributing to the advancement of the world through their own religious and cultural experiences and perspectives.

As a result of the lack of a global cultural identity, a considerable number of black people in the world seem to suffer from racial inferiority complex. The inferiority complex leads to low self-esteem which is a major motivational factor for skin bleaching, the wearing of synthetic hair by most black women, and the caucasianization of beauty today. It also contributes to the reason why many educated African people run away from their traditional religious cultures and embrace imposed religions as if their own cultures are irrelevant or non-existing. They do so strongly believing that their traditional religions are not worth studying and practicing. It also contributes to the reason why almost all post-colonial Sub-Saharan African countries continue to practice and perpetuate political, judicial and governmental systems that have no resemblance to traditional African political, judicial and governmental systems, even though they claim to be sovereign states. How can any state claim to be sovereign when its governmental philosophy, structures, institutions and processes are embedded in foreign cultures?

Indeed, contrary to the negative characterization, African Ancestralism is a very sacred religion which espouses absolute truth and spiritual purity of mind, body, thought and action. It abhors devilish acts through laws that can be described as spiritual commandments, just as the Ten Commandments in the Bible and the Islamic Sharia. This is why every ethnic group in Sub-Saharan Africa has normative rules which divide behavior into acceptable and unacceptable deeds. The unacceptable deeds are generally typified as “Abominations” or ‘sacrileges” or “taboos”. If African religions were so devilish, why do they have stringent rules concerning acceptable and abominable behaviors?

Suggestions

After roaming in the wilderness of cultural confusion, following conquest and colonization, it is time for Sub-Saharan African people and the black world to reinvent themselves by reawakening the African cultural world. To do so, the first step is to rejuvenate African religious cultures that are collectively referred to as Ancestralism. In this regard, the following suggestions are made:

  1. Sub-Saharan African children, starting from the primary school, should be exposed to the tenets of the triple cultural heritage, namely, Ancestralism, Christianity and Islam.
  2. As part of civic education, primary school children should be exposed to African cultures and languages through the school curriculum.
  3. In the secondary schools, students should be encouraged to study National History, African History and Comparative Global Religions, including Ancestralism.
  4. At the university level in the continent, every student should be required to take African Philosophy, African Cultures and Religion and African History as part of the university-wide core courses. These courses should encompass both African and Diasporic African educational curricula for students to develop a comprehensive knowledge about their existence.
  5. To accomplish the items suggested above, it is necessary to change the existing educational curricula which are non-African centered. It is not a secret that due to the foreign-centered nature of formal education, most educated African people are schooled to embrace religious cultures of other societies and not their own.
  6. African governments should gradually introduce African cultural systems into their constitutional, political, legal and governmental institutions and administrative processes. Currently, it is a violation of the natural rights of the African people for African countries to operate constitutional, political, legal and governmental systems that have no affinity with the beliefs, values, norms, processes and practices of the African people.

Conclusion

It might be appropriate to end this article by showing that Judeo/European/Western Christians have no problem acknowledging their pagan past. This is why the month of January is named after the Roman god of the doorway (Janus), March is named after the Roman god of war (Mars), May is named after Greek goddess Maia, and June is named after Roman goddess Juno. Similarly, Judeo/European/Western Christians pay homage to their pre-Christian deities by naming important milestones, inventions and crafts after them. This accounted for why important inventions, military vessels and missiles are named after Poseidon, Jupiter, and Hercules. The spacecraft that went to the moon was called Apollo. Even the Christian Easter is named after Eastre, a pre-Christian Saxon goddess.   Thus, if European Christians have no problem paying homage to their ancestral deities, why are Sub-Saharan Africans running away from their pre-Christian and pre-Islamic ancestral deities? Why are Angolans, Chadians, Congolese, Rwandans, Tanzanians, Togolese, Gabonese, and other Africans running away from their cultural heritage?

While Jewish, Western, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese scholars are busy conducting research studies to uncover the facts about their pre-Buddhist, pre-Christian and pre-Islamic past, a considerable number of African scholars shy away from conducting research studies to find their pre-Christian and pre-Islamic past, fearful of criticism or condemnation for being ungodly and satanic.

Surprisingly, Sub-Saharan African Christians and Moslems have no problem acknowledging the pagan names of the Western calendar, yet, they would not even make the attempt to acknowledge the existence of their ancestral religious heritage. No wonder, the black world has no respect anywhere in the world. While they condemn their own for being paganistic, they eagerly accept paganistic rituals such Christmas Day and Easter.

It is time to launch the African Renaissance. It is time to reawaken a sleeping cultural world. Mr. Ezeana Igirigi Achusim deserves recognition for writing about the power of Dim Orioha in stopping crime and punishing offenders.

Why Africa Should be a Nuclear Free Zone

Why Africa Should be a Nuclear Free Zone

By Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

torulaghareports.com

 

 

States are like human beings in the sense that they have ego, sometimes, too much of it.  One of the ways in which states try to boost their ego is by acquiring nuclear technology, either for peaceful or military use.  Generally, throughout the world, those countries that have acquired nuclear missiles are considered to be at the top of the technological pyramid of military power.  Such countries or states are feared and respected because they have the capability to unleash an unbelievable destruction on any other state that threatens their national security.  Therefore, the best way for states to guarantee their sovereignty is by acquiring nuclear missiles.

However, those countries that do not have nuclear missiles can also boost their ego by developing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Consequently, while countries like the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea have nuclear missiles and nuclear plants to boost their sovereignty as well as electrical energy, a substantial number of countries are seeking nuclear technology to boost their energy supply.  In this regard, some African countries are looking for ways to increase their energy supply capability by wanting to develop nuclear energy plants.  The countries that are seeking this technology are convinced that their path to industrialization and economic modernization requires them to enhance their sources of electrical energy through the nuclear route.

Regardless of the reasons given to justify the need to acquire nuclear energy plants by African countries, it is fervently argued here that the African continent should be made a nuclear free zone.  Thus, given the choice of acquiring nuclear energy plants to boost electrical supply and having an unreliable supply of energy that might retard industrialization and modernization of the economy, it is preferable to go with the latter, which is of a lesser evil than with the former, which is of a much greater evil.  The following provide the reasons why the continent should remain a nuclear free zone:

  1. Almost all the modern (post-colonial) African states were created by foreign powers.  Even those countries that escaped direct colonization experienced a great deal of foreign control through direct and indirect intervention, thereby, making them not necessarily different from those that experienced direct colonization. This means that a vast majority of African countries are not free to exercise their sovereignty since the former colonial powers continue to directly and indirectly influence their actions and inactions in a remarkable manner.  For instance, France played a major role in stabilizing Ivory Coast, Mali and Central African Republic following violent uprisings.  Similarly, Britain played a significant role in the electoral victory of President MuhammaduBuhari in Nigeria. Of course, this does not take away the active role played by African countries to stabilize the continent.
  2. Almost all African countries today were forced through military and religious conquests to become what they are.  This means that most of the ethnic groups which constitute them did not voluntarily accept to be in the countries they are placed in today. In other words, many ethnic groups are compelled to identify with the countries which were imposed upon them.  Obviously, due to the manner in which they were incorporated, African countries would always experience separatist and irredentist conflicts as the ethnic groups and regions try to determine their fate through various means.  This greatly contributes to the frequency of conflict in the continent.
  3. Many African states have territorial disputes with their neighbors as a result of the arbitrariness of their boundaries.  The colonial powers did not care about territorial compatibility while scrambling to extend their geopolitical, economic, cultural and religious control of the continent.
  4. A considerable number of African states have explosive religious situation as a result of the fact that some regions are Islamized while other regions are Christianized. Furthermore, in some countries the religious divide is between the North and the South with the northern region being Islamic and the southern region being Christian.  Quite often, the two sides do not see eye to eye.  The Islamized regions tend to incline toward Saudi Arabia and the Arab world while the Christian regions tend to orientate toward Israel and the Western world.  Apparently, almost all the African countries in which the two religions hold sway are like two headed monsters due to the ideological differences between the two religions. This threatens the national security of the countries as the two sides vie for power needlessly. Generally, Ancestralism, which is the traditional African religion, is suppressed and ignored. Most educated Africans have extensive knowledge of either Christianity or Islam with little or no knowledge of Ancestralism.

The religious factor inhibits the ability of African political leaders to build cohesive nations among the ethnic groups.  In some African countries, the Islamized regions are the most dominant in controlling political, economic and military power while in some countries, the Christianized regions hold power. This creates perpetual friction, thereby, thwarting the effort to build integrated states.  Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Chad, Niger, Mali, Kenya, Central African Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, etc., are typical examples of the countries which suffer from the religious divide.

  1. Due to the arbitrariness of the territorial boundaries of the African states, some ethnic groups are carved into two or more countries.  For instance, the Tutsis are found in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.  The Hutus are also found in Burundi, Rwanda and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Fulanis are found in ten or more African countries, stretching from the Sene-Gambian region and extending to Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic and possibly Sudan. The Somalis are found in Somalia, Kenya, and possibly Djibouti.  The Hausas can be found in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and possibly Benin Republic.  The Berbers are located in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, Mauretania, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia.The Tuaregs are found in Southern Algeria, Western Libya, Eastern Mali, Northern Niger and Northeastern Burkina Faso. The Ewe people are possibly found in Benin, Togo and Ghana.  The Mande people are found in Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and Senegal.  This explained why when the Liberian civil war started, it pulled Guinea and Sierra Leone into the conflict.  Similarly, the interconnectedness of the ethnic groups resulted in pulling in Liberians into the Ivory Coast civil war.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a magnet for pulling in other countries into its affairs due to the interconnectedness of many  ethnic groups.  Any conflict in the Lake Chad region is most likely to pull in ethnic groups from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and possibly Cameroon.

The splitting of some ethnic groups into two or more countries creates regional political problems for all the states in which they are carved into.  The reason is that if a part of the ethnic group in one country is embroiled in conflict, the other parts of the ethnic group are likely to join the fray by supporting their kith and kin, thereby, spreading the conflict.  This accounted for why Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and occasionally Uganda are always faced with conflicts emanating from other countries due to the Tutsi and Hutu rivalry.  The spreading of Somalis into Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti and Kenya enables the Al Shabab militant group, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda, to operate freely in Somalia and Northern Kenya.  The Boko Haram is able to penetrate and operate in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad due to the affinity of the ethnic groups in the Lake Chad Basin.

  1. Since the African states supposedly gained independence, the ethnic groups which constitute them have not been allowed to hold a referendum or a major national conference designed to determine the nature, structure and political orientations of the states.  This means that modern African countries continue to maintain the territorial boundaries and constitutional structures that the colonial powers left behind.  Only very few countries have been able to amend the colonial structures of their political, legal and governmental arrangements.  The failure to restructure the states in order to ensure political, cultural and territorial compatibility with the African circumstances contributes greatly to the unstable nature of many African countries. This is why any African state can implode at any given moment due to the contradictions embedded in the colonial structures. It should be noted that after much wrangling and a drawn-out bloody civil war, Sudan allowed a referendum to take place.  This enabled the Southern Sudan region to secede and establish the Republic of South Sudan.  Nigeria continues to dance in circle about constituting a national conference to determine the fate of the country.  The most comprehensive constitutional conference was organized during the presidency of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.  However, there seems to be no political eagerness to implement the recommendations made during the conference.
  2. Almost all African states continue to mimic the political, educational, judicial, military and law enforcement systems that the colonial powers put in place.   This means that the beliefs and political cultures of post-colonial African states are not compatible with the cultures of the African ethnic groups.   Therefore, these countries have imposed political, judicial, and administrative value systems, cultures, and institutions which force people to behave contrary to the traditional African cultural, political, judicial and social systems. In other words, almost all  post-colonial African states operate systems that are contrary to the traditional African cultures of the ethnic groups that constitute them. This is responsible for why so many educated Africans are ignorant of their traditional cultural beliefs, values, practices and traditions. Many tend to justify their ignorance by claiming to be Christians or Moslems. Even African heads of states suffer from the inability to connect with the traditions of their ethnic groups.
  3. In particular, politics is played in a win or loss manner, which is typical of the Machiavellian orientation of European/Western and Islamic political systems which are contrary to the compromise and consensus approach of the African political system. This leads to unnecessary power struggles among individuals, political parties, ethnic groups and regions.  It also increases religious tensions as the Christians and Moslems vie for power.
  4. As a result of the territorial, religious, political, cultural and ethnic problems, African countries have borne a large proportion of the most bloody and destructive wars in the world in the middle and later part of the twentieth and early part of the twenty-first centuries.   The list of countries that have experienced bloody conflicts include Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Southern Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Libya, Algeria, Mozambique, Angola, Central African Republic, etc. While countries like Burkina Faso, Congo Brazzaville, Egypt, Mauretania, Togo, etc. have not experienced bloody civil wars, they have had series of crises that led to deaths of hundreds of people.
  5. More than any other continent, African leaders tend to cling to power as if the countries are their personal estates.  As a result, many of them have no qualms about amending the constitutions of their countries in order to remain in power as if they are monarchs.  The behavior contributes to instability in many African countries as the leaders refuse to leave.  Burundi was thrown into chaos when the incumbent president decided to run again for another term. The president of Chad has ran for reelection about five times.  Thus, Africa seems to have the highest number of leaders who rule endlessly.  Some of the countries in which the leaders have remained in power for so long include Angola, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Chad, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea and so on and so forth.  Tunisians had to stage the Arab uprising in order to remove a long-ruling leader that acted like a king.  Libyans revolted and eventually had Col Muamar Gaddafi killed. His killing really torn the country apart, thereby, producing numerous armed groups that continue to vie for power.
  6. In some countries, the political and military leaders are bent on establishing political dynasties by making sure that their children succeed them.  Egypt under Hosni Mubarak, Libya under Col. Gaddafi, Togo under President Eyadema, Gabon under President Omar Bongo followed the dynastic format until the Arab uprising shattered the Tunisian, Libyan and Egyptian efforts.  In Nigeria, in order to consolidate the elite control of the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria secretly embarked upon a program intended to employ the children of the political, military, police and business elites of the country, at the general disadvantage of the populace.
  7. Perhaps, more than any other continent, Africa seems to have the least equipped medical facilities in the world.  Sub-Saharan Africa is worse than Arabic Africa.  Sophisticated modern hospitals with latest medical technologies are a rarity in Sub-Saharan African countries.  This means that most Sub-Saharan countries do not have medical facilities that can treat various kinds of maladies since they are poorly equipped. Specialist hospitals are also a rarity. Apart from lack of infrastructure, there is also lack of appropriate drugs for treating various ailments.  The lack of commitment by political leaders in building modern medical facilities forces many highly trained medical doctors in the continent to seek employment in other parts of the world. Of course, African leaders always seek medical treatment overseas while leaving the rest of their citizens to rely on the underequipped and wretched medical facilities at home. Here again, South Africa and may be Morocco might be an exception.  Libya had good hospitals until the civil war came.

12,  Many African countries are bedecked by regional, tribal and religious problems. In some countries, only one region seems to dominate the entire political landscape while other regions are neglected, marginalized and deprived.  In some countries, individuals from one or two ethnic groups dominate economically, politically, militarily and otherwise.  This forces other ethnic groups to react, sometimes violently to express their dissatisfaction.  As a result, many African countries are prone to conflict.  Countries like Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Zimbabwe and so forth, tend to suffer from this kind of political situation.  Nigeria too pays a very high price as the North tends to dominate the country while the South reacts in various ways. In Ivory Coast, the North rebelled due to marginalization by the South. Somalis in Kenya complained that their region was marginalized for decades, hence, no major infrastructural development was instituted in that part of the country until recently.

  1. 1 In almost all the countries in the continent, national resources are not distributed in a manner that benefit all the ethnic groups, regions and provinces that constitute them.  This means that one or two regions or ethnic groups benefit the most while others are ignored, marginalized and or deprived.  In fact, it is strongly believed that the marginalization and discrimination against the Somali part of Kenya resulted in the youths in that region joining Al Shabab in large numbers.  The marginalization, deprivation and discrimination in the distribution of the oil wealth led to the youths in the Niger Delta/South-South to militantly oppose oil exploration before an amnesty program was established to deescalate the conflict in Nigeria. The Cabindan region of Angola threatened to secede due to marginalization and deprivation.  The same factor contributed to the civil war in Ivory Coast when the northern region rebelled against perceived southern discrimination and neglect. The Libyan rebellion began inn Benghazi since the eastern region was marginalized and deprived.
  2. In almost every African country, a tiny minority of the elites wield political power as well as dominate the countries to the point where the vast majority of the citizens simply exist by God’s grace.  The children of the tiny minority of the elites benefit greatly from the resources of the states while a majority of the children of the masses suffer for lack of governmental support of any kind.
  3. In many African countries, social welfare programs are lacking and the citizens merely exist at the periphery of society.  On the other hand, the elites are able to loot vast resources of the state to enhance their wellbeing. Generally, as indicated earlier, the elites seek medical treatment overseas and the masses seek medical services in dilapidated and underequipped hospitals at home.
  4. As a result of the frequency of conflict, Africa seems to have one of the highest proportion of military veterans in the world.  Some of the veterans are as young as ten years old. These veterans move about from place to place seeking to offer their military skills for pay.  Therefore, these veterans are easily recruited to form non-state armed groups by disaffected individuals and groups.
  5. Similarly, due to the frequency of armed conflicts, the African continent is saturated with large quantities of sophisticated arms.  In particular, the collapse of Libya after the killing of Col. Gaddafi resulted in the spreading of large quantities of sophisticated arms across the continent.  In some cases, some non-state armed groups are now better equipped and paid much more than soldiers fighting for the states.
  6. As a result of the unresolved territorial, structural and political problems, coupled with the high number of trained military veterans and the easy availability of arms, increasingly, almost every ethnic group in the continent now has armed elements that can easily be mobilized into a fighting force in a moment’s notice.  This means that technically, every country in the continent has more than one army.

The identified factors (#1 – 18) are listed here to show that the African political landscape is characterized by multiple conflict fault-lines that can result in uncontrollable explosion of violence at any given time.  In other words, due to the contradictions, irreconcilable tendencies, religious and ethnic differences, abuse of political power, corruptible appetites of the political and business elites, tension-driven power politics and the unequal distribution of resources and national wealth, any African country can explode in violence at any given time.  It should be noted that there was a time Ivory Coast was considered as an island of stability in West Africa.  Then the country exploded in violence.  Similarly, there was also a time in which Kenya was considered as an island of stability in East Africa, then it exploded in electoral violence.  North Africa too is very hot since Libya is like a broken glass that has exploded in violence, Before then, Algeria had a very bloody war with radical elements.  Egypt is searching for its soul while Islamic jihadists threaten the entire Middle East, including North and West Africa.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo which is technically one of the richest countries in the world, due to availability of numerous minerals, is also one of the poorest.  It is always bedecked by violent conflicts.  The DRC represents the worst of the contradictions that exist in Africa.  The Republic of South Sudan which is barely four years old, after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, is already ravaged by a bloody conflict.

Despite the frequency of destabilizing circumstances, African people have been able to manage various crises, working by themselves or in cooperation with international organizations to bring sanity to each conflict situation.  However, the African ability to manage crises would be severely tested if nuclear plants are introduced into the continent in an effort to boost the supply of electricity in some countries.

Consequently, it would be a strategic miscalculation of the worst kind for any African country to institute a nuclear technological program, whether for peaceful or military use.  Similarly, it is unthinkable that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would even consider granting an authority to establish a nuclear energy plant to any African country, at the present time when fundamental structural and constitutional issues have not been resolved in the continent.  The following provides the reasons why it would be a monumental mistake for any African country to tread a path that could render itself and subsections of the continent unlivable for millions of people:

  1. Unlike any other technology, nuclear technology is too dangerous and beyond human capability to control and manage it effectively.  As soon as it is instituted, it acts like a genie that has been released from the bottle and immediately assumes a life of its own by perpetually threatening to cause a disaster.Hence, the disadvantages of having a nuclear plant far outweigh the advantages of having it.

2, The difference between a nuclear military missile and a peaceful nuclear plant is not much.  The only perceivable difference is that a nuclear military missile is intended to devastate an external foe or enemy while a peaceful nuclear plant is intended for self-destruction.  The reason is that if a peaceful nuclear plant explodes as had happened in Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union, which is now in Ukraine and Fukushima in Japan, the area could be so contaminated by radioactive materials that it might not be habitable for decades, if not hundreds of years.  Right now, Chernobyl and the surrounding environment is sealed off and people are not allowed to go near the place.  The Chernobyl explosion took place thirty years ago, yet, the area is still too dangerous for people to live or eat any food or fish or meat from the area.  Likewise, the vicinity of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant too is now a no go area due to the fear of exposure to dangerous levels of radioactive materials. No one can predict how long the area might remain uninhabitable.

  1. Apart from explosion emanating from an accident or a technical problem, there is always concern that someone or a group can intentionally launch a conventional missile or rocket attack against a nuclear plant, thereby, igniting a firestorm which could lead to explosive reaction from radioactive materials in the plant? Thus, as soon as a nuclear plant is developed, it becomes a sitting target.  In the event of a civil war, the plant immediately becomes an attractive target for a group that feels that it can win the war tactically by inflicting maximum destruction.  The world should be grateful that Iraq, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, DRC, Central African Republic, Somalia, Angola, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, did not and do not have nuclear plants.
  2. Similarly, if a war erupts between two countries, with one having a nuclear plant in its territory while the other does not have a nuclear plant in its territory, the one without a nuclear plant could be tempted to carry out a tactical preemptive aerial bombardment of the nuclear plant in the other country in order to inflict maximum damage.  Indeed, with a jet fighter, it is quite easy to launch a missile attack against a nuclear plant.  In Africa where political conflicts are very common, it is easy to attack a nuclear plant and render a large territorial area uninhabitable for decades.
  3. Nuclear technology is too complicated and expensive to maintain.   A nuclear plant requires a hands on around the clock supervision, maintenance and coordination.  It is foolhardy to cut corners while operating a nuclear plant.  It requires a highly skilled technical workforce that is highly disciplined and dedicated so that mistakes are not made.  No African country, apart from South Africa that has the manpower and technical proficiency to operate a nuclear plant.  Countries that find it exceedingly difficult to operate ordinary hydroelectric plants should not even contemplate about establishing a nuclear plant to generate electricity.  It is a fact that many African countries find it difficult to generate sufficient amount of hydroelectric energy at the present time.  If they find it so difficult to operate a simple hydroelectric technology, can anyone imagine what will happen if nuclear technology is introduced?
  4. 6.  One of the major challenges in operating a nuclear plant is where to keep or store the spent fuel rods safely.  This is always a major challenge because the spent fuel rods can remain radioactive for hundreds of years.  Where in Africa would it be safe to store spent fuel rods, considering the frequency of conflict in the continent? Even the so called advanced industrial countries grapple with the issue of safely storing the spent fuel rods.  Perhaps, a technology might be developed in the future which might make it easy to manage the spent fuel rod problem.
  5. 7.  No amount of security can provide protection for a nuclear plant anywhere in Africa, whether in Sub-Saharan or Arabic Africa.  The reason is that even if ten thousands troops are mobilized to protect a nuclear plant, it can still be attacked.  A missile can be launched from a mile or two away to knock off the plant.  If the plant is attacked with a missile, those maintaining security in the vicinity would flee from the scene to avoid being contaminated by radiation.  Africa should be grateful that Col. Muammar Gaddafi dismantled his nuclear program before Libya erupted in violent rebellion against the leader.
  6. 8.  No African country, perhaps, with the exception of South Africa, has a highly skilled technical manpower that can be able to build and maintain a nuclear plant without an outside assistance.  It is dangerous for any developing country to rely on external human technical assistance to build and operate a nuclear plant.  The reason is that if something goes wrong, the foreign experts and operators might run away, thereby, leaving helpless citizens in the vicinity of the plant to pay the ultimate price.
  7. 9.  Similarly, no African country, with the exception of South Africa, has the technological wherewithal to build the equipment and parts necessary to operate and maintain a nuclear plant.  This means that any country in the continent that builds a nuclear plant is going to rely extensively on foreign technical parts to run the operation.  Here again, there is an inherent risk associated with depending on foreign countries to produce essential technical parts needed to replace damaged and worn out parts of a nuclear plant.  It should be noted that in many African countries, industrial projects are often left to rot away due to lack of replacement parts.  It is risky to operate a nuclear plant based on parts coming from foreign sources.
  8. 10.  A considerable number of African countries do not have the financial resources necessary to run a nuclear plant.  The reason is that it is a very expensive proposition.  It would be too dangerous to stop operating a nuclear plant after it has been built due to lack of funds.  In particular, countries which rely primarily on revenues generated from natural resources can easily run into financial problems if the prices of the resources go down in the world market.  For instance, Angola, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria and many other oil producing countries are now facing financial difficulties since oil price started going Some oil producing countries have been forced to reduce their budgetary allocations due to the shortfall in oil price.
  9. Likewise, it is not advisable for countries which rely on one primary commodity to run their economies to build nuclear plants, regardless of the reasons given for justifying the need.  The main reason why it is strategically inadvisable for one commodity-based countries to build nuclear plants is that if the price of the commodity goes down, the nuclear plant could be jeopardized for lack of funds to run a twenty-four hour operation.
  10. A particularly worrisome aspect of the nuclear energy idea is that due to the rampancy of corruption in the continent, nuclear plant construction could be compromised by the use of cheap or inferior materials that could lead to many problems.  This concern should not be dismissed off-handedly, considering the fact that many modern buildings have collapsed, resulting in the deaths of many people in various parts of the continent due to shoddy work or inferior materials or poor structural foundations. Thus, there is no guarantee that someone might not want to make a considerable amount of money by cutting corners while building a nuclear plant.
  11. 13.  It should be noted that despite the fact that Africa has experienced many bloody conflicts in the last five decades, the people have been able to rebuild their lives and reconstruct the infrastructure due to the fact that the conflicts involved the use of conventional weapons that did not cause radiation.  Indeed, the Nigerians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Somalis, Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, Ivorians, Malians, Congolese, Chadians, Nigeriens, Libyans, Algerians, Angolans, Mozambicans, Rwandans, Ugandans, Sudanese and so on and so forth fought destructive wars in which thousands, if not millions, as in the case of Nigeria and DRC, were killed, yet, they survived and rebuild.   The ability to survive and rebuild after a catastrophic crisis would be severely challenged if a nuclear technology, whether for warfare or peaceful use, is introduced into the equation.  In other words, if a nuclear plant runs into a problem and releases radioactive elements into the environment, the people in the vicinity of the plant would have to evacuate their territory for decades or hundreds of years.  The danger is that an ethnic group could have its territory so contaminated that the members of the ethnic group might be forced to become refugees in other peoples’ territories.  The question is, which ethnic group in Africa would be so favorably inclined towards abandoning its own territory and become nomadic due to a nuclear fall-out disaster?

Moreover, in the event of a nuclear plant disaster, millions of people could be forced to evacuate their homelands as the wind carries the radioactive elements around.  In other words, as it is being proposed in Nigeria, if any of the proposed two nuclear plants intended to be located in Akwa Ibom and Kogi States run into a problem, radioactive elements could be spread around.  In the case of the proposed plant in Akwa Ibom State, the states of Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers States in Nigeria and the Republic of Cameroon and possibly Equatorial Guinea might be affected by radiation, in the event of a nuclear melt-down.  This means that thousands, if not millions of Ibibios could be forced to evacuate their territory and seek shelter somewhere.  Such evacuation could render them homeless and make them perpetual refugees.  The same goes for the nuclear plant being proposed for Kogi State.  Kogi State is almost in the center of Nigeria.  Therefore, a serious nuclear plant melt-down could inflict serious damage in the territories of many ethnic groups in that part of the country.  Similarly, if a country like Ghana were to build a nuclear plant, the government must realize that in the event of a malfunctioning of the plant due to overheating or explosion, radioactive materials could be spread to Togo, Benin Republic and possibly Ivory Coast, depending on the exact location of the plant.

Of course, those who support the building of nuclear plants as a means to boost electrical energy might view this writer as an alarmist who is trying to scare people away from supporting the effort.  Nevertheless, it is necessary to consider the points raised here to show the potential danger that can take place as soon as a nuclear plant is built.  Toiling with a nuclear technology is like wining and dining with the devil because any serious mishap can lead to very catastrophic consequences.  It should be noted that after the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, European countries became very concerned about the consequences of a nuclear plant meltdown.  Hence, Germany announced a plan to phase out nuclear energy in 1998.  France cancelled a plan to build several nuclear reactors.  It also decided to replace aging nuclear plants with safer fossil fuel plants.  Italy, in a referendum in 2011, rejected a 2003 legislative bill intended to increase electricity by 25 percent through nuclear power.  The Fukushima nuclear plant disaster added to the urgency to phase out nuclear plants in some countries.  Even the Japanese are no longer dedicated to the building of new nuclear energy plants.  These so called advanced industrial countries have realized that it is very difficult to manage a nuclear plant disaster, even with the best of available technology.  Apparently, if the advanced industrial countries of the world are trying to denuclearize their sources of energy, why should any African country contemplates building a nuclear energy plant in its territory?

 

Conclusion

Indeed, the African political environment is too porous and unstable for any country in the continent to contemplate building a nuclear energy plant.  The reason is that the countries have not been able to create sustainable nationhood from the multitudes of ethnic, tribal, regional, political and religious groups that constitute them. Due to the failure, separatist and irredentist incidents occur quite frequently, thereby, negating the concept of national unity.  Most of the countries lack modern medical facilities that are capable of taking care of the medical needs of thousands of people in times of emergency.  Likewise, highly specialized medical treatment centers that can take care of patients who suffer from catastrophic incidents are a rarity.  Apart from the Republic of South Africa, no country in the continent has the technological wherewithal to engage in mass industrial production of technical goods and services.  Added to the deficits mentioned above, nuclear technology demands high technical proficiency that is lacking in the continent.  Moreover, nuclear energy plants are too dangerous and uncontrollable.

Consequently, it is argued that the disadvantages of having a nuclear plant greatly outweigh the advantages of having one.  As a result, Africans must do everything possible in their power to avoid constructing nuclear power plants in the continent.  In a nutshell, Africa should remain a nuclear free zone. Instead of embarking upon the construction of nuclear energy plants, African countries should put a greater emphasis in developing less dangerous sources of energy, such as solar, wind, biomass, biofuel, geothermal and hydropower plants to generate electricity.

It is suicidal to put or place an uncontrollable and untamable technology that is capable of inflicting an irreparable damage in a continent that is already characterized by multitude of unresolved territorial, structural, political, economic, medical and religious issues.

 

 

 

The Constitutional Requirements for the Office of the U.S. Presidency: The Case of President Obama and Senator Ted Cruz

By Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

torulaghareports@wordpress.com

 

As the primary elections of the two major political parties in the U.S gradually wind down and the nation begins to prepare for the upcoming presidential general election in November 2016, it is necessary to reflect on the manner in which two major presidential candidates have been treated regarding their qualification to run for the Office of the President of the United States.  When Sen. Barack Obama declared his candidacy for the presidency in 2007, he was treated very harshly by his opponents, especially, those in the Republican Party who alleged that he was not a “natural born” American citizen, therefore, was not qualified to seek the high office of the country.  On the other hand, when Sen. Ted Cruz, a Canadian-born American citizen declared his candidacy in 2015, the issue of whether he was a “natural born” American citizen was barely raised by the Americans who were so concerned about President Obama not being a “natural born” American citizen.

The contradiction in behavior raises fundamental questions about American political values.  How is it possible for some U.S. citizens to read the American Constitution in such a manner that they ended up with very contradictory interpretations of the qualification for the presidency?  In other words, what prompted the Americans who were so concerned about President Obama’s nationality to turn around and completely ignore the nationality of Mr. Ted Cruz? Why was the need to meet the “natural born” qualification so critical in President Obama’s case and not so in Sen. Cruz’s case, even though it is a known fact that Sen. Cruz was born in Canada?  Perhaps, it might be necessary to quote the section of the U.S. Constitution that stipulates the requirements necessary to run and occupy the Office of the President of the United States.

The United States Constitution clearly stipulates the basic qualifications or prerequisites or requirements that are necessary for any American to run for the Office of the Presidency.  The Constitution states in Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 5 of The Executive Article that “No Person except a natural born Citizen or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

This means that any American citizen who wishes to run for the Presidency must have been born in the United States or any territory that is considered to be part or extension of the U.S.  The individual must be at least thirty five years in age and must have lived continuously in the United States as a resident for fourteen years.  Any individual who fails to meet any one of the three conditions cannot run for the great office.  Due to this requirement, many naturalized Americans who want to run for the presidency cannot do so.  A particularly notable individual who wanted to run for the office but could not do so was the former governor of California, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He could not seek the presidency because he was born in Austria before moving to the U.S. to become a naturalized citizen.

 

When Sen. Barack Obama declared his candidacy for the presidency, the constitutional requirement for the office became a very hot issue.  Many Americans, particularly those associated with the conservative wing of the Republican Party argued that President Obama could not run for the office because he was not a “natural born” citizen of the United States.  Some said that he was born in Kenya and not in the U.S.

The debate got so heated up to the point that Mr. Donald Trump, the current front runner in the Republican presidential primaries became the lightening rod in arousing opposition to Obama’s presidential candidacy.  It got to a point in which Mr. Trump and others requested that Mr. Obama should release his birth certificate publicly for American people to see.  The argument continued throughout his first term in office as the President of the United State.  It was reignited during his reelection bid as Mr. Trump hammered the point repeatedly.  Even after the State of Hawaii released information about Mr. Obama’s birthplace, many doubters still did not believe that he was born in the country.

The U.S. media too joined the fray by constantly covering the news about Mr. Obama’s birth place.  Certain individuals were invited to speak about the matter and inflamed passions about Mr. Obama.  The issue only died down after his birth certificate was publicly displayed and he won a second term.  The economic growth that immediately followed the disastrous recession of 2008-2009 also helped to divert public attention from the “natural birth” issue.

Like President Obama who decided to run for the presidency while serving as a senator from the State of Illinois, Mr. Ted Cruz too decided to contest the presidential election while serving as a senator from Texas.    Of the sixteen or eighteen candidates who initially vied for the Republican presidential ticket, Mr. Cruz is in second place as a major party contender.  Actually, he is second to the front-runner, Mr. Trump and hopes to tactically clinch the Republican nomination if establishment Republicans support him against Mr. Trump.

The most interesting thing about Mr. Cruz presidential bid is that he was born in Canada and not in the United States.  Like President Obama who has a “natural born” American mother and a Kenyan father, Mr. Cruz has an American “natural born” mother and a Cuban father.  However, unlike President Obama who was born in the United States, it is an obvious fact that Sen. Cruz was born in Canada.  There is no dispute about his birthplace.  Thus, he is a naturalized American citizen and not a “natural born” citizen.

However, the wonderment about Mr. Cruz presidential candidacy is that the same Americans who insisted upon the “natural born” constitutional prerequisite for Mr. Obama are not raising the issue against him, despite the fact that he is a naturalized citizen.   Furthermore, the Republican Party which spearheaded the issue against Mr. Obama even allowed Mr. Cruz to declare and actually participate in the Republican primaries without even hinting of the possibility that he might not qualify for the president’s office. Some influential Republicans actually prefer him to be the Republican presidential candidate rather than Mr. Trump who is the front-runner among the Republican candidates.

The quietness over the “natural born” issue in the case of Sen. Cruz puzzles many people in the world.  Does it mean that the “natural born” requirement of the U.S. Constitution is no longer important or could be easily waved to make it possible for some individuals to run for the U.S. presidency?  If that is the case, what is the criteria for determining when the constitutional requirement can be waved or downplayed?  Since Sen. Cruz has been allowed by the Republican Party to run for the presidency, in the future, will the party allow other Americans naturalized Americans to run for the position based upon their parents  “natural born” status?  In other words, it could be said that the Republicans have set a precedent for waving the constitutional qualification.  So, when other naturalized Americans in the future decide to run for the high office, the “natural born” requirement might have to be waved to ensure their equal political right to join the race for the presidential position.

 

Another puzzling byproduct of the great silence over Sen. Cruz’ status is that Mr. Trump who spearheaded the campaign to stop Mr. Obama over his “natural born” status is not using the issue to campaign against Mr. Cruz in a vigorous manner.  Although, once in a while, he raises the issue to inform the public but he is not acting the way he did while he was condemning Mr. Obama for not being a ‘Natural born” citizen.  One would have expected Mr. Trump to attack Sen. Cruz candidacy by repeatedly saying that Mr. Cruz should drop out of the primary race because he is not an American “natural born” Citizen.

Similarly, the American media too are not interested in focusing on Mr. Cruz qualification for the presidency as they did when Mr. Obama was running for the office.  So, is the American media informing the world that some people are excusable from the requirement of “natural born” status while others are not excusable? What criteria are they using in determining who meets the requirement and who does not?

Even the Democratic Party which stands to gain the most in causing disarray in the Republican Party does not say anything about the matter.  The party allowed the Republican Party to assault the citizenship of Mr. Obama but remained very quiet about Mr. Cruz’s status.  Are the Democrats remaining quiet over the matter as a strategic tactic to actually encourage the Republicans to nominate Mr. Cruz as their presidential candidate come November 2016?

Lastly, American constitutional scholars, like most American journalists, have pretty much avoided analyzing the Constitution and rendering their views on the “natural born” matter in the case of Sen. Cruz.  Again, why did so many of them appear on television to interpret and explain the Constitution when Mr. Obama was running for the presidency and have remained very quiet over Mr. Cruz’s status? Perhaps, the most logical reason that would have qualified Mr. Cruz to run for the presidency of the United States of America is if his mother was working for the United States government when he was born.

Could it be said that in the United States, there is a different standard for different people.  This means that constitutional requirements can be turned on and turned off, depending on the status of the individuals seeking the presidential office. Otherwise, it boggles the mind that President Obama spent almost four years trying to demonstrate his ‘natural born” status while a candidate that was actually born outside the United States is able to run for the Office of the President without American citizens loudly raising the constitutional issue.

Indeed, the differential treatment given to President Obama and Sen. Cruz over the “natural born” requirement says so much about U.S. political culture. The world is astounded about the contradictory political behavior and needs explanation.

First blog post

The Effect of Groupthink on the War against International Terrorism

By Priye S. Torulagha

Torulaghareport@wordpress.com

priyet@hotmail.com

 

In carefully examining the manner in which the war against international terrorism is being fought, it could be said that the pace of victory is hindered by the prevalence of groupthink in the policy making process of the global antiterrorism community.

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon or a practice or habit that compels people in a group to think and make decisions alike in a manner that discourages alternative perspectives or points of views.  It discourages creativity and innovation in thought.  It beclouds the ability to think rationally and come up with alternative means of dealing with a complex situation. It forces the so called security experts to ignore other important elements that could enhance the war.  Groupthink contributes to the prolongation of agony among the civilian population as the countries repeatedly adopt the same tactics to fight the antiterrorist war.

As can be seen, it appears that whenever a terrorist incident takes place somewhere in the world, especially in a Western country, certain experts, consultants, specialists and professionals are called upon to analyze the situation, develop strategies and make recommendations on how to deal with international terrorism.  Generally, the experts, consultants, specialists, and professionals tend to come from certain occupational backgrounds.  Most commonly, they are associated with the intelligence, military, police and national security services.  These services or fields can be collectively described as the security/military community.

The fact that most of the terrorism experts came from occupational fields that deal with security, in one form or another, tend to make them think alike, express similar views and make similar decisions.  They have proclivity toward reducing complex political, social, economic, religious, and military situations into simplistic security matters or issues.  Most of them tend to believe strongly that terrorism can be wiped out through tactical deployment of intelligence gathering machinery, targeted assassinations of important terrorists and robust military offensive against terrorist organizations.  Due to the security orientation of their perspective on terrorism, governments have been compelled to deal with the complex issue of terrorism in a very simplistic manner.  This contributes to the slow pace of victory since the terrorists are able to change tactics, disperse and regroup and strike back to create fear among citizens.

Quite often, most of the experts come from Western societies.  Even those who originate from non-Western societies are compelled through groupthink to think like their Western counterparts and focus most of their energies in devising security measures to deal with terrorism in their countries.  This is understandable since most of them probably received their intelligence, military and police training in Western countries before going back to their countries to serve.  This is why many Third World countries that have joined the antiterrorism war, follow the Western model for dealing with the issue by focusing excessively on the maintenance of security and paying less attention to important other variables that contribute to the growth of international terrorism.

The global media exacerbate groupthink on the antiterrorist war by always inviting the same experts to come and offer their professional opinions on what should be done whenever a terrorist incident takes place.  In fact, going back to September 11, 2001 and ending up with the terrorist incident in Brussel, Belgium in March 2016, it could be inferred that most of the terrorist experts that have been called upon to analyze terrorism on television by CNN, Fox, BBC and other major television networks, have been the same individuals. It does not matter whether the incident took place in Afghanistan or India or Libya or Mali or Nigeria or Somalia or Kenya or France or Pakistan or Spain.  They always argue in favor of intelligence gathering, targeted killings, security crackdowns and heavy-handed military operations. Rarely do they focus their discussions on the causative factors.

Apparently, it is hypothesized here that the undue concentration in the use of intelligence, targeted assassinations, security crackdowns and heavy-handed military operations hinder the ability to win the antiterrorism war.  It is further hypothesized here that those strategies and tactics actually assist in boosting terrorism, instead of degrading it, due to their undue focus on security and less consideration on the social, political, economic and religious factors that contribute to the problem.

It is believed here that the war would be more successful if political leaders, policy makers and national security specialists also seriously look at the causative factors that contribute to the growth of terrorism in various parts of the world.  The reason is that the security/military approach only seems to deal with the symptoms and not the causative factors.  For instance, it is critical to examine the reason why so many French and Belgian young men from the Islamic community in those countries decide to join Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  It is necessary to find out why so many young men in Northern Nigeria joined Boko Haram. It is necessary for governments and higher educational institutions to find out why restlessness in the Islamic world is fueling undue militancy and the excessive use of violence by some young men and women.

Apart from making effort to identify the causative factors, it is also necessary to develop a countermeasure that would be able to reduce the belief or ideology that is the wellspring for fueling the need for someone to join a terrorist organization.  This is even more difficult to achieve than the security/military measures that most conventional experts in terrorism seem to support.  The reason is that it is very difficult to eliminate a belief system after it has been successfully planted in the minds of people.  It is not possible to win the war if a system or a program is not developed to neutralize the belief or ideology that is driving so many young men and women to join terrorist organizations.  For example, having fair governance, creating educational and cultural environment that enhances social and economic mobility, and appreciation for cultural diversity would go a long way in reducing terrorism. Merely targeting, bombing and killing would not eradicate the belief that has been planted like a seed to grow and flourish.

It is also important to develop a global criteria for defining what constitutes a terrorist organization and who is a terrorist.  The reason is that while there is a general agreement on what constitutes terrorism, there is no general agreement on who is a terrorist.  Countries pick and choose who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter based on their short-term strategic interests.  As a result, while some countries may refer to a particular organization as a terrorist entity, other countries may view the same organization as a liberation army.   Due to the confusion, while some countries might be trying to destroy a particular organization, other countries may be supporting the same organization with arms and funds.  The lack of clarity in defining which organization constitutes a terrorist group makes the war unwinnable.  The ongoing conflict in Syria clearly shows the difficulty of determining which armed group is a terrorist organization and which is not as various countries sponsor, train, equip and finance various groups to extend their geopolitical influence in Syria and the Middle East generally.

To find out the causative factors as well as neutralize the belief or ideology, it is necessary for governments, terrorism experts, and scholars to carry out serious studies involving sociological and political analysis of various issues that promote terrorism.  Therefore, merely focusing on the security measures will not result in any remarkable victory against international terrorism.

Consequently, to win the antiterrorism war, it is essential to reduce groupthink by expanding the scope of those who are considered as terrorism experts by including sociologists, political scientists, policy analysts, psychologists, and former diplomats.  These experts should be able to reflect and deliberate on the cultural, political and religious beliefs of various groups in order to minimize groupthink. This will allow the subject matter to be discussed in ways that allow for the consideration of alternative strategies, tactics, policies and points of views without boxing everyone in, to assume that only security measures are necessary to win the war.

It should be noted that terrorism is an unconventional warfare and it cannot be won in a manner that is similar to a conventional war.  For instance, it is very tricky to determine when a terrorist war has been won.  The reason is that terrorists can fight one day, then melt away a second day to create the impression that they have been defeated and only to reappear later to continue the war.  A very excellent example is ISIS.   It started as part of the Sunni resistance from the Iraqi military against the U.S. intervention in 2003, then changed into Al Qaeda in Iraq and has now changed into the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Similarly, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, and so on and so forth, have been able to adapt and recreate themselves to fight another day.    So, a combination of strategies and tactics is critical.  Likewise, countering the belief or ideology is a must to reduce the attraction that compels young people to join terrorist organizations.

In conclusion, it could be inferred that, perhaps, President Barack Obama of the United States, is uncomfortable with the security/military orientation of the war because of the realization that it suffers from groupthink. Indeed, groupthink is an impediment to achieving victory in the antiterrorist war.  Consequently, to win the war, a combination of different strategies, including identifying and ameliorating the causative factors, having a cultural understanding of the different points of views among different groups and deploying security/military measures are necessary.