By Segun Odegbami
Let me admit that I really do not know what I am writing about today.
So, forgive me if it reads like ‘Greek’.
There is a looming war of the civilisations.
In fact, it is ongoing.
Between the global super powers, USA, China, Europe and Asia, there is an ongoing war for control of the world’s mineral resources, a lot of which is found in Africa, our Africa.
Into the future, the greatest opportunities to make good money from investments also lie in poor Africa. That’s why there is a new scramble for Africa. That’s why there may not be peace in Africa. That’s why the backwardness, the restlessness, the absence of development, the crisis, the diseases, the illiteracy, wars, the killings, the crazy politics, the instabilities, will not end soon because they are the ammunition in the war of the civilisations.
Africa is, therefore, the theatre, victim and pawn in this war.
The world, the way it has been constructed and for the foreseeable future, is not designed so that Africa will be a flourishing continent, and that Black people will become equal partners with their former colonial masters at any time soon in history. The last 600 years have provided enough evidence for students of history to know that the architecture of the present world makes Africa the plundering field for the looming war.
Nigeria would be one of the biggest theatres with its vast resources, its corrupt leaders, its humongous population of poor people, its rich but untapped intellectual capacity, its massive territory and its endless internal crisis that distract it from attaining its rightful leadership position within its Black civilization.
I am tired of writing about the seemingly intractable challenges and problems we face in Nigeria. In trying to lighten the mental trauma they create I try to look at them and the future through the prism of sport. So, I remain sane and go on with life.
Sport always provides doses of hope, of the human capacity to endure and extend the frontiers of physical and mental challenges. That’s why the field is full of incredible stories of achievements and victories following hard work, commitment, passion, focus, perseverance, discipline and endless training and practice across all human divides.
Unlike in sport, however, the challenge of making Nigeria to achieve its true potential is such that, whereas we know our potentials to be the greatest Black nation on earth considering our human and natural resources, all our adopted foreign prescriptions, tested processes in other places, have been first-class failures here.
So, a rich people and country are languishing in the worst kind of poverty in the world. Both are swimming in an ocean of failed social, political and economic experiments deliberately designed to fail by foreign colonisers that have existed in one form or the other, and being the bane of any meaningful advancement for over 400 years.
My recent political experiences present a dim, hopeless, and frustrating future scenario, unless something happens of tsunamic dimension to alter the picture.
Nigerians, the largest chunk of the Black race, are groping in a dark tunnel shackled to a political arrangement put in place and sustained by foreign masquerades that had no intention within their design concepts for the country to ever be free and attain its potentials as leader of a new Black civilisation, and join effectively in the global ‘war’.
As individuals, our physical and intellectual ability and capacity have never been in doubt. The world is full of muted stories of great accomplishments of our people, active participants and contributors to the global pool of knowledge in all spheres of human endeavor, including science and technology. Black hands have built some of the greatest civilisations in the world today.
Yet, as a race, from one Black community to the other in the world, we languish in endless under-development, hunger, illiteracy, poverty, disease, internecine crisis, senseless killings, corruption, religious conflicts, and unproductive politics. We remain disrespected, segregated, suppressed and treated with scorn in most places.
Yet, late President of South Africa, the leading light of the struggle for Black freedom, Nelson Mandela prophesied: ‘the world will never respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The Black people of the world are looking up to Nigeria to be a source of pride and confidence. Every Nigerian citizen should be made to understand this truth’.
Nigeria must wake up.
Repeating his words again, one week after I did in my last column, is making me sound like a grove in a broken record. Yet, I will not tire, because they speak the raw, brutal truth.
Nigeria’s failure to be a global player has stalled the pace of the Black person’s struggle for respect in the world. So, true emancipation from ‘slavery mentality’ is also stalled.
West Africa supplied ample manpower for 200 years building the West with sweat, tears, blood and lives. It has been 400 years since the healthiest and strongest amongst them were first made to board rickety ships and taken to the land-of-no-return, to build foreign new civilisations.
That is our story. We have the sad experience that we can now creatively and quietly re-channel without ruffling the rest of the world to shape the future.
The more I think about it and look around to see advancements in other parts of the world, the more frustrated I get by the little that we are doing here in Nigeria to get out of our ‘prison’ and start to build our own new and advanced Black civilization applying our own indigenous prescriptions, embracing the good aspects of our long relationship with the West, resurrecting the better parts of our own culture that we ignorantly abandoned, utilizing the opportunities that modern science and technology provide, creating a new way, and building a new community that will compete in the manner of athletes, win and earn new respect in the world.
One of the tools that we must deploy and use, a great passion for billions of our Black and African youths that already provides global opportunities for many in the natural physical stock of the best amongst us, to compete, to excel and to become models of new possibilities for the next generations.
I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that sport, as innocuous as it may look, as part of a larger sector in today’s world, as an integral part of our deep and rich history in the arts, culture and entertainment, will be a potent weapon that, when strategically and properly deployed, could unleash on the rest of the world a force so powerful that it will positively alter the place of Black person and Africans in the world.
This kind of understanding that can translate into action, is not found in the streets and the marketplace. It is found only in the citadels of scholarship.
That’s why, for the umpteenth time, like a broken vinyl record, I will not tire of screaming again and again that sports and education, like Siamese Twins, must drive Africa’s journey into the future in the war of civilisations that has already started.