Rishi Sunak

THE emergence of Mr. Rishi Sunak as the Prime Minister of Britain is no ordinary event. It is rich in history and points to where the Western world is right now compared to the rest of the world.

Here is British-born Sunak with almost unadulterated Indian/Hindu heritage emerging as the Premier of the United Kingdom which once militarily subdued the Indian subcontinent, absorbed it into the former British Empire before granting it independence in 1947. 

Amidst the jubilations that trailed the event throughout India, one of the country’s news channels exclaimed: “Indian son rises over the Empire; history comes full circle in Britain”.

India is celebrating in this vein for the second time. On January 20, 2021, Kamala Devi Harris, who also has Indian roots, was sworn-in as the 49th Vice President of the United States of America, and its first ever female Vice President.

India is not alone in this celebration. Sunak’s emergence also reminded us that Barack Obama, who is an African of Kenyan roots, was the President of America for eight years. He was the first black man to occupy the most powerful post in the world.

Sunak’s grandparents left Punjabi India and migrated to East Africa during the colonial times. His parents were born in Africa (his mother in Tanzania and his father in Kenya). They migrated to Britain in the 1960’s where Sunak was born on May 12, 1980 in Southampton. Though Rishi Sunak has no African blood heritage, his parental family’s stay in East Africa was a decisive juncture of their historic journey.

Rishi Sunak, Obama and Harris were able to rise to their highest potentials because the American and British systems gave them the opportunity. Despite being minorities, they emerged because they were seen as the best people for the jobs. 

What happened in America and Britain is impossible in the Arab/Muslim world, Asia (including India itself) and of course Africa.

Here in Nigeria, we used to have something similar to this. In the 1950s, a Muslim Fulani man, Umaru Altine, a strong leader of the National Council for Nigerian Citizens, NCNC, was elected as the Lord Mayor of Enugu. Igbo politicians, such as Ozumba Mbadiwe, held high political positions in Lagos. But today, the only place non-indigenes contest and win elections is Lagos. 

At the federal level, ethnic, religious and regional factors have made it impossible for Nigerians to elect the right persons to lead. 

That is one of the reasons we are rated as a backward country, where only a handful have more than they need while the vast multitude of citizens have nothing. 

We must rise above these primordialities and always put the best person on the job.

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