IN THE HOUSE OF MANDELA: ASILLY CRY FOR REPARATIONS
By Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo

 Special and Exclusive to USAfrica The Newspaper,Houston
USAfricaonline.com,The Black Business Journal and NigeriaCentral.com


An excuse has been found to distract Africa's suffering massesfrom the unreproachable crimes of their own insulated leaderships. Itis to go to the honorable house of the venerable Mandela, to demandmore money from Europe and America, money that will be quietly andsurreptitiously redirected to Euro-American banks. There is nothingin African/black history in which African/black people are notcomplicitous: the treachery in the Congo of the 60s in whichLumumba was immolated; the savagery,ongoing, involving Jonas Savimbi and all the extenuating oraggravating Marxist mess in Angola; the genocidal and holocaustalspurs which birthed the fratricidal mess of Nigeria-Biafra; thelunacy of Master Sergeant Doe and Samuel Taylor; Sierra Leone'spresent carnage and mindless brutality; the apocalyptic images ofGoma, the internecine wreck enjoyed by the Hutsis and Tutsis; thedecades of religion-driven mess in the Sudan; and the present stoneage irruptions in Northern Nigeria. When and where will the catalogueend? In a hundred or fifty years from now, to whose gates shall theblack man carry new crazily scripted placards of blame? To whosegates the next generations' strident cry for reparation?

Afew days ago, this September 2001, many of the black people gatheredin Durban South Africa to cry for reparation (and fight racism) inthe house built by the bloody sweat and tears of our legendaryprisoner of conscience, Nelson Mandela (in picture, left). Theygathered there in terrible and somewhat despicable moral error. To goto Mandela's house with cry for reparation is a rather silly andshameful act. It is as sad and dishonest as it is phony, cynical andfraudulent. It is not because there is no merit or justification inthe claim for reparation. I must hasten to emphasize that point aboutmerit and justification, before lovers of red herrings find in it,some lovely kites to fly, unrelated to what should rightly be thefocus of our contention.

The gathering at Durban also reminded of the recent University ofNigeria's celebrations at Nsukka to mark the fortieth birthday ofwhat was once a great Campus. Various student groups and theirleaders followed me around asking with concern and fear for theirfuture about how to make their voices heard and felt in the light ofthe ugly politics of the campus that was distributing moralblack-eyes to faculty, staff and students, sullying even those wholeast deserved sullying or sometimes making tinpot heroes frombootlickers and sycophants.

The whole thing appeared to depend on the choice of when to mountor dismount and flee from one bandwagon or the other. Ideas erectedwith trumpets in daylight became great totems of greed at dusk. Anddusk was good time for villains and heroes to merge identities intoan amorphous and ghostly confusion of gamblers dreaming only of thebig tomorrow of elevated places of privilege and spuriousdistinction. The spirit of the deathless thing called Institution nolonger mattered. What mattered was the individual. And who resortedtenaciously best to the universal animal instinct always won the day.How to navigate through that murk toward a future of hope was whatthose hapless students of a hapless generation of academic and indeednational life wanted to hear from me. And , of course, in mytrademark bluntness, I declared consistently to one student group andthe other that we are a great arrangement of cowards.

"Who?" asked one brave student. I stated emphatically as I statehere about Nigeria and perhaps most of the present generation ofblack leadership anywhere. The worst kind of cowardice is not thecowardice of the guy who drops to grovel on his fours at thepossibility of death, like one of Nigeria's famous generals who wascrying to save himself from a more powerful military crook. No. Thegreatest cowards among us are those people who neither have ideas andideals to live by nor the courage to stand by the rare person whocomes up with an idea or ideal.

Nigerians and the black man love the defense and idle celebrationof vacuous primordialities, but baulk at any chance to deploy thesame primordialities as ropes for collective rescue in the numerouscrises bedeviling the black world.

Are Nigerians and the character of Nigerian politics reallydifferent from their minuscular counterpart at the University ofNigeria? Think again.

During one of the stops of the numerous planetary trots ofNigeria's President, retired gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, in Atlanta,Georgia, in September of 2000, his reported response to the anguishedquestion of another Nigerian about his attitudes to the 32 millionIgbo people and the topic he would rather not discuss called Biafrawas "Go to hell!" Happily for all and sundry, the offender wasconfirmed to have walked out of the hall safely, with other baffledsympathizers, unpursued by any wave of hellfire. They cared moreabout the insult from the self-styled God-sent shepherd of Nigeria'snew democratic dispensation and the import of his tantrum. What aresponse from within the United States of America ! Can youunderstand what would have happened to the career of any Americanpolitician, from city council to the Presidency who dared that kindof response to any human being on this planet? That kind of drama canonly happen among democratic Nigerians. No where else. TheseNigerians seem to be true democrats! You cannot help loving Nigeriaand Nigerians. It is only at Nigeria's Oputa panel that people wouldlaugh nervously when they listened to a former top-ranking army clownstate that after Abacha's death, it was agreed that Abiola shouldalso die, "to make it one-one"!!!

You would have expected a mob to leap over the benches but nervouslaughter won the day. No where else but from Nigeria can a leader,any leader speak in such a manner.

Here's yet another one, again in September but in 2001. Did youread the almost bizarre presentation of a certain retired Arewaretired Gen. Haruna on behalf of the Arewa Forum at the Oputa panelclaiming the "destruction and marginalization of the North" by Igbopeople? He even made his presentation in tears!!! That kind of dramais only possible in Nigeria. Did you read recently about retired Gen.Yakubu Gowon's own version of the history of Nigeria and his enviablerole in that strange and tragic history? The man who, in concert,with his colleagues murdered Ironsi, and soon after declared thatthere was "no basis for unity"; the same man, former military head ofstate who famously thanked God for the leadership of Nigeria fallinginto the "hands of another Northerner"? After reading Haruna's"presentation at the Oputa panel, I am left with one simple question:Am I reading historical facts here, my friend, or are you about tochristen those claims by Harun, the Arewa group and Co as sheerwishful hallucinations? This same Haruna only came short of callingfor apologies from the murdered Aguiyi Ironsi. That kind of drama canonly take place in Nigeria. Nigeria is a nation of very imaginative"thinkers." That is why there is no way, legal or political, tocompel the three ex-Heads of state, even if simply as anothergestural or comic fart, to appear at the Oputa panel. That is exactlywhy Nigerians cannot find a way of saving millions of innocentcitizens from the cumulative effects of Nigeria's rapid degenerationand decline into unbelievable savage conditions, to the extent thatmany openly cry for the resurrection of Sani Abacha!

What a nation ! Nigerians can easily track down elusive GaniyuAdams of OPC. And quite as easily pick up MASSOB'S Uwazurike at asnap. Fill up Kirikiri at will with their wretched of the earth. Doyou remember the ease with which Lanre Shittu was picked up fromLagos and spirited out of Nigeria to answer charges in the UnitedStates? But there is no way ever of husbanding accountably thestupefying largesse accruing from the country's immeasurable oilwealth. There is not even a way of having Nigerians and their foreignguests to enter or exit that nation with the ease one finds in othernations of meaner purse, and without fear of their lives.

What stops real international access direct to commercial nervecenters like Port Harcourt, Enugu, and Onitsha? By the way, reader,please remind me of how many Nigerian politicians have been arrestedfor the money stolen during General Abacha's reign of terror whilemasses were suffering and are still suffering as a result of thattheft.

Nigerians can lead international crusades boldly, and think aboutjustice and fairness from the case against dead and buried Europeansfor the wrongs from the slave markets organized by European kings andsome of our own crooked ancestors, but do not know exactly how toproceed with cases about the present day thieves who are robbing thenation silly with more shocking and sanitary ease than the slavemasters could even design. What slavery or bloody thieving anddehumanization of a people, past dead or alive, could be worse thanwhat is going on in Nigeria today?

Has Lagos not been virtually a war front as a result of thefreedom claimed by armed desperadoes? And pass beyond Lagos andinland, what is guaranteed? Good access roads? Steady water andelectricity? Access to usable telephones and that wonderful andcheapest of toys called the Internet? Good schools and hospitals?Does the Nigerian leadership, with all the counted and uncountablebillions flowing easily from the bowels of nature understand themeaning of the word University? Oh yea! The leadership does, henceits members prefer their children in foreign universities. So whatstops Nigerians from sitting down to fix their own home?

In this twenty first century, after centuries of lashes ofblood and variegated dehumanization and bizarre death, through desertheat or the nightmarish Atlantic, black people are organizing a cryfor reparation from the children of erstwhile masters, in the houseof Mandela. The great nation called Nigeria is at the fore. Hurrah!!!Are they qualified to be in Mandela's house? Are we there asrelatives of the dead, concerned like some insurance claimants, morefor the money than for anything weighty or spiritual. The questionswhich torment, generate cataleptic incubus, about all that are many.But consider these samples. Are black people crying for this money sothat they would use it to begin to prove that they are worthydescendants of Touissant L'Overture, Denmark Vassey, Nat Turner,Harrieth Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Julius Nyerere, Nnamdi Azikiwe,Adegoke Adelabu, Herbert Macaulay, Aminu Kano, Joseph Tarka, AdeniranOgunsanya, Kwame Nkrumah, W.E.B. du Bois, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks andso forth. Those are some names evoking other names and memories ofthose black people who when the storm for freedom rose in their time,also rose to be counted, even if their very lives depended on thatmoment of decision.

Standing up was not for their lives. It was for the lives ofothers. Are Nigerians, Africans, black people, crying for money sothat they could now begin to understand the meaning and value of theword sacrifice for their own kind, like those names before them whounderstood the meaning of losing one's self to save one's self?

What are black people really gathered for in the House of Mandela?And what in the world are Nigerians doing there?

The Oputa Panel, a mocking ghost of South Africa's Truth andReconciliation panel, sounds nice in Nigeria for Nigerian drama, anall too familiar drama regarding the feared and stony way towardtruths that are constructive. That panel and what Nigerians are doingwith it in relation to the bigger drama of reparation in SouthAfrica, in the House of Mandela, suggests and points at a penchantfor the meaningless pantomime, the comic relief in the fearful fightto flee from the real devils inside us.
Nwankwo,acclaimed poet and critic, is a Professor of English at the NorthCarolina State University in Raleigh. Prof. Nwankwo has joined as acontributing editor of USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica The Newspaperwhere he will contribute poems and commentary on public policy andissues in the news. This is his first commentary for our web site.Links to but not archiving of this essay on any web site isauthorized by USAfrica's publisher. copyright © 2001


USAfrica VIEWPOINT
September 11 terror and the ghost of things to come.... By Chido Nwangwu



LITERATURE
As Chinua Achebe turned 70, the world's intellectuals, leaders pay tribute to the master story-teller and lucid essayist.
DEMOCRACY'S WARRIOR
Out of Africa. The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property of the neighborhood. -- Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah. An editor carries on his crusade against public corruption and press censorship in his native Nigeria and other African countries. By John Suval.
MUSIC
The sultry and smoking voice of Nigerian-born international singer Sade Adu, simply known as Sade, is already rocking the world, again, with her latest album
DEMOCRACY'S WARRIOR
Out of Africa. The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property of the neighborhood. -- Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah. An editor carries on his crusade against public corruption and press censorship in his native Nigeria and other African countries. By John Suval.
Will Arinze be the FIRST BLACK AFRICAN POPE in recent history?
INSIGHT
Slavery report in modern Africa more complicated than the media tells. By Jonathan Elendu
Church bombed in Sudan: How 3 American missionaries miraculously escaped death. USAfricaonline.com Special and Exclusive report by Elise Glading

HUMAN RIGHTS
Why South Africa's Basson is known as 'Dr. Death'

Nigeria's police, soldiers vandalize Okigwe town in futile search for MASSOB leader
Okigwe killings: A possible prelude to a pogrom? By Dr. M. O. Ene
AFRICAN LEADERS CONDEMN ATTACKS ON WTC TOWERS, PENTAGON BY TERRORISTS.
In the aftermath of the terror hits which took down World Trade Center in New York, destroyed parts of the Pentagon in Washington DC., and left thousands decimated and charred, African leaders have been expressing their condemnation of the attacks. Among them, Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi condemned it as "this heinous and evil apparently co-ordinated act of terrorism." In 1998, the bombing of the U.S embassy in his country's capital, Nairobi, left more than 200 dead. On his part, Tanzania Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete said "we feel and understand what the Americans must be experiencing."
Islamic Youth Organization in Zamfara in northern Nigeria has a different view as their leader told BBC's Ibrahim Dosara the attacks offer U.S some payback for its actions in the Middle East.
The World Igbo Congress (WIC), based in the U.S., has informed USAfricaonline.com that the it considers the attacks on the U.S. as "sadistic and devious." Its newly-elected chairman, Dr. Kalu Kalu Diogu, said during the USAfricaonline.com exclusive interview, "there is no justification for such wanton decimation of innocent lives. It is simply wrong and unacceptable."
USAfricaonline.com and
NigeriaCentral.com can also confirm that a handful of Nigerians and Africans do business and work at the World Trade Center. But no deaths and major injuries involving any continental African have been announced. Send such information to newsroom@USAfricaonline.com

BUSH SAYS COUNTRY IS UNSHAKEN.
President Bush says America remains unshaken by what he called "acts of war." Pentagon which lost hundreds of its members and the certain death of the passengers in the hijacked plane has also announced that military jets will fly the skies over New York and Washington for the next several days.

Related USAfricaonline commentary by Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo:
U.S. and Nigeria's future: The futulity of
political band-aids.


The Kingdom of Gates and the Controlversy


DEMOCRACY MATTERS
Obasanjo obsession with Biafra versus facts of history. By Prof. Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe in Dakar, Senegal.
Why Bush should focus on dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and
Obasanjo's slippery slide
AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
STEALS AND DEALS: How Marc Rich made billions from Nigeria's Oil. Through an elaborate network of carrots and sticks and a willing army of Nigeria's soldiers and some civilians, controversial global dealer and billionaire Marc Rich, literally and practically, made deals and steals; yes, laughed his way to the banks from crude oil contracts, unpaid millions in oil royalties and false declarations of quantities of crude lifted and exported from Nigeria for almost 25 years. Worse, he lifted Nigeria's oil and shipped same to then embargoed apartheid regime in South Africa. Our Special News Investigation report by Chido Nwangwu examines the Marc Rich shenanigans in Nigeria and beyond.
DIPLOMACY and ECONOMICS
Bush-Kabila-Powell meeting in Washington D.C. offer Congo good signal for renewing U.S-Africa relations. Democratic Republic of Congo's leader Joseph Kabila, a shy 31-year-old soldier, became one of the very first world leaders to meet with U.S. president George W. Bush, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, on Thursday January 31, 2001. In this USAfricaonline.com special report, we offer insight on the issues in the Congo, its implications for the United States, the Bush international relations team and Mandela's challenge for all to work on a structure of peace to stabilize the region.
The
Congo too valuable for Bush, U.S. to ignore. By Chido Nwangwu (published in the Houston Chronicle, January 31, 2001).

Black History Giants and Quotes:
"Our struggle is a struggle of the African people. It is a struggle for the right to live. I have dedicated my life to this struggle. I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live and to see realised. But, my lord if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die"Nelson Mandela making his last moving speech in court before he was sentenced by the racist apartheid regime in South Africa to life imprisonment in 1964. He later became president in May 1994.
INSIGHT
Africa's Looming Tragedy: an appeal for preventive action in Nigeria
Is Obasanjo ordained by God to rule Nigeria? Prof. Sola Adeyeye raises the issue and provides some thought-provoking answers.
Commission should ask Obasanjo, Danjuma some questions, too. By Ambrose Ehirim
Abacha's henchman al-Mustapha sings briefly about "Abubakar-Diya Coup" plot, the killing of Abiola, NADECO and other issues
Major al-Mustapha's Bombshell: M.K.O Abiola was murdered by
"powers that be"