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Now it's time for African independence

CARVED UP: The African continent which was carved up in 1884

THE SCOTTISH independence debate is over. It's now time for the African independence debate to commence.

Just like the Scots, there is a hunger and thirst for independence all over the continent of Africa that has been largely ignored by the firestorm, which has been ignited by the Scottish referendum. And when we say independence from an African perspective, I am not talking about that illusion of independence from the British that happened in the 1950s and 60s, but real independence.

You see what happened in the 50s and 60s was, in the most part, a chimera. Independence from Britain, France, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Spain and all the other colonial powers was only part of the problem. It was independence from each other that still sparks the political debate all over the continent because the independence of the 50s and 60s was based upon the false premise that we were all one nation.

It was independence under the terms laid down by our colonisers at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 where the continent was carved up in what is better known as the scramble for Africa. They were not interested in independent African nations within a nation. The colonialists were simply interested in carving up the map of Africa so that they could each exploit it to their heart’s content.

Oh what a lovely carve-up.


The carve-up saw one nation being lumped together with another nation ‘willy nilly’ without regard for historical and cultural friendships and enmities; without regard for racial and linguistic differences. Indeed, the carve-up of my own country, Nigeria, was so obscene that a region that consisted of hundreds of kingdoms from the Sahara desert land of the Fulanis in the north to the rich savanna of the Badagry coast in the south were plunked together like it didn’t matter.

No wonder we couldn't get on. I don't speak the same language as my fellow Nigerian, let alone share in his/her culture, religion, heritage or, arguably, even race. In our plethora of nations the only thing that unites us was the shared experience of being carved-up and thrown together. The Scots at least share language and everything else and they still called for independence.

Well, you hear the same cries now over all of Africa. It is not just in Nigeria that the varying tribes don't get on. In fact, in some countries we hate each other so much that we instigate genocide on one another. That was certainly the case in Rwanda where two tribes tore each other apart in one of the bloodiest civil massacres the world has ever seen. And if the Scots deserved an independence referendum, why not the Hutus and the Tutsis? The same in Kenya where the last election was marred by sectarian violence. And it is the same in South Africa and over again across the continent.

The independence argument needs to be put to the people of these countries, many of whom are better off separate. There will be many countries which are better off together, despite or because of their history, culture and so on. But the people have to be given the same opportunity to express themselves.

Let the real Africa independence debate begin.

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