Great Exploitation & Oppression in the Twinkling of an Eye
May 25th, is African Union Day, the annual commemorations of Africa’s independence, freedom and liberation struggle from colonial imperialists. The reinforcement of this liberation was the first union of African countries and the foundation of the regional integration body known as the organisation of the African Unity (OAU) in 1963, which 38 years later, evolved into the African Union (AU). Today, the continental organisation celebrates years of determined efforts for unity among the African people, and socioeconomic freedom from foreign dominion and exploitation. Africa by far the wealthiest and the most beautiful continent on this planet is the most abused, battered, exploited and devalued continent in the world.
The dynamics of oppression and exploitation is continuously at play in Africa. The forces which can stimulate growth, and development in the existing system or structure constitute the forces of the suppression in the system We know of the colonial exploitation and misrule of Africa. The slave trade of over 400 years of unprecedented exploitation and wanton raid of Africa and Africans- we know of over 400 years of inequality in different colours and dimension. We remember the Berlin Conference of over a century years ago when many European powers recklessly explored, divided, conquered and exploited the whole African continent. This was known as “The Scramble for Africa.”
We have since learned how to exploit ourselves, we learned how to hate ourselves, we have learned how to kill ourselves and we continue to be divided. If we remain divided definitely we cannot move forward and of course the exploitation of the imperialist powers continues, so also the slavery ideology that seeks to make us feel inferior and control our thinking processes to ideologically enslave us to accept the false message of their superior race and status. Our minds must be free from mental slavery. Our minds must be liberated. There is no human being on this planet that is made superior or different from any other human being. It is all exploitation and a self-assigned unmerited privilege. We must continue to challenge this aberration. We must never allow our life to be defined by others perception of us.We must never lose our identity and dignity.
It is unspeakable that Africa is still a colony, particularly the so called ‘French Africa’ is still gravely enslaved. While there are exploitation and misrule in postcolonial Africa and various explanations for Africa’s precarious social and economic conditions, can we be courageous enough to free ourselves not only from the colonizers and exploiters but also from our so called African leaders who continue to exploit us in continuation of what their colonial masters taught them. They have wiped out generations of Africans at home and others who continue to flee this beautiful continent to unknown land and destiny because of war and poverty. They have destroyed lives and impoverish their countries and citizens. Some of these so called African leaders have sold their country and birthright to some countries and colonialists out of greed, lack of vision and love for this great continent. They are horrendous criminals who should face justice. Instead we continue to honour the criminals and unworthy and despise the noble.
Home to my country Nigeria as an example. Nigeria is really a very tricky country with about half Muslim and half Christian and religious extremists group that create a lot of violence and terrorist activities. There 250 different ethnic groups, speaking 510 different languages, with a British-drawn border around them then, handed over to the Fulanis by the colonizer in 1960 with a hidden agenda. The Fulanis are mainly herders, expansionist, land grabbers, mostly uneducated, and not the choice for leadership role or any role for that matter yet the colonizer handed power over to them and they held firmly to power in Nigeria. They created ideological, structural, institutional, and cultural constraints for others in the process. It is interesting to note that the Fulani’s ruling ideology of aristocracy, assumption of being a special breed of some sort and the only tribe destined to rule Nigeria is absurd. The use of this notion as an ideology of exploitation and oppression is glaring. Exploitation, pilfering, and oppression has nothing to do with nobility. We know the truth and that is what matters. This ideologically promoted hegemonic form of oppression is apparent at the level of ruling oligarchs in Nigeria as adopted domination while at the level of the other tribes as adopted subordination, which of course is the cause for the continuation of the domination. This ruling oligarchy of Fulanis around the Fulani president in Nigeria do nothing but pilfer from Nigeria and has created the greatest problem for Africa’s largest economy and most populous country. The Fulanis are colonialists in Nigeria, they have enslaved the Hausas and in fact the entire country. They are mostly responsible for the critical condition Nigeria is facing today. My heart bleeds heavily for my beloved country Nigeria.
Discrimination and oppression has been a primary impediment to democratic practice since the very founding of Nigeria. Nigeria is a very great country with great people who must summon the courage to fight for their rights, justice and liberty from oppression and discrimination in a peaceful manner. Nigerians must not allow another civil war again, we must not allow genocide- it can only destroy our country completely. We need a national dialogue based on transparency. The truth- must be told. We must say it as it is. Again without equal rights and justice, we cannot find peace in Nigeria and Africa as a whole for that matter.
A country where half of it’s population are kids 17 and under but with one of the highest rate of out of school children, and graduate unemployment. A country where women are far from being granted their rightful place economically, politically, and socially. A country where a Fulani man who happen to be president openly disrespects women. We all remember that in October 2016, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari claimed his wife’s place was in the “kitchen, the living room and the other room”. We must ensure statements like that never become commonplace in Africa where women face an arduous task of actualizing themselves, economically, politically and socially. The complete empowerment of women ultimately is the achievement of gender parity. Quality education and the economic empowerment of women is the only way for African women to aspire to gender equality. They must have access to education and ensure their economic inclusion in society.
We must all embrace civic courage in Africa by working to create a continent that works for all, promoting true brotherhood and Ubuntu spirit as authentic Africans, creating positive change in ourselves, our communities, our institutions, and our systems.
This would indeed be the true African Union!
– Ayo Ayoola-Amale
Ayo believes art can change the world and uses her passion for Poetry, Art and Storytelling in her social change projects to promote peace.She explores abstract art through multiple art forms, including painting, photography and digital art.Her art evokes positive healing emotions, inspiring hope, peace, and action.-Growintopeace Art
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am already familiar with much of the information about the holocaust and some other dark destinations, a visit to the ”chambers of horror” to graveyards, to solemn places… commemorate one of the world’s most terrible tragedies, of a ferocious ideology of destruction, fascism and war, a genocide built on the myths and inventions of race. I was here only for one day, one day too long. Once more, it sparked a sense of empowerment felt only when i visit such museums, camps etc., learning not only about the past but also how that past has been remembered and commemorated,enables me to learn facts, forcing me to face evil in its most extreme form, to see how people were murdered on an industrial scale due to pseudo-scientific racial ideology, the whole scene of horror almost inconceivable and awakening my responsibility as a moral citizen. My visit was not only an opportunity to answer historical questions, but was stimulus for new historical, moral, and ethical questions and learning from the past. The holocaust took place across the European continent, the Nazi mass killings during the Second World War of six million Jews and 4 million to 20 million non-Jewish victims – whose numbers unfortunately depend on which historian or politician is counting. Auschwitz, Rwanda genocide and past genocides that have taken place around the world, including in Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq, South Sudan (Darfur), and Syria and other genocides throughout the 20th and 21st century are accounts of murderous hatred, shocking displays of hate, anti-Semitism , racism, and other forms of hate and discrimination. We have built museums all over the world, these museums only show us what went very wrong, and these museums show us our depraved human behavior and how they are often anything but humane.
The greatest tragedy of humanity took place in Africa, the cradle of the human race, the continent that is the most plundered, exploited and abused! Humanity was swept into the net of death by the tragic transatlantic slave trade, the darkest history of humanity. The transatlantic slave trade persisted for four centuries, over 17 million people perished excluding those who suffered and died during transport at the hands of the brutal slavery. The slave trade injustices, its pain and impact on Africans, Africa and the enslaved families purchased lives are among the worst violations of human rights in the history of humanity that resulted in the sale and exploitation of millions of Africans by Europeans.
The legacy of the transatlantic slave trade is undoubtedly the destruction of Africa and a significant portion of the language, culture, tradition, and religion of millions of enslaved Africans. The removal of such large numbers of able bodied, healthy people from Africa disrupted the African economy and development. Unfortunately slavery left a legacy of racism and stereotyping of Africans as inferior, this defined Africans to the world, whereas the lack of knowledge of some African descent across America, Europe, and the Caribbean about the long transatlantic slave trade’s contribution of slaves to the building of the societies of their enslavement has served to marginalize them. We must continue to raise awareness about the transatlantic slave trade and the dangers of racism and prejudice. I am a voracious reader (not that many these days) I have read some pretty hard stuff very early in my life, albeit with some stuff like Moons and Boon, romance etc. (had access to so much book, was voted the Library prefect in secondary school because i love reading and often represent my school in national debate competitions) books like how Europe underdeveloped Africa. by Walter Rodney, Thomas Paine book Rights of Man, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations , James Glassman’s Primitive accumulation, accumulation by dispossession, accumulation by ‘extra-economic’ means,Ernest Mandel’s Primitive accumulation and the industrialisation of the third world, Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, James A. Michener ‘s Hawaii etc. These books could shape one’s thinking, change lives and transform… Humanity MUST BE FREE of exploitation, oppression, injustice and such severe negative phenomena, free from those who profit from passive complicity, free from those who profit from unjustified privilege, and such attitudes that lead, if not resisted in time, to unimaginable violence, savagery, and barbarity – We must build a just, honorable and civilized world.
We must defeat fascism, and induced tyranny; we must restore freedom, socio-economic justice, human dignity, democracy and decency. We must take a stand for humanity!!!
What are the lessons to be learned?
Lesson of “never forget” and “never again” a staple, even a cliché, of holocaust education, the holocaust, having given birth to the commitment to “Never Again” to genocide, has not stopped it from occurring innumerable times in recent decades, so is reminding the world of the importance of “Never Again- Now the world needs to hear the message even more- we need to learn about human capacities for good and evil from the holocaust and how to sustain the values that militate against the fear and hatred towards others, racial discrimination, fascism, white supremacy, marginalization of minority, and terrorism.
How do nations incorporate universal values of human rights and socio-economic justice into their national goals and collective identity? This question confronts all of our democratic societies…
Be the change!
Take history to heart; engage in human rights issues predicated upon civic and moral responsibility. Be a courageous upstander. Be a person who has chosen to make a difference in the world by speaking out against injustice, taking action against human rights violations and creating positive change. History is about choices; the choices that each of us make will in turn, help change the course of history. STAND UP TO and SAY NO to xenophobia, prejudice, stereotypes, and racial discrimination! Be the change as we move into the future!!
“History is replete with the struggle for human rights, an eternal struggle for which victory always eludes. Yet to tire in that struggle would mean to bring about the destruction of society.”-Albert Einstein
Ayo Ayoola-Amale, Berlin, 2019
“For me love is opening our heart just as we are, it is deeper honesty and total acceptance. It is complete understanding and connection. It is a heart of peace; it is honest communication that strengthens and nourishes affection.” Ayo Ayoola-Amale
“Peace, love, justice and respect are four words able to make a difference to our life and change the world! We are called to Love; we are called to what is truly real in this world. We are called home to the beautiful truth of who we really are.” – Ayo Ayoola-Amale
“Genuine love is the deep gentleness and kindness in our heart.” –Ayo Ayoola-Amale
“Love is the highest truth of life –so beautiful and radiant that it is beyond words.” – Ayo Ayoola-Amale
Opening our soul to each other is vital to communicating to create connection, to cut through anger, resentment and misunderstanding and to avoid turning a conversation into a full-on battlefield. Going for peace is going for non-violent communication. Going for peace is knowing how to express our feelings with words and setting the grounds for inner peace and peace in our relationships. As we all know, our relationships with others form the foundation of our reality. I often say, life is lived with people because Life is a shared experience and as social creatures we need human warmth and positive interaction with others. We need to share our lives; we need to share the goodness of life together. Human beings have a strong, innate desire for happiness, self-determination and fulfillment. When we separate ourselves from others, we are effectively guaranteeing unhappiness for ourselves. Because it is in relating to others, making friends, sustaining friendships and deepening them that we appreciate what nourishes our heart and what makes us happy. Communication is one of the key tools that help us to reach out to people, interact with them, connect and share our thoughts. Communication is a peace-building tool that we use to find solutions to many problems. For communication to be real, it needs to take place in an environment where both parties are open to dialogue without fear of being criticized or judged. Where the parties can feel safe with each other and be sincere and unassuming. Most times we listen only to defend our point of view, we listen to answer and defend our self, which causes problems. Sometimes, we listen in order to respond, which helps us reach agreements. It is very important that we listen in order to understand, and to reach reconciliation.
Basically, Communication is sharing ideas, thoughts, information and messages. This sharing is integral in our life and should always bring us together, because that is the very purpose. Unfortunately they always create conflict. Conflict is a normal everyday thing that happens to all of us. Avoiding conflict at all costs is not a good thing to do because it means we are not telling the truth. We should learn to tolerate conflict; the important thing is resolving conflict in a positive manner. Being always present with people no matter what they have to say, this can often lead to deeper honesty and connection- Knowing how to listen and being heard, verbal and non-verbal communication skills and appropriate communication tactics is likely to yield positive resolutions. Why is this so? Conflicts are about our way of being with others. We should put out our thoughts in the right place when we tail and in a more refined and better manner. We need to be in a heart of peace, we need to express empathy, and compassion. We need to communicate with respect and sensitivity toward the persons we are communicating with and they must be treated with civility. We have to be highly conscious of how we want to connect with our fellow human beings. Being able to recognize the humanity of the other person, being able to see the other person as a unique and valuable human being in the way we talk, work and live, in our daily life, in our relationships, and in the world is being in a heart of peace. When we communicate from our heart, we communicate from a deeper level. A heartfelt communication is communicating peace. We communicate more than just our thoughts and emotions, we communicate to others from our heart. We must also realize the fact that opinions can sometimes bring disharmony and that when we share our thoughts with others we are oftentimes just expressing our opinion which can sometimes be insensitive, unkind and tough. Opinions can lead to disagreements, hostility, arguments and conflict.
And truth be told, it is difficult and unlikely to change our outer influences, in the struggle and turmoil of life, our nerves are typically high strung, and it is easy to let go and vent our bottled feelings on an undeserving or innocent person. However, we can positively change our internal disposition and figure out how to stop allowing outside influences to impact our feelings and perspectives and thus avoid our daily communication pitfalls. Personally, i have chosen peace and I have a very deep passion in my heart for peace building. Having developed the strength of my heart, I’ve ended conflicts and settled fights within myself. I let my rational side take control; I let love take control and not my emotions or gut feelings. Because I am in touch with the deeper part of myself i am better able to take full responsibility for what i feel. Having developed my inner strength i am able to keep my attention in a peaceful place within me and remain unaffected when people are being unpleasant, mean, judgmental etc. towards me. This to me is the strength of my heart. The true strength you attain when you grow into peace. It is not easy to make this become habits; it is not easy at all to get to this point, especially for a personality like mine who does not suffer fools gladly. Of course it is very possible and achievable with open heart. I know how essential it is to communicate with honesty, but I have realized that honest communication does not simply mean just telling people what i really think. It means communicating from my heart. It means communicating honestly, attentively, sensitively and compassionately. I mediate between different aspects of myself and conquer the demon of anger. When am irritated, I take deep breaths — inhale and exhale deeply to cool down before I speak, or remain silent for that moment because I run the risk of unleashing verbal assault on the other person. This has helped me find peacefulness in my everyday life, which delivers satisfaction and I pretty much love myself more.
I constantly remind myself of the higher goals of bringing myself to wholeness, of being able to live my deepest values of being me, being peace, of telling the truth and living an authentic life. This is only possible because i am able to put my thought in the right place. I am able to communication to my God, to my inner self, and to consistently be right on target to fulfill this purpose. I feel the richness this has brought to my life because I see the goodness within me and it makes it easier for me to see the goodness in others too. Yes, I am far from perfect. I do make mistakes because it is human nature. I try to be patient with myself, and listen to my heart- my heart calls me to come back to the harmony that exists within me. As a mediator and ombudsman i have helped many people find peace and resolution through effective communication. Communication for peace reveals experiences and perspectives, listens to all sides, exposes hidden agendas and highlights peace initiatives, irrespective of religion, sex and gender. The equal value of all people is at the heart of the mediation culture. My calling as a Mediator and peace builder is to promote a healthy way to be in the world and to provide hope for a different world in which human dignity is strengthened. In the course of my work as a mediator and peace builder, I realize that there is wisdom in conflict, there is learning, there is opportunity for understanding and growth and we must harness the transformative power of choice that resides within every conflict. We move through the world with words, it is therefore very important that we reexamine the way we communicate .Going for Peace first in communication leads first to a heart connection. We need to ask ourselves where are we communicating from? We must bring in more consciousness when communicating. What are we choosing to communicate? Are we communicating peace or not? We must learn the art of communication, and have the heart of peace. We need to bring peace, love and respect into our communications.
“Open your soul to peace and let words from your heart build bridges of love, respect and understanding.” – Ayo Ayoola-Amale
Copyright © 2016 ayo ayoola-amale
My trip to DRC was an emotional one. The picture of DRC is that of so much conflict, so much pain in the most humble village yet i found the people of DRC from the places I went to, to be truly friendly and social, we were made to feel welcome wherever we were, there is so much African hospitality, and music that you end up absorbing it. I have read a lot about DRC, I had read that Kinshasa is the third largest city in Africa after Lagos and Cairo, I had read about the conflicts, the huge natural resources, the exploitation, the rape, the poverty… it was not my first trip to DRC- I have been there several times as a voracious reader. Completely understanding something that i read, or heard makes traveling so worthwhile. Whenever i am in a new territory, i probe- new ideas, curiosities – what the native customs are, what is unique about the people, country, if any. When I travel what often strikes me is that I find out that we are all one people, Of all of the benefits of traveling, I think that this is the most far reaching and the most significant. I am always happy as a traveling peace maker because i know that people are our most treasured gifts on earth. Traveling and communication with other people can help us in actively promoting harmony and ending prejudice, only if we see each person for who they really are. We are often unseeing because of stereotype, prejudice, and prejudgment. A visit to the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in DRC, got me thinking – is there anything we could learn from the peaceful apes? Bonobos are found only in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between the Congo River, and the Lomami River in Lac Ndombe region. The bonobo often called man’s cousin is one of the closest relatives of humans with 98% of similarity in its genetic material. The bonobos are called the “make love, not war” apes since they seem to resolve the majority of conflicts through sexual activity. Can we actually learn a thing or two from them? These apes we are told don’t victimize each other in many ways— no rape, murder, infanticide, warfare between groups—No aggression among bonobos, known to use sex to avoid violence- more sex equals less conflict. Hmmm. What are our close primate cousins teaching us? I’ve learned lessons i don’t think would have taken hold in me if I hadn’t experienced them by diving out of my comfort zone and traveling and interacting with new people, in a new environment . It gave me a better understanding and turned my curiosities into discoveries. What I think we could learn from the bonobos is that the female bonobos have a very strong bond, their sense of solidarity and sisterhood is powerful, it explains why they dominate their males by sticking together. If a male gets out of line or get in the way of a female; all the other females will team up against him. This sisterly solidarity tends to keep the males in good conduct. Within the bonobo paradise, it’s the females who are in charge and this ensures better quality of life for the group. When females are in charge, all bonobos live better. Feminism can be really powerful! I watched the bonobo apes on the top of a hill in Congo living like a family. I could see that every baby bonobo demands love and was loved and admired. I realized more than ever before the need to love, the need to overlook faults so that everyone can pull together. Again, i learnt that love and understanding is the key to our survival as a human species.
A lot of people live their lives by keeping their heads down, any conflict they have, they are soaked in it, and some seem to do everything they can to avoid the person they are conflicted with. They are afraid to talk. They are afraid to ‘offend’ etc. The results are often unresolved issues, unconstructiveness, misperceptions about another person’s intentions, escalated negativity, and internal stress etc. Personally, I am not afraid to talk when I am engaged in a conflict because I know that real communication is the key to conflict resolution. Not talking holds us back. I believe in –person conversations based of course on good intentions because the only way to resolve an issue permanently is through a real, open conversation, a face to face conversation in which you can listen not only for voice tone, you listen to the heart and watch for body language. Negotiation and Mediation is certainly the key and the most peaceable means of settling differences. So please Think, Talk, and Mediate!
– Ayo Ayoola-Amale
This is all about Freedom. It is about independence. Are we truly free? A nation held captive since independence by heartless leaders, wild plunderers, election riggers, war offenders, unpatriotic fortune hunters, self-serving rulers who have run the nation through an excessive corruption and total damage. A nation held captive by an unproductive unitary system, full of injustices, parasitic states, a parasitic ruling ethnic group and the encouragement of the ‘almajiri’ system reliant on only crude oil at the expense of other wealth creating initiatives. The truth is, Nigeria is consequently a failed state, plagued by social injustice, devastating poverty, inequities, disharmony and terrorism. The problem with Nigeria is not just a failure of leadership. It’s not only about rigged elections; it’s about the lack of care for the truth, conscience, the values of liberty, equal dignity, it’s about not building a society where people from different ethnic groups, different religions can live in equal dignity.
Clearly, the basic question is whether we are ready to build a united Nigeria, a one Nigeria , a Nation that we all believe in and truly love, a Nigeria that will provide every Nigerian with meaning and belonging, equal dignity, social justice or we should forget about a country called Nigeria and see a Nigeria plunged into war as it pulls away – clearly, these are the two choices we have.
Are we ready to confront the preying pilfers, and few powerful groups who obviously advanced only their narrow regional and ethic interests at the expense of democracy, the rule of law, good governance, patriotism, and.nation building.
I insist we make these national tragedies personal, I insist we make Nigeria a meaningful place for all Nigerians and understand that all of our differences bring forth a unique combination that gives unity if we respect ourselves as well as each other. As a Nigerian you must ask yourself this very important question, ‘In every aspect of my life, how am I of value to Nigeria? We must always ask ourselves this question.
Let’s repair our future. Our future is broken! Our flight is off its flight path, we will never get to our destination. Happy Independence Day! – Ayo Ayoola-Amale
© ayo ayoola-amale2017
“No real human being dehumanizes another human being.” – Ayo Ayoola-Amale