The bus driver, the shop keeper, as well as the farmer are all aware of the many ways the Nigerian government is depriving its citizens of the means of realizing their potential in terms of development, and self-actualization. Nigeria as an institution is not working in favor of the people within its apparent territory. The proletariat of the country is well aware of the government’s failings but do not always make the connection to the larger problem of neocolonial capitalism. The average person experiences these issues through inflation, and while that is a magical economic term for many including myself, I know that I have faced three price hikes on cooking gas in as many years. Running costs like transportation and utility bills are just as erratic as the jumps in fuel prices while much of the economy is deregulated.
Where is the muscle memory?
Through the 60s and 70s, the Nigerian proletariat had political consciousness that showed up enough to staunchly reject the Anglo-Nigerian Defense Pact – which was to allow the establishment of military bases in Kano and Lagos. This consciousness also showed up in full force back in 49’ after 21 coal miners were shot at a British-owned coal mining site while protesting against poor work conditions and mounting backpay. As ancestor Kwame Ture implied in his teachings, an oppressed people will only take abuse for so long before they react in an explosive way, be it spontaneously or in an organized manner. In recent times, the reactions of the Nigerian proletariat have been lacking organization or some kind of political consciousness; from the spontaneous reaction to police brutality during the #ENDSARS protests, to the lackluster response towards a new administration that does not have mass support or the people’s mandate, one wonders what level of suppression from a capitalist government will spur an organized reaction from the people.
2012 was the tentative start of awakening any sort of political consciousness for me and my focus was on global politics as well as geopolitical machinations of powerful governments. The Libyan government had been destroyed by NATO forces at this time and I was barely aware of the event at the time. On the contrary, what caught my attention in a nightmarish way was the heavy propaganda pushed by Euro-Atlantic media on the advances of Islamic State fighters against the Syrian government. As reporters were fearmongering at full blast, I wondered what it meant in the Nigerian context, considering the impact Boko Haram was having in the Northeast of Nigeria. This set a tone of dread in my psyche and I sought to understand these issues, through haphazard research and sparse discussions with friends who cared enough to have these talks. Today, the information landscape is rife with distracting propaganda which further serves to keep Nigerians under- or misinformed.
At the same time, as Nigeria continues to serve the interests of imperialism in West Africa, Mali and Burkina Faso are the standing examples of modern day contested zones en route to liberation. Kwame Ture spoke of liberated zones referring to a place where the people are socially and ideologically aware of systems of oppression, and are organized towards defeating such a system. Not only has Mali being on a diplomatic offensive against France, by ejecting military personnel and other officials, the government is also seeking the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping force (MINUSMA) with the Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop quoted as saying “Unfortunately, MINUSMA seems to have become a part of the problem in fueling inter-community tensions,”. Burkina Faso in recent times has also seen definitive changes in the country, the government suspended operations of Radio France International (RFI) and France 24, government officials took on reduced salaries, and French troops were evacuated from the country. In view of multipolarity, both countries have sought deeper relations with countries like Russia and Iran on matters of security and diplomatic cooperation.
What can be done? What will be done?
The working people of Nigeria are in a tight spot, following relentless socioeconomic attacks against the masses, where is the breathing space for anything outside survival? At the same time, how much of an excuse is this? Just as stiff resistance against imperialism may not kick off in the core (USA), can the base of neo-colonialism in West Africa (Nigeria) host resistance that liberates the rest of the continent? Revolutionary optimism suggests that this is a possibility. The path set by brave ancestors and the ongoing hard-work being done by revolutionary comrades only indicates that foundations for change are definitely being put in place, and the prophets and enforcers of neocolonial economic systems are in panic. More Africans are developing the will to not only hope for a new and different future, but they are engaging physically with the aim of realizing these hopes. It is not an easy task, and we must remember the importance of support in a connected and communal manner as opposed to the individualistic way capitalism socializes us to exist in society. Join an organization planning, struggling and working towards the liberation of Africa from the clutches of neocolonialism.