by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Nigeria is celebrating 50 years of liberation from British colonialism. They were liberated in 1960. Now to those of us who are part of the African Diaspora, I.e., offshoots of Africa, this may not have much resonance.
But to those brothers and sisters from Africa who have had to endure the invasion and desecration of their continent for over400 years, and invasion which spawned the transatlantic triangle trade known as slavery, which resulted in our being dropped off on islands between Africa and the US, as well as being thrown overboard when we suffered from the rigors of privation, rape and beatings - this means a great deal.
Which is worse - being stolen from your homeland, or having your homeland be invaded by racists who then proceed to dismantle your culture and superimpose their own?
In reality, there is no “worse;” there is no either/or. It’s really both/and. The fact that we African Americans supposedly got our freedom from slavery in 1865, and were at least on paper, supposed to now join the ranks of those free to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, was an illusive proposition, at best. It really was a hoax that we had to band together and enforce.
The liberation of Nigeria came after years and years of struggle, negotiations, and continuous rip off of Africa’s natural resources by the Euro powers, America and Great Britain. I have friends from Africa who, when were attending college, would not eat chocolate, because they or their family members were forced to work to harvest it for Cadbury and the others who then sold them as candy and confectionaries.
And how many of you realize that the empires of Goodyear Tire and Rubber emanate from rubber plantations that were plentiful throughout the entire region. What about gold, diamonds (don’t think the movie about blood diamonds is the only info about rip off of African resources); bauxite, emeralds, phosphorous, etc. But the king of king exploitation was and is petroleum -- better known as oil. Oil has made America rich, investors rich; but put Nigerians at peril.
50 years ago was also the beginning of the escalation of the Civil Rights Movement in America. It was the beginning of Black Power. It was the beginning of our attempt to reunite with our brothers and sisters from the Continent. It was the beginning of our ignoring the lies and the barriers that had been deliberately placed between Black Africans and Black African Americans, where we ourselves tore down the walls and begin a dialogue that would, in many ways destroy the lies and hostilities that had been fostered by whites between us. You know, the old divide and conquer tactics that have been used so effectively against for all these centuries. But this time, much to the amazement of the Brits, it wasn’t working, and the pressure was coming from both Africans and African Americans who were joining forces on both sides of the Atlantic to oust the colonial monsters (I call them monsters, others call them “colonial masters” - but I want to debunk that slave/master imagery that has so long haunted us on both sides of the ocean).
Nigeria has much to celebrate. It is the largest country in area and population on the Continent of Africa. It has produced wonderful leaders and concepts. It, along with Ethiopia, was one of the first African countries to have its own African president, Nnamdi Azikiwe, who graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (USA) -- my alma mater!! Zik, as he was called back in the day, was a Black leader from the very beginning, with many of his concepts solidified while at Lincoln. It was President Azikiwe who made it possible for Kwame Nkrumah (later the president of Ghana) to attend Lincoln University.
As with the Black Power movement, the voting rights act, and the Civil Rights Act, the liberation of Nigeria began with Azikiwe and his followers pushing against colonial rule and the status quo. Pushing against the go along to get along mentality. That spirit and energy is even more prominent and evident today, with Nigeria beginning to develop its own economic imperatives, and beginning to tell her own story from her own standpoint to educate and elevate her people and bring them competitively into the 21st century.
Likewise, as with the trans-Atlantic slave trade, a little matter of reparations has never been addressed nor reconciled. England and the US owe Nigera big time -- and in the aggregate, they owe all Black people of African heritage, big time. They don’t appear to be in any hurry to repay either one of us, or make good on the empty promises that have been made over the decades (but our American Indian brothers and sisters could have told you not to hold your breath on that one - they, like Nigeria, have been colonized for centuries. They now reside on reservations -- depleted land areas where they were relegated while the best of the lands were turned over the pioneers or invaders (depending on whose telling the story).
Despite the fact that Nigeria still has not received just compensation for the indignities they have suffered, this is never the less an occasion for celebration. And celebrate they are.
At the kick off of UN Week 50 Women of Nigeria were celebrated at a Fifty at 50 Event, displaying Nigerian designed fashions, jewelry, logos and themes. It was a wonderful event, which was sponsored by the wife of the current president, Goodluck Jonathan. From that time forward there have been non-stop festivities surrounding this wonderful occasion.
I say we, who are brothers and sisters residing in the diasporic African regions of the US, Caribbean, South America and anywhere else Black people are found, all join in the spirit and congratulate Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan, and all the brothers and sisters who reside on both sides of the Atlantic -- whether they are here in the Diasporic USA, or at our continental home in Nigeria -- CONGRATULATIONS!!
Congratulations and please DO ONE HIGHLIFE FOR ME!!
Stay Blessed &
PS: EVENT ALERT: TODAY, OCTOBER 9, 2010 The African Day Parade kicks off at 11:00 am at 54th Street and 2nd Ave, culminating in a street festival at 47th Street and 2nd Ave, Dag Hammerskjold Plaza. Wear your best and most beautiful traditional African clothing and come out to celebrate our heritage and their accomplishments.