This write up will look at the issues of colonisation with particular emphasis on how it has affected, is affecting and is likely to impact development in Africa as a whole and Nigeria in particular.
It is a journey towards economic development and welfare of mankind. A journey that will assist us to bring ourselves into the plan of creation; manifest the fullness of God’s blessing at creation: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen 1:28, KJV).
The purpose of this long journey is to map out the path towards effective and purposeful nation-building beyond emotion, ethnicity, religion and partisan politics. Obasanjo (of Nigeria) demonstrated the solution to the last three of these ills in his first tenure (1999-2003) as civilian president when his cabinet cut across all political parties, religion and ethnicity but could not divorce himself from emotion. We would rate him high but, notwithstanding, emotion affected his administration and lowered his score on the success chart if it were quantified.
This journey of nation-building will be long and needs your participation irrespective of your nationality, residency or religion. The journey is likely to be tortuous but I believe that if we devoid ourselves of unnecessary emotional attachments we shall all benefit and manifest the output of God’s blessing at creation.
What is nation building?
The United Nations Organisation (UN) views nation-building as the process of establishing civic order and governmental functions in countries that are emerging from a period of war or other types of upheaval (Pan, 2005). Can we strictly apply this definition to the situation in Africa? Are we going to view the period of colonisation as the period of upheaval? Should we consider such countries as South Africa, Zimbabwe, South Sudan etc. as the only countries that are building up their nations?
What happens to such countries as Nigeria that was in clans, ethnic groups and empires but was forcefully re-grouped, amalgamated and colonised for governance?
When we consider the essential ingredients of nation-building as enumerated by the UNO thus:
- Sufficient financial resources;
- International political will;
- Security: guaranteeing citizens a safe environment;
- Political reform: building a civil society, developing strong local and provincial governments, and ensuring freedom of the press and other civil liberties;
- Economic reconstruction: restoring economic infrastructure by establishing lines of credit for business, restarting industry, and creating jobs, especially in the agricultural sector, which accounts for most of developing countries’ gross domestic product; and
- Strengthening legal institutions: ensuring a functional and independent judiciary
A good consideration of the UN’s definition shows that there is no nation-building going on in Africa. Can we thus truly say that there is no nation-building going on in Africa?
Let us view nation-building as a multidimensional concept involving the active participation of the entirety of the population in various walks of life and involving the dedication and hard work of its citizen, result-oriented planning on the part of the Government towards harnessing the potential of its human and material resources, reducing the social and economic disparity that exists in the society and creating an enabling environment, wherein individuals can live freely and attain their best in life. Keeping these in mind, we shall be able to assess the status of the environment in which we are in terms of nation-building.
It is to be noted that the ingredients enumerated by the UN are essential for the healthy building up of a nation.
An Examination of God’s Blessing at Creation
A critical examination of the blessing will break it into its components. The blessing equipped us with the rational, judicious and sustainable utilisation of the resource abundantly made available to mankind. The components are: be fruitful; multiply; replenish the earth; subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Fagoyinbo (2016) stated that fruitfulness implies bringing forth useful results and end products that benefit mankind. King David revealed in his Psalms the significance of and the requirements for bearing fruit “The righteous shall flourish …” (Ps 92:12-14) while Jesus Christ stated the impact of “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (John 15:8) which can be accomplished by “He that abideth in me, and I in him…” (John 15:5).
Multiplication is necessary because of the two other components of the blessing without which it would have been difficult; since man’s spirit is contained in his shell that has limited movement (Fagoyinbo, 2016). To His faithful, He says “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore…” (Gen 22:17).
Replenish the earth
Fagoyinbo (2016a) highlighted the resources that God made available to mankind as
- Terrestrial resources made up of the sun, the moon and the stars;
- Atmospheric resources made up of the clouds, the wind and microorganisms;
- Land resources made up of vegetation, the beasts, the birds, insects and microorganisms;
- The earth resources made up of minerals, soil, moisture and microorganisms; and
- Water resources made up of aquatic animals and microorganisms
Fagoyinbo further stated that the components in item (i) are without man’s physical reach and thus cannot be polluted by him. To date, there’s been no deterioration recorded of these terrestrial resources. God wanted the same for the resources contained in items (ii) to (v). They are within man’s reach and man needs to replenish them, in quantity and quality, for the continued existence of life; thus, the component of the blessing known as “replenish the earth”.
For the seven years or more, when Adam tended the earth in loneliness, there was no reason to subdue the earth in the sense of “bring into bondage” (Fagoyinbo, 2016b). After the formation of man, not creation, and his acclimatisation with his domain, “the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Gen 2:15); this was his second placement in the Garden, the first placement being without responsibilities.
Fagoyinbo further stated that to be able to effectively rule over the earth there would be the need to effectively cover the terrain and access the interior. Thus, man has to devise means of accessing the resources within the earth’s crust, explore the depths of the oceans, access the top of mountains as well as move over the face of the earth. Developing the means of doing these is what God referred to as subdue.
God’s concept of dominion was and still is over the other creatures; not man (Fagoyinbo, 2016).
That God is against man domination of man is contained in His response to the Children of Israel ’s demand for a king to which God replied “…Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me … yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king … He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself… your daughters to be confectionaries, … He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day” (1 Sam 8:7-18).
Notwithstanding man’s wickedness and rebellion, God is still compassionate: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great …But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen 6:5, KJV). God’s compassion manifests greatly in “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and … said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground …” (Gen 8:21-22, KJV).
Very often Africans project Africa as highly resource-endowed. In coal reserves, Africa lags behind Asia, Europe and North America. In natural gas reserves, Asia and Europe are better endowed while Africa is the least endowed continent in oil reserves (Table 1).
There is no African country within the 18 countries having the highest gold holdings (Table 2), South Africa is the only African country that entered into the 10 highest iron ore producing countries in the world (Table 3) while DR Congo and Zambia ranked 6th and 7th respectively among the 10 highest copper producers (Table 4). South Africa leads the world in manganese, platinum and tied with Australia in titanium production while it ranks second in palladium production (Table 5). No other African country is able to rank highly in solid minerals, fossil and nuclear fuel resources and gemstones
Table 1: World Fuel Reserves by Region
Table 2:Top 20 according to the World Gold Council’s latest rankings
Table 3;:List of countries by iron ore production
Table 4: List of countries by 2017 copper production (Wikipedia, 2018b)
Table 5: Lists of countries by mineral production (Wikipedia-, 2018c)
An examination of global arable land (Table 6) shows a steady increase across all the regions; with the exception of Industrial and Transition countries where decline began respectively in 1997/81 and 1997/99. The increases are likely to have resulted from: development of high-yield crops; increased irrigation schemes; Increase in the use of fertilizers; Improved market access, regulations, and governance; better use of information technology; adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops; land ownership reform with productivity and inclusiveness in mind; and step up of integration into Agricultural Value Chains.
With the highest area of arable uncultivated land in the world (Douglas, 2015) but having most farms at less than 2 hectares, attainment of food security and adequate nutrition will require governments efforts at agricultural modernisation. Nwanze’s statement that Africa does not even need to tap into uncultivated land reserves to feed its people (Dougas, 2015) should be seen as an effort to keep Africa’s agriculture at subsistent level. In the event that Africans refuse to progress others will do it and carry the benefits to their countries (Alexander, 2015).
Much of Africa’s failures in agriculture result from poor land governance and ownership. Land reform has had mixed results on the African continent (Binswanger-Mkhize, 2014) but changes that clearly define property rights, ensure the security of land tenure, and enable land to be used as collateral will be necessary for potential productivity gains.
Table 6: Total arable land: past and projected (FAO, 2003).
In the good old days, when we were introduced to History as a subject, and which could also be studied at the University level, we were made to understand that it is the study of the events of the past, relating them to the present and using their outcomes to predict the future. If this is true, then, I am amazed at such frivolous accusations that the colonial masters were responsible for the socio-economic and political woes of developing economies.
There were two countries in Africa that were not colonised: Ethiopia and Liberia. The statuses of these two countries are not found to be remarkably better than the colonised countries. On the high GDP of 10.20% annual growth rate Priewe (2010) surmised “In 2000, Ethiopia was the poorest country on the globe in per capita GDP – a mere 124 US$ in current prices, as compared with current 910 US$. The main finding is that the take-off was driven by heterodox monetary and fiscal policy which targeted public expenditure for infrastructure. This triggered an increase in domestic demand, reinforced by strongly rising terms of trade under buoyant growth of the global economy until 2008. The combination of favourable factors induced strong productivity leaps mainly in agriculture and lifted millions of smallholder peasants, at least, partially out of subsistence economy toward participation in markets. Aggressive expansionary macroeconomic policies triggered bulging fixed investment, much beyond a narrow public expenditure boom.”
Table 7: GDP and Literacy Statuses of African Countries
Table 7: GDP and Literacy Statuses of African Countries (cont’d)
3Liberia’s growth rate stands at 2.50%, ranking it 42nd position out of 54 African countries. Ethiopia ranks highest on literacy level at100% while Liberia ranks 40th with a mere 43%. On Human Development Index (HDI) Ethiopia ranks 41st at 0.406 while Liberia ranks 39th at 0.413 within the region; France, UK and USA respectively scored 0.952, 0.946 and 0.951. Liberia has a high rank, 6th among 50 countries ranked, in political stability at an index of 0.55 while Ethiopia falls to 44th with a score of -1.57.
Very important is infrastructure provisioning to assess a nation’s economic development programmes. Ethiopia ranks 34th among African countries by annual electricity production of 98 KWh while Liberia ranks at 38th at a production of 73KWh. In healthcare delivery, Ethiopia is ranked 44th position among African countries and 180th in world ranking while Liberia is rated 50th among African countries and 186th in world ranking. France and United Kingdom ranked 1st and 18th respectively in health and provide 8,336KWh and 12,866KWh of Electricity respectively per capital.
This article is presented with the view of raising concern for the development of the “developing countries”, not to condemn any government
but to create awareness and fashion out concrete paths towards development. While African nations will be the focus, examples will be drawn from other regions. It is hoped that peoples from other nations will contribute positively to the programme of fashioning out the path of development.
There is a Yoruba adage that says “Eepa npa ara ę o ni oun npa’ja, t’aja ba ku n’ibo ni eepa yio wa?” meaning “The dog worm is carrying out its extermination; believing that it is killing the dog, where will be its habitation at the demise of the dog?”
This applies to African (and their likes) leaders who are busy carting away the resources of Africa into foreign lands to keep for their children. The Lord who created us said “So shall my word ‘If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. (Ex 22:1,KJV)’ be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa 55:11, KJV). To those who assume that the grace has covered their iniquities “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19:8, KJV) to which Jesus replied “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10, KJV).
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