The hottest debate, among Ethiopian “Intellectuals” and their “literary” acolytes alike today is this one:
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To get to the other side!
We go to school just to be baptized by the eternally banal waters of political correctness and what the Europeans call, “mission civilisatrice”. Once we’ve joined the stream of social sciences and humanities (though I’m not sure where the HUMANITY lies on the “intellectual” spectrum) we start to feel possessed (literally) by an impulse to “modernize”, “civilize”, “democratize” and above all, “stabilize” that “awful” continent known as Africa. The Africa we’ve been told is a habitat for the “uncivilized, unruly, barbaric and savage simian” who has never considered the “usefulness of our democratic and civilizational advices”. We tell him about Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations“, yet “he’s too stupid to understand”. We talk of liberal democracy, “he’s too unwilling to practice it.” We speak of the need for “African Renaissance” but he insists on “preserving his unclean, uncivilized, underdeveloped, rudimentary African ways and cultures of doing things his own “primitive way” .”
But it should be clear that we, the ones who consider ourselves to be “well-educated, well-fed, well-organized and well-civilized” ones are the true idiots of this societal rift we complain about everyday. Without ever going deeper into the contemporary or rather the historical predicaments of the continent as a whole and our respective countries in particular, we succumb to the “eternal solutions”, that are unnegotiable musts if Africa is “to prosper”, as I heard people with PhD’s preach in the sermons of “Democracy, Prosperity, Good Governance…etc”. To the detriment of our fragile continental identities, which are fading away with each moment of “democratic reforms”, we adamantly argue that “everybody has to be outside the jungle of ignorance and confusion”. But who are “the ignorant and confused ones?” Isn’t the genuine locus of Africa’s ailments at heart of the fortified headquarters of the bleached diaspora, the diaspora that was baptized by the “civilizational waters of the Anglo-Saxons (the savages of the West, a good example being the way the English treated the Irish; the Romanians, the French and the Germans treated the Roma?
By way of conclusion, the arguments of the “advocates of Africa’s civilization” today, in the heydays of Global Capitalism (divorced from its democratic twin brother or else Doppel ganger), where democracy is not a necessary precondition for economic boom and bust as demonstrated effectively by the regime policies in Singapore, Taiwan, mainland China, and South Korea and democracy is not identically universal, as in the liberal democracy in the US, welfare state democracy in Europe and social democratic inclinations in Latin America are nothing but flumadiddle. Had there been a way Africa could be “civilized and democratized” by simply acceding to the dominant meme “America is Democratic! Europe is democratic! Latin America is democratizing! Let’s be all democrats!” it could have been the best shortcut to “Western standards of governance and lifestyle.” The problem is there’s no simple antidote to the kind of poison we are facing today or else ever been through in the colonial era.
As an illustrative politically incorrect parable, I depart from this scene with the following Marxist joke that the “intellectuals with Western PhDs” are to be found rolling in every minute of the hour, ever day of the way, “till kingdom come” (as they say”:
How many Marxists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
None. The bulb contains the seed of its own revolution.