What happens when an organism stops growing? My guess is that you know the answer, but I do not request yours. If we agree with the “evolutionists” that the main purpose of life is growth, then the extinction of certain creatures like dinosaurs from planet earth can be that they suddenly stopped growing. A cell that stops growing or fails to subdivide or die becomes cancerous and useless. Just like when our African leaders continually apply the same old, failed methods in our public life, showing stagnation, portends danger for the continent’s growth. With the recent announcement by the Burkina Faso military confirming a “coup” with elections months away leads naturally to the question: When will this baby start to grow?
Whoever has read Professor Wole Soyinka’s A Play of Giants will realise how ridiculously puerile some, if not all, African leaders can be. One can write a Nobel Prize-winning comedy from some events on the continent. One would have thought things would get better with time in Africa, but the more one waits, it appears the more disappointed one becomes. There are enough embarrassments already. If no one is ashamed of leaders like Robert Mugabe, or say Yoweri Museveni, at least things should be better than they were in the yesteryears, but apparently the reverse is the case.
At this point, let us move straight to Burkina Faso. For over a year now, the country has been in the news, often for the wrong reasons. If we can commend the people’s powerful political demonstration that led to the fall of the President Blaise Compaore’s 27-year rule as “patriotic”, what then can we call the numerous soccer riots, taking the 2015 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) as a case study?
The country’s recent military coup is something that should be worrying for lovers of Africa. It appears some analyst hold a “reductionist” views on conflict management. Some may hold the unscientific opinion about the so-called “saviour” theory that the military is usually out to “save” the situation from getting worse. While on the surface, this view looks inviting, deluded are its adherents if events in history are things to go by. A good case is the Nigerian experience in the 1960s. If the “almighty” Nigerian military cannot prevent the country from going into a needless Civil War, then the delusion in the “saviour” theory is grossly exposed!
For those who think the reported junta will reduce tension in the country, here is another opinion. The complexities involved in the country’s crises are just too numerous to reduce to one single solution. Who would have predicted a careless radio presentation would have left more than a million dead in Rwanda in 1994? Conflict will always express itself some ways somehow. The case in Burundi, for instance, is an accumulation of issues that have piled up over time since the 1993-95 conflicts. Bringing the recent military misadventure into the already fragile, politically-tensed, Burkina Faso, will at best magnify, not minimise, the complex situation the West African country now find itself!
The tension right now in the country, arising from the military incursion, is in fact needless in the light of the country’s present political situation. The situation would be cooled down if some power-hungry elements could just drop his toga of addiction to power and save the country from this needless political turmoil. The fact that the country is going through a transition arising from a popular uprising against the Compaore’s dictatorial regime, makes the military coup more needless.
It is on this basis that every African patriot must come together to condemn the indiscipline in the Burkina military unequivocally. The reported military misadventure in this dangerous period in the country’s history is only worsened and put the poor West African nation years, if not decades, backwards in terms of political development. We thought Military coups ended with the 20th century. This barbaric display in Burkina Faso can do African image any good, save to portray Africans as undisciplined, uncivilised and a stone-aged people.
To the international community, it is not the time to be neutral. This was perhaps why the French-born Algerian statesman Frantz Fanon has opined in his wonderful and blunt book in a no-holds-bared tone, “The Wretched of the Earth” that “The collective struggle presupposes collective responsibility at the base and collegiate responsibility at the top. Yes; everybody will have to be compromised in the fight for the common good. No one has clean hands; there are no innocents and no onlookers. We all have dirty hands; we are all soiling them in the swamp of our country and in the terrifying emptiness of our brains. Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor.” (Fanon, 1958: 161). Invariably, action, and an urgent one, is needed. This must be the urgent call to the international diplomats.
This is not the time to talk about sovereignty neither is it time for the discussion on human rights. Human lives are at stake here. At this point, like Fanon said, “No one has clean hands…” truly we all have soiled hands in this matter. Either we are cowards or traitors. The African Union (AU) must do more than just “condemn the coup” it must take practical steps, including military. In preventing cancer from decaying corrupting healthy cells, we must be ready to sacrifice a few healthy one too, to save the collateral damage to the entire body. This appears to be the situation today in Burkina Faso!
Nigeria must equally play its “Big brother” role in the sub-region. When a group of drunken soldiers took over the government in Bamako some years ago, it all started like a joke. The (in) actions of concerned international partners would have saved the country the needless crises that followed before the relative peace in the country could be achieved. The military misadventure in the 1960s started like a “big joke” in Egypt and Togo only to become fashionable some decades after on the continent, to the extent only few African country never tasted military misadventure in politics!
While we must condemn all sit-tight regimes from Harare to Kampala to Yaoundé to Lobamba, we must never condone going back to the dark ages of military misadventures in African politics. The time to stop it is now. To stop it, we must get serious about putting a permanent stop to illegal take overs of democratically-elected institutions. Let’s hope this starts with Burkina Faso!