Aside the inglorious slave trade, the rankest crime by the West against Africa, in my reckoning, is the so called ‘‘Scramble for Africa’’. In the last quarter of the 19th century, the countries of Europe gathered in Germany to discuss how best to partition and share Africa amongst themselves to avoid quarrel. Because of the political and economic rivalries among empires, the partitioning of Africa was how the Europeans strategically avoided warring among themselves over Africa.
They did it much like a local village setting, where brothers share a catch from a game.
‘‘Tome, for your dogged chase for the game before the catch, the head and jaw are your share. Andrew, because you cleared the bush, take this tail and the staunch hips area. George, this is the liver and the heart and the neck area, take them. Err … Patrick and Xavier, we know you are troublesome, you didn’t do much during the game, but in the spirit of brotherhood, the laps belong to two of you. Don’t complain, because there is meat in them. But, for these parts, the tail and breast, when you get home, give it to your cousin, Joseph. He encouraged us to dig on. He assured us that there was gain, some meat, in the game. For that reason, he deserves a share, no matter how small. Half bread is better than none. The remainder, including the shin and intestines, will be kept for Dave. He lent us his father’s digger and shovel, free of charge. Etc.’’
The Berlin Conference of 1884–85, a.k.a Congo Conference, invoked by Portugal, was much like the narrative above. Europeans demarcated and allocated Africa amongst themselves. There was no single African representative in that inglorious meeting, where they shared their booty. And so Nigeria, Ghana, Cote de Voire, Cameroun, etc came to be.
At that time when Germany was emerging as an imperial power, European members only wanted to regulate European colonization and trade in Africa during the New Imperialism period. In truth, it was Europe’s invasion, occupation, division, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during that time. It was the conquest and dispossession of Africa, from outside.
Before this period, precisely by 1870, only ten percent of Africa was under European control. But by 1914, it had increased to 90%, with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia), Liberia and present day Somalia (Dervish State) still independent. Ethiopia gave Italy a run for their money, in fact, a migraine.
A combination of these gathered the storm that eventually dispossessed Africans of their dignity, including their God and language. The dispossession that depraved Africans subsisted until they, spearheaded by eternal grand masters Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Wole Soyinka, Ayi Kwei Armah among others, started talking back to the West, in various forms.
Today our value system still bears the colouration of that dispossession. The dispossession we are talking about is the type Ngozi Adichie would call supremacy or Nkali (in Anambra-Igbo tongue). Ndi-Igbo would say Usu (bat) enweghi onu, literarily meaning ‘‘the Weak has no voice’’.
Attention please! We are now in the era of The Church of Greed of Latter Day Majesties.
The day Owelle Rochas Okorocha arrived Owerri, the capital city of Imo State, the elements welcomed him. His entourage criss-crossed the intricate road networks of mainly poor quality culverts, which he calls flyovers, from Control Post Round-About to Akanchawa Road towards Nekede Road, and they continued to rigmarole until they reached Wetheral via Emmanuel College.
It was there they disembarked under torrential rainfall and the commotion of noise pollution blaring from Keke Napep, APC sycophants and loudspeakers playing high-life music on the streets. The voices of Pentecostal Christians prayed here and there in ecstasy as they clapped, sang and bombarded heaven with their petitions.
Having lived in the North and accustomed with their way of life, His Majesty Okorocha rented Muslims who played some Islamic recitations from the loudspeakers hung on the pinnacle of the mosques. There were many sycophants and vehicular traffic in his razzmatazz, flamboyant lifestyle – as they plied in different directions and enduring the hurly-burly of a metropolitan city.
Beyond these, Yours Sincerely could see fake life and lies which belied the remarkable white statues of three structures in the centre of the roundabout, leading to Douglas House. I also saw these lies from the many street gates, the fake statue, which symbolises liberation, standing on the Freedom Square, overlooking Assumpta Cathedral, Nworie River, Concorde Hotels and Onitsha Road and other landmarks.
At sunset, the shadow of the statue cast perfectly on Amakohia and overshadows the General Hospital and some parts of the establishment, via Orlu road. Then on the other side is the Okigwe Road, which forms part of the university, stretching up to Orji town and separating the entire Owerri into Mbaise Road and its fire service, Aba road and the mechanic village, which is adjacent to Nekede and its ever busy posh area behind Concorde and the Central Bank building, tangential to the motorway that leads to the Port Harcourt city of Rivers State. Welcome is Owerri.
Then His Imperial Majesty Owelle Rochas Okorocha sat back, relaxed and began to allocate the resources to cronies. The scrambling, the dispossession from within, began.
‘‘You know NK (Nkechi), my wife, will occupy the office of the first lady as I am the governor? My wife, you see this portion, it is the head of amnesty programme, with 50billion naira allocation. Please use part of the money to buy out the land behind the CNB office in New Owerri. Please manage rest. Anuka my son-in-law, you see the stretch of land bordering Concorde and Nekede, the one we got from the Nekede community, take it. Add it on top of your Minister of State for Education position, which I recommended you. At least Uju would get off my neck. Uju my daughter, your husband already got enough, but you see this one, it is board membership. Take it. Eem! Uloma my daughter, you see this staunch part, it is the next governor of the state. Give it to Uche your husband, so you can succeed your mother as the first lady. I have already named a government building after you. Etc’’
Before 2011, there was a balance of land ownership and other landed property in Owerri. As soon as the scrambling started, His Majesty exerted coercion on the indigenes to acquire their lands, several hectares, around the World Bank area, bordering Yaradua Drive and Orient TV station. The people gave him a run for his power. They people practically occupied the expanse of land. But how long could they resist? The Emperor unleashed all on them as he crushed their recalcitrance. At the end, the land between Concorde Hotels Limited and the entire world of Nekede people – a sea of land – was annexed and shared to cronies, like a war loot.
Emperor Okorocha acquired choice property in Owerri in a style similar to the British and French of West Africa, leaving the ‘‘tail and jaw’’, namely the estate beside the High Courts, Orlu road, to his daughters. Practically everywhere has his foot print, as he acquired or traded. By estimate, His Majesty and those linked to him own sixty-percent of Owerri, while indigenes adopt “sit-down de look’’ attitude. They were long dispossessed.
One of the worst forms of dispossession is the one that comes from within, the original sample of the European’s dispossession of Africans. It comes from politicians, who make the people so poor, so that they don’t have choices. They make them poor so as to use them to achieve their ends. It eats their brain as they are impoverished through a long-term plan of political sermon.
In 2019 general elections, we shall plug the holes in Imo State, especially now that we know better. A faultless wisdom admonishes us to learn from history because experience is a harsh teacher. Now we have learned in the harsh way, the year 2019 should be our only insurance. As simple as!
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