When former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa announced his dream for Africa and called it the African Renaissance, he did not envisage a rebirth, but rather a rediscovery of what Africa once was: a people free in mind and soul, capable of original thought, confident to live and to embrace life holistically, united with itself, nature and God: “The beginning of our rebirth as a continent must be our own rediscovery of our soul”. Mbeki also refers to the African Renaissance as a “journey of self-discovery and the restoration of our self-esteem.”
Mbeki’s own definition of the African Renaissance embraces “marriage of memory and dream, of past and future”. His objective is to free the African mind from the enslavement that colonialism brought, which almost crushed the African soul and distorted, banished, and almost destroyed this memory. Mbeki urged Africans to adapt democracy to fit their own specific conditions without compromising its principles of representation and accountability. He further challenged Africans to discover a sense of their own self-confidence.
Ironically, after centuries of slavery and colonialism which had systematically denigrated Africa’s cultures and subjugated her institutions to alien rule. Mbeki’s “marriage of memory and dream, of past and future” which in my opinion is an offshoot of the vision of MKO Abiola. Bashorun Abiola, unarguably, one of the finest African, a Pan-Africanist and raparationist – reparation is a powerful cause with huge implications for those who committed crimes against humanity for centuries. It has often been argued that if the Jews can rightfully get reparations for the horrendous Holocaust they suffered for 12 years, reparations for slavery in Africa is a legitimate cause, and should be not be abandoned.
Interestingly, the most prominent and useful of MKO’s vision was on economic disadvantages of Africa. He narrated plans for wealth creation programme meant to relieve Nigerians from inherited economic disadvantage. Therefore, it is time to change our narratives through a renewed determination and identify with the values, dream and vision encapsulated in ‘Hope 93’ – which has the capacity to navigate us through the storm to the promised land – the compass to fashion our future together and the agenda to rekindle hope in the people, embedded In the journey of 2023. Abiola’s ideals and the original master-plan on eradication of poverty (bye bye to poverty) is worthy of replication.
Therefore, I, wholeheartedly, recommend that the best way to immortalize MKO, is through deliberate policies on eradication of poverty (bye bye to poverty), credible elections and good governance – which will ensure that the ideals that he lived and fought for continue to live after him. Unfortunately, almost three decades after the June 12th election adjudged to be the freest and fairest in the history of the country, the ideals for which ‘MKO’ who won the election stood had yet to be realized. Hence, the need to completely align with the party that crystalized and embrace ideals of June 12 and its progenitor.
Flowing from the above, It is in this context, that, I, would like to dissect the impediments and the numerous issues confronting the continent of Africa. So long as religion remains the opium of the people…there will always be hypocrisy, subjugation, exploitation, subservience, manipulation, indoctrination, intolerance, extremism and exuberance. In Nigeria for example, religion and ethnicity have become a weapon in the hands of manipulators; a very delicate and existential issue that is capable of undermining our coexistence – a big threat of dismemberment to our beloved country Nigeria and our ‘Nigerianess’.
I daresay, that, the foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people, (Masses).
Thankfully, this article focuses on the reasons why the same religion and education is a veritable source of joy, power, and advancement of humanity in other clans (the industrialized nations), where the practices originate from. Thus, the big question, how did we get here? So much, so that in the “dark continent” we do not educate for the purpose of technology advancement and we have use religion for exploitation, subjugation and spreading falsehood/hatred. The latest addition to the many unconscionable actions includes; allowing desperate politicians jumping from one pulpit to another to have a field day and set a very dangerous precedence that may likely be reciprocated. How long shall we continue on these trajectory?. The million dollars question.
Conclusively, permit me to use the words of Karl Marx a German philosopher, economist, In the snappily titled Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, he famously called religion “the opium of the people,” in that religion was not only used by those in power to oppress the workers, but it also made them feel better about being oppressed when they couldn’t afford real opium. Marx’s most well-known observation concerning religion is that it is ‘the opium of the people’. The meaning would seem to be clear: opium is a drug that dulls the senses and helps one forget the miseries of the present. So also with religion. The catch is that Marx’s use of ‘opium’ is not so straightforward, for it actually opens the door to what may be called a political ambivalence at the heart of religion.
Finally, I like to join all our brothers and sisters (Africans), to pay special tributes to the blessed memories of some of our African heroes: Nkrumah will rise again; Madiba will rise again; Nwalimu will rise again; MKO will rise again; Africa will rise again!!! – God bless Nigeria.
Richard Odusanya is a Social Reform Crusader and the convener of AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE ACRI