This article excerpted from Jesse Garba Abaga’s ‘Africa’, summarizes the political ideology of colonial and contemporary African political systems. I will start off with the introduction of African political ideology (section 1) and review the song “Africa” (section 2), and then the conclusion (section 3).
African political thought is a relatively new discipline. It was only in the 1960s that it emerged as different and distinct from other notable western systems of thought. This discipline has been short lived. The use of major world political idea to interpret or explain Africa’s political reality, which raise serious problems concerning the relationship between the actual practice of politics and the ideology which its practitioner’s use to describe it. Political ideas need processing before they can be used; I put forward that much existing writing on what has come to be known as African political thought has been met by failure in this respect.
African political thought refers to the original ideas, values for a better African that inform African political systems and institution from ancient period to the present. It also refers to political theories and ideologies developed by various African scholars and statesmen as enunciated in their speeches, autobiographies, writings, and policy statements, the main focus here being on the ideas rather than on the individual. Political thought usually precedes and informs political action; the later, in turn, influences political thought. Political theory and political practice are thus inextricably linked. In other words African political thought provides practical solutions to political, economic, social and cultural issues, which varies according to historical circumstances. It is on this premise that the song – Africa by Jesse Garba Abaga was written.
Early contemporary African nationalism was developed in the late nineteenth century by British-educated elites in West Africa. In Sierra Leone, James Africans B. Horton, a doctor of medicine, challenged racist theories and argued that Africans were as capable of attaining civilization as Europeans both biologically and psychologically. He advocated the development of modern states in Africa. In Liberia, Edward Wilmot Blyden, politician, writer and diplomat developed an ideology of racial pride and non-acculturation and advocated African development through an authentic indigenous Africa based on an African personality, history and culture. In Gold coast (Ghana) Joseph E. Casely Hayford, a lawyer, advocated modernization from indigenous African roots. These Africanistic view gave birth to Pan-Africanism which represents the complexities of African political and intellectual thought over two hundred years. Pan-Africanism actually reflects a range of political views. At a basic level, it is a belief that THE African people both on the African continent and in the Diaspora, share not merely a common history, but a common destiny.
African diaspora activist intellectuals began to convene Pan-African conferences. The first of these was the Chicago conference on Africa in August 14, 1893. In 1897, in the spirit of Pan-Africanism a Trinidadian barrister Henry Sylvester William initiated plans of organizing a political movement which would draw representatives from all over the world of African extraction. So many conferences were organized. John E. Bruce and Arturo Schomburg alongside Africans and blacks in the Americans; W.E.B Bois, Allain locke, Du Chatellier established in Harlem the Negro society of historical research, members include Edward Wilmot, Casely Hayford and Duse Mohamed Ali. Ali and Casely Hayford launched the African times and orient review in 1912. Pan-African movements and ideas has been the core of Africa’s political theories.
- REVIEW OF THE SONG ‘AFRICA’
Jesse Garba Abaga was born on August 10th, 1984 in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. He is a native of Jukun in Taraba state, Nigeria. Jesse grew up in Jos, Plateau State in a music-filled environment where both parents (clergy) gave him access to the church choir and drums set by the age of seven (7). He is one African musician who has inspired people with his song – ‘Africa’. Jesse in his song analyzed the effect of derogatory thought by the so called first world countries which has influenced writers of African political theory. A critical analysis of the song ‘Africa’ will give a clear insight of Africa’s political reality which should be the bedrock of Africa’s political theories.
Second verse line 9
“Black is much more than the pigmentation of the skin”. The deforming effect of colonialism on black people has made the black man to play second fiddle to the white or countries of the colonial masters, Garba Abaga in his song Africa advocated race supremacy of the black nation. Fanon Frantz, an African political thinker also wrote on this in his pearu noire mosques blancs in 1952 and translated as ‘black skin, white mask’ in 1967. To Fanon, colonialism was a system of racial oppression and all the more insidious because its impact was mental as well as physical.
A look at the song ‘Africa’ will further reveal its contemporary relevance as marginalized people of Africa, the whole nations of Africa can see a dialectical thought linked to revolutionary transformation which will enable them to analyze and understand their lives and experience of racial cultural and political oppression.
2nd verse line 1
“If you are proud to be black put your hands up”, Jesse’s observation of the racial marginalization of the black man in global affairs lead inevitably to compose the song sadly borne out of pain.
2nd verse line 11 & 12
“Black is pain, black is suffering”. The song Africa depicts the African society in recent times and according to Theresa May, “87 million Nigerians are living below the poverty line”. The UN general assembly highlighted that current projections shows that Africa will become home to 80% of world’s poorest people. These are what Jesse Garba Abaga expressed in ‘Africa’. He also sang for hope for the African man. Just like Kwame Nkrumah commenting on the years he spent abroad, Nkrumah said, “those years in America and Europe were years of sorrow and loneliness, poverty and hard work, but I have never regretted them, because the background that they provided had helped me to formulate my philosophy of life and politics. Africans have passed through pains and suffering both in Africa and diaspora which is expressed in the song ‘Africa’.
2nd verse line 22.
“We struggle so the wall surrounding us can crumble tonight” in ‘I speak of freedom’, Nkrumah theorized on the necessity for freedom first in colonial Africa. It was his conviction that all people wish to be free and the desire for freedom is rooted in the soul of every one of us. Jesse speaks of neo-colonization which the colonial master’s device during post-colonial era to further colonize the African nation, with Nkrumah’s statement in his book, he urged Africans to stand up and struggle because the less developed will not be developed through the goodwill or generosity of developed powers. It can only become developed through a struggle against the external force which Jesse describes as ‘wall’. According to Nkrumah, “without independence none of our plans for social and economic development could be put into effect. His slogan for the conventional peoples party was – seek ye first the political kingdom, which is in line with Jesse’s description of Africa in his chorus – 2nd line – “I be king and Africa is my throne” which signifies advocated political dominance of Africa by the black man. Neo-colonization the last stage of imperialism – this is the book which, when first published in 1965 caused an uproar in the US state department that a sharp note of protest was sent to Kwame Nkrumah, and the 25 million dollar of American ‘aid’ to Ghana was canceled. It exposed the workings of international monopoly capitalism in Africa and showed how the stranglehold of foreign monopolies perpetuate the paradise of Africa; poverty in the midst of Plenty.
2nd verse line 8, 9 & 10
“Black is who I am, it’s in my gene, black is much more than the pigmentation of the skin, the culture and rules that we pass to our next of kin” Jesse speaks of the consciousness of and pride in the cultural and physical aspects of the African heritage, the song explains the state or condition of being black. In line 10 Jesse speaks of the African culture and rule which should be passed onto the next generation, it is on this culture tradition, rules and regulation that Africa’s political theories should be built on. Leopold Sedar Senghors speech at Oxford university in October 1961 as is published in Mutizo and Rohio, 1987. The title of the speech is – What is Negritude. He started by saying that paradoxically, it was the French who first forced us to seek its essence and who showed where it lay, when they enforced their policy of assimilation and thus deepened our despair. Earlier, we had become aware within ourselves that assimilation was a failure, we could assimilate mathematics or the French language but we could never strip off our black skins or root out our black souls. Jesse Garba Abaga made reference to mathematic in the 2nd verse line 4 when he said “Black ain’t simple it more complicated than math”.
3rd verse line 12 & 13
“African people who are ready to blast” “I am taking off my mask”, the song writer talks about colonialism which was a system of racial oppression, and according to Jesse Garba Abaga, he urged the people of Africa who are ready to stand up and fight against colonization, which could not therefore be achieved by peaceful negotiation. At the eve of decolonization, neo-colonialism was embraced by the imperialist to further colonize Africa. Fanon had reservations about nationalist movements on account of privileged urban middle class leadership susceptible to colonial penetration, which Jesse highlighted in line 13 – “I am taking off my mask”, the mask signifies those urban middle class who in carrying out their duties have aided the imperialist to further colonize Africa. Jesse Garba Abaga also speaks of a united Africa to stand against colonialism. Fanon on the naked truth of decolonization argues, evoking for us the scathing bullets and blood stained knife which emanates from it; for if the last shall be the first, this will only come to pass after a murderess and decisive struggle between the two protagonist.
Verse 3 line 11
“This is for my African people who have passed”. This line suggests that writers of African theories should put together statements and opinions, speeches, writings, autobiographies, policies, statements and conference proceedings of Pan-Africanism and Pan Africanist scholars to understand the nature of Africa’s political idea in promulgating African’s political theories.
The realm of political ideology in Jesse Garba Abaga’s art of ‘Africa’ explains a real interpretation of Africa’s political reality and it is on this frame work that writers of Africa political theory should base their works on.
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Research Done And Written By Nnamdi Nduneseokwu