David Maillu in His Own Words in the Media
Why Africans must return to their roots
Those who think democracy is a new thing in Africa are in the same school of thought with the earlier Western scholars who talked and wrote that Africa did not have history. Having no history is tantamount to having no culture. Having no culture means having no social and political order.
By David G. Maillu
Sunday Nation Newspaper, September 11, 1994
2(b) The British Labour MP Tony Worthington, who seems to have developed a sweet tooth for Kenyan politics appears to have badly damaged the ambition of Kenya’s opposition parties by his statement that they lack political ideology, didn’t mince words in saying that the leadership of African parties revolves around tribes and personalities.
2(c) Neither KANU nor the opposition parties, in Western interpretation of Kenyan democracy, have any political ideology anyway. All the same, it is not the first time the British intelligentsia, members of the G7 together with others, have agreed that Africa – leave alone Kenya – has no political ideology. That is the view which, by all means, has invited the conglomeration of the whiteman’s nations to aggressively sell their form of democracy to Africa.
2(d) Africa has been has the dumping ground of not only the nuclear waste and third class products from the western industries, but also the dumping ground of their social and political decadence. Mr Worthington seems to have set the opposition parties thinking harder, in the words of Mr John Keen, to return to the drawing board and seek new vision and leadership from different generations of Kenyan leaders. Would those be the answers to the ailing country?
2(e) I couldn’t agree with Mr Worthington more on the issue of not only Kenya, but all African states. However, this unfortunate situation has not come by because of Africa’s lack of essential or noble political roots. It is purely a matter of failure by the African himself to go back to his roots and begin to develop a meaningful and logical modern political thought. After all, whatever we now call the whiteman’s political ideologies have their roots in the cultural history of their countries.
2(f) If Africa has a history, she has a culture. If she has a culture, she has a traditional social and political order; hence, some form of political ideology however backward it may be classified. Why we have never heard of an African political ideology should be blamed squarely on our scholars. They have failed to intellectually reclaim and publish the dimensions of African political aesthetics. Instead, they have been too busy trying to see how the whiteman’s political ideology can fit into African governments.
2(g) I have spent nearly 20 years turning over every African and Africa-related stone looking for those fabrics. Or rather I have been combing the published and unpublished African cultural bush for roots to build a meaningful political thought. I have, therefore, all reasons and documented evidence to show that at last, African political thought is real. There is a super political ideology, which I will publish, titled, African Indigenous Political Ideology. It is the African interpretation of democracy, and I dare make the claim that it should be the only meaningful political ideology, which can address all Africa political problems – economic, social, and scientific.
2(h) Interpretation of democracy based on gender and age creates a new form of governance where ruling parties and their oppositions become absolute. Materially oriented political parties such as are being marketed to Africa by Western governments, which form formidable grounds for defections from one party to an other based on material gains, do not exist in traditional social order.
2(i) The democracy being sold to us today is a class democracy that divides the world into the haves and have-nots. It is a democracy in which men have conned women and youth and now the latter play the least role in the power structure from religion to politics. Can you think of a time when the Pope, for example, will be a woman?
(j) White people have produced two main political ideologies, namely Capitalism and Communism. African has produced a latent powerful structure called Communalism.
In the capitalist government the helm of state is almost an exclusive plane of the materially and intellectually advantaged. It is this class which calls the tune as the main actors. The disadvantaged class – the majority, of course, being Women and the Youth. In the communist structure the mass is shaped to serve an impersonal body called the state, which is run by a specially chosen elite. The state exploits the mass for its own dreams, good or bad; it exploits the mass the way a master uses his hunting dogs. So long as those dogs do a nice job for the master, there will be enough food and shelter for them. But in the African communalism, the state structure is greatly decentralized and given the broadest possible extension. To the extent that even a child has a distinct role in the social set-up. Material attributes have little or no place in the structure. Power and social responsibility are carefully and equally distributed among the three pillars of democracy – Men, Women and Youth.
(k) The traditional African home-stead has a respectable position for the less-advantaged: widows, widowers, orphans, the poor crippled, children born out of wedlock, divorcees the sick, old and so on, unlike the case in Capitalist and Communist structures. Never in the history of the continent were Women and the Youth as repressed and exploited as they are now within the imported political structure.
2(l) If the African does not need to change his skin to live successfully in the modern world, surely he doesn’t necessarily have to change the foundation of his philosophy in order to live successfully in that world. Africa is exceptionally potentially self-sufficient in everything – be it natural resources, land, cultural aesthetics, economic and intellectual base. As of today, it is the only continent with its natural resources, including human resources, least developed and exploited.
2(m) African states are suffering the way they are today, and political mud is slung on their faces daily by outsiders because their people have failed to be true to themselves. They have been reluctant to go back to their roots for a better start. They have been acting as if the continent has hardly any value. Even the African God must be cross with the African for being irresponsible. Disasters will continue falling upon us heavily as long as we evade cultural responsibility. In this case, therefore, the whiteman might be right in calling Africa lazy, irresponsible and short-sighted!
2(n) The traditional African has, now I can confidently say, one of the most complex, developed, and polished social orders in the modern world. Indeed, Africa could be the most diverse and developed continent in terms of social sciences. Besides, Africa has the largest bank of various foodstuffs, food ingredients and so forth. The continent is a gold mine of nearly everything, be it in labour, raw materials, land or natural resources. This explains why today Africa is the most attractive continent for exploitation by outsiders. As the world appears to be palatalized between blacks and whites, the Blackman is the most talked about and exploited of the human species. Why?
2(o) African democracy is based on gender and age. This forms the background of any analysis and recommendations. It is a democracy not critically supported by material and intellectual acquisition. Anyone who has ever cared to examine the traditional home, be it the home of the so-called bushman or the Ethiopians who were never colonized, cannot fail to see the positioning of three distinct groups – Male, Female and Youth. For example, any traditional village did not need policemen to safeguard security. That responsibility was shared entirely between the three groups. It was, and still is a most effective and affordable system. I have translated that into practical modern applications.
2(p) Colonial masters did their best to suppress teaching real African history. So, post-colonial states started operating from a sketchy cultural foundation. For example, how many of us know that there was a time when Dahomey was ruled by women – the Amazons – about 300 years ago? How many know that as far back as the 900 BC, a time Europe could never dream of it, Africa was producing executive queens?