Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Secession advocates must beware its pitfalls

       When I heard a section of Kenyans talking about secession as the means of getting out of the impasse-cum-imbroglio in their country, I was outrightly traumatised and baffled. What a suttee! I said to myself.
      I was, because it is a hold-up not only for Kenya but, sadly, Africa at large. The continent is fighting to go back to where it was prior to the 1884-85 Berlin Conference (the Scramble for Africa) where colonists created the modern-day frail countries to exploit them perpetually.
                    SECESSION
      Before this obnoxious partition, there is no record of Africa having ever suffered from chronic dependence on handouts from the rich countries as it now does. For many millennia, Africa was efficient and self-sufficient.
    This is not the first time ideas of secession have surfaced in Kenya. There was the abortive but bloody Shifta War of the 1960s and, recently, Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) rebellion that faded away for its impracticability and unviability.
       In the neighbourhood, Eritrea parted ways with Ethiopia in 1993 and South Sudan from Sudan in 2011.
                    PAY DEARLY
        The Ethiopian split benefitted Djibouti (which had seceded from Somalia in 1977) as it punished the duo, thanks to their zealous myopia and megalomania. 
       Ethiopia would pay dearly to access the Red Sea through Djibouti for the fear of using the soil it used to call its own. How do you divorce a fertile partner to marry a barren one? As for South Sudan, it is grappling and slogging with finding the way to the sea to export its oil as the infrastructure it helped to build rots away simply because it is owned by the (northern) Sudan that it divorced.
                   NOT THE WAY
         This is not the way to go if Africa is to end its man-made misery and poverty resulting from colonialism and its carry-overs and pointless divisions. The major question—if not a lesson—is: Have these countries achieved their dreams? Look at the former Yugoslavia with its myriad states (though luckier than Africa’s feeble, begging and ridiculous countries because they are European). Compare the disintegrated former USSR to Germany, which was reunified after realising that nothing can come out of disunity.
              RECOUPING POWER
    African sage has it that, united we stand, divided we fall. This is why we cherish and support the EAC, Ecowas, SADC and other regional blocs. They aim at recouping the power Africa lost in Berlin.
      A unified Africa would be such a powerful bloc economically, politically and socially that the international community would not ignore. The United States of America is not strong because it is populated by super-intellectuals: It is because of its unity of over 50 states. So, too, is Canada. Despite its smaller population, it is not strong because it is a nation of geniuses but a confederacy of 10 provinces and three territories.
                TAKE A LEAF
         Kenya can take a leaf from neighbouring Tanzania, the product of the unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964 following failure in forging a united East Africa; or Canada, which has always had Quebec. Neither the union of Tanzania nor the confederacy of Canada have always been rosy. They are thorny.But what do they do? They don’t demonise those who dream about secession; they talk with them. The good thing about negotiation is, every argument is countered with an argument, not fisticuffs. Instead of anger and vengeance, Kenyans need to sit at a roundtable and sort out their differences.
Source: Daily Nation Thurs., tomorrow.

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