Title: Beasts of No Nation
Author: Uzodimma Iweala
The late Jamaican reggae musician Peter Tosh sings: “No matter where you come from, as long you are a black man, you are an African…” There is no denying the fact that black identity across the globe is in dire straits. As Chinua Achebe famously put it vide the Igbo proverb, “a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body.” Chike Amene in Plight of the Icarus: The Dangers of Peace in Post-Colonial Africa avers that the Black people of the world have tragically embraced the ways of the white world and have thus forgotten who they are. Amene deploys the Greek myth of Icarus to illustrate the predicament of the blacks. After Daedalus his father had made wings of wax and feathers so that they could escape from Crete, Icarus the son disobeyed his father by flying too close to the sun such that his wings melted and he came crashing down into the sea.
The black encounter with the white is juxtaposed in the opening words of Ayi Kwei Armah’s Two Thousand Seasons: “Springwater flowing to the desert, where you flow there is no regeneration. The desert takes. The desert knows no giving. To the giving water of your flowing it is not in the nature of the desert to return anything but destruction. Springwater flowing to the desert, your future is extinction.” Amilcar Cabral also wrote thus: “Africa was made to leave her history, her true history.” Amene argues in the line of these original African thinkers, quoting a multiplicity of sources to make the case of the black world as “an imprisoned people under a delusion called modernity.”
Amene’s pivotal quote comes from the Bhagavad Gita, to wit: “I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds.” The demise of the African mind is anchored on imported “religious kindness” which underpins white dictatorship. The Black/Africa civilization becomes consumed in a vortex of other worlds touting, in Amene’s phrase, “political psycho-religious fascism.” The historian Fernand Braudel’s words – “He who gives, dominates” – is indeed instructive. Ther dependency of Africa somewhat leads to an addiction not unlike drugs.
For Amene, the overriding preachment of democracy remains the worst solution to Africa’s problems. According to Lysander Spoone, “A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.” Amene goes to the heart of the matter by telling his readers from the very beginning: “You must be unslaved (sic) to be able to understand this work.” The author undertakes a large sweep from slavery through the Jihads and Crusades to colonization, neo-colonization, terrorism, globalization, democratization, neo-liberalism, elitism, structural adjustment, sovereignty, modernism, postmodernism etc.
On the theme of democracy, Amene laments: “Democracy has become the religion of my African people, and just like the alien religions that hypnotized them, democracy will surely betray my people and deliver them into the bondage of slavery.”
The Plight of the Icarus is indeed quite up-to-date as it incorporates recent issues such as the killing of Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi and the upsurge of the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria. Amene highlights Samuel P. Huntington’s charge in The Clash of Civilizations that “The most important conflicts of the future will occur along cultural fault lines separating these civilizations from one another.”
Educated at the University of Jos in Nigeria and at Cleveland State University, Ohio and Strayer University, Roswell, GA in USA, Amene is the publisher of the magazines The African Defender and ISIS (unveiled), organs he deploys adroitly to champion the black cause.
According to Amene, “Civilization is culture and culture is civilization!” The erosion of African values over the years of white supremacist drive needs to be urgently addressed, for as Amene iterates: “The effects of Western civilization have buried the Black civilizations literally alive with the threat of disembowelment towards her getting out of the matrix. Despite the obvious dictatorship as the most powerful actors in the world, the West led by the United States, the Arabs led by Islam, the Ghosts of the former Soviet Union, with the invasive minds of the Confucian Far East using modern Africa as a battleground remains the greatest givers in the history of mankind.”
The hopes that Africa had through leaders like Patrice Lumumba became extinguished within the matrix of Western legerdemain. Lumumba’s words are indeed haunting: “I only gave voice to words of freedom and brotherhood, words they couldn’t accept. Just words.” The Amene word is “matrix”.
Of course in due course, Amene opines, the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) served the West so well by destroying Africa’s hopes. The Africans are then trapped within the ambit of the fraud of the NGOs and the diabolical one-world government. The United States and allies critically consummate the dangerous games of using the excuse of “terror” to increase espionage and surveillance all over the world.
In a world where seven Jewish Americans control most of the mass media of America, as noted by John Whitley, Amene raises the contrarian voice, stating: “Totalitarianism breeds fascism, and sponsors corporation.”
Amene descends heavily on organized religion, stressing that no religion is true or real. For Amene, the answer is in spiritualism which spells freedom. “Our emancipation must start,” Amene states, “from us stopping to be addicted.”
The solution Amene proffers is a return to the roots, to the African past as it were, thus: “Let’s revive, revitalize, return to our primitive ways to defeat modernity in order to be free, if not, we will like Icarus, always melt when we get near the sun , and this will always constitute dangers to peace.”
Amene’s book is controversial. The religious types will of course not have kind words for him. Beyond that though, there is the argument that culture is not static. Cultures all over the world are dynamic. Encounters with other cultures cannot be easily discountenanced in the march of civilization. In the end, culture becomes what you have, an amalgam of encounters. Going back to the primitive ideal can at best be more romantic than workable in the scheme of things.
The Plight of the Icarus at well over 800 pages ought to be cut in half without losing the message. The many quotes of other authors should be drastically reduced. Tight editing of the final text will lend to the book the real heft that it deserves.