“If you have no confidence in self you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence you have won even before you have started.” – Marcus Garvey
There is a psychological disorder known as Stockholm syndrome, this occurs when a victim shows loyalty to a powerful abuser regardless of the danger this can pose to Its well-being. This is common among victims of domestic violence, kidnapped victims and abused children. The psychological ramification of slavery and colonization on the Africans is the single biggest hindrance to development on the continent. Theories, policies, and plans that have been proven to be effective everywhere always fails in Africa. Intellect is not the problem because the African in diaspora has excelled in every field of human endeavor. So why do our system fails us in modern Africa?
Loss of Self
The greatest loss the African endured during colonization is the loss of self and indigenous modus operandi. African lost a sense of who he was, his relationship to the rest of the world, his relationship with his environment, his dignity, and his compassing value system. His confidence was subsequently lost and his believe in his self was absolutely obliterated. This affected the African ability to produce, manufacture, or govern. The effect of this syndrome was so devastating that he rejected the image of himself and became hostile towards family, friends, and culture (another factor to Stockholm syndrome).
Political independence for most African countries were acquired in the sixties and African leaders took on their new positions with the mind set of continuing and adopting the status quo. No modern African state was developed with any African values, humane laws, or systems that were effective in antiquity. Every state simply became an imitation of a European state and way of life. If you forget how to rule a state, then you will forget how to manage a business. One relates to the other, if the mind can conceive of one, then it can conceive of the other. The fact that the leaders looked towards the oppressor and trust him to make policy that advance his interest, is another clear sign that he is suffering from this syndrome.
The inferiority complex of the African presents itself in the form of’ whitening’; the physically and mentally getting rid of blackness.
Politically it means adopting Western forms of government and policies without examination or making adjustments to include Africa’s value system. First of all, because he has lost confidence in himself, he doesn’t think he has the capability to create and implement his own form of government. No western or foreign adaptation of government, trade, development, or policy can work in any African country without making vital adjustments to fit the culture and lifestyle. Besides the flawed premise of some in another land designing a plan for another person elsewhere doesn’t seem to be logical. Scotland Yard may suggest a policy and the African adopts it without questioning the intent or how this is going to work or affect him.
Economically, both macro and micro scales, Africans mimicked alien ideology and paradigm that can hardly take a hold in his environment. This hampers fair trade and loan negotiation.
Socially, some African woman wears her hair and bleaches her skin to make herself look European.What is worst, there is no moral compass for setting standards for what is good, acceptable, or poor based on Africa values system. Any non dark skin person can come to Africa and exploit her because the African will give concession to that person. If you are white, Indian, Chinese, or Arab you will be treated like a king in Africa because your skin is fairer than his, which is where he wants his skin tone to be. The true value of himself is dead.
The modern African cannot question the failed system of government he is running because it works for his foreign friends at the expense of his people: neo-liberal trade policies are crippling his economy because the World Bank suggested it, no body question its poor and unproven results. Any action without the consent and approval of the West is inconceivable; he will argue the Western position and logic more than even the European. Since he believes that the mission of the European to Africa in the first place was to help him and not to acquire slaves and goods, he runs to him for help on the most mundane issues. He is a very loyal victim, he adores his master, and he worships him, and wants to be like him. The fact that the modern African state cannot use her resources to develop herself and runs a prudent state is evidence of Stockholm syndrome.
Just like a battered child who was grows up to become an abuser, the African elite simply took on the role of the oppressor after independence. During colonization the European exploited the resources for his own gain and took the capital to Europe where he enjoyed its wealth. Today, African leaders do the same thing, they exploit their countries resources for their own gain and embezzle and siphoned the money to Europe and other western nations. The elites don’t invest in civic causes and social amenities like building hospitals, schools, setting up endowment for the arts, or building museums, instead they flaunt their wealth to the poor and think money will compensate for their inferiority complex.
In other to take his rightful place on the world stage, the African needs to have a sense of who he is. In countries people don’t know themselves or their neighbors. History and prejudice are based on folklore and tales that may insert hatred for another group. The grouping of modern states is based on colonial system and people view themselves based on how the colonials viewed them.
A comprehensive teaching of African history, contribution to society, stolen legacy, and influence of western civilization has to be taught at a very young age. This true knowledge of self will bring a sense of self worth, dignity, and the confidence needed to overcome any psychological hang-ups. The African needs to know how much more his society was much more advanced than the European before the late nineteenth century.
If the African in antiquity had the capability of organizing empires beyond ethnic and religious boundaries, then ethnicity and religion cannot be issues for the African today, they are simple channels of divide and conquer. Besides, no single ethnic or religious group has developed itself to meet world standard. Wherever you go in Africa there are bad roads, poverty, and hopelessness across all ethnic and religious groups. We should unite based on experience, survival, and self preservations.
Mr. Nyan writes for Afripol on financial and economic matters.