Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Parasitic analogy and the case of failed African states

I was moved to write this piece after sipping a teaspoon from Kole
Omotoso's vast ocean of knowledge. During his speech at 'ITOYA', a
sneak preview of a dance drama written by Odia Ofeimun, in celebration
of his (Odia's) 62nd birthday, Dr. Kole used the parasitic analogy
(which I expanded) to describe the current failed state of Nigeria.
Different analogies have been used by social scientists to explain the
complexities of society and its internal workings. Eminent
sociologist, Emile Durkheim enunciated the organismic analogy to
explain the inter-relatedness of the different social institutions that
make up society. He likened society to a human body with parts
(institutions), which though independent from one another, are
connected to the whole body (society), to which they owe their
survival. Hence a dysfunction in one of the parts would affect the
functionality of the whole. A dysfunction in say the educational
institution, would affect the manner of political leadership, economic
policies or even marriage choices.
In Kole Omotoso's parasitic analogy, he likened the Nigerian state to
the biological process of host-parasite relationship. Whereby the
parasite depends on the host for its survival. Parasitism is a type of
negative interaction between two organisms, usually of different
species in which one (the parasite), obtains advantages from the
association, at the expense of the other host. Thay do not only feed
on the host, but also cause harm to it. Parasites may be ecto or endo.
Ectoparasites live outside the host e.g lice. Endoparasites live
inside the host e.g tapeworm. Parasites are also differentiated by
their feeding modes. Facultative or non-specialized parasites can live
on animal hosts and also saprophytically by feeding on the dead
organic remains of such animals. On the other hand, obligate
(specialized) parasites can only survive when the host is alive.
Some parasites need more than one host for their full development.
Such hosts other than the one that houses the adult parasite are
called intermediate hosts, which are vectors used as vehicles to reach
the final host. E.g the mosquito is the vector for malaria parasites.
The parasitic analogy could be used to infer objectivity, the status
and role of African societies in relation to their foreign
counterparts. African societies have over centuries played host to
parasitic western societies. They have been the disadvantaged in this
negative interaction. At the expense of the development and well-being
of its people, African societies have developed European societies.
The success of slavery brought about the industrial revolution and
consequently colonization, neo-colonization and more recently
globalization. All these are variants of the parasitic relationship
that exists between Africa and the west. Western societies do not only
feed on Africa, but also cause irredeemable harm to all facets of
African life. The Nubian has been disconnected from his cultural
roots, his religious beliefs distorted and educational systems
churning out computer chips instead of brains. People who repeat
recycled theories and ideologies rather than formulate new ones. The
kinship structures are now relics of lost civilizations and alliances,
as animosity is the blood that runs in communal veins.
Like the biological parasites, African societies also have ecto and
endo parasites. The political elite, fat cats, a dependent and seeing
judiciary, over-bloated house of assemblies and cripple civil services
are exemplifications of endo-parasites in African societies. Parochial
interests, jingoistic views, ethnicism and religious intolerance are
the diseases cause by this type of parasites. They see their
well-being and destiny as different from that of the society, even
though they depend on this same society for their survival.
There are also ecto-parasites. Multinational corporations, foreign
investors and foreign countries fall into this class. These parasites
are conduits for capital flight, brain drain and repatriation of
profits. They are also channels through which the knowledge,
technology, culture and perception of indigenous societies are
influenced. Through NGOs, research grants, professional associations,
mass media et al, the reality of the people are shaped such that they
begin to see the world through the eyes of these parasites.
These parasites have been known to adopt specialized and
non-specialized feeding modes. Most however are non-specialized
feeders. They would continue to milk African societies dry, even when
the society is in shambles. These class of parasites thrive when there
is anomie. A breakdown in social values, polity and organization.
These parasites are the arms dealers who supply arms to 2 opposing
sides, pharmaceutical companies that manufacture diseases to sell
'cures' and 'vaccinations' or even the terrorists which are western
creations to create fear and diversion not only from their pillaging
motives, But also provide the much needed impetus to invade countries and
displace them of their wealth. The boko-haram creation and the
'assistance' by western security agencies illustrate the workings of
this type of parasite. The specialized parasites leave when there is
anarchy. Politicians in the absence of a failed political system or
military rule; financial institutions in the time of war or that
expatriate that works for your company all fall into this category.
Lastly, like the biological parasites, some need more than one host
to survive. These are the most destructive of the parasites. They
require the services of vectors to get to their final destination.
Vectors such as the mass media, propaganda, have paved the way for
western societies to invade Libya under the guise of freeing the
citizens from a totalitarian regime; pillaged Africa societies under
the guise of bringing the good news, stoking the fires of the Arab
spring under the guise of bringing democracy to the people. To make
such aims possible, vectors personified by indigenous people are
recruited into this scheme. Marx referred to such people as the
comprador bourgeoisie, the agents of the capitalist oppressors who
think that education, certifications and ill-gotten wealth creates a
new reality far different from the one experienced by their people.
Maybe. They float around like butterflies in their egoistic aura.
Finance ministers endorsed by the IMF and world bank, Harvard trained
presidents, oxford schooled senators and ivy league technocrats who
have been indoctrinated with negative values. CIA trained employees
such as Charles Taylor, Robert Mugabe, Olusegun Obasanjo, Idi-Amin and
Mobutu Seseseko have carried parasites to their final point of
destination, the psyche of the average African, and the resources of
the land. More recently, the KONY 2012 video, Boko-Haram and
suspected' Hezbollah links in the Congo are conduits and reasons
through   which the US is tightening its command (AFRICOM) on the
The parasitic analogy infers a negative dependency whereby African
states are mere peripheries to western societies. Through vectors, the
stranglehold has increased considerably. The lack of political will by
African leaders to develop human and material resources should be
constituted as a crime against humanity, but generations. The vectors
have fed Africa’s children to the wolves and mortgaged the future of
generations for selfish and personal desires. Millions of people can
only hold on to the intangible dreams and aspirations to hold on to.
Like every endangered host, there is only one way African societies
can live a more healthy life. Get rid of the parasites.

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