By Ogbu A. Ameh
The People in different contextual definitions mean different things to different schools of thought. Democracy as a concept recognizes the People as the custodians of the collective mandate that bestows legitimacy on the political powers at all levels of government. Hence, the most popular definition of democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people.
The stress and emphasis on The People by the resilient of all the past and present presidents of the United States of America drives home the centrality of The People in every human society and power relations in practice.
However, redefining the concept of democracy by Africans out of the continent’s peculiarities to suite our needs and understanding is overdue.
The tragedy of Africans and the continent is that, the continent is economically and politically weak. The social institutions are weak and remained so because the political leaderships thrown up in successive indicted questionable electoral processes uphold the practice of undermining these institutions.
To compound the tragedy are the inherent bad leadership tradition, unintelligent followership and lack of political will to implement people friendly policies.
Another aspect of the tragedy is the conspiracy of silence and passivity by the people in the face of arrant impunities by state actors, who conspired to fix humongous salaries and benefits for themselves in the midst of grinding poverty across the continent.
The people choose to remain in the cocoons of ethnicity and religion that divides and helps to undermine their collective struggles against their oppressors.
Weak economic and political institutions fosters poverty on the people. poverty is a debilitating limiting factor against the people. Even the Holy Book (The Bible) states that; the problem of the poor is the poverty of their minds. It goes on to conclude on a very provoking line; that the rich shall always rule the poor.
On the continent today, the people are held captive by poverty while the rich who steel from the common wealth keep them in perpetual captivity.
They gnash their teeth, complain and pray that God should send brimstones to destroy their oppressors who make life short, nasty and brutish for them on earth. Some even believe that their comfort awaits them in the life after in heaven. They are afraid to take their destinies in their hands by mobilizing to the street in mass protest.
Until recently, the the people on the African continent have begun to realize the enormous power in their hands. This was exemplified in the Arab Spring across the northern parts of Africa and the gale of resistance built up to revolutions from below up north, we hope that the sub Sahara West Africa catches the bug soon enough as realities dawn on the people.
Sudan and Algeria have been very good examples of the people’s revolution on the continent lately.
The dramatic twist in the location, place and relation of the people within the society as espoused by the social contract over time in Nigeria and Africa as a continent calls for a radical reevaluation by the people. This is what we in the vanguard for alternative socio economic and political spectrum of ideology (the leftists), mean by the people as Fidel Castro, the legendary Cuban Revolutionary said:
“When we speak of the people, we are not talking about those who live in comfort or those who profit from the looting of our common wealth, who glorify the class of looters, who welcome and obey any repressive regime and impunity in government and those who prostrate before the rulers of the moment for selfish gains and aggrandizements.”Fidel Castro
In similar vein, the legendary Afro music Maestro, the Aba Mi Eda Fela Anikulapo Kuti spoke to the same issue glowingly in one of his satirical renditions:
“When we mean the people, we are not talking about those who will say; we no wan die, we no wan wound, we no wan quench, we no wan go; I get one child, mama dey for house, papa dey for house. I wan build house, I don build house; we no wan quench, I wan enjoy , we no wan go.”Fela Anikulapo Kuti
The fairy revolutionary Philosopher who interrogates social issues, government and state actors’ impunity with his thought provoking and inflammatory lyrics concludes:
“So police man go slap your face you no go talk. Army man go whip your yansh, you go dey look like donkey?”Fela Anikulapo Kuti
It is in this miasma of his graphic description that for more than a century Nigerians endures. From the north, south, east and west, they lived through government impunity as state actors sow sorrow, tears and blood amongst the people.
The people have tried at different times in different places for varied causes to mobilize and engage the government through mass struggles. The people’s attempts at all the struggles have been undermined, compromised by the state through its agent provocateurs and ethno religious primordial sentiments.
Therefore, we in the leftist movement who share the ideal of alternative production and political power relations have taken a position on subsequent mass struggles.
We recognize the place of the people as the working class people and oppressed masses. Those to whom every politician makes promises but never delivers on them. They are always deceived and betrayed.
We recognize that the people want a better, more dignified and humane society moved by profound commitment to social justice. We know from our historical experiences that the people have suffered untold injustice, humiliation and mockery from successive regime as the military junta and political elites take turn in plundering the common wealth of the nation.
We recognize the rights of the people who earnestly yearn for true and uncompromised revolutionary changes in every aspect of the society. The people, who in the cause of their struggles for freedom believe in themselves and ready to sacrifice their comfort to bring about their desired humane society that will respect their dignity and humanity.
Comrade Ogbu A. Ameh is Convenor Generation for Change Africa Initiative. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org