Where are the children of the Zulu, Ashanti and Yoruba that stood down the British and fought gallantly against domineering the trade routes in Africa? It has been postulated for a long time by a few historians that religious capture of Africa was not by force but by persuasion or gentle religious conversions. Actually, nothing can be further from the truth over centuries. African Economic and Trade negotiators need a touch of history not by miseducation or threat of war.
This is why Africans accept Structural Adjustment: devaluation of African currencies in countries with more gold reserves than foreign gold standard. It is no more only the Europeans and Arabs; but Americans, Russians and Asians are now principals and competing partners for the rush into African resources. By exchanging it almost for nothing paid in Zimbabwe dollars. The motivation of the Moroccan Army in the ancient invasion of Songhai was for the same economic greed to convert resources that had been exposed by Christian Muslims missionaries and our Emperors.
One of the ancient trade routes for kola nuts and of course gold from Ashanti and Oyo regions into Gao opened before that of Oyo, Hausa States and Timbuktu route. Africa traded with one another horizontally in The Rainforest as freemen before contemporary notion as slaves sold vertically to the Middle East, Europe and Americas. Their presence was known and recorded in various terms by Herodotus, Ibn Battuta and later by Ahmed Baba. These Emperors and kings were what the British and Moroccan Army met, destroyed and whitewashed (as Hamitic).
Chaka Zulu extraordinary accomplishment with locally made weapons, obliterated 1500 British soldiers and defeated their Army at Isandhlwana. This was the greatest triumph of an African Army against Europeans in sub-Saharan Africa. But then, the British always sought vengeance.
The British never gave up, they had to send for reinforcement from home and locals, employed African soldiers against Africans to buoy their troops. In 1789 the British eventually defeated the Zulu at the Battle of Ulundi. In order to prevent more starvation of his people, the Zulu king ordered his warriors to stop fighting. British always use protectorate for self-economic interest.
Ashanti forces in 1873, also surrounded the British protectorate that was too close for comfort, invaded and subdued them. After this remarkable initial success, the British forced Ashanti to retreat. The attempt to negotiate a peaceful resolution was rejected by the British commander, Sir Garnet Wolseley. In January 1874 a large British Army with African soldiers led by Wolseley fought into Ashanti land. They captured Kumasi, the Ashanti capital, ruined and set it ablaze.
Jaja of Opobo that was one of the first African nationalist bypassing the British as middlemen to establish independent trade route to Europe as an indigenous produce export trader; used his influence and wealth from the palm oil trade to grab enormous political and military power. He was so powerful, in 1875 the British sought his Army’s help to prosecute the Ashanti War.
Queen Victoria rewarded him with a sword of honor (Fajana and Biggs 1976:138). Appreciation for helping to put down his Ashanti brothers’ struggle against the British that came to divide African trade for the British. Today, rewards are from London School of Economics and Harvard.
Contrasting Jaja and Nana with their contemporaries such as Sultan Attahiru of Sokoto, Oba Ovonramwen of Benin and Awujale Aboki Tunwase of Ijebuland, to mention but a few, fought relentlessly to defend the corporate existence and political sovereignties of their respective kingdoms. If open aggression failed then, Structural Adjustment and Devaluation are worse.
Ironically, when the Yoruba in Ilorin wanted to subjugate their fellow Yoruba, they sought the help of some Fulani that backfired on them. They provoked united Yoruba Army led by Ibadan, halted at Oshogbo by soundly routing enemies out, to shambles. Surviving Fulani mercenaries were released back to their enclaves while their Ilorin Yoruba leaders were beheaded in Oyo.
Indeed, when the Ijebu fought the British, if the Yoruba had united their Army the same way they did against Ilorin and their mercenaries at Oshogbo, to support their own blood and kin; Yoruba land could have been liberated from European Army’s devilish economic interest.
Most Africans do not realize we spend disproportional part of our income buying ammunition from super powers that we can make ourselves in Africa. Countries like South Africa, Iran and India make their own. Actually, Iran did bluff that unlike Saudi Arabia, Iran don’t have to depend on the super powers for arms. So more African countries can start making their own arms too.
Even Vice Admiral Michael Franken, Deputy Commander of Operations for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) that was at Fletcher Maritime Studies Program in the School of Government at Harvard in March 2017, wondered how Nigeria could possibly afford to buy the type of fighter jet requested to fight Boko Haram when it would take up most of its budget. The same money could be used to produce their own, fortify soldiers, for food, infrastructure and education.
Usually, there are agreements in place with super powers that restrict buyers. Their fighter jets or advanced warships must not be retrofitted, adapted or produce spare parts locally. A country like Iran and others have violated each of these. Indeed, Russia and China copy US made fighters when available to them, through third parties or when bought directly. They then violate all the agreements that came with each.
There is always the fear of one African ethnic domination over the other if manufacturing plant is located in one region. However, these plants can be divided into different locations so that they can create a balance just like the refineries of crude oil or industrial farms. If it is highly secretive, it can still be built in a central location, easily accessible to the whole country.
Mind you, nobody is agitating for arms factory instead of food and consumer goods factories. Indeed, in a civilized world, neither super powers nor developing countries should champion arm production race. It only appeals to our animalistic instinct to dominate one another by force since the days of bow and arrows. Human, resort to force when our mental faculties have gone ballistic and we could not negotiate a peace or trade treaty.
Instead of peaceful trade worldwide, we have skewed, unfair and unbalanced trade that favor the most powerful countries. Each time they negotiate with poor or developing countries, they always weld a big stick bragging they would “bomb the hell” out of us. As developing countries, Africa has hardly got a fair shake since the ancient times when we dominated the gold, salt and kolanut market.
Nevertheless, as chivalry, guns and bombs replaced and dominated the trade route, peaceful trade faded in favor of domineering empires looking to capture natural resources and slaves. The more Africans resigned themselves to superior fire threats, the more their religious and domineering cultures entrenched themselves. They came to repress and dislodge our own civilization and replaced it with theirs, as peaceful co-existence within their protectorates.
Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Farouk Martins Aresa and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)