European Tribes and AfricanTribes: Speaking Tribal Languages.

When Europeans speak, rather disparagingly, of ‘tribal‘ Africa, they either do so with dishonesty or out of inexcusable ignorance of the concept of a tribe and, particularly, Europe’s own tribal formation based on the concept of “nation”. Europe’s nation building was based on a tribal concept. It was a tribal formation through and through. European nations are tribal nations and therefore each European nation represents a European tribe, each with its own tribal, a.k.a national language and customs.

When Africans speak European languages; it never occurs to them – hardly do they realise or few do – that they’re speaking European tribal languages the same way they would speak their own ‘tribal‘ languages, for instance, Igbo, Yoruba, Wolof, Dinka, Nuer, Bari, et cetera. The European, through colonialism and the colonial indoctrination and the process of African mind falsification the European called – and subsequently, the African calls – ‘education’, got (in many ways coerced) Africans to speak his tribal languages by undermining African tribal languages, reducing them to abominable ‘dialects’. The African has, ever since, felt overly proud and prefers (in most instances) to speak European tribal languages to speaking his/her African tribal language(s).

This is mainly because the African, by and through the process of indoctrination and African mind falsification called ‘education’, has been thoroughly ‘educated’ (indoctrinated) to believe and confuse speaking European tribal languages for ‘education’, ‘civilisation’ and ‘modernity’. Consequently, the African, to demonstrate his/her ‘educated’ (indoctrinated) status, will feel no shame speaking European tribal languages at home – in Africa – while speaking to his/her tribe.

While, on the other hand, the European still largely reviles speaking African tribal languages and treats with utter revulsion the sound of African tribal languages whether at home – in Europe – or indeed, when spoken to (and/or addressed) in African tribal languages, even more strangely, whilst in Africa. European superiority, developed out of colonialism, hence, ‘colonial‘ superiority, makes the European, while in Africa, expect to be spoken and/or addressed to by Africans in his/her European tribal languages.

However, the African is proud to have prime time news at home broadcast in European tribal languages; mainly treating this as a mark of ‘modernity’, ‘progress’, ‘development’ – not to mention ‘education’; while relegating his/her (African) tribal language programmes to fringe programmes. While the European, in a few European countries where this is applicable, has introduced news programmes broadcast in African tribal languages; but as fringe programmes on low budget. Terribly under funded, which demonstrates their place in the pecking order of news programme importance and value and, unsurprisingly, almost exclusively run by Africans; not Europeans. But strangely, the African still speaks – and will want to convince himself/herself, and others – of his/her ‘independence’ from European colonialism be it in thought, governance and economic management and/or independence.

The day European national TV and radio channels will allocate prime time news programmes broadcast in African tribal languages, have their nationals sit back comfortably and listen without inundating them with angry complaints; should be the day the African, rather than celebrate ‘independence‘ and/or European normative modernity, reflects deeply on the importance of language: as not merely a medium of (mass) communication but also an essential instrument of power and influence.

African independence is a hoax: to understand how independent or not, an African country is, simply find out in which language its most important national document: the constitution, and other laws of governance are written.

Economic arguments aside; to critically understand the magnitude of colonialism in Africa, one only has to consider the language in which laws – national governing laws – in African countries are written. It is obvious that each African country writes its laws in the language or, where it is more than one, languages it has decided as the official language or languages.

Evidently, and commonly, acceptable official languages in many, if not all, African countries are colonial languages, hence, reflecting their colonial past. National governing laws are, therefore and understandably, written and applied in official languages. Why colonial languages are – and remain – the generally accepted national official languages in many, if not all, African countries is that African countries and their governments maintained the colonial education and administrative systems they inherited from the colonial regime at the time of the so-called (African) ‘independence‘.

What is disturbing, however, is that while national governing laws in many, if not all, African countries are written in national official languages – predominantly colonial languages; a significant majority of ordinary citizens who cannot and do not speak and/or understand such languages, are (often) expected to obey laws written in such languages. They, therefore, have a double burden: their inability to speak and/or understand the language in which the[ir] laws are written; and the inability to understand the law itself.

They are often, unsurprisingly, punished for disobeying and/or breaking the law; yet it is mainly a consequence of their inability to understand the law because it’s written in languages they do not understand. And when they are brought to court, they are tried using laws written in languages they cannot and do not speak and/or understand. They need someone to translate and interpret for/to them, both the law and the language in which it is written and being applied on/against them.

Evidently and the fact of the matter is that African countries and Africans are not and cannot be truly independent if their national governing laws – laws of national governance – are written and applied in their coloniser’s languages. To claim otherwise, is to be blissfully disingenuous to none but oneself; because language is an instrument of power. It’s a tool and medium of communication; and communication is central to power. In which language you communicate; particularly your intentions, objectives and goals, you also inevitably communicate and reveal your strengths and weaknesses.

If African countries have to write their national governing laws in a foreign/colonial language; or indeed, feel the need to translate their national governing laws into foreign/colonial languages, not so much for the benefit of their citizens but largely for the benefit of foreigners; they are far from independent. They are, consciously or not, demonstrating their – and indeed, this is an undeniable form of – dependence.

The French have their laws written and applied in the French language: their national language, spoken and understood, at least, on a basic level, by all French nationals. The British/English have their laws written and applied in the English language: their national language, a language spoken and understood, at least, on a basic level, by every British/English citizen/national. The German law is written and applied in the German language, which is the national language spoken and understood, at least, on a basic level, by every German citizen/national. This is the same across many European countries, perhaps, with the exception of a few. The citizens/nationals may not understand the technicalities of the[ir] national governing laws; but at least they aren’t strangers to the language in which the[ir] laws are written. That makes it much easier to understand the law if (it is) explained and interpreted for/to them than if it had to be translated, at the same time, from another (foreign) language into their language.

If an African head of state/government has or feels the need to give an interview or make a speech/address an audience in a foreign/colonial language than in his/her own (national) language; that in itself is indication of, foremost, underlying social challenges. But most importantly, it indicates that such head of state/government and his/her people aren’t independent. It’s not about trying to accommodate others, that is, foreign audience. That’s false and it’s a silly excuse.

The French president, for instance, speaks (in) French while addressing foreign audience, whether at home or on a foreign mission even if he’s fluent in other languages. The same is true with British Prime Ministers, German Chancellors and Russian presidents and other national leaders speaking to and addressing foreign audiences both at home and on foreign missions. They will have translators translating their speeches for the benefit of those who do no speak and/or understand their languages. This is about power and influence; exerting and demonstrating power and influence. But equally important, it’s about national pride and language is the ultimate medium of expression of national pride.

On the other hand, however, only African so-called ‘leaders‘ speak their colonial languages not only to foreign/colonial audiences while on foreign missions with a sense of pride in their fluency in the colonial languages, mainly to show off to their foreign/colonial audience their mastery of the colonial languages; but also to their own citizens at home even though a significant majority cannot and/or do not understand them. This is largely to create an impression of superiority and therefore remind their citizens of their inferior social status; because usually fluency in colonial languages is synonymous with – and tends to be a measure/an indication of – one’s level of ‘education‘; which, in itself, is a colonial measure. This pathetic colonial mindset has done and continues to do so much social damage in Africa.

Colonialism in Africa: There are two kinds of colonialism in Africa.

There are two kinds of colonialism in Africa: 1) European colonialism and; 2) African colonialism. The most historically prominent and notorious is European colonialism which preceded; and gave way to African colonialism through what’s conveniently called “independence“. European colonialism bequeathed its colonial (administrative) structures to Africans who agitated for independence and to free themselves from the oppression and repression of the European colonial system through independence and liberation struggles.

Having inherited a European colonial administrative system, post-European colonial African administrations (governments); as a consequence, and perhaps inevitably, operated (within) a colonial framework. This meant that for the Africans who demanded and fought for (their) independence from European colonial oppression and repression to operate a colonial administrative structure; they had to adapt themselves to the colonial system. It meant, they had to take on the attitudes, mannerisms and generally the behaviour of the European colonialists; from whom, after all, they had learned through clerical and administrative apprenticeship and (job) roles.

Indeed, many Africans who occupied government and other administrative positions were former colonial clerks. They had worked and served in the colonial system as administrative clerks, in one way or another, and therefore had inevitably internalised colonial administrative attitudes. It was inevitable and little surprising that Africans in power: state and government power; and having inherited and operating (within) a colonial administrative system, feeling above everyone, would quickly transmogrify into a colonialist mindset and become the new colonialist class.

For the new African colonialist class — the African in power, both state and government power — to achieve its colonial aspirations and objectives, to maintain its new found socioeconomic and political status; it had to maintain and resort to applying (the) colonial (security) force and brutality. The European colonial military and police was the embodiment of colonial force and brutality in Africa. It is this combined brutal force that, in fact, enabled the European colonial administration by acting as a provider and guarantor of its fundamental security.

The European colonial military and police in Africa beat and brutalised the bloody living daylights out of Africans; keeping them away from interfering with — and out of the way of — the colonial agenda. This calculated and organised European colonial brutality on Africans; administered with maximum force, without the slightest shred of fear of consequences from its victims — the Africans (natives); served to keep Africans in their place, meek and obsessively submissive to colonial rule.

With African colonialists in power, and having inherited and maintained, for the same purpose, the colonial administrative structure; it’s therefore not surprising that majority of the African military and police today, are as brutal as the European colonial military and police.

The more things change, the more they are the same.” Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.

“The colonial world is a world cut in two. The dividing line, the frontiers are shown by barracks and police stations. In the colonial countries, on the contrary, the policeman and the soldier, by their immediate presence and their frequent and direct action maintain contact with the native and advise him by means of rifle butts and napalm not to budge. It is obvious here that the agents of government speak the language of pure force. The intermediary does not lighten the oppression, nor seek to hide the domination; he shows them up and puts them into practice with the clear conscience of an upholder of the peace; yet he is the bringer of violence into the home and into the mind of the native.” The Wretched Of The Earth, Frantz Fanon

Top notch deadly naivety

To think, and worse, sincerely believe that someone else other than yourself has your best interests at heart before theirs and thus invest your hopes and emotions in the goodness of their hearts and wait for things to work out well for you; is top notch deadly naivety. Human life revolves around relationships; relationships are about human interaction. Human interaction is integral to our relationships; how we interact fundamentally defines, dictates and shapes our relationship with each other and has great impact on our society.

Therefore, it becomes imperative to understand relationship dynamics, that is to say, the patterns of interaction in any relationship at any [given] moment. Patterns of interaction range from the communication, i.e, the way we communicate with (to) each other, the motive [reason] of communication as well as the relationship.

Understanding relationship dynamics helps clarify many things in any relationships and make interaction a lot more cordial even where differences are apparently stronger and people have divergent interests/views. But understanding relationship dynamics helps understand one fundamental characteristic of human relationships, and that’s that, human relationship is fundamentally and purely transactional.

It’s better to understand and accept that in any relationship and interaction with others; you’re possibly a convenient bridge on which the other person needs or has been looking for to cross from one end to another end of their [present] mission. Or that you’re [potentially] a pawn they [desperately] need to move to clear the way or test the waters, if not the convenient human shield to protect themselves; or tool with which to advance and achieve their goals and objectives.

Understanding and bearing this in mind; means one knows where one stands, i.e, one’s position in any relationship and interaction with others; i.e, what one should not only expect but also do. In other words, how one should play the relationship game because it’s ultimately a transactional game in which ending up with the short end of the stick might mean and have disastrous consequences. So, it’s better to not be naive to think and, worse, believe that others, no matter what they say or claim to be – authority or not – than yourself alone, have your best interests at heart and not primarily theirs in any relationship and interaction.

To think that foreigners have Rwanda’s and the Rwandan people’s (best) interests at heart more than Rwandans; suggests Rwandans are incapable of self-determination.

There’s something fundamentally flawed in the mindset of those in power, in Rwanda, to think that foreigners – foreign mercenary experts – can and will speak and advocate for Rwanda and its interests better than Rwandans; wherever they are. You can hire as many extortionate foreign mercenary experts on this or that aspect, such as foreign PR agencies and other so-called communications ‘experts‘ to do a PR campaign on your behalf; but the reality is that the best spokespeople for any country, are essentially and always its people.

Why? This is as obvious and straightforward as black and white; it’s a no brainer. Because the people – any country’s people – call them ‘nationals/citizens‘, have a strong connection, historical and otherwise, to the[ir] country. They mostly have a deeper understanding of it, its sociocultural, economic and political matters than [most] foreigners can possibly claim. It’s in their DNA and the connection is deeper and, without a doubt, genuine and not based on some quid pro quo relationship as that with foreign mercenary ‘experts‘ preferred and hired to speak and advocate for Rwanda – on behalf of Rwanda and Rwandans – especially by those in power.

Rwandans of all persuasions, socially, politically and otherwise, are genuinely concerned and interested in what happens in Rwanda, wherever they are and whatever they may be. They are genuinely concerned and interested in matters of national affairs and governance; because they ultimately have skin in the game. This should be obvious: no foreign mercenary ‘expert‘, however professionally brilliant they really are or pretend to be, can speak and advocate for a country, a people, articulate its issues, people’s lived experiences with passion more than its people. This can’t be emphasised enough!

It is needless to mention that the relationship with Rwanda, between foreign mercenary ‘experts‘, no matter how much they’re paid; and its own people – Rwandans, wherever they are, is incomparably different. When people speak for their country, (from) wherever they are and on whatever subject; they speak with passion and genuine concern, for obvious reasons. Whereas foreign mercenary ‘experts‘ will speak in relation to how much they’re paid to speak and it’s always devoid of passion.

To underestimate the voice, the capacity and the determination of someone to speak for his/her country; in preference for foreign mercenary expertise; or worse, to underestimate someone’s voice and capacity to express concerns about his/her country, is an act of political immaturity. To think that foreigners have Rwanda’s and the Rwandan people’s (best) interests at heart more than Rwandans; suggests Rwandans are not only incapable of loving themselves but are also incapable of knowing what is and isn’t good for them. In other words, they’re incapable of self-determination.

Similarly, and on that basis, to further think that foreigners can and will develop the country and its economy and not Rwandans; or to attempt, whether by and/or through policy (mechanism) or otherwise, to develop the national economy for foreigners and not Rwandans – a national economy that does not cater to the capacity of nationals and therefore systematically excludes them in preference for foreign capacity; is simply self-delusion.

The national economy should primarily be in the interests of and thus benefit Rwandans as it might benefit foreign interests. But, more importantly, not to the detriment, or indeed, systematic exclusion of nationals through economic policies that clearly favour foreign interests in form of ‘foreign investment‘ more than they favour nationals with similar if not the same or more investment interests.

A national investment policy that neither recognises nor respects nationals – the national/local business community – as investors in their own (national) economy; but favours, prefers and cajoles ‘foreign investors’ – who are vultures seeking for opportunities – with generous incentive schemes that cannot be equally extended to national/local business people, who are the local investors with more skin in the game in national matters and affairs; is not and cannot be pro-sustainable national development.

It’s national political hypocrisy to pretend, on the one hand, to be interested in and therefore spend national resources attracting ‘foreign investors’ – handing them national resources for free in form of generous incentive schemes. While on the other hand, not supporting or in some cases, wilfully destroying local investors, i.e, the local business community who have more stake in national life than ‘foreign investors’ whose primary and perhaps, if not almost certainly, only interest is maximisation of profit at the minimum cost possible.

Until we learn to recognise and respect our own people, their effort – our collective contribution; we’re only lying to ourselves to think that we can simply swing our national doors open to foreign investors to bring in their resources and develop our country for us. They’re vultures coming to feast on us; and we’re welcoming them with open doors!

If indeed, they genuinely develop our country; which is unlikely, it will not be for us, in our interests; but for them and in their own interests. They will own it; and they will own us as chattel.