By Chris Odinaka Nwedo
Colonial programmes were largely tragedy for ex-colonial states because among programmes were painful alienation, active exploitation and expropriation of the resources and denigration of the people. The principal objectives of the programmes were in no way designed to be mutually beneficial evidences stridently lead to this inevitable conclusion. The pitiable ‘contours’ of the nations and peoples left behind after the infamous encounter demonstrated that the colonialists held the victims by the neck tyrannizing and intensely lacerated them. Slavery and conceited institutions produced by imperialism were sources of perennial difficulties and degradation in most of the former colonies. Critics of the colonial adventures are vociferous in their condemnations of the imperialists for demobilisation and denervation experiences of ex-colonial states. For these schools, slavery depleted Africa’s stocks of smart and ingenious citizens. Those stolen from the continent were the brave and the outstanding because they alone can subsist the tortuous transatlantic route to the ‘new world’ destinations. The citizens ‘transplanted’ inhumanly and involuntarily were the ones with wit and aptitude to withstand the slavish labours on which the today’s wealth of the ex-colonialists depended. While the strongest were incarcerated, forcefully uprooted and expropriated the weak, the unwitting and those predisposed to narcissistic colonial plots were empowered and insulated to manage most of Africa’s states and institutions on trust for the imperialists. This situation is continuously censorable for poor infrastructures and weak institutions thwarting the continent’s giant strides to top quality development. The critics of the colonialism summed their thesis conclusively that Africa was unable to thrive exceptionally because it was disoriented and perennial incarcerated.
As an individual, it is extremely difficult for me to accept completely that the whole of Africa’s developmental deficits are as a result of colonial misfortune, but I consented heartedly to the hypothesis that the incarceration experiences had and is still having profoundly deep and all-inclusive negative impacts on the continent. Firstly, the people conferred with the power to hire and fire by the departing colonial powers were lackeys, incompetent and with minds fixed in appeasement of the interest of the offshore masters. They were instruments used to divide, rule and oppress their own folks. They created opportunities for conflicts and violence as a method of dissuading the resentful folks from cooperative initiatives capable of dethroning and ostracising them. The lackeys used colonial police and extreme violence against those overtly indisposed to their imprudence. Consequently, the colonial proxies that misappropriated there states’ resources and chances of development, subjugated and repressed the people were symbols of the active incarceration. The proxies introduced political and economic corruption, politically motivate violence and perplexing discriminations on the basis of tribe and religion as potent instruments of protection as they abuse political power.
In the incarceration, the colonised were dragged to the dust and disconcerted while the resources were expropriated, stolen, recycled and redeployed as some of the effective tools advancing the tyrannizing programmes of imperialism. The confrontation provoking subjection of the people to alien subordination and the subsequent exploitation, constituted a denial of justice and fairness. The provisions of justice and fairness reaffirm the right of all people to self-determination, by virtue of that right freely determine their political status and freely pursue own economic, social and cultural development. Imperialists’ domination is a crime against humanity; the infuriating phenomenon is possible and effective only by virtue of ruthlessly armed force. Without the arms effectively inflicting harms and ravaging destruction, the natives could robustly resist the criminal trend.
In brief, imperialists’ programmes espoused violence in totality and needed violence to deter justifiable confrontation. The paradox is that the colonial enslavement commenced in violence, expanded in violence and fizzled in violence. The struggles of the people under the pains of subordination, the struggle for rights, freedom and independence are interconnected inseparable processes. Therefore, the final eradication of the remaining colonial territories will facilitate the observance and assurance of fundamental human rights and freedom in all countries.1
The struggles for independence in the former colonial states involved violence. It was a ferocious combat against enemy without pity and the political economic and cultural occupation and subordination could not have continued devoid of violence. According to Eze, O.C. “although it has been pointed out that African customary law survived until the colonial domination, yet colonialism had a decisive effect on this customary law. This law was no longer interpreted to suit African needs, since the power to enact laws or to promulgate those already in existence became the prerogative of the colonisers.2 In fact, “under colonialism, the traditional African chiefs lost their autonomy. They had to act in correspondence to the dictates of the colonisers whose interests they had to enforce failure to comply with this regulation merited deposition. This disregard for and suppression of traditional authority led to self-estrangement of the African society.3 The apartheid policy of the racist minority government in South Africa involves the territorial fragmentation of the country into white and black zones. With the segregation, entirely black population was relegated to the native ‘reserves’ along ethnic lines. These reserves were intended to serve as the primary cheap labour resource areas for the South African white dominated economy.
The struggles for the political, economic and cultural heart of the enclave were marked by desperate efforts, violence and bloodshed. ‘Traditionally, the emergence and continued existence of the racially discriminatory institutions and structures in southern African society has been explained in terms of ‘racial attitudes’ of the white community. The exclusion of black South Africans from certain positions in the society and the imposition of various forms of oppression on them have been seen as having its fundamental origin in certain irrational prejudices of the white community.4 The struggle for affirmation of the rights of the black peoples of south Africa involved legalization of all possible means for the seizure of power by the people and the exercise of their inalienable right to self-determination. At the heydays of discriminatory government, the South African legal system as a whole was in desperate need for reform. ‘The country it is pointed out boasts what is believed to the highest prison population in the world, 440 prisoner for every 100,000 people, as well as the highest executioner rate; and the vast majority of these prisoners or those exterminated on the gallows are blacks sentenced by whites. It has even been suggested that a substantial number of those in prison are there because of miscarriage of justice, because some 80 percent of them would have been convicted without legal representation at their trials.5
Vladimir Kartashkin observed that “among the most flagrant violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms are the policies of genocide and apartheid. Contemporary international law, regards, genocide and apartheid as international crimes. Persons guilty of perpetrating these crimes are subjects to punishment regardless of whether they are representatives of states or individuals.6 Establishment and maintenance of rule of one social group of people over another and its systematic oppression constitute the crime of apartheid. The superimpositions or suppressions of cultural, social or political rights inhere most of the contemporary violent struggles. “The policy of apartheid being the manifestation of racist regime in its most cruel and refined form, presupposes the separate development of racial groups and the deliberate creation for indigenous population of life calculated to bring about their total or partial physical destruction.7 International convention on elimination of all forms of racial discrimination declared that “apartheid is a crime against humanity and that inhuman acts resulting from the policies and practices of apartheid and similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination… are crimes violating the principles of international law, in particular the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and constituting a serious threat to international peace and security.8 Kartashkin, asserted that the most important feature of the convention is its description of the inhuman acts that constitutes the crime of apartheid. Among them, the convention includes in particular, the “denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person; deliberate creation for a racial group or groups of living condition calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part; measures calculated to separate population according to race; denial to members of a racial group or groups of fundamental human right and freedom and the prevention of its or their participation in political, social, economic and cultural life of the country.9
Apartheid programmes manifested callously major ramifications of injustices, repression and estrangement. The racially discriminatory government is premeditated in violence and insinuated continuous violence, pain and desolation. The aftermath of which were enormous waste of lives and other incalculable damages. Political marginalisation a brand injustice pollinates actively many devastating wars, reprisal attacks, genocide, pogrom and unquantifiable material damages. Economic marginalization hastily and resourcefully trained and equipped millions of unemployed youths with resentment, wrath and capacities, disposing them into equipped soldiers of irrational violence and devastation. Resentments among the economically alienated give them away to serve the needs of any sort of violence and other destructive crimes. The underprivileged voluntarily can become pliable tools efficient enough to maximize violence. Discriminatory policy is an enslavement and represented a pool of all heinous crimes against humanity.
United Nation’s provision for protection and preservation of fundamental human rights ‘regards as international crime all serious and massive violation of fundamental rights and freedom which occurs as a result of the unleashing of aggression and occupation of foreign territories, maintenance of colonial domination and slavery as well as pursuing of policies of genocide, apartheid, racism and racial intolerance. Racial prejudices in all the forms are significant threat to peace and harmonious co-existence of all races. As an emphasis on the determined dispositions against the atrocity, the convention against racial denials and segregations provided for international criminal responsibility “which shall apply to individuals, members of organization or institutions and representatives of the state who, abet, encourage or cooperate in the crime of apartheid.10 The convention also mandated nations or states to endorse “any legislative or other measures necessary to suppress as well as to prevent any encouragement of the crime of apartheid and similar segregationist policies or their manifestations and to punish persons guilty of that same crime… 11 Apartheid policy creates and heightens tension, breeds violence and targets cultural rights of the victims in various forms. The policy in Southern Africa, then, estranged the original owners of the land thus creating in them caldron of resentment, anger and violence because of many limitations placed on the victims. The victims were confined into squalors, dispossessed and disfranchised. There were ranges of opportunities and privileges available to all others in the country except the Blacks. The Blacks scarcely had the right to education, decent jobs commensurate to qualification and skills. The racist regime denied the African people the ‘right to take part in cultural life; to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its application; and to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production.
Rights to education was seriously impinged because peoples under domination or repression need no education less they agitate for equity and fairness in political, economic and socio-cultural expressions. Education can provide the subjugated people opportunities to full development in skill, enhance their personality and sense of dignity, thus more robust in demand for inviolable right to their own country, freedom to fight in order to retrieve their franchise. United Nations stressed the need for education to be made available to all without prejudices stated that “education shall be directed to full development of human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human right and fundamental freedoms… Education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups and further the activities of the United Nations for maintenance of peace.12
- Vladimir Kartashkin (1989), Human Rights, What We Argue About, Progress Publishers USSR, p.180
- Eze in Okechukwu, S. N (1990) ’The Right to Life and the Right to live: Ethics of International Solidarity, Peter Lang Publishers, Frankfurt p163
- Bujo B. in Okechukwu S.N op.cit. pp. 163-164
- Cukwurah A. O. Rule of Law, Real Or A Myth in An Apartheid Society in Shalom (1989) vol.v111 no.1 p.21
- Cukwurah, A.O. op.cit. p.28
- Vladimir Kartashkin (1989), Human Rights, What We Argue About, Progress Publishers USSR, p.180
- International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination article 1
- See Article II international Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Kartashkin op.cit. p.184
- United Nations Doc.E/Cn.4/1986/30-31 January 1986. p.8.