On the question of power and its abuse by those with and in (positions of) power

Power is never given. Power is fought for! No one gives another power. If you want power, you must be prepared to fight or struggle for it and bear the consequences that come with such process or, as the popular but realistic cliché goes, pay the price for it.

There are some people who think you can get power by exploiting popular struggles; which is a more common channel or method through which power is acquired widely.

Likewise, there are others who think you are going to get power by simply associating yourself with people who already have power – economic and political – and as such; they will rub some of it on you or take a slice of their own power pie and gladly hand it over to you, so you can add to the number of their competitors. Keep on dreaming!

If power were a commodity, it would certainly be one such commodity that arouses fierce competition among those who seek for it, those with extreme and unstoppable ambitions to acquire power.

Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, famously said that “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”.

Henry Kissinger’s own romantic association with some of the hottest actresses like Jill St John, may indeed prove the veracity of his own claim.

Power is the essence of life. To be without power, is like a dead battery!

“Wherever something strong stands, something else, equally as strong, stands next”, so cautions African wisdom. That is to say, for instance, that wherever and whenever there’s a powerful person in society, there’s a strong and powerful social structure from which such person comes and derives power and therefore, on which the powerful person stands. That no one is born powerful, and that no one becomes powerful from nothing or by themselves, that is, from their own individual effort and grit.

That the powerful in society are made [powerful] by society and the social structure that supports and renders them powerful. Put simply, society, through an organised social structure, lends them power; which means, they are operating on borrowed power that can be withdrawn by society and the social and supporting structure that lent it to them in the first place.

There are, for example, business executives who rise through a corporate structure that supports them with an enabling environment, appointed to executive positions and therefore made powerful but, blinded by their privileges, grow so obtuse as to forget how they got where they are and regard themselves and behave as if they are invincible.

The same scenario plays out in the political world in which some powerful politicians, a few powerful political figures who, after coming [in]to power, and get drunk on power and its  enabling privileges, quickly forget their power base – the source of their power and how they got where they are, at [to] the top in the first place.

They grow so arrogant and blinded by power and its privileges as to think and believe, they have [an] absolute monopoly on power and as such, forget that society and the social structure through which they rose to power – to their powerful positions – and came from, that supported and rendered them [power] powerful, still stands next to them. And that it is more powerful than the individual or a handful of them, even with their mighty weapons. That collective social will is invincible and no amount of power of weapons can crush and break and/or bring it down to its knees.

It is impossible for Africa and Africans to be independent from colonialism and imperialism

Africa and Africans should forget about “independence” altogether. It’s impossible for Africa and Africans to be “independent” or gain “real independence” from their maker, that is, the European colonial machine.

Africa is a European creation, and as such, Africans are a direct product of that creation. Therefore, to say or falsely claim that you, Africans, want “real independence” is or would be comparable to a child petulantly demanding there be no interference in its affairs from and by its parents. Even if that child grows into an adult, it is still not “independent” from its parents because we are a sum total of our parents, and/or of that which makes us, in every way!

And so is Africa in its, and are Africans in their, relationship with the European colonial machine that spawned Africa and Africans. That is the fact, albeit, an uncomfortable one. We can shout in defiance of [against] what is being done to us, as Africans, or vehemently deny of such relationship but it won’t wash that reality away into oblivion.

If you – Africans – think this observation is too far-fetched, just look at the names you so proudly wear and carry around, examine your value systems, your aspirations, you know, the European liberal so-called educated “middle class” values – the thing you call “education“, which is nothing but an effective yet pernicious weapon of control, that keeps you perpetually enslaved to and dependent on the European colonial machine.

If and when you get down to examine deeply the so-called “education” system in Africa, it comes down to this; that its very essence is to socialise or put simply, indoctrinate, Africans into the European value system, that is, the European taste, the European reality and world view. So this perpetuates the European colonial machine without having to use and apply force or call for imposing physical presence of the European and his coercive colonial machine on the continent.

This is because the European colonial so-called “education” system ensures it creates a pseudo European African bourgeoisie that imitates and perpetuates the[ir] oppressors’ values and as such, serves as a consummate and trusted agent of the European colonial machine when and whilst behaving, expressing, living and upholding their so-called “educated” – emphasis: foolish – values.

What more can be expected of or from such mentally but irreparably falsified people who look up to their oppressor[s] as a paragon and model of “civilisation” – whatever that means – and of humanity and all its virtues, of what and how life must be and lived?

What more can be expected of or from a people who have been indoctrinated to let other people, their oppressors, define their reality and have them accept and take such reality as their own reality without asking; in what way does such reality serve them and their interests and/or; in what way does it work against them and their own interests?

Consequently and needless to mention, to the extent that Africans – and in this regard one ought to be very specific, the so-called “educated” but certainly miseducated Africans – have accepted and allowed to take on their oppressors’ definitions of the two other concepts of both “modernity” and “development“, that have got Africans completely jammed up and therefore, evidently, don’t understand their very essence except, of course, to have misconstrued them to mean; (a) become and be and; (b) do like their oppressors. This explains why Africans, in their misconstrued perceptions and certainly mistaken beliefs, are in a high tempo yet expensive race to Europeanise or westernise, in the false and mistaken name of “modernity” and/or “development“.

And because Africa and Africans are in the race to “modernise” and “develop“; because of this colossal misconception largely due to their European colonial socialisation and indoctrination process, the so-called “education“, Africa and indoctrinated and miseducated Africans need and will need – despite their pretensions and feigned courage that allows them to and behind which they make ineffectual bravado pronouncements against their oppressors’ heavy hand and influence in their affairs – their oppressors’ cooperation, innovation and creation and, without the slightest speck of a shadow of doubt, his resources, financial and otherwise, if they are to finish the race and realise their aspirations and dream of Europeanising [westernising].

Because Europe and the European act, to Africa and Africans, as the blueprint for what Africa and eurocentrically indoctrinated and miseducated Africans take for and as “modernity” and “development“.

Africa and Africans, by the foolish consent of the eurocentrically indoctrinated and miseducated Africans in and with power and in positions of influence both on the continent and outside of the continent, are completely suckered into the European colonial machine. They are hand in glove with the European colonial machine and its operators.

It would be rather more productive if these Africans acknowledged and admitted to their relationship and position with the colonial machine; which is that of smooching the butts of the operators of the colonial machine, majorly to protect and keep their own false bourgeoisie achievements and aspirations.

This, of course, is done at the heavy cost on the African masses used as cannon fodder and thus wantonly victimised with impunity by these faux European African bourgeoisie in their foolish pursuits while perpetuating their own enslavement and servitude but at the same time keeping Africa and Africans in a position at the bottom rung of the world citizen ladder.

This is the brutal and uncomfortable reality of the predicament of Africa and Africans in the colonial (imperialist) world order, albeit the kind of reality that so-called “educated” (miseducated) Africans would rather not hear or listen to but, alternatively, choose to comfortably bury their heads in the sand and wish it away instead of confronting it head-on with the determination and fortitude of an unstoppable mind determined to achieve its independence.

The “change from within, rather than from outside” narrative/advice, about organisational change, is false. It’s impossible.

Those who hold the view or conviction and hence dish out the advice that “it’s better to join and work to change a group, system or organisation from within, than from outside” ignore or are ignorant of the group internal dynamics.

No one joins a group, a system or organisation with the sole purpose and intention to change it from within, to change its internal dynamics, be it power and operational dynamics. This is because people join groups, systems or organisation as individuals, and therefore with [almost] no power or influence over the group, system or organisation.

People or some people, perhaps, may indeed, hold the belief that “it’s possible and therefore better to join and work to change a group, system or organisation from within, than from outside” and therefore, want and work hard to join a group, system or organisation harbouring the intention to effect change they desire rather from within – inside – the group or system, by influencing the group’s, system’s or organisation’s internal operational dynamics.

But, what happens once they join, is that they quickly realise and learn how hard, complicated and certainly, to a great extent, complex it is working within – inside – the group, system or organisational environment – navigating the internal dynamics. If they are brave enough and try to push for change, to effect any change that’s not sanctioned by the group, system or organisational internal dynamics, they are consciously and systematically frustrated.

So, foremost, for purposes of their sanity, they try to adjust to the internal workings and dynamics of a group, system or organisation. To keep around, they get or willingly accept to be co-opted and therefore their intention and/or initial mission subsequently compromised.

This is why it is difficult, almost impossible, to change a group, system or organisation from within, that is, by working from inside, and therefore why I believe the common advice that “it’s better to join and work to change a group, system or organisation from within, than from outside” is not only wrong but grossly misleading.

To change a group, system or organisation and its dynamics from within, as an individual, if that’s the intention, requires cooperation, coalition with/from other individuals within the group, system or organisation.

Although this is operationally plausible, it also has the possibility of creating competing groups and interests within, hence making the desired change impossible to achieve but also possibly further fragmenting the group, system or organisation.

To change a group, system or organisation requires usurpation, where usurpation is the only possibility. If a group, system or organisation is usurped; it’s no longer change from within. It becomes change by imposition, do or die!

So the “it’s better to join and work to change a group, system or organisation from within, than from outside” advice is or becomes rather, to borrow a distinguished mind’s phrase “redundant

Effective change of an entrenched group and its interests and/or a deeply established system, organisation, has historically always been external, that is, from outside. The means vary, but the predominant and most effective means is always exerting force on pressure points of a group, system or organisation.

It’s not always easy but not impossible either to find pressure points, weak points [weaknesses], especially in a well established group or system. But once found, the best strategy is to apply unrelenting force on such points, attack and weaken the weaknesses within, further.

However, it’s noteworthy to mention that every human group, system or organisation, inevitably has such pressure and hence vulnerable points. For, it is essentially a body of human bodies coalesced together for whatever objective[s].

If and when dealing with an established and strong group, system or organisation, it’s strategically and operationally wrong and a mistake of gargantuan proportions to attempt to attack and/or weaken its strongest points, that is, its strengths especially if you have and operate with limited resources.

To face and deal with strength requires strength, preferably equal or better – more strength – than the opponent’s existing strength. It requires more resources. Therefore, the best strategy and operation is to attack and weaken the existing weaknesses within the group, system or organisation.

My own strategic and operational advice and wisdom, contrary to “it’s better to join and work to change the group, system or organisation from within, than from outside“, is that, if you can’t change a group, system or organisation from outside; and if you must therefore, join a group, system or organisation, don’t delude yourself about “changing it from within”. Forget about that; it’s a fool’s errand!

Instead, complete submission to the group, system or organisation and its ethos, to the point of becoming fanatic, is the best strategy. You go in the whole hog and work with and for the group, system or organisation. It rewards immensely.

Diplomacy and Africa

Diplomacy, one must emphasise, political diplomacy, as it is and practised in Africa, much like all things political, administrative and governance, is a colonial political [and power] instrument that Africans grossly misunderstand, despite pretending to understanding it.

Africans do not understand [political] diplomacy as a political instrument [weapon], how they can best and effectively use this political instrument to their advantage, to foster consensus while still maintain control; hence their flagrant misuse and abuse of diplomacy and diplomatic values.

Political diplomacy is one such colonial instrument [weapon] Africans inherited but, like most things that constitute their colonial inheritance – their colonial largesse they enjoy and abuse, most of the times – hardly understand and careless and have little interest to study and understand.

They, indeed, have diplomatic institutions and rituals that follow in the footsteps of or are simply a blind practice of the traditional colonial diplomacy but are largely clueless and careless to ask, hence investigate, why they do what they do, in the name of diplomacy and not differently.

They may or claim to have studied and hence have degrees, certificates in things like international relations or even diplomacy but they aren’t diplomatic in their behaviour, in their relations either, firstly, with and among themselves and/or, secondly, towards others – foreigners.

Africans are sickeningly obsequious to foreigners, and pathetically self-dehumanisingly obsequious to “white” people, even in diplomatic circles. African diplomats behave and act towards – in the presence of – “white” diplomats, their supposed so-called “counterparts”, obsequious.

There’s, unsurprisingly, little to zero diplomacy inside many African diplomatic institutions. Most are rife with infighting, senseless, totally irrelevant, unjustified, embarrassingly uncivilised petty plotting.

Many are like village chiefdoms where every villager tries to appease and appeal to the benevolence of the clan chief, who has access to the overall village chief, to put in a good and kind word for them to the village chief, hence the insidious backstabbing and plotting.

African diplomacy is rogue, brute diplomacy because Africans deal [prefer to deal] with and treat [respond to] differences with raw and brute force, especially among themselves, irrespective of the nature and magnitude of differences.

It’s as if we Africans are naturally hardwired to respond to differences with force. Dialogue, hence diplomacy, does not come naturally and easily even though, and if, it promises the same or similar results.

We take and/or treat dialogue, hence diplomacy, for and as a weakness and we’re terribly afraid to admit or show our weaknesses, that we may indeed be weak. This is why it’s not uncommon for many of us to try to hide and/or protect our incompetence and ignorance.

This behaviour and practice is even more prevalent with and among those with a little power and/or in power, hence, again, why [political] diplomacy in Africa is typically and more often than not, such a waste of time and resources.

Nowhere in Africa has diplomacy, alone, been commendably effective in resolving political differences and conflicts. It has always been and it is always played and put forward as a mere front – a ruse to beguile while brute force is applied behind the so-called diplomatic scenes [circles].

This is precisely because, diplomacy is a colonial political instrument [weapon] the effective use and application of which, very few Africans can claim to fully understand, not least African so-called diplomats most of whom are mere institutional clerks – paper pushers.

Diplomacy in Africa is comedy, and most African diplomatic officials are merely clowns with high sounding colonial titles, in expensive suits. This is not to suggest, however, these individuals are naturally clowns, no.

Far from it, most are intelligent people but their positions require them to act like and thus make them clowns, usually in expensive suits. To act and appear the part – which the “hypocrisy” industry demands and expects of its tools.

This is why African conflicts cannot be and will never be [re]solved by diplomacy, or at least by [with] diplomacy alone. It must always be accompanied by [with] the show and demonstration of brute force, the breaking of bones and cracking of skulls.

We Africans don’t trust or believe in [nice] sweet words. We trust and believe in the show and demonstration of force, brute force and power. It’s conspicuous in our voices, in our body language, gesticulation.

Diplomacy is for the weak, not the strong and there’s hardly any African who believes they’re weak. Weakness is an abomination. It’s an insult to many and hence, why people go to unparalleled lengths to hide and/or protect their weaknesses.

Democracy and Africa hanging by a thread

There are growing voices from and by African governments and many Africans questioning, and thus, going as far as rejecting what they call “western” style “democracy“, that has so far, dominated political discourse concerning public governance in Africa.

The kind of democracy and its values anchored on an array of freedoms; freedoms that are vital to political democracy such as freedom of speech, expression, choice and so forth.

Africans allege these are western values and hence not universal but the western political powers try to foist these democratic values on Africa. However, Africans also allege and complain that they find such western style democracy and its values sharply at odds with their interests.

They complain and accuse western powers of imposing on them – African countries and their governments – a system of [public] governance that they find stifling to their socioeconomic and political objectives.

That may well be true, for there’s, really, no universal, one size fits all system of [public] governance. Africans – African countries and their governments – are right to, and they should complain if and when they feel they are being patronised and imposed on by western powers.

They are right to assert themselves if and when they feel western powers are meddling in their internal [political] affairs. It’s good that African countries and their governments make it clear to western powers that self-determination is of the essence and are determined to achieve it.

However, while African countries and their governments reject western style democracy and its attendant values, which they allege are not aligned to and therefore find stifling to their socioeconomic and political development needs and objectives, they should also reject western support.

African countries and their governments that are bitterly complaining about western style democracy and its stifling attendant values imposed on them, and making efforts to reject it and its values, should also reject western support to train their police, military, workforce and other vital support they receive from western political establishments.

For, it’s through such support that western style democracy and its stifling values of political freedoms that African countries and their governments take serious issues with, are transmitted, and hence, on which the subsequent imposition they complain bitterly about is anchored.

It’s a gargantuan fit of irony for African countries and their governments, particularly those attempting to justify or cover up their authoritarian practices and/or tendencies, to complain about western style imposed democracy and its values of political freedoms, for meddling in their internal affairs when demands are made on them to be accountable for their practices. When western style imposed democracy suddenly holds a mirror to them, but find it appropriate and acceptable when it serves their interests.

At the same time they complain bitterly about western imposed democracy and its values of political freedoms, they’re accepting all kinds of support from western powers.

This behaviour, this double-faced behaviour/dealing, exposes and makes them look like the political hypocrites they really are. Complaining bitterly when the same system criticises them and praising and waxing lyrical about it when it coddles them.

They act, and thus, rather, make it or want to make it a self-service, a choose and mix, at someone else’s expense but where who caters for the expense has no voice at all on setting the rules or decorum of self-service or what can and cannot be chosen and mixed.

If African countries and their governments are intent on rejecting what they view as western style imposed democracy, which, admittedly, has its own sinister motives and may well have contributed to the unstable political environments in Africa, they must reject the entire package.

In fact, they must reject the entire claim and notion of “democracy“. They must get rid of it from their political discourse. They must find and define a new political language, their own language that fits and reflects their own political values, beliefs, ideologies and so forth.

Land Justice: the likely future political frontier for struggle in Africa.

Considering how and the rate at which African land is being expropriated from the locals, of their ancestral land, by none other than the very people who purport to be African “leaders”- many supposedly “liberators” and “freedom” fighters – now in power and government but who are, in reality, foreign agents, and almost freely handed over to foreign private and corporate interests in the false name of “foreign investment“; the land issue, i.e, land ownership is obviously going to be the next big political issue in Africa soon, once citizens realise the magnitude of their “landlessness” status to which they have been systematically condemned by their governments.

Many people in African countries are being expropriated of their ancestral land by their governments, through all manners, at whims by the powerful individuals in government, through hastily cobbled up legislation and handed to foreign private and corporate interests; sometimes on the basis of personal friendship.

The smaller countries, most of which are treated as private property by those in power – who have a total monopoly on power through their monopoly on and access to State instruments of power, land expropriation by those in power and government, under the guise of “national interests and development“, is rendering many powerless citizens landless.

While rendered landless, at the same time, citizens are also systematically stripped of power and channels through which to seek redress of this injustice, the biggest heist in the 21st century, of the african land, not by foreign forces but by african governments that act as foreign agents.

The more this injustice is perpetrated, the more african citizens are rendered landless, the more they are condemned to generational destitution, the more they witness the expropriation and wanton theft of their ancestral land by their governments, the more they realise their governments are no different from or even, in most cases, worse than the colonial systems, the more they realise they have nothing to lose anymore, the more likely they will rise up, rightly so, to demand land justice by all means. The more justified their cause will be!

Private property, the idea of ownership of private property, in most African countries, is a farce if one’s property can be taken away, anytime, for whatever reasons, excuses or at whims, stripped of power or any channels of justice, by those with power, in government because they can – because they have the power not only to do so but to justify it.

Land Justice will likely be the future political frontier for struggle in Africa.

The problem of leadership, in most African countries, is that of perception: the inability to distinguish between leadership and authority granted by power

Africa’s problem of leadership is that of perception and the inability to distinguish between leadership and authority granted by position, that’s, positional authority that comes from power. The common attitude by many people in power in Africa and hence cause of crisis in leadership, is to confuse authority for[with] leadership.

Most people in positions of power and authority aren’t necessarily leaders. They are often in such positions by either use of force and usurpation of power, or by way of selection or appointment by a higher power [authority], to whom they are beholden.

The process for selection [appointment] to such positions is more about the ability to serve the interests of the higher power that selects [appoints] them to such positions; and less about, if at all, demonstrable leadership abilities [credentials] of such individuals.

Such people in positions of power and authority simply have authority granted by their positions but lack any or have zero leadership abilities and/or skills. They are more the right-hand managers – institutional police – for the higher power than the leaders they falsely claim to be.

Their priority is catering to the interests and whims of the higher power that places them into such positions, and work to maintain that order. Nothing wrong with that, especially in a patronage system in which favouritism, nepotism, “groupism” and “cliqueism” – based mainly on shared historical ties like coming from the same region, hence, regionalism and of course, relationship ties – group-think, are the criteria.

This explains why there’s so much abuse of power and authority by people in positions of power and authority. They aren’t leaders but [institutional] process and execution managers – and institutional police who, for the most part, lack basic organisational management skills but simply whose role is to execute orders from above, that is, the powerful authority that places them in such positions. To say that they, at least most of them, are incompetent is not to exaggerate!

But they hide their incompetence behind the veil of their borrowed power and authority and the fact that they are only responsible or accountable to a single power source and for that reason, they know how to manipulate and appease that power’s emotions to maintain their positions. Clever strategy!

Leadership is not “positional“; leadership has and knows no boundaries. It’s not selective, neither does or should it discriminate or favour one group interests against another group interests. One’s position, [of] power and authority is in no way proof of one’s leadership abilities and skills. If anything, and depending largely on the way power and authority is used, it could very well be a clear indication of lack of leadership abilities and skills.

Leadership is not coercive, it’s consensual, cooperative and seeks to bring everyone on board. It does not only encourage but cannot succeed without, preferably, voluntary collective participation in all aspects necessary for it to succeed such as collective participation in the decision-making process.