Many people on this side of the world will not know Kwasi Alfred Addo Kwarteng.
Kwarteng is of Ghanaian stock, but born in Britain in 1975 at the sunset of empire. Educated at the finest schools and colleges the UK and the United States have to offer, he is currently a Conservative MP and was this year appointed parliamentary private secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond.
In short, Kwarteng has done pretty well for an African boy in Albion.
But why should we know him?
For one, his scholarship is quite breath taking, not so much for the fact that he has written much at such a young age, but that he has tackled issues as varied as government debt, colonial history, and national traffic management systems.
In 2011 he authored a book that was as ambitious as it was controversial. Titled “Ghosts of Empire: Britain’s Legacies in the Modern World”, the work makes the startling assertion by an African that colonialism had the “dual mandate” of making money and “to develop the colonies for the benefit of the indigenous peoples themselves”.
But before we rush to condemn the historian, writer and politician, remember that Kwarteng is merely the product of a long history of manifest and latent treachery that has made Africa what it is today. Consider this extract from Walter Rodney’s seminal “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” in the chapter titled “The Coming of Imperialism and Colonialism”.
“The search for European education began in Africa before the colonial period. Coastal rulers and traders recognised the necessity to penetrate more deeply into the way of life of the white man who came across the sea. “The mulatto sons of white traders and the sons of African rulers were the ones who made the greatest effort to learn the white man’s ways. This helped them to conduct business more efficiently.
“… However, the educational process also meant imbibing values which led to further African subjugation. One West African educated in this early period wrote a PhD thesis in Latin justifying slavery.”
The outcomes of Kwarteng’s scholarship, and the snippet from Rodney, tell us one thing: we are our own worst enemies. From being compradors of slavery and colonialism, to looting public funds; from fomenting discontent within the populace, to sabotaging national development programmes, the real enemies are not outside the gates – they are right here in our homes.
Last week, President Mugabe revealed that he and fellow leaders from Southern Africa would be meeting soon to deliberate on the problems facing liberation movements today.
Basing on past meetings held the level of secretaries-general/secretaries for administration, we can presume that leaders of liberation movements will be seized with the very important issue of external interference.
We hope that they will also tackle the agents of reaction that are within, the too clever-by-half, smooth-talking and highly educated elements within their ranks who would try to justify slavery in Latin or sanitise colonialism by giving it a new coat of paint to hide its ugly edifice.
There is need to confront and arrest the anarchic individualism that would like to see national programmes like Command Agriculture fail so that they have their way, so that they please their handlers and advance their own narrow agendas. The urgency of expunging the assertive ignorance that tries fight progress while dressed in the robes of enlightenment cannot be overstated if our economies are to develop.
The real enemies are within, and they have to be dealt with. The real enemies are found among the factionalists, the successionists, the corrupt and the indolent but self-entitled public officials who glibly lie to the people about supposed good intentions when it is clear that they care not about the future of ordinary people.
Among many other important things, the Ancient Egyptians of Luxor taught the Greek philosophers a crucial lesson, which the latter duly inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
They said, “Know thyself.” We would do better to go further and borrow from Sun Tzu: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Do we know our enemy?
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