Let me say it. I’ll explain myself.
It is easier to be African activist in Paris, London or Washington than in Africa.
Reason why most of the Diaspora activism is just useless noise in small bubbles.
Why do I say so?
I won’t do a lot of theory, but give examples.
It’s a child game to be pro African spirituality in the Diaspora. And it is very difficult, almost suicidal, to be non-Christian or non-Muslim in Africa.
Here we are, you are in London, writing nicely about embracing African spirituality and getting rid of colonial religions like Islam and Christianity.
Now you come back to Accra, in Ghana, where Christianity is epidemic. It’s Sunday, your family, your friends, almost everyone head to the church. What do you do as liberated activists!?
Do you follow everyone to church in order not to irritate your father, your mom, your uncle, or do you proudly proclaim your conversion to Vodun and say loudly in front of everyone that soon you will erect a Lêgba statue at the front of your new house in construction?
If you chose not to go to church and erect lêgba statue, you’d instantly become a pariah, isolated, excluded from your family and friends circles. People will hate you. Then you’d be aggressed constantly by church goers and you’d be denied job opportunities, invitations, etc.
Now, let imagine our strong African activist from Paris who would come back to Kaduna in the North of Nigeria where Islam is mandatory. Would our strong activist have the courage to refuse to do the ass in the air prayer or shun the islamic Friday service in the mosque!?
He would be promptly excluded from the city, and if he wish to practice African spirituality he would be stoned to death.
More often than not, our brave activists from the Diaspora would turn into a little lamb, and do everything to fit in, checking his return ticket every hour until his plane departure back the foreign lands, where he’d be free again to be African like he wants.
Only 5% of Africans still are practicing African spirituality. 95% follows colonial religions.
Being African activists back here means your chance of mating with a non-Christian or non-Muslims is almost zero. If you cannot reproduce, you’d be victim of religious evolution.
Your boss in Accra would be a Christian who would require employees to pray before every meeting or after. If you don’t conform, your chance for promotion is zero. If your boss is Muslim, he would do everything to convert you, or you’d be fired. Here Muslims hire only Muslims or give opportunities only to fellows.
Being African is severely punished by the majority and the government.
In the daily life, noisy mosques and churches would constantly remind you that you are in an occupied territory.
That’s the difference between being activist at abroad and back home in Africa.
Brave activists from London risk no visit from governments spies or murderers. You can talk loud about all the bad things in your country safely from a democratic country, and feel smarter, braver, more intelligent.
Now, come back to Ndjamena or Lomé. Call a press conference, organize a seminar, write a book or an article about the dictators Deby or Gnassingbe, or make a bad Facebook post about a corrupt politician. If you are lucky you are invited and you are offered a nice envelope telling you to shut the fuck up. If you are unlucky, you’d be beaten up by some strangers, or your car would get into an accident. Prison being the most Democratic punishment for you.
That’s what it means to be political activist here. You have to think carefully, protect your rears, otherwise you are dead or eliminated in one way or another.
If you are too famous and highly disturbing, the African regime call friends at the French embassy to arrange a visa for you to be sent back to France, America or Europe, wherever far.
Even stupid dictator know that your influence depends on your proximity with the populations. Remote activism is just unpleasant noise or entertainment.
You are African activist who want to do business. In London, no one cares about your opinions, they buy value from you.
Back to Africa, as an African activist you cannot do business to any significant level if you don’t become Freemason, belong to Rotary club, Lions Club, belong to the ruling party, or members of some alumni database, or Muslim.
As African activist if you don’t want to belong to those colonial institutions or networks, but you still want to do business, it’s a million times more difficult.
You’d become poor, bitter, and isolated.
Here, no one listen to a poor man, even if he has a Nobel Prize of panafricanism.
Should I give more examples!?
I’ve been activist in Europe. Now I’m activist in Africa, in Togo, a country ranked among autocratic regimes.
In Europe, I’ll write stuff about lack of infrastructure in Africa then go out and jump into first world infrastructure and enjoy a great life.
I’d attend conferences about agriculture and food problems in Africa, then move to a dinner table with lot of food to be later thrown.
I’d wish good health insurance to the poor back in Africa, and magically access top rated doctors just next door.
Most of the issues we were talking about were vastly theoretical and distant from the daily life of people here.
Back here in Africa, I now understand why it’s important that African activists in the Diaspora to come back to live in our villages, our small cities. A leader, even if it’s just an opinion leader, should live among his people unless they are in exile.
I love activists in the Diaspora who introduce themselves as exiled or refugees, making it clear they are constrained to be far from home, from their people, and then have specific agenda to come back home to take power, to open a business, to lead their communities.
Everyone else, enjoying first world life and posturing as African activist, is in the entertainment business, distracting crowd with bits and shows.
Unfortunately those are the majority.
Written by Mawuna Koutonin, he is a Togolese Revolutionary Pan Africanist.