The Race For The Mind
By: Daniel Semere At whichever level we are operating, success and victory are first born in the mind. No achievement can be made without the mental readiness of the achievers. Even what most of us call as luck, cannot be used without a ready mind which seize the opportunity when and where it happens, hence the saying ‘luck favors the prepared mind.’ The point we are trying to make here is that, nothing happens without conviction first installed within the mind. Colonialism or oppression is perhaps the best example where this assertion has been proven right. More familiarly, the exploitation that came to signify the prevailing world order is sustained precisely because it’s been able to be sustained in the mind, both from the exploiters and exploited point of view. A scholar once challenged students to think about how Belgium, a country of relatively small size and small population could colonize one of the largest countries in the world, Congo? It is true, of course all colonial experience had the same pattern, especially in Africa, and that they are essentially the same. However, contemplating the above example ,epitomizes the case in point in this article that is the conviction in the mind precedes any action. The Belgian controlled the Congo with other colonial countries’ fighting power. The army with which almost all colonizers used to control other countries and expand their territory is comprised of men from other colonies. It is a simple logic that these armies, by strengthening the colonial base of their colonizers were extending their own colonization and oppression. To do these however the colonizers had to first control the minds of the colonized, without which it is virtually impossible to physically control the colonies. Indeed asking a simple question like, how many Belgians would have been needed to control the whole of Congo, would suffice to make the point clear. No Belgian would have been left in Belgium had the case been like this. Therefore, the techniques that were employed in cementing and indeed expanding colonialism, in one way or the other had to do with controlling the minds of the colonized people. Traditional leaders in Africa were made to be accomplices to their people’s suppression while they themselves were caged in an illusory idea of the possession power. Soldiers on the other hand were recruited from the colonies with the temptation of acquiring a new status whose price is, as a scholar puts it, ‘reinforcing colonized people’s chain of servitude’, where they themselves belonged. Hence from the onset the superstructure that was going to make this system seem natural was ceaselessly pursued, and it worked. If colonialism was to be defeated therefore it first and foremost had to be defeated in the mind. There had to be the belief that it is beatable. And as was witnessed it is when such ideas started to get hold in the mind of the people that the foundation of colonialism started to crumble. Indeed colonialism started to face a serious challenge to its existence, after the idea of the invincibility of the colonizers was challenged by the colonized after their experience in battle fields alongside the colonizers during the Second World War. The colonizer is a human with flesh and he bleeds and dies. Its authority can be challenged, as it is now conceivable that it can be defeated. In his book Resistance to Italian Colonialism in Eritrea, Zemhret Yohannes has given an insight that the 1894 courageous rebellion of Bahta Hagos to the flagrant land appropriation by the Italians, has served as precedence to the resistances that follows in the early years of the Italian colonialism. “The façade of the invincibility of the Italian colonialism was laid bare” that led to series of resistances to become “daily encounters.” The people have realized that colonialism is beatable. If one looks at the Eritrean armed struggle for independence, the assertion that victory over colonialism had to be won in the mind. As an extension of previous peaceful and violent resistances to colonialism, the Eritrean armed struggle took the mental readiness and conviction that the task of achieving independence through the participation of an aware people can be done. Indeed except for this quality, the pioneers of the armed struggle can not compared with the colonizer’s armed force at any level. However, the conviction led to mass participation of the people of Eritrea voluntarily; and as has been witness it proved to live up to the saying ‘nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer.’ In the course of the struggle, the vital struggle against colonialism was conducted in the mind. The Eritrean fighters worked relentlessly to free the people from mental enslavement and guide the people to the right course of history. That enabled the Eritrean people to redeem its dignity and indeed history, hence led it to its victory. The course however, has not reached to its final destination as much need to be done to maintain progress and avoid regression. olonialism has “ended” and African countries are “independent”. But the real question of utmost importance is that whether the mind of the African people is free. This is of the essence that determines everything. Frantz Fanon, for example, believes that gaining independence through political arrangement failed to bring about the freedom of the mind, and hence served as a foundation of Neo-colonialism. Indeed Fanon had written in one of his earlier books that what a black man wants to be is white. “This pathological desire” one powerful analysis of this fanon’s assertion states, “is forced upon black people by white civilization and European culture. Colonialism, slavery, and other means where by the west dominates the rest of the world have given rise to social practices, discourses, and ideologies that attempt to justify oppression while establishing global standard of values.” The analysis further went on to give a simple example that has been tacitly accepted and hence epitomizes this underlying problem. “For example, ‘universal’ criteria of beauty are based on white models: black people can never conform to them fully. Black people, then, abandon themselves individually and collectively in quest of white acceptance. The quest is inherently and ultimately futile; it results primarily solidifying deep and disturbing feelings of inferiority.” It is precisely this feeling of inferiority that has been hindering the solutions to most of our fundamental problems in Africa and elsewhere. Instead of having the confidence that we are able to solve most of our problem depending on ourselves, we rather look the solution elsewhere, and ironically from the very same people who seek to sustain our problem in the first place. In one of her recent articles Acqua Djanie wrote “What is going on? Why have we turned into a continent of beggars? Our leaders go abroad to beg for “aid” to support the national budget or else they can’t run our countries. They beg for loans, grants, and experts to develop Africa. It makes no sense, when you have everything you need at home to cook a good meal, to go begging your neighbor for their food. You may not be a good cook, but once you have the ingredients, surely you can only try?” The gist of the paragraph is that without the conviction that we can do whatever we want on our own, even having a considerable resources cannot change your status. Djanie remarks that “Africa is asking for help from the wrong quarters.” Colonizers has for long been benefiting from African resources more than Africans themselves. And what better way can there be to maintain the status quo than keeping the dependent mentality and there by making it vulnerable for manipulation. It will not be hard to believe that the world of interest that never thought twice to deprive humans their natural human rights in the days of colonialism will be devising means and ways to control the resources that had been crucial in its development, at its disposal. All the psychological warfare and propaganda by these interests conform to this basic endeavor of domination.All this arguments boil down to the fact that the race for the mind is still on the run. It is the ultimate way of domination without which any action is impossible. That’s where the problem is and that’s where the solution lies. Any other way will only be in vain.