Many Kingdoms Within Nigeria's Democracy

O. A. Asemota

Sep 24, 2017

There were sophisticated political systems in the space now called Nigeria prior to the coming of the white men. For example, the kingdoms of Benin, Ife, Oyo, Warri and the nothern caliphates of Sokoto and Kanem-Bornu had created impressive sophisticated systems before the white men came. In fact, a 17th century Dutch engraving from Olfert Dapper's Nauwkeurige Beschrijvinge der Afrikaansche Gewesten, published in Amsterdam in 1668 (more than a century before America declared its independence from Britain) described the Oba of Benin's Palace thus:

"The king's palace or court is a square, and is as large as the town of Haarlem and entirely surrounded by a special wall, like that which encircles the town. It is divided into many magnificent palaces, houses, and apartments of the courtiers, and comprises beautiful and long square galleries, about as large as the Exchange at Amsterdam, but one larger than another, resting on wooden pillars, from top to bottom covered with cast copper, on which are engraved the pictures of their war exploits and battles, and are kept very clean. Most palaces and houses of the king are covered with palm leaves instead of square pieces of wood, and every roof is decorated with a small turret ending in a point, on which birds are standing, birds cast in copper with outspread wings, cleverly made after living models."

Not too long after the white men from Britain first encountered these great accomplishments in spaces they had thought were uncivilized, they dismantled the political systems they met in this spaces and replaced them with a system of their own making with a lord Lugard and a lady Lugard christening the space. The history of how this replacement came to be is commonly available. Suffix it to note here, the following:

(1) The Portuguese and Dutch came before the British but they did not dismantle the systems they met in the space now call Nigeria.
(2) The evil behaviour of human sacrifices (given as one of the primary reasons for the punitive expedition) carried out in ancient Benin was dwarfed by the many head-choppings that occured in the ancient Tower of Death in London and the religious wars of ancient England. All ancient political spaces were imperfect in many ways.
(3) The leaders of ancient Benin made a fundamental developmental error: they never progressed in weaponery. They saw the guns the white men brought and even used some in their local warfare but were never curious enough to know how the white men made them. In other words, they did not extend their artistic genius to computational genius of the highest kind. Paraphrasing mathematician Peter O. Sagay: all spaces are computing spaces and those who lag are subject to subjugation by superior computing spaces.

The Nigeria the British built has been turning and twisting since the Lugards christened it. First, it was a parliamentary system copied from Britain, then a dictatorship by millitary juntas influenced by Britain and now a representative democracy copied from America. The Originality that came naturally to ancient African leaders has become elusive to modern African leaders: They copy and copy endlessly and are so quick to be influenced by leaders from other nations.

One does not have to be a genius inorder to figure out the fundamental implication of many kingdoms in Nigeria's democracy. A country with tremendous ancient accomplishments and unlimited potential has become one consistently in search of an identity. Consequently, the indigeneous people have returned to their respective kingdoms where they are comfortable and whose identity they know. More kingdoms have been created during Nigeria's democracy than at any other time in the history of the space now called Nigeria. In fact, twenty one kings were recently enthroned in Ibadan. There are now more kingdoms in Nigeria than there are local government areas. Only churches (another place of comfort for the people) are more than kingdoms.

The unity of Nigeria is negotiable. Those who oppose this stance are being selfish. The people must come together peacefully, to create an original African country. The Lugards and past millitary juntas can not christen an ancient space that predates their ancestors. Nigeria will continue to turn and twist until it has come to terms with its unique identity and the foolhardiness in planting a fully imported political system in an ancient space with a glorious past.

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