In Africa, when nation-states feel internally or externally threatened, there is always a class that feels most threatened, while another bears the brunt of panic. This quickly leads to redefining identity, turf, and hostility. A war of we against us begins, with such conflicts marked by human and geographical definitions of who is whom, leading to the settlers and indigene syndrome.
These terminologies and philosophies often pop up in preparation for the bitter internal divisions around identity conflicts masterminded by the class in power. What baffles me is that the cannon-fodder class does not get to ask questions. This clueless class usually provides the bulk of men and materials to wage the resulting class warfare. I've warned in past columns that nation-states which rely on construction site ideologies to define patriots are simply generating hatred and sowing ignorance. You wonder why the same states have a corresponding level of poverty associated with the same class they rely upon to fight their wars.
The notion of homeland confers a renewed sense of indigeneship, creating cocoons or cleavages within a nation state, such that citizens can feel a special attachment to their nation. If I lived in Cleveland, Ohio and suddenly someone tells me he wants to protect me and my homeland, I would love to know if such protection includes putting food on my table, guaranteed medical coverage or a secured job. If national security does not include strengthening my body in order to combat hunger and poverty borne diseases, then I am bound to think that you are possibly protecting me against myself.
When Barack Obama denounced discrimination at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, he stated these immortal words, "A skinny kid with a funny name, who believes America has a place for him, too!" I could not contain my joy that someone said what needed to be said, speaking truth to power. But I knew that beyond the rhetoric and the applause, his origins would be questioned by the indigenes. Press and online blogs questioned his loyalty, even saying that he was an African without being an American - whatever that means! His political opponent, a black man himself, particularly noted that he, unlike Obama, is a descendant of a settler, not an offspring of an indigene. And worse, he has a funny name. Why on earth would a black man question the immigration origin of another black man over a senate seat when whites are working to change the US constitution so that an immigrant white man could become president?
I do feel as though in black communities globally, there seems to be war declared against blacks. I do not know if the war has racial origin but, what is very clear is that blacks too, are surrogates in executing the war against blacks both here and in Darfur, Sudan.
This mentality is a characteristic of a larger issue of nationality. Its symptoms are the expansion of the clampdown on people who, at one time, might have expressed divergent views against the present order. Najma Ramadan, a Swedish professor recently hired by Notre Dame University, had his visa revoked for reasons best known to the Department of Homeland Security. No serious explanation has been offered for this action except that Ramadan had a funny name and, because his grand father established the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, perhaps he had dangerous ideas. Cat Stevens now known as Yusuph Islam was deported to London because he too, had a very funny name and certainly professes dangerous ideas. I want to believe that this pattern of nationalism is simply symptomatic of dangerous times that have been preceded by a period in which every citizen has been frightened to take an absolute position namely: AT BEST KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT or else you may just find yourself on the no fly-list!