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Femi Obayori

The Road

To

Self-determination

The Road to Self-determination

Femi Obayori

© Femi Obayori 2003

N o part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

First published 2003

By OBABOOKS

e-mail: ifafemi2001@yahoo.com

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Contents

Page

1. Lost souls and illusions: By way of

introduction………………………………………

2. Self-determination struggle……….……………….6

8

4. Cadres of self-determination

5. Self-determination cadres are revolutionaries……14

6. Self-determination struggle is a popular struggle…16

7. Cultural content of self-determination struggle…

8. Self-determination struggle as armed struggle……23

19

3. Yoruba self-determination struggle………………

5

struggle………… 13

9. Self-determination struggle and Sovereign National

Conference……………………………………….26

10. Self-determination struggle and “politicians”

…….28

11. Self-determination struggle and the international community………………………………………

30

12. Conclusion………………………………………

32

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Dedication:

The Boys

who never had the opportunity

to learn the tricks of the process

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The Road to Self-Determination.

1. Lost Souls and Illusions: By Way of Introduction Reality is truth. Truth is the most enduring thing. Whether we like it or not, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, it is there, its dynamics haunts us and changes our reality, impact on our fate to the extent and in the direction to which we give cognisance to it or derecognise it. But truth is bitter. Where knowledge is lacking truth becomes the casualty. Where mediocrity and mundane-mindedness reign, truth is staked, as at Inquisition, where the worldly overclouds the minds and beings of men. Truth is nailed to the cross. Nailed, but only to like Jesus come round to posses the minds and beings of men, men of another generation, men of the future. The Yoruba self-determination struggle is in the dark forest of untruth, of lack of knowledge, where the liquor of sentiments and illusions presents to the lost souls a luminescent picture of a sweet paradise. It is important that we begin to clear this pall of unreason with the bitter pills of truth. The wheat must be separated from the chaff. We must come out clearly to define the road to our self-determination. We must come out to make a distinction between self-determination politics and playing politics with self-determination. We need to make a distinction between radicalism in struggle and rascality in struggle. The years of rummaging in the dark must be left behind. Thuggery as tactics must be distinguished from the strategy of thuggery and intensification of terror in the name of the people. What is the road to Yoruba self-determination? How does the Yoruba self- determination struggle, its content, its real meaning and its place in the struggle determine the method best suited to the struggle?

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2. Self-determination Struggle. To define the road to self-determination correctly, self- determination itself must be correctly defined. Self- determination is the control by a people over their economic, political, social and cultural life. The recognition that a people deserve this is their right to self-determination. That it is a right means that it is inalienable, it is part and parcel of what makes such a people complete as a people, that there is no hindrance to their development. When a people enjoy the right to self- determination, the basis for full realisation of their humanity is guaranteed. When people fight for self-determination, when people struggle for self-determination, it means that they do not enjoy this right at all or that they do not enjoy it to the fullest. Thus the people of Puerto Rico, a colony of the United States of America, have been fighting for self-determination since the US annexed that country in 1898, the Kurds have been struggling for self-determination [in a new phase] since the treaty of Sevres which would have granted their separate state was betrayed by the European powers in 1920 leading to the balkanisation of the Kurds in several countries, mainly Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The people of Quebec, Tibet, Basque in Spain, Palestine, Xinxiang in China, Chechnya, Omorro in Ethiopia, the Saharawi people, the people of southern Sudan, all are fighting for self- determination, part of the approximately 150 self-determination movements in the world. In most if not all these cases the struggle has been bloody or rather violent, bordering on war and terrorism. But experience also has shown that in all these cases, at one time or the other they return to the negotiating table. In all these cases also not only do they have charters or bills stating clearly what they want as a people, the focus of their struggle,

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they have these documents before international organisations such as the United Nations, OAU/ African Union, Organisation of American States [OAS] and the likes and maintain diplomatic missions abroad, lobby groups and other networks. They have recognition among other peoples. Their positions are not conjectured by the international media and observers on the bases of their actions or perceived intentions but first and foremost on the basis of their mission statements and coordinated responses to unfolding reality. These peoples fight consciously recognising that they are part of a humanity that has codified standards of self-determination, certain rights which all civilised nations of the world agree to and must be made to abide by. But in our own case the world has had access to our mission statements only haphazardly. When it is convenient for us we speak to the world. We have not succeeded in impacting it on the global psyche that some 45 million people in Nigeria called Yoruba think they are repressed and deserve to be allowed to exercise their right of self-determination. But this is also a reflection of the local conduct of the struggle for self- determination. Many people have not realised that the struggle is not just a struggle for secession or a separate republic. It could be as mild as mere granting of linguistic and cultural rights as some of the tendencies and parties in the Kurdish struggle in Turkey have argued. It could be a struggle for autonomy or true federalism. This is important because unless we recognise clearly all the options and only consciously arrive at the most correct option, even if it is the most extreme, most unpalatable and one requiring the most arduous task, if we arrive at a correct decision through an erroneous appreciation of reality, definitely we are

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going to commit fundamental errors in the execution of this decision. It also has implication for a correct definition of our goals. Ultimately, the goal is the good life for our people. Good life in all its ramifications. The structural redefinition, the changes in political structure, is to create the enabling environment for the blossoming of the good life. The attainment of the status of a Republic does not automatically guarantee this. The type of republic, how the republic is arrived, will go a long way in determining what it will be: a republic of the people or a republic of the oppressing class?

3. Yoruba Self-determination Struggle The Yoruba Charter of Self-Determination, first published by the Oodua Youth Movement [OYM] in December 1994 and reviewed on June 12, 1998 clearly sets out the goal of Yoruba self-determination on the basis of a systematic analysis of the history of the Yoruba in the Nigerian enclave. The minimum condition acceptable to the Yoruba, according to the Charter is the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference [SNC] where the nations and nationalities in Nigeria would have the opportunity to jointly determine the basis of their existence as part of the union. In the alternative the Yoruba have the right to secede from Nigeria using all legitimate and universally acceptable means. This Charter remains the most well thought out document on Yoruba self-determination. All other documents on Yoruba self-determination have either been a build-up on the Charter’s foundation or in some cases attempts to be more original, exotic and novel, leading to the watering down of the dialectically carved logic of the Charter. But unfortunately, in spite of the effort to popularise the Charter, which due to no fault of its materially ill-equipped initiators,

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have been epileptic, many people who today claim to be gurus of Yoruba Self-determination, Leaders, Coordinators, Presidents and Commandants or whatever they may call themselves have not read a line of this great pamphlet or have read but not understood it. At the risk of sounding patronising, I would recommend that anyone who wants to take Yoruba self-determination struggle seriously must first read the Charter. Without the Charter it is difficult to appreciate the ABC of Yoruba self-determination struggle. Its logic is unbeatable, the vision that informed it sharp and the mission of the Yoruba clearly defined. If at that time the champions of the Yoruba Self- determination struggle were not clear as to the strategy and tactics for achieving Yoruba self-determination, they were able to define principles which would guide anyone with inner eyes away from the roads that could not lead to Yoruba self- determination. Thus the Yoruba self-determination struggle was consciously seen as a political struggle from the onset. The publication of the Charter was followed by conscientious pursuit of the task of its popularisation. Consultation with various strata of the Yoruba nation commenced in earnest. The elite, the studentry, the traditional institutions and working people were targeted, as well as the Yoruba in Diaspora. The OYM was conscious of the need to politicise the Yoruba populace. This because at the end of the day, even in its ethnic nature, the struggle is political because it is a tussle for control of product of social production whether material or intellectual and the people are the creators of wealth. Sentimentalisation of the struggle, chauvinism, ethnic bigotry, super race mentality, the chosen ones, ethnic cleansing, the dressing of dictatorship and fascism in ethnic icings were

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latter inventions imposed on the self-determination movement by better resourced opportunists, political jobbers and agents provocateur masquerading as champions of the popular cause. In step with the blossoming of self-determination groups, commencing with the COVENANT GROUP in October 1995 and the Oodua Peoples Congress [OPC] in December the same year was the watering down of the ideology of the struggle. But for sometime sincerity was still able to bear the leadership along. The swamping of the movement by negative tendencies created the imbalance from which we are yet to recover. This was further worsened by the conscious attempts of the ruling class to ethicise the struggle the oppressors as usual are the first to ethnicise the struggle, to devoid it of its political content. They pretend to be above tribe, above nationalities but prostitute the ethnic sentiment of the poor masses. Thus the raising of charm to the top of the agenda, absolutisation of armed struggle, unscientific appreciation of communal conflict as part of the contradictions of colonialism, blind support for and defence of the Yoruba bourgeois misadventure at the centre, the diversion to vigilante activities as a strategic activity of the self-determinationists, the inability to make a distinction between the State and an individual public servant [police, SSS e.t.c.] and later inordinate and tactless involvement of self-determination groups in partisan politics and many more were part of the process and consequences of depoliticisation of the Yoruba self-determination struggle. Thus the struggle became more attractive to lumpen elements in their material and intellectual instability and less attractive to the intellectual and the working class elements. It generated the raw materials for its own self-destruction. It is like a man who has chosen the fuel his kerosene stove with gasoline. It will burn all right but the conflagration would definitely be uncontrollable.

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Hence, whereas at the basis of the conflict within the OPC and the ones between it and its splinter groups in the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 were class contradictions, de-ideologisation of the struggle, de-politicisation, ethnicisation and opportunism were the immediate instruments that uprooted the tracks and derailed the train of the struggle. Instead of the struggle generating cadres, it needed strongmen and mercenaries to prosecute the internecine wars. Instead of radicals, it called forth rascals. Instead of transforming radicals to revolutionaries, it reduced them to rascals. Instead of radicalising rascals it ritualises and criminalised them. In short, the struggle ended up dehumanising rather than re-humanising our people. Instead of hope for the masses and love of the movement, fear and hatred of the movement ensued. The damage is enormous. The mismanagement of the prospect opened up by the brokering of peace and bringing of the major self-determination groups except the Gani Adams-led OPC under the umbrella of COSEG is a reflection of lack of understanding of the theory of struggle as much as of opportunism left opportunism to be precise. The refusal to admit that unity must be forged on the basis of practice, of joint programme, rather than on the basis of some grand design, the lack of understanding that structure must match functions and that nothing could be as damaging to a mass movement as inventing big titles for lumpen proletariats and fashioning undue status and privileges. The role played by loans and donations, which Karl Marx refers to in the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte as the financial science of the lumpen proletariat, we shall save for another medium. The mismanagement of the relationship within politicians and the unprincipled support for Obasanjo on the ground that he is using the slot of the Yoruba is also part of this lack of appreciation. Sentiment beclouded everything. The sheer weight

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of material acquisition beat the hell out of the force of good logic. Those who challenged this process of de-ideologisation of a struggle, that was in the first place ideologically a toddler, were ignored to wallow in their material poverty, their protestations reduced to the whining of a motherless child in the market place. The years 2001 2003 were really the years that most consummately revealed the stuff of which we were made. The movement was rich in material but poor in spirit. There was relative peace among the groups but distrust among individuals increased. Indeed, if there were no such bloody clashes as there were in 1999 and 2000, it was only because the wolves had a whole herd of sheep to devour rather than a single carcass. I would call these two years our years of death and at the same time of rebirth. Those who want to chart a course to the future must take a look at the last two years and note to what extent material and human resources were squandered, to no purpose. The years showed us clearly that material resources were not the problem of the movement; infrastructural build up would amount to nothing without the human resources. The movement lacked cadres. These two years have further demonstrated to us that the development of our cadres would in the final analysis determine the direction and pace of development of our struggle for self- determination. It is not enough to broaden the base of the struggle, it is not enough to “Pero S’oko, “we must be interested in the drivers of those vehicles and who the conductors are.

***** So far we have attempted to briefly define what self- determination struggle is in general, what the Yoruba self- determination struggle means and highlighted some of the problems of our struggle in the last half a decade or so, next we shall look at what road is most likely to lead us out of the woods

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to the fount of our desire. What is the road to Yoruba self- determination? What are its landmarks, its guideposts?

4. Cadres of Self-determination Struggle. Every human endeavour has its art and science. Those who want to fashion something new out of the old must learn the method for doing this. Knowledge is not given; it is acquired. Cadres of a movement are those who have knowledge of how to attain the objective of the movement. A cadre is an individual who understands clearly the principles, perspectives and programmes of his organisation, has internalised it and is able to on the basis of this analyse and correctly respond to unfolding reality. A cadre not only toes the strategic line of the organisation but is also a good tactician. He is a bundle of initiatives. No political movement can cope and cope well with challenges without cadres. The cadre is a product of the struggle; he is also one of the driving forces of the struggle. Cadres must be able to hold their heads high where strong but unorganised fighters collapse. The cadre gives inspiration to the masses. Our greatest concern therefore should be the build up of cadres. The Yoruba say A ni omo go e ni ki o ma ku; kini tete pani bi ago. Any movement that lacks cadres is doomed. It will die of infantile errors, if not in its infancy, then in its old age. Cadres are the ones that must clear the road of self-determination. They are the road makers, whether the road of self-determination is filled with stumbling boulders ands precipitous gullies or it is smooth would depend on the education and development of the cadres. Whereas there are no cadres the political movement would be nothing better than a horde of early men without a headman. Such cadres must be consciously built. They must be consciously educated in the ways of the struggle. The education

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of the cadres cannot be left to haphazard, epileptic, didactic newspaper features.

5. Self-determination Cadres Are Revolutionaries We are revolutionaries. The struggle for Yoruba self- determination is a revolutionary struggle. This does not in anyway imply that it is a war or violent struggle. What this implies is that it is a struggle meant to fundamentally turn things around. It is a struggle geared towards a radical departure from the past. It is not a struggle that begs its way for reform. It is a struggle that must build unlimited capacity to unleash a social force that cannot be resisted by the opposing political interests. As Yoruba self-determinationists we contend that Nigeria is a fraudulent contraption. It was a British colonial creation meant to satisfy the exploitative economic aim of the imperialist powers. In the creation of Nigeria, the peoples’ opinion did not matter. The various nationalities in Nigeria never came together on the basis of any mutual agreement and the contraption has developed on the basis of deceit and fraud. There had never been any serious attempt to forge a nation out of this contraption. Flag independence and expression of unity through sorry cultural shows and football match fevers have been the highest cultural expressions of the nation. No national culture, no sense of nationalism and no national conscience. The bureaucracy is not only corrupt and inept but has also become a burden to the nation rather than its rotor. Educational institutions have not only fallen in standard but the educational system itself seems not to have a definitive goal that tallies with the developmental needs of the people as Africans and Third World people. In consonance with this are a cultural level, ethical necrosis and mass psychosis, which swamp everyone and has become a condition of survival. We are part of the countrywide madness.

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But to make a change those who themselves want to change reality cannot afford to be swamped by this reality. The flood of decay must not be allowed to sweep those who want to make change away. Those who want to make change must find some

root, reed or climbers on the banks of the water of corruption and decay to cling on to. We cannot afford to succumb to the very values we want to change. Tactical retreats must never be allowed to assume strategic importance. A cadre who mismanages the meagre resources of the local branch of his group or who enjoys being treated with reverence and awe by ordinary members of the organisation is no better than the Capone of a cult or the corrupt Nigerian government official. This is the bitter truth. In the final analysis, the aim is man as Che Guevara said. In

a revolutionary process you not only want to reorganise the society, you not only want to do away with the old and replace it with something new, but you are also interested in changing the outlook of the human beings that would be in this new society. They have to be born again to be able to live in the new society.

It is not good enough to have a new wine skin; the wine itself

must be new. The cadres must be the first to be washed. Changes are impossible without sacrifices, without self- denial. This is a fact. It is the reality. Self-denial, not in the sense of that radical who wants to join a conservative on the car racetrack riding a Keke NAPEP, not in the sense of the unwashed, unkempt radical who wants to go and preach self- determination to the well-educated young man. I mean self- denial in the course of the struggle.

**** Double the zeal the revolutionary puts into destroying the old order must be put into building the new one. But as this is a

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dialectical process of destruction and building going on simultaneously, the revolutionary is a builder, never a destroyer. Hence he is not a revolutionary whose main pre-occupation is fashioning destructive schemes but administratively is a dunce. The movement could do better without such element. This is the bitter truth.

6. Self-determination Struggle is a Popular Struggle Our struggle for self-determination is a popular struggle. It is not a struggle championed by a chosen few, experts or eggheads. As much as possible we must draw every strata of the Yoruba populace into it, particularly members of the oppressed and less privileged classes. The working class, the peasantry, market women, the petty traders, youths and students must be consciously drawn into the mainstream of the struggle. It is a people’s struggle not only in the sense of it being that which would ultimately benefit the masses, but also in the sense that the masses are the main actors in the theatre of the struggle. The involvement of the masses is best measured by their involvement in the mass popular actions of the self- determination movement. The relationship between the masses and the cadres in such popular struggle is like a large army division on campaign in which the cadres occupy the vanguard, the rear guard and the flanks and the masses occupy the centre. The cadres are the guardians of the struggle Eso in Yoruba. Our popular struggle cannot afford to belittle mass actions such as demonstrations, picketing, mass meetings and pamphleteering campaigns. Propaganda work among the masses in the neighbourhoods and in the work places is very important. Agitators need to go out and do some work among the masses. Such works are legitimate and part of the exercise of the democratic rights and we must do it. There are no two ways

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about it. Self-determination cannot be the result of the handiwork of a benevolent few that have carried out a coup d’état and declared a Yoruba Republic or the result of the intrigues of a Yoruba president of Nigeria. Our own duty is to lead the masses. As ideologues and cadres we are to show them the way. We cannot and must not attempt to dash them self-determination. The masses must be drawn through the fire and the brimstone of the struggle in order to steel and temper them for the task of building a Nation. We cannot afford to turn ourselves into literal sacrificial lambs on the altars of a nation that is not yet prepared to take offerings. We cannot afford to be fatalistic about the struggle. Except there is such an effort to politicise the mass of our people along the line of our principles and programmes, there is the tendency to get alienated from the masses. There is also the tendency to reduce the struggle to mere ethnic protestation by a disgruntled few. Without the involvement of the masses there is no way there can be justification for our actions and, of course, we are even likely to become a bunch of self-opinionated bigots, some eccentrics who more and more are driven to mad actions and get angry at the masses for not supporting such actions. There is the tendency on the part of the cadres, cocooned in their small world in the midst of fellow cadres and cut off from the masses, to become nihilistic. They begin to think that the masses cannot be moved to carry out changes; that the people cannot be moved from within, but rather need some liberator from without to do this, or some intensification of terror for them to be jolted out of their slumber. A couple of examples would suffice to illustrate the point being made. The demand that the masses should be drawn into the struggle does not exclude extreme, at times violent or armed, actions. The demand is that the masses must feel they are part of

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the activities led by the vanguard. They must be made to think and act as part of the movement, part of the current. Take for instance the Palestinian Struggle. The Hamas and the parent Palestinian Liberation Organisation, PLO, are no doubt well entrenched among the masses. The people have never regretted or dissociated themselves from any actions of the organisation. The Intifida is not the handiwork of a clique. Parents not only justify the actions of the stone-throwing children and youths but form part of the networks that have facilitated suicide missions. When the people mourn at the funeral of loved ones, of martyrs, they do not mourn or regret the role of the martyr in the struggle but only mourn the loss of a great fighter. The struggle for an independent Palestine State is visible in the neighbourhoods in the West Bank, in Gaza and even among refugees in camps across the border and in the shanties of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and other Mid-Eastern State. The struggle is a popular struggle. It is a struggle of the people directed by their organisation. Every action, even so-called terrorism, has enjoyed the popular acclaim. The Palestinian organisations cannot be afraid of referendum because they carry the people along. The same thing could not be said of the Basque separatists in Spain, the ETA whose main strategy has been political assassinations and bombing. In the regional elections in the Basque country on May 13, 2001 the people gave their votes overwhelmingly to moderate, liberal nationalists. The Euskal Herritarrok [EH] lost more than half of its seats no thanks to its relationship with ETA. The people were getting tired of assassinations and “terrorist actions.” But the ETA is not more violent than some of the Palestinian groups; its struggle, however, is not as popular.

****

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Involvement of cadres in activities that touch the life of our people would go some length in entrenching the self- determination groups among the people and broadening the base of the struggle. Crisis management, disaster management, relief operations and the like would also go a long way in disciplining the cadres of the movement and bringing them to the fore as natural leaders of the people. It gives the opportunity to the cadre to test his ability as an organiser, not only within the movement, but also of the broad masses, even those of opposing interests at moments when what is at stake is unmistakably humanity as a whole.

7. The Cultural Content of Self-determination Struggle. Every political struggle has its cultural content. If culture is a reflection of the totality of material and intellectual production of a society, if it reflects the way of life of a society, its dynamics and transformation of reality, then social changes necessarily bring about cultural changes. But then we must make a distinction between the cultural transformation of the society occasioned by revolutionary changes and the use of cultural weapon in making social changes. Self-determination struggle by its very nature has a heavier cultural hue than any other form of struggle because the elements united in other forms of political struggles class struggle, struggle for democratic and fundamental rights, gender and so on - need not necessarily share common history, ancestry and cultural homogeneity, but the definition of people in self- determination struggle [UNESCO, 1990] emphasises common historical tradition, racial or ethnic identity, cultural homogeneity, linguistic unity, religious or ideological affinity. The people have more commonality than in other forms of struggle.

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Again the struggle for self-determination is a struggle for identity, for self-actualisation. Wherever a people become dominated as a people assault on the cultural expression has always been one of the greatest weapons for making their conquest permanent. The oppressor tries to impose his own way of life, make the oppressed lose confidence in himself. To regain his identity, therefore, the dominated person must recover his lost tradition, must go through a process of historical rediscovery and cultural rebirth. The costumes, food, traditional dances, artistic expressions and language [which is the vehicle of culture] become weapons in the hands of those poised to change society. Every oppressor no doubt also quickly recognised this. Thus in India during the struggle for independence Mahatma Ghandi was disparaged in the British press as a Naked Kafir; not that he was naked but what assaulted the British psyche was his homespun cotton and sandals and the regenerative effect this cultural rebellion would have on the mass of struggling Indian people. In Turkey the Kurds are not allowed to use their language in official circles. In Nigeria during the colonial period [and up till now in some places] Africans dressed in traditional attires were looked at a gargoyles and disallowed use of hotels and European restaurants. In situation where they could not totally obliterate everything they raised a few, compromised these, and use them as weapons for the obliteration of others. Hence in Nigeria with over 300 ethnic groups and more than 100,000 autonomous communities, for several years, kids in school were taught that there were only three “tribes” in Nigeria, namely Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba and that in any case the languages of these ethnic groups were vernaculars not good enough for impacting knowledge on the youth. Examples abound in Tibet, East Timor, among the Iri Jayans [also in Indonesia], the Chiapas in Mexico, everywhere

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the culture is suppressed and self-determination struggle aims at cultural rebirth and uses the cultural weapon to challenge the authorities, to challenge the oppressor, to conscientise the masses, to propagandise, to agitate and even organise the people. We must here recall the works of the African National Congress [ANC] cultural troupe, the AMANDLA, in South Africa during the struggle against Apartheid. We must also recall the Mau Mau in Kenya in the 50s, the Nyanbingi. Then we must look at the works of Hubert Ogunde during the struggle for independence Worse Than Crime, Tigers Empire, Strike and Hunger, Bread and Bullet and so on were all plays that struck at the heart of the colonial system. Then his Yoruba Ronu, which is a classic of use of cultural weapon in politics. But then we must make a distinction between culture as a weapon of struggle, cultural re-awakening and outright atavistic exhumation of antiquated way of life and pseudo-religious practices. The appropriation and wielding of the cultural weapon by the ANC, for instance, was more progressive than the Buthelezi-led Zulu Nkatha Movement with its animal skin clad, hatchet brandishing, howling human horde. It is wrong to think that fluency in the Yoruba language is a pre-condition for participation in the Yoruba self-determination struggle. Being clad in agbada, gbariye or dandogo is not an evidence of commitment to the struggle; it could be an expression but it is not necessarily an expression. This is important because the most important thing is the understanding of the dynamics of the struggle and such dynamics are language and culture blind in their inner content. But while consciously working against reducing the struggle to a mere pin-up struggle, we must work assiduously to impress the symbols and totems of our people on everything and anything that comes into the life of our people. Nothing must be

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appropriated in its de-culturised, universalised, unAfricanise, nay unYorubised form. Everything must bear our mark. This is how

to begin to win the battle of consciousness, the greatest battle of

humanity, because consciousness separates man from the beast. We must also make a distinction between religious practices and expressions and the inner content of our struggle. The cultural in struggle is not an attempt to return to the past; we only take a cue from the past. A Yoruba self-determinationist does not have to be a traditional religionist. They are two

different things. In the olden days we would need to consult Ifa

to know the mission of a strange presence say an iron horse or

a white woman but no one needs to consult any Ifa if he

suddenly beholds an American warship off our coast -there must be danger. Thus, it is completely wrong to think every Yoruba self-determinationist must have Ojubo Esu or Ogun in his compound. If we want to return strictly to tradition the way certain elements in the self-determination struggle express it, then we definitely must abandon modern democracy or federalism and reinvent the Oyo Empire and Oyomesis, have an Oba, a Kabiyesi [ka bi o ko si], abasewaa! To complete it we must also reinvent all the immolations accompanying coronation, and funeral ceremonies, war expeditions and cultist practices, now on a grand scale! And what is more, some of us must be ready to surrender our children as Eunuchs for the royalty! Ditto for the use of charms. It is a cultural weapon like any other weapon and not a pre-condition for participating in the Yoruba self-determination struggle. He is a lazy self- determinationist who relies solely on charms. His heart and feet are bound to fail him before the charms fail him. The point being made is that there must be a scientific definition of the relationship between cultural expression in

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struggle and the inner content of the struggle, which is revolutionary, a social overhaul, a social turning of things around, not to return to the past, but to re-link with the past on a higher plain, making the past part of the ingredients of the future and de-linking the present from the shackling elements of the past.

**** It is therefore wrong for such self-determination group as the Oodua Peoples Congress to call itself a socio-cultural movement. It is a political organisation. Its works definitely have some cultural content but it is a political organisation and part of the Oodua movement. Even the Afenifere got it wrong when it called itself a Yoruba socio-cultural association. It is political. You may not be partisan, you may hide your partisan inclination, but all your activities are essentially political. Socio-cultural groups cannot be at the head of the Oodua movement. Everything is decided at the level of politics, that is where those who want to reorganise the society must go. Others contribute all right but they do not chart the course. Thus Mariam Makeba in South African struggle could have gingered the people, caused agitation with her songs, and even mobilised, but Winnie Mandela was where decisions were being taken. The difference is between the Agbero and the Awako. The former may even be more popular and richer than the latter, but the fate of the passengers is in the hands of the Awako and he needs to be more cautious.

8. Self-determination Struggle as Armed Struggle Just as it is wrong to reduce the struggle to mere violence and armed conflict, so is it wrong for self-determinationists to deny

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the necessity of the struggle assuming armed dimension at a particular stage in its development, more so when it becomes clear that contradictions have grown to a stage that cannot be resolved by any other political means. Self-determinationists are not duty bound to preach peace. The very oppressive and exploitative condition that necessitated the struggle in the first place is a breach of peace. The relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed is a violent one. Domination of one people by the other is violence. The process of redefinition of the relation is also bound to be violent in a way; it is a process of social tug of war, social cataclysm. It is not to be expected to be like the parting of ways after a wedding engagement or naming ceremony. Only socials justice, in this case a situation where the rights of the dominated people to self-determination is guaranteed, can assure peace. However, armed struggle is only justifiable when all other political means have been exhausted. It must also be foundationed on a high level of politicisation of the populace. Methods that have the potential of alienating the movement from the masses must be avoided. A movement of nihilists whose sole method is that of intensification of terror is surely not going to win power. If it does it would only be for a while. Thus the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia [1977-78] vandalised and reduced the Cambodian society and also destroyed itself through the misapplication of the weapon of a politico-military organisation. Armed struggle is not also about a blind assault on persons of the enemy race or ethnic group. The objective must be clearly defined and strictly political. Self-determination struggle derives its legitimacy from the recognition that all peoples have the rights to self-determination and other fundamental human rights including the right to life, even the peoples of the oppressing nations and nationalities. Hence what is at issue in the final

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analysis is humanity. Ethnic cleansing is antithetical to the philosophy behind self-determination struggle. The cleansings in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the early 1990s and the 1994 massacre in Rwanda in which over one million people were killed in one week derived from unprincipled, sentimental approach to the struggle. Self-determination struggle is a struggle for the re- humanisation of a dehumanised people, a people whose self- esteem is eroded, whose humanity is being degraded and stolen. To regain their humanity, they must not resort to the dehumanisation of other peoples, because those who dehumanise others also necessarily get dehumanised in the process and create the condition for further dehumanisation a concentric circle of dehumanisation leading to point zero of humanity beastly existence.

**** Armed struggle must grow out of the popular struggle. It must not be imposed on it. It must never be allowed to overgrow it. The armed wing of a self-determination struggle must at all times be subjected to the political leadership of the movement and entrenched among the people. Self-determinationists who create jitters among the masses any time they rampage through the slum with their Dane guns and shotguns need to think twice. Self-determinationists whose leaders attain position of leadership as a result of ability to physically manhandle and outshoot rivals and contenders for position of leadership rather than canvassing correct political line and if necessary defending same with force of arms need to re-examine themselves. Self-determination groups in which the armed wings are not only organised according to the structures of the oppressing army but in which the commanders also enjoy the same undue privileges as are enjoyed by the officers of neo-colonial armies like the Nigerian Army are surely not on the road to self-determination. Those

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The Road to Self-determination

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who set out to build careers as self-determination soldiers would either eventually veer off the road of self-determination or overshoot the destination point of the struggle. After the objective of the struggle has been attained they would surely invent new objectives clearly their own. The self-determination struggle must avoid the engagement of mercenaries. This does not exclude the participation of persons of other ethnic groups who feel convinced and committed enough to contribute to the struggle.

****

It is wrong to conceive of armed struggle only in terms of war of

independence. It could also serve the purpose of armed defence of exercise of democratic rights, armed defence of the struggle. Necessity is the mother of invention.

9. Self-Determination Struggle and Sovereign National Conference It is wrong to posit that the struggle for Oodua Republic excludes the call for a Sovereign National Conference [SNC]. The SNC is about the highest form of political programme that could be used to challenge the basis of existence of the Nigerian contraption. Calling for National Conference instead of Constitutional Conference connotes that the matter goes beyond mere constitutional reforms. The question of nationhood comes to the fore; the principle on the basis of which the various ethnic groups and nationalities were brought together is being called in question. SNC also poises to transfer sovereignty that has been stolen from the people back to them. This can only be achieved by making the SNC a popular process. SNC provides a veritable platform to popularly and legitimately canvass our position. It is

a platform for galvanising the masses, conscientising them and

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The Road to Self-determination

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drawing them into the mainstream of self-determination struggle. The process leading to the Conference or the process leading to its abortion is more important than the Conference itself. Will they allow the Conference to hold? That is the question from someone who does not understand the content of the Conference. Go out to the masses; go to the neighbourhoods, insist that a conference is necessary, let people mock at you, let people oppose you, let the government ban public meetings, let the federal government deny the peoplehood of the Yoruba, let arrests be made that is political struggle. That is self- determination struggle per excellence. Let them attempt to call a caricature conference, a mere constitutional conference, a conference of elders or leaders of thought. Then you have a new job. that of convincing the masses that they are about to be robbed, that they are about to be 419ied. Then you are fighting for self determination. Let you sons among them come out to say Oodua Republic is impossible, let them not have room to manoeuvre, to pretend, let them come all out against a popular idea, against what would benefit the Yoruba, then we are winning. Let them by their aggression and repressive measures call the people to arms. When we get to the river we shall know how to cross it. The thing we must not be guilty of is lack of preparedness. Even if they try to carry out mere constitutional amendments we must be interested, because every step in the direction of weakening the shackling hold of the centre on the region is of advantage to us. All illusions must be dispelled. But we must let the masses know the limit of this.

**** The Yoruba Constituent Assembly [YCA] is a conference to agree on Yoruba position. This is the way the Yoruba can begin

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to force the implementation of the SNC. The YCA is the praxis of SNC in Yorubaland. It shows the readiness of the Yoruba to go to SNC or to walk away if others refuse to talk and work a way out of the present quagmire. YCA effort initiated by Alajobi in 2000 must be revisited and given a popular expression. The YCA is a way of testing the willingness of the Yoruba people to be identified as a people, their consciousness of peoplehood. It is also a way of creating institutions and structures of the Yoruba Nation outside the Nigerian State. It is the road to parallel power. It will strengthen our hands in calls for referendum if we want to, it legitimises all our actions, even going to war for a republic. Ejo la nko ro ka to ko’ja. Ti eniyan o ba si joko ko gbodo na’se. Eni owo re o te’ku da to nbere iku to pa baba re oun na fe ku niyen. Abo oro la nso fun omoluwabi to ba denu re a d’odindi.

10. Self-determination Struggle and “Politicians” Yoruba self-determination struggle has higher objectives than any party contesting elections in the Nigerian polity as constituted could aspire to. But “politicians” and self- determinationists could have certain thins in common, and the objective basis for joint work on concrete programme exist. Part of the minimum demands of the self-determinationists, viz., true federalism, restructuring, respect for fundamental rights of the individual and peoples and so on are such as could be canvassed on the political platform. The national and state assemblies could also become veritable platforms of struggle. But from all points of view, practical political, intellectual and ideological, the self- determinationists must strive to play the leading role. Self- determination struggle is bound to die a natural death the moment the relationship between the self-determinationists and politicians who sympathise with the cause is left to the control of

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the politician. At all times the self-determinationist must retain the initiative. Those self-determinationists who try to erect a brick wall between “political parties” and self-determination groups are getting the issue wrong. Not only is it tolerable to maintain links with progressive parties, it is politically wrong to severe relationship with progressive parties. Even as minority and opposition the progressive parties have an important role to play in creating the enabling environment for the broadening of the base of the self-determination struggle. The self-determination struggle is bound to excite the enactment of draconian laws by the ruling elite; the progressive parties have a crucial role to play in checking some of the excesses and fascistic tendencies of the ruling elite from the constitutional point of view. Thus there is nothing wrong in self-determinationists themselves going into some of these parties to contest or raising parties of their own on which platform they could contest elections provided such is subjected to the overall strategic aim of the movement and estimated to advance rather than fetter the cause. Such parties and politicians with whom we cooperate need not be from our nationality. Cooperating with a Hausa, Fulani of Chiawa assemblyman championing the cause of SNC at the national assembly is politically more correct than romancing with an abetiaja-capped, gbariye-clad, citraxed Oyo assemblyman whose sole concern in Abuja is chasing contracts and women. Yoruba self-determination groups have no moral justification for defending the oppressive political programme of a Yoruba at the helm of affairs at the centre. All such clichés as “He is using our ticket, “He is our son”, “We have the responsibility of defending all Yoruba sons and daughters are balderdash, which

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can only be expected from political infants or opportunists. The only Yoruba at the centre worth defending is that who uses his position to advance the Yoruba, Africa and the rest of humanity, not one who makes war of genocide on ethnic minorities at home [in Nigeria] and who abroad blindly clutches to the shoelace of Bush the Son. This is the road to self-determination. The opposite road leads to Fascism to Hell on Earth. This is how things stand.

11. Self-determination Struggle and the International Community. There is no international community anywhere. The imperialist powers are the international community. They colonised us, granted us flag independence and are presently at the helm of affairs in a Unipolar World. The United States of America and its partners in international petty craft holds sway everywhere anywhere recall Panama December 1989, Haiti 1992, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003. Their power cannot be doubted. The advance countries of the world would not want any new nation to emerge because this would increase the number of nations they would have to deal with, increase the number of seas in the United Nations and weaken their power to hold down the world, or at least make it more expensive for them to run the world. The developed countries of the world also feel duty bound to maintain peace in the world at all costs. To them self- determination struggles would lead to a breach of peace. They could not see that self-determination for all peoples is actually the road to peace for humanity. To them bottled anger, pyrrhic peace is better for globalisation than revolutionary upheavals and turning of things around. They could not admit that self-

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determination struggle would not at on time or the other lead to bloodletting, ethnic cleansing and reign of terror. Also, it is a challenge to the former colonial masters for anyone to want to put asunder what the put together. The call for an Oodua Republic challenges the wisdom behind the creation of the Nigerian contraption by the British. It is an ego thing. The amalgamation of 1914 is queried just as the independence of 1960 and th4e various conferences that led to it. In this circumstance, what then do we do? What should be our method of relationship with them? Good, we should popularise our struggle, we should internationalise, we should maintain relationship with other self- determination groups, not only in Nigeria but all over the world, we should be on the Internet, we should take our case to the United Nations fine. But all this must be predicated on concrete work at home. We must avoid the kind of misfortune that has befallen some movements in Asia which only exist on the Internet and in exile. We should open offices abroad and even maintain branches of our organisation in selected countries for strategic reasons. But we must not attempt to call for referendum for instance simply because our case is before the Un or because our people have been able to carry out demonstrations in countries where the laws are relaxed and such demonstrations won’t heat up their system. Call for referendum to be presided over by the United Nations must be preceded by work of agitation and mobilisation among the masses. Calling for a referendum for which we are not prepared is like giving the hangman the noose with which to hang you. In fact, we must avoid the imposition of referendum on us. Call for sanctions and the like are some of the avenues open to exploitation. But we must recognise the weaknesses of this.

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We must recall the role of Britain and America in breaking the sanctions on South African in the days of Apartheid. We must also bear in mind that sanction is a double-edged sword. If in the estimation of the imperialists a Yoruba Republic would be a thorn in their flesh, who says they can’t manoeuvre to get a sanction imposed on us by the UN? Who says they can’t frame the leaders of the movement and drag them before war crime tribunal or label them terrorists, pin terrorist actions on them and hunt them down, even when clearly they have not carried out any terrorist acts or forged relationship with terrorists?

12. Conclusion The Yoruba self-determination struggle, like every other self- determination struggle that wants to succeed, is therefore one that requires the most conscientious, most rigorous application of political theory. It must draw from the experiences of other peoples. It must proceed from the point that human societies are in constant state of development, nevertheless at different stages, but in which no race, nationality or nation is superior to the other. We must admit that the aim is not achieving permanent antagonism between the oppressing nations and the oppressed, but rather driving humanity towards harmony of races, nations and nationalities through mutual respect emanation from the bitter experience of struggle. Once the objective is understood this way, then the methods we adopt would definitely not be those that would create conditions for future upheavals or vengeance, a situation in which there is constantly a struggle for race superiority and which every new dominant nation wields its power most mercilessly on it adversary, only to in the future find itself in the same helpless position, a kind of vicious circle.

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**** The road of Yoruba self-determination struggle is a rough and tortuous road all right; the process of the struggle is a violent tearing away, dissociation from the past, but violent not in the raw sense. The boulders to be cleared on this road, the precipitous bends to be negotiated and the potholes to manoeuvre through are exactly the very undisciplined approach to struggle and lack of study in which many a self-determination strugglers are steeped today. Without discipline, without education, without the humility needed to come down from the high throne of the Great Leader, Commandant, President, Chairman, Organising Secretary or Coordinator, divesting ourselves of all kinds of undue privileges to the position of a selfless cadre and modest leader [Asiwaju ti n se bi omo ehin, ti ohun aye ko joloju rara], we cannot travel the roads that leads to Yoruba self-determination without fatal accidents. We must be humble enough to always ask questions the moment we see ourselves in the dark wood where the right road is lost and gone ala Dante. Rather than being sunk in the dark waters of our native pride. This exactly is the way things stand. -Eko Akete May June, 2003

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