By Innocent Chia
have been pre-occupied increasingly by the subjects of nation building
and patriotism. In fact, it is still not clear to my mind whether to
separate nation building from patriotism or to treat them as two sides
of the same coin. I am also confounded as to which comes before the
other – does the chick come before the egg or is it the egg that comes
before the chick?
Is it patriotism that comes before nation
building or vice versa, and why? Yet, I do know that there is a common
and compelling thread tying failed or failing States to territories
that did not fight for independence, especially paying the ultimate
price with broken limb and lost life.
It is the route that causes, including the former British territory
known as Southern Cameroons, currently under the annexation of La
Republique du Cameroun, must take in order to avoid the pitfalls that
are crucifying progress and development the world over and particularly
Memorial Day (celebrated on the last Monday of May ever
since its enactment) reminds Americans of the costly price of freedom.
Over "620,000 soldier deaths and an undetermined amount of civilian
casualties", chronicles Wikipedea, further adding about the American
Civil War of 1861-1865:
"Its legacy includes ending slavery in
the United States, restoring the Union, and strengthening the role of
the federal government. The social, political, economic and racial
issues of the war decisively shaped the reconstruction era that lasted
to 1877, and brought changes that helped make the country a united
Fighting for their freedom then was no first for
Americans. Between 1775 and 1783, 13 colonies fought and defeated Great
Britain in what is either known as the American Revolutionary War or
the American War of Independence. It can be argued of the war against
Terrorism that American service men and women, and tax payers, still
continue paying the financial and human price for freedom.
for the generations of South Africans that endured apartheid. Over 25
years in jail for Nelson Mandela was a steep price to pay. How about
the unsung heroes and unknowns who paid the ultimate price with their
The age-old saying holds that when you put your sweat into
"it" you value "it" more. "It" could be anything – earning money
through effort to buy a car, build a home, and pay tuition for the
kids, etcetera. For lots of Americans, "it" also means defending the
homeland, against all else and at whatever price, and is often a way of
life lived by several up and down the family tree line.
and daughters pride in the work of their parents and resolve to die in
the defense of what was acquired and passed on to them. They, too, are
willing to bequeath something to their progeny for the epic to be
Whereas, in the case of most African nations that "won"
their independence from colonial masters, there was relatively little
blood, if any that was shed by the colony. Independence was not fought
for. It was negotiated on by the United Nations and the colonial
Such negotiations were never done to favour the
colony. A clear case in point is the FCFA currency that is mostly used
by Francophone countries in Central and West Africa. The fact that it
was pegged to the French franc, and now the Euro, is testament to the
strings attached to such negotiated independence.
little arguing what could have been if more Africans and African
countries had fought for their independence and died in the process:
Leaders would have been more accountable with the public dime; worry
more about the common future; worry less about swelling personal bank
accounts as if they were stealing from the Colonial Masters and not
themselves; lead more and kill less.
For all the barbecuing on
Memorial Day, Americans take the time to honour the service men, women
and families who continue to sacrifice so much for the country. It is a
time of remembrance and recommitment to themselves, the homeland and
their values as a people. Flags are raised at half mast till mid-day,
people are encouraged to visit military families or write to them. It
is all about renewal.
Many Africans have little to renew
themselves to. At best, there is more loyalty to the ethnic group than
there is to the nation. There are no common national values or goals.
Even constitutions are replicas of Western colonies.
the value of something is the price paid for it, the leadership of
Southern Cameroons must rethink strategy. It must kid itself not that
the outcome will be any different if its independence is negotiated and
handed on a golden platter by the United Nations.
This may be
its best chance to depart from its logic of the "Force of Argument and
not the Argument of Force." That rhetoric has outrun its course and, as
pointed out, has very little impact forward going, on the future of any
country that is not willing to sacrifice for what it values. The
current stay in the wilderness will be prolonged if the visionaries
fail to rally forces that can and will fight, and shed blood, for the
The "Bamenda six" may have been a drop in the ocean.
America lost 620,000 soldiers. It is at tremendous cost to somebody
else that Americans and South Africans enjoy freedom. The concrete used
in building the foundation of successful nations is mixed in the sweat
and blood of its sons and daughters. Just how much are leaders willing
to sacrifice, not for immediate gain, but for generations unborn? This
is the test of leadership. Such leadership breeds patriotism. Patriots
build nations, the kind of nations that weather any storms.