The conventional governing philosophy, conventions patterns of thinking and acting would no longer suffice to pull the societies of Africa out of containment and despair. Aping and transplanting Western systems and values would no longer serve, either. A grand or high philosophy, rich in interiority, is now required.
High philosophy stresses reason, systems, treatises, the rare intelligence of elites, and their organized work through schools, museums, and libraries. As satellite receptors from the garden of the “Infinite Intelligence,” philosophers are imbued with the capacity to “feel” through contemporary challenges and gain admission to the knowledge resource basin to create new “beings.”
To regain full stature, it has become inevitable for the postcolonial states of Africa to execute an audacious struggle to achieve true sovereignties, on the bases of high and transformational philosophies.
Sovereignty cannot be exercised in a vacuum. It is a comprehensive and ambitious endeavor, which is projected and sustained through high, even imperialistic, philosophies. Oftentimes, such high, domineering, philosophies are cascaded down to the general populations through capsules of religions.
Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies. In political theory, sovereignty is a substantive term designating supreme legitimate authority over some polity. In international law, sovereignty is the exercise of power by a state.
De jure sovereignty refers to the legal right to do so; de facto sovereignty refers to the factual ability to doing so.
Suzerainty, on the other hand, is a relationship in which one state or other polity controls the foreign policy and relations of a tributary state, while allowing the tributary state to have internal autonomy. Suzerainty differs from sovereignty in that the tributary state is technically independent, but enjoys only limited self-rule. Although the situation has existed in a number of historical empires, it is considered difficult to reconcile with 20th- or 21st-century concepts of international law, in which sovereignty either exists or does not.
Historically, the Emperor of China saw himself as the center of the entire civilized world, and diplomatic relations in East Asia were based on the theory that all rulers of the world derived their authority from the Chinese emperor. The degree to which this authority existed evolved from dynasty to dynasty. However, even during periods when political power was distributed evenly across several Chinese political entities, Chinese political theory recognized only one legitimate emperor, and asserted that his authority was paramount throughout the world.
Diplomatic relations with the Chinese emperor were made on the theory of tributary states, although tributary relations in practice would often result in a form of trade, under the theory that the emperor in his kindness would reward the tributary state with gifts of equal or greater value. This was the situation until the Century of humiliation, when China was forced to accept a series of “unequal treaties” including the Treaty of Nanking (1842), the Treaty of Tientsin (1858), and the Convention of Peking (1860), whereby China was made to open new ports, including Canton, Arnoy (Xiamen), and Shanghai.
These treaties allowed the British to annex Hong Kong and resulted in the establishment of international settlements in ports that were controlled by foreigners.
There was a great age of the Abbasid Caliphate, when Arabic was the main language of learning from Spain to Central Asia. Islam and Christianity formed two distinct human “civilizations” and their contact and interactions have often led to competition and conflict over the last two millenniums, with each seeking to dominate and conquer the other.
The two Faiths are after all closely related to each other, being both derived from the ancient monotheistic tradition of the Middle East. During the medieval Crusades, Christians and Muslims fought each other for the control of Jerusalem, for the city and land which were Holy to both of them, as well as to the Jews.
At different times, their conflicts and competition for domination affected many other parts of the world, from Spain to Indonesia, and from Russia to sub-Saharan Africa.
The Christian world, Western Civilization, was later to develop superior organization and technology, and deployed these assets to conquer, or dominate, every other civilization in the world. Arising from the advantage which the West had gained, today’s dialogue of civilizations appears to have been drowned into a monologue, with the campaign of globalization promoted to enthrone a single, global civilization.
Islam was already planted in Africa before Christianity made its entry. Africa was the first continent into which Islam spread during the 7th century CE. At the onset of the Muslim conquest of North Africa, Egypt was a part of the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire, with the capital in Constantinople.
Egypt held strategic importance for its grain production and naval yards, and served as a base for further conquests in Africa. Islam, through the 19th century revolution, was transformed into a social and political force for extending the Arabian influence and power.
This “Clash of Civilizations” – through Europeanization and Arabization – which was essentially a conflict for dominance between European and Arabian identities, has had a tellingly ugly and devastating consequence of diminishing, by obscuring, if not annihilating, the African identity.
After 40 years of relative isolation and deliberate action, and by the levers of its strategy of peaceful rise, China has reinvented itself and is projecting power. In the aftermath of the Second Opium War in 1860, Britain in alliance with France had destroyed the Old Summer Palace in Beijing.
In 1895, Japan had annexed Formosa, present day Taiwan, a Chinese territory. In 1900, Russia had invaded China and annexed part of Manchuria, a part of China during the Qing dynasty, thereby incorporating it as part of the territory of Russia to this day.
Whether it is in technology and innovation, the economy (with a GDP average annual growth of 10% in the last 40 years, foreign exchange reserves of $3.3 trillion, amid creating six megacities and pulling 850 million people into prosperity), or military power (of nuclear power status, with military spending of $228 billion and 3.1 million personnel in 2018), China is set to guide the destiny of our world.
In the words of Charles Krauthammer, the neo-conservative American (as published by Willy Lam, Chinese Expert, Chinese University, Hong Kong, 21st October, 2014): ’’Mao Zedong made Chinese people stand up. Deng Xiaoping made Chinese people rich. Xi Jinping will make Chinese people strong.’’
Our universe has been in constant motion, in no easily discernible order – Britain as superpower, from 1850 – 1914, with London as the world Capital; the United States of America as superpower from 1945 – the present, with New York as the world Capital.
In 1500, the world had rotated around Florence; in 1000 AD, Kaifeng in China was the focal point of the world. In 1 AD, Rome served as the commanding pillar of global civilization.
All these, after Egypt in Africa had given birth to the same civilization. King Sargon of Akkad had established the first empire more than 4000 years ago in Mesopotamia.
The pertinent question would be: what role will Africa play in this new world: another resource bin, leaving behind wars and deaths?
From the Great Lakes to Central Africa, from the Congo to the Horn of Africa, from the Indian Ocean Islands of Comoros and Madagascar to the Mountains of North Africa, from Southern Africa to West Africa, Africans are dehumanized and lying prostate.
Africa dearly needs a high, grand philosophy to guide and direct Africa’s recovery of true sovereignties. Africa needs ‘philosopher kings’ of modern-day Africa.
Remaking Africa to full stature, demands that a critical mass of the peoples of Africa is re-oriented and remobilized on the doctrines of Grand National and Continental Philosophies, to dominate, occupy, protect, and advance Africa. This fact advertises vacancies for transformational leaders across the continent, to seize the moment and the mandate to articulate, and execute whereof, such philosophies.
Africans who dare to line up for a space in Africa’s “philosopher-kingship dynasty” could look to China for some pertinent lessons.
On taking over from Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China and chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, in 1976, Deng Xiaoping spearheaded changes that led to a rapidly growing Chinese economy, rising standards of living, and growing ties to the world economy, and also considerably expanded personal and cultural freedoms. In 1987, Deng Xiaoping, as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, developed a main policy for the reform and opening up of China through the three-step approach suitable for China’s economic development.
The plan was to, within 70 years, industrialize China: the first step, to double the 1980 GNP and ensure that the people have enough food and clothing, was attained by the end of the 1980s; the second step, to quadruple the 1980 GNP by the end of the 20th century, was achieved in 1995 ahead of schedule; the third step, to increase per capita GNP to the level of the medium-developed countries by 2050, at which point, the Chinese people will be fairly well-off and modernization will be basically realized. The goals of China Modernization under Deng were in Agriculture, Industry, Science and Technology, and the Military.
Deng’s philosophy for achieving a modern, industrial nation was the “socialist market economy.” Deng’s argument was that China was in the primary stage of socialism and that the duty of the Communist Party was to perfect so-called “socialism with Chinese characteristics” under Mao and “seek truth from facts.”
Deng emphasized that “socialism does not mean shared poverty.” To justify his adoption of the market to build a communitarian society under his doctrine of compassionate capitalism, Deng had this to say: “planning and market forces are not the essential difference between socialism and capitalism. A planned economy is not the definition of socialism, because there is planning under capitalism; the market economy happens under socialism, also. Planning and market forces are both ways of controlling economic activity.”
The Xiaoping allegory reveals a philosophical canvass on which committed human ‘angels of the Africa Future’ may seek ‘truth from reason’ (not Colonial truth) and reclaim Africa for the prosperity and dignity of Africans.