Tell Me In What Egypt My People’s Feet Lie Chained! By Ogaga Ifowodo

Columnist: 
Ogaga Ifowodo

It took Egypt only two years after its first taste of democracy to give the latest demonstration of Africa’s abiding paradox: every flower of hope is turned sooner, rather than later, into the weed of despair. On 3 July, the Egyptian army deposed Mohammed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president.  This followed four days of massive protests by crowds exceeding the multitudes that massed on Tahir Square for eighteen days in 2011 to force life-president Hosni Mubarak out of power. For a country whose politics is as used with the military as its famous pyramids are fixed to the ground, the 2011 uprising was not just one more chapter in the so-called Arab Spring: it was something in the order of a tectonic movement.  And it raised expectations of the new Egyptian democracy sky-high.

Entered Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, who won the ensuing election by the thin majority of 51.7% of the vote.  Morsi promised but failed to meet those (Pyramid of) Giza-large expectations by failing to lead a government “for all Egyptians.” He succumbed to the disease of African leaders who interpret every mandate, however won — whether through “free and fair” or shamelessly rigged elections — as a licence to substitute the party’s will for that of the nation. Accordingly, Morsi sought in November last year to reserve extensive powers for himself through a constitutional declaration that would also entrench Islamic laws. After the people called his bluff by returning to Tahrir Square, Morsi backed down but not without retaining enough of his intentions as to embitter and alienate his more liberal and secular-minded fellow citizens. As it happened, they were the greater majority of Egyptians demanding bread and not burqas. Morsi’s first major test should have given him good warning about the danger of being seen not as the president of Egypt but of a nation called the Muslim Brotherhood.

And it is the problem of power and alienation that concerns me most about Morsi’s fall. For it is yet too early to say whether or not the manner of its occurrence signifies a victory for democracy or for autarchy — whether or not 3 July will henceforth be celebrated by Egyptians as the day the revolution which ended thirty years of Mubarak’s autocracy was re-launched, according to Mohammed ElBaradei, the most influential secular voice in quasi-theocratic Egypt. What we know is that the people called on the army to sack their elected president, and that they cheered when a general obliged them. That, to me, leaves only one question to be asked: When did Morsi lose the confidence of the people, thus turning promise to betrayal so soon after the ecstasy of the revolution?

If Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood were capable of sober reflection on their brief sojourn in power, they would admit that it was the moment of their constitutional overreach. More precisely, when they failed even after the outrage that greeted it to understand the mood of the people. Governed by the credo of winner-takes-all, of electoral victory as a licence to substitute ego for equality, the party for the citizenry, they could never acknowledge the folly of their beliefs and the petty politics it fostered. Consequently, such a fundamental issue as the delimitation of constitutional powers in a nation attempting democracy for the first time was turned into an opportunity for self-aggrandisement. After all, an electoral “victory” is a mandate to scorn the people’s will.

As in our beleaguered country where the PDP in alliance with the irredeemably selfish ruling class arrogates to itself, through the National Assembly — a majority of whose occupants are of questionable ability and character — the sacred task of drawing up a constitution that reflects the genuine wishes and aspirations of the people. And that the process entails no more than a committee to review General Abacha’s military constitution of 1995. No surprise, then, that the president and his party are staunchly opposed to a sovereign national conference, the one option agreed upon by the reasonable majority as offering the most democratic process towards a people’s constitution for a secular, free, equitable and peaceful federal republic. What they can’t see while blinded by their inordinate greed and will to power is that the anger and frustration caused by an insensitive government is bound to lead to catastrophe, as the chaos and bloodshed in Cairo make abundantly clear. Even worse, the danger lurks always that the people, in their despair, would turn to the army or any rogue revolutionary band for their salvation. General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi made the most of this reality in his speech: the armed forces, he said, could not ignore the calls on them by the masses to save the country.

“Tell me in what Egypt my people’s feet lie chained,” wrote the late Congolese poet, Tchicaya U Tam’si, in his great poem “The Scorner,” making indelible use of the fabled figure of Egypt as metaphor. Nigeria and the rest of Africa had better heed the terrifying news from Egypt where a president and his party ignored the people. The history of coups in our country and continent urges every so-called elected leader to turn, as fast as possible, from the credo of self first and last, and nation not at all or only by compulsion.

 
omoliho@gmail.com

Comments
10 comment(s)
Post a comment

Nigeria: a multpolar nation

@ Akposi, Nigeria is not a continent going by your conceptualisation. NIGERIA is a multi-polar counrty of many ethnic nationalities. Her children (some) are the ethnic warlords with equal or proportionate balance of power/terror. Option for us is to either mutually destroy this country by unleasing the terror or elect to use our endowed power balance to checkmate one another and make this nation develop so as to become first among equals in the commity of nations. My understanding frm the aforesaid: is bye to revolution the way speaker Umaru is calling for it; as well as bye to military coup d'tats. The conclusion of this matter is that 2 Keep Nigeria One peacefully is a tast dat must be done.

Revolution is eminent!

I know for sure that one day Nigerians are going to rise up for the rights. A day of about 70% blood shed, when the crop of corrupt leaders shall lick their wounds, for there shall be a total war against corruption, injustice and kleptomania. Am ready for sure.

The events in Egypt

The subtext of the events unfolding in Egypt is that the majority of the people rose to demand a change. When will the Nigerian massess rise up?. Are they capable of any sustained collective actions? I doubt it.

Ogaga's column

"The history of coups in our country and continent urges every so-called elected leader to turn, as fast as possible, from the credo of self first and last, and nation not at all or only by compulsion."
~ Ogaga Ifowodu

Once again you are so right!!
Will they listen though!!
How do ensure they get the message and sign off they have?? (If that is possible?)

A very strange paradox

We have a president who travels to places he is not wanted. We have 'lawmakers' who stubbornly concentrate on bills with lesser priorities to the real needs of Nigerians. We have a government that over-equips the army and the police to kill their people, in the name of terror. We have people who can die to protect the champagne-gulping classes while they (the people) drink unclean 'pure water' to bed.

Egypt is a Nation. Nigeria is a continent. That's the difference

If a military man from Kano announces take over in Abuja today, I assure you, that in less than 12 hours, you will have equal but opposite announcements in the SS&SE by more than 5 different groups.

I have a feeling that these counter declarations will not be mere declarations but declarations backed by armoured tanks, rockets, & even women with AK47 beneath their wrappers as seen in Maiduguri....So, who will the army fight? They will have to contend with several well armed groups of independent nations...probably even factions within the army.

...Surely, Nigeria is not a country but a continent. We have deceived ourselves for too long. People like myself frm the oily SS&SE who do not believe in Nigeria should be allowed to go with our oil&gas. NOW!

Egypt is a Nation. Nigeria is a continent. That's the difference

If a military man from Kano announces take over in Abuja today, I assure you, that in less than 12 hours, you will have equal but opposite announcements in the SS&SE by more than 5 different groups.

I have a feeling that these counter declarations will not be mere declarations but declarations backed by armoured tanks, rockets, & even women with AK47 beneath their wrappers as seen in Maiduguri....So, who will the army fight? They will have to contend with several well armed groups of independent nations...probably even factions within the army.

...Surely, Nigeria is not a country but a continent. We have deceived ourselves for too long. People like myself frm the oily SS&SE who do not believe in Nigeria should be allowed to go with our oil&gas. NOW!

The Egyptian Emancipation

The essence of the Egyptian revolution is that the people have come of age having realized that the power to govern belongs to them, which they may cede and recover from whomever they please. Even the army now knows this that, the people are ready to put their lives on the line to defend this right. In Nigeria, neither the army nor the civilian rulers have regards for Nigerians because the people here don't own the power.

Morsi and his islamic

Morsi and his islamic brotherhood are terrorists. I praise the army that sent him to jail. Egypt was a secular country where everybody was free to worship what they like. Immediately he came to power,he changed the country to an islamic counry, and his brotherhood terorists started to persecute Christians. Egypt economic depends on tourism. When be imposed his islamic law on Egypt, Ninety percent of tourists chose other civilized countries for their vacation instead of terrorist country, hence Egptians who depended on tourism for livelihood are jobless. Unemployment catapults.It is good that they send the islamic animal to where he belongs. Egptiens are able to succeed because they have the same culture and language, unlike Nigeria. This a lesson for islamic animals in the northern Nigeria.

NOBODY CAN HEAR THAT !

Mr. Ogaga, you've said your views but sorry Nigeria was not in existence when civilization began in Egypt. How Nigerian tribes were just 200 years ago? When some communities stopped eating human beings in Nigeria? Go and inquire it in the history. Nigeria can never be like Egypt despite the oil richness it acquires in terms of almost anything. You cannot compare the first civilized country on earth with a mere rabble of ethno-religious garbages. A country where evils enjoy support of wasted ethno-religious cum certificated ignorants who know nothing and nowhere other than their kinsmen and the fence of their parents' compounds. Whose ignorance has made them to be a bundle of waste leaves that every air can take. They're deceived and put in confusion as such whatever they're told they agree without asking question.

Post a comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Comments are limited to a maximum of 1000 characters.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <p> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.