The echoes the Brexit referendum should reverberate across the Atlantic Ocean to reach Nigeria, Southern Cameroons, and other African countries as well as across the deserts to reach Iraq and other Middle East countries where British colonial governments forged artificial unions among disparate and heterogeneous entities that were not supposed to be together.
For example, it will be a good idea for African governments to emulate Britain’s courage to sample the opinion of their citizens in relation to their future and self-determination. In this regard, Britain and other Western powers should nudge Nigerian and Cameroun government to conduct a similar referendum in the country in which Nigerian and Cameroonians citizens could be asked for the first time if they wanted to stay in the Nigerian/Cameroons Union? This will be a departure from the phony constituent assembly held at different times in Nigeria’s and Cameroon’s history that had the people’s representatives turn to represent their personal interests.
Similarly, citizens of Iraq – fragmented among the Sunnis, Kurds, and Shiites should be encouraged to conduct a referendum on whether they want to continue living under one country created by the British many years ago. If Britons who negotiated their membership of EU from inception have the right to debate and vote for or against their continued EU membership, Nigerian, Southern Cameroonians and Iraqi citizens or any other geographical and political entity for that matter should have the same right and opportunity to determine their future. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Not long ago, in 2014, about 97 per cent of Crimean voters overwhelmingly backed a referendum to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. Similarly, South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011 following a successful referendum to ease that region of protracted fratricidal wars. Redrawing the map or review of territories imposed by colonial administration with the goal of bringing people who share a common bond and homogeneous culture will contribute to less violence in some regions of the world.
Everyone acknowledges that mistakes were made by colonial adventurers in sharing the territories that did not belong to them. They shared it like a loot with little or no care about the future of native peoples. Nowhere are these mistakes more rampant than Africa where borders were carved out by colonial administrations without the consent of indigenous peoples. In November 1884, at the request of Portugal, the then German chancellor Otto von Bismarck called together the major western powers of the world to negotiate questions and end confusion over the control of Africa in the famous Berlin conference. At that conference not a single African participated and yet they divided Africa among themselves and in most cases separated kith and kin and put them in different countries. Today, you find the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria scattered in neighboring Benin Republic, and Togo; then the Ewe speaking part of Ghana also found in Cote d’Ivoire. In East Africa, Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi have similar stories of separated kith and kin.
In fact, most of the wars and violence in Africa are traceable to these artificial boundaries. The sectarian violence that continues to threaten Iraq is because Britain did not consider the consanguinity of the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis, instead the colonial Britain was concerned about its economic interests at the time. That self-interest persists to this day.
The reality is that chances of political and economic stability are more in states with common language and identity. United States is stable because they speak the same language and citizens are therefore able to communicate with one another without interpreters.
Brexit vote is about identity and pride of a country. It is not about correcting historical mistakes like the mistakes made in forced marriage of many African and Middle East countries. After all, Britain elected to join EU in 1975 and now divorces the same union when the marriage became unsustainable. By contrast Africa and some Middle East countries were forced to remain together against the wishes and aspirations of citizens. This is the time to right the wrongs of history.
By Dr. Uchenna Ekwo. He is a public policy analyst. Part of the text had been modified by BaretaNews to include Southern Cameroons to suit the context of publication.
Original article here http://cmpimedia.org/brexit-whats-good-for-goose-is-good-for-gander/?utm_source=Brexit+June+24&utm_campaign=CMPI&utm_medium=email