Malemamania panafricana, By Wole Olaoye


Reading Time: 5 mins read

Have you noticed the wind of progressive fever blowing through Africa? Pause awhile and take note of the inexorable propulsion of fate. Whether we like it or not, the only sure thing in this world is change. If you walk on the streets of Rome today, you may actually be locking steps with great personages of the ancient Roman empire, but of what value are they — or their expired powerful empire — now? 

The Roman civilisation lasted about 1,000 years, from 753 BCE to 476 CE, with its impacts still apparent today. Roman civilisation began as a monarchy influenced by the Hellenistic Empire.

My favourite quote in these matters belongs to Lord Alfred Tennyson: 

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,/And God fulfils Himself in many ways,/Lest one good custom should corrupt the world…”

Expired Empires 

The Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries was the largest contiguous empire in history. At its height, it stretched from the Sea of Japan to parts of Eastern Europe, and southward into parts of the Indian subcontinent. It conquered the Iranian Plateau, and expanded westward to the Levant and the Carpathian Mountains. Only the history books remind us today that there was once a Mongol Empire. 

The Ottoman Empire, aka The Turkish Empire, was an imperial realm that spanned much of Southeast Europe, West Asia, and North Africa from the 14th to early 20th centuries; it also controlled parts of southeastern Central Europe between the early 16th and 18th centuries.

The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Mehmed II, which marked the Ottomans’ emergence as a major regional power. Now, it is a faint memory.

The British Empire 1(601-1997) was a large group of regions dependent on the British and under the control of the crown of Great Britain. At one point, the British Empire ruled over almost a quarter of the earth and its population. The British Empire’s last region controlled was Hong Kong until 1997, which was then returned to the Chinese authority. Today, the empire does not exist, but the Commonwealth is a group of states, including the United Kingdom, that still recognises the British monarch as a symbolic head of the organisation. The sun has eventually set on the British empire.

The Spanish Empire was a colonial empire that existed between 1492 and 1976. In conjunction with the Portuguese Empire, it was the first empire to usher in the European Age of Discovery and achieve a global scale, controlling vast portions of the Americas, Africa, various islands in Asia and Oceania, as well as territories in other parts of Europe. It was one of the most powerful empires of the early modern period, becoming known as “the empire on which the sun never sets.” At its greatest extent in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Spanish Empire covered over 13 million square kilometres (five million square miles), making it one of the largest empires in history. It has become history with time.

The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was a vast realm that spanned most of northern Eurasia from its proclamation in November 1721 until its dissolution in March 1917. At its height in the late 19th century, it covered about 22,800,000 square kilometres (8,800,000 sq mi), roughly one-sixth of the world’s landmass, making it the third-largest empire in history, surpassed only by the British and Mongol empires; it also held colonies in North America between 1799 and 1867. The empire’s 1897 census, the only one it conducted, found a population of 125.6 million with considerable ethnic, linguistic, religious, and socioeconomic diversity. Like other empires before it, the Russian Empire is dead.

Nearer home in Africa, we had the Mali Empire, Ethiopian Empire, Oyo Empire, Ghana Empire etc, all of which have joined the list of expired superpowers.

Beyond Ideology 

And the cycle is fated to continue. When the Second World War ended in 1945, the world was made to believe that life’s contests were between a God-fearing, democratic and capitalist West and a godless, autocratic and communist East. Now we know better. Domination is the name of the game. With the passage of time, China has embraced some capitalist practices, while the US has adopted some welfarist measures to stem social discontent. 

Could anyone have accurately predicted on 2 September, 1945, when the Second World War officially ended, that China would, with the passage of time, produce successful billionaires? Confronted with cold reality, every nation is trying to introduce whatever measures that can achieve set goals, whether such measures are ideologically alluring or not.

Change is the name of the game. In South Africa, the political party in power, the African National Congress (ANC), while assured of the loyalty of the old guard, is unable to keep many of the younger elements within its fold. Julius Sello Malema, who had served as the president of the ANC Youth League, left the party to establish the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a party that is fast becoming a potent force in South African politics. Malema and his EFF members represent the younger generation. They are determined to remain loyal to the dream of a greater Africa. Indeed, Malema’s well publicised position on black-on-black violence in South Africa was so Nkrumahist that the world took notice that a new pan-African movement was born.

Malema may not have been born in the 70s when Nigerian students put their lives on the line for the liberation of southern Africa, but his sense of history and commitment to a new South Africa and a united Africa have made his influence incredibly pervasive throughout the continent. Young people see him as a role model and a partner for the tomorrow of their dreams.

The emerging movement for change in Africa is not based on narrow ideological definitions. It is rooted in a general subscription to the ideals espoused by Malema. The younger elements in Africa, whether they are in the military, the professions, or in the youth wings of political parties, are in a hurry to take their country back. That is why the world is confronted with the situation in Mali, Chad and Niger. The younger elements in the former French colonies would rather die than watch France continue looting their patrimony. The French bazaar is over.

The New Senegal

It is against that background that the recent election of 44-year-old Bassirou Diomaye Faye as president of Senegal must be understood. Inspired or possessed by Malemamania, the young people have resolved to fulfil their destiny as the landlords of tomorrow. Unlike their parents, they will not accept France’s brigandage. This is not the best of times for imperialists and their acolytes. France will do well to look for other sources of livelihood than open thievery. The Western powers who have always backed France’s continued enslavement of Africans are in for a surprise. 

This wave of Malemamania is pan-African in its scope. The spirits of Nkrumah, Olympio, Lumumba, Mandela, and other heroes of Africa are stirring in the young people. The evils planted by Europe in Africa are being uprooted before our very eyes, one country at a time. The French empire is unravelling. Assata Shakur’s admonition has whipped up the consciousness of the continent’s youth:

“The guards say that the grass is unauthorised do not let the grass grow/You can spy on the grass. You can lock up the grass./You can mow it down, temporarily./But you will never keep it from growing.”

I see the clouds of Malemamania gathering all over Black Africa. And I say no one can stop the rain!








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