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Everyone strives to be the best in school, or at least improve their college grades but few know what it takes to really study for excellence, and fewer still are not ready to make the effort. Studying, like any other skill, requires more than a commitment to schoolwork and academics. It needs a high level of self-awareness, carefulness, and discipline to hone and perfect. It is a major instrument in the success toolbox, so it is important that everyone arm themselves with this life tool that would aid them not just in school but in other endeavors requiring the preciseness that is needed for effective studying. Below are eight some tips on how to excel in academics:

Time management

There is hardly anything anyone can achieve if they are reckless about how they spend their time. A schedule that gets you through every day studying at least four-five hours would be sure to announce itself in the improvement of your academics. It is only a rough template to guide you, as, done rigidly, there will be no accounting for contingencies that you can’t foresee, and unplanned contingencies will always happen. It could be something like a sudden change in lecture time, an expedient test, or a desperate friend asking for “two seconds” of your time to help them out with their frozen laptop. So you could, for instance, take out eight hours, say, and put it down to sleeping time, another eight hours for regular lecture hours, and then accomplish what specific study goals you hope to achieve within the remaining eight hours, but these should not be so unrealistically crowded within such an ungenerous amount of time. With an almost consistent devotion to your schedule, a rough organization of the 24 hour day not only gives you a sense of control over your life but a sense of purpose, because you always get something done each day, and this creates a positive cycle that reinforces your need to always calibrate your day the next time.

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Rejuvenation

It is always good to take out time in the weekend to relax your mind after a rigorous academic workweek. A sound and healthy mind can concentrate better than a tired mind, can achieve infinite times faster than a fagged out one. A cool evening out with friends, a routine morning exercise, weekly cardio, or a bodybuilding session, meditation, and a healthy diet can rejuvenate the mind and set it fresh for another round of hard brain labor. Most importantly, no matter how pressing the need to solve that last assignment question, make sure to always get in those eight hours of sweet supple sleep.

Study habit

Develop a study habit that goes in tune with your strengths and weaknesses. Are you more of a marathon reader or a spaced-out sprinter? Do you read better in the mornings just after you are up, or in the evenings before bed, or you wake late at night to read? Is an all-nighter convenient for you? How many pages can you read extensively in an hour? Could you dig the strength of study groups, or do you effortlessly slog through it all on your own? Do not conform to the notion that there is only one way to get your studies done. Find out what works for you and stick to it.

Attitude

The right attitude is everything. It is the fuel for motivation. If you hold to the belief that intelligence is a trait reserved for special people, you will never be able to break out from that self-prison. Anybody can do math. Anybody can write. Anybody can program. Although there are those to whom these talents come naturally, it in no way means that hard work and dogged consistency cannot trump innate intelligence. The best way to achieve a positive mindset is to set milestones for yourself. Hang out with friends a little smarter than you in a particular subject and challenge yourself to beat them at that subject. When you have achieved that aim, move on to the next higher group of friends. And even if you never beat them, their presence will always provide perpetual motivation to keep you on your toes. Lastly, because the coursework might be sometimes too bulky to finish in one semester, you could feel panic whenever the time comes to read. Just looking at the volume of the material to cover puts you on edge and you begin to read in fear and panic, hoping to cover everything before the appointed exam period, or you might even give up entirely. These are not attitudes to adopt. Remember you are not alone. Always approach your material without fear. Do what you can and leave the rest. Whatever you cannot finish before exams, you can have study groups in which each member takes a different topic each and comes regularly to explain briefly to the group. With this, good time management, and dogged consistency you would be sure to cover most of the topics beforehand. Take your time, but do not linger so much on what you do not understand. Reading with fear is no reading at all. It’s a proven time-wasting venture.

Conceration

This happens to be what sets the high achievers of average intelligence from the low ones. If you are honest with yourself you would notice that most times you spend your reading hours carrying your thoughts away to random occupations, or residues of disturbing emotions and stress, or, yes, social media, or fantasizing about the steaming hot guy badgering you with attention. So you get lost in your head as line after line slips through the fingers of your inattentive eyes. Concentration is a skill, and meditation is one way to master that skill. Another way is learning to manage your emotions with the help of friends or people whom you can lean on so that when the time comes for reading, you give it your full, undivided attention. Another way is setting a 1000 word password on your phone just before you read. The thought of typing in one thousand characters alone might help dissuade you from one more look at Kylie Jenner’s clean-shaven armpits.

The study proper

First of all, establish specific academic goals before you begin to study. You can do this by scouring through the chapter for a rough overview or summary of what to expect and matching it against your course scheme of work. Then proceed to parse sentences carefully, keeping in mind the importance of each sentence to the overall goal which you should now have an idea of from having skimmed through. After that, you can reread the chapter summary by summary and make small skeletal notes for later revision and help you remember. Learn a lot of memory techniques to master details that cannot be learned but are important, and passages and terms you do not understand, you can underline in the book to revisit later. It is always better to anticipate the lecturer beforehand so you can read the forthcoming topic, and if you have made notes, you can listen in class, and flesh out your points. This consolidates understanding and tailors the information on your textbook to the course outline of the study. Also read as though each line were very important to the concept you are trying to make out, such that to miss the meaning of a single line would be to miss the whole point. That way you can motivate yourself to read in-depth and in-between the lines. After having read each section of a chapter, ponder on the practical use of this information you have just been equipped with. Imagine you using the knowledge to solve a problem in society. This imagination alone gives your reading purpose and would etch whatever information not only in your head but in your heart and would make forgetting in the long term more difficult.

Do you know what you know?

Sometimes we bring preconceived judgments into a study material we had been beforehand familiar with. Or our intuitive connection with the content does not pass slow, rigorous thinking and as such we are apt to commit mistakes and biases common to all. So each time you read ask yourself, did you really understand the concept of what you had just read? Or you just felt you understood it? A safe way to approach this is to always have it in mind that you truly grabbed nothing, always have that mindset that you might not have completely got the whole thing, so that you could, again and again, keep revising until it becomes simple enough to fully and wholly grasp. Theoretical physicist Richard Philips Feynman once said that to completely understand a material meant that you were able to confidently explain it to a child and he would get it. So it is good practice to imagine you were reading so that you could quote the whole material to a child standing nearby. That way you can consciously be aware of and literally catch your biases and prejudgments that could miscolor the material in the light of your own experiences.

Lecture work

Excelling in school would of course require more than just study. There is a bureaucracy aspect that nobody loves. Attending lectures, doing your assignments the moment you see the opportunity and turning them in on time, preparing two or three weeks before tests and exams, understanding your professors, and knowing how to answer their exams. It is one thing to know a subject, it is another to learn how to take a test on the subject, as there are rules specific to each lecturer that he would have you keep to in order to pass the test and you would do well to know all these rules. Also, before the exam, take mock tests with your friends under exam conditions. Even reading in the venue where you are supposed to take your exam could help serve as a memory anchor on the exam day.

History has given us a vintage view of different types of feminism over the years down to this modern era’s feminism. Let’s start with a quote from Rebecca West on feminism.

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”

Rebecca West

We shall take these words by Rebecca West, one of the greatest underappreciated writers of the time, as a rough definition of feminism, if you take a doormat to be a non-talking abused female. But in what way the female is abused has never been and is still not a universally agreed matter. This was the cause of the rifts in the modern school of feminist thought that prominently originated in the eighteenth century. These rifts still exist today, and so with these different opinions arose different types of feminism, each with its own explanation, agenda, and solution. Without trying to oversimplify a rather nuanced subject I will now attempt to explore these divisions in a very concise and structured manner, and using a historical approach.

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Different types of feminism

Liberal feminism

Among the earliest feminist movement, this philosophy concerned itself with gender inequality coming from the presumed disappointing intellect of the female that denied her education, employment, and social advancement and also promoted the image of the ideal woman as the homebound partner suitable only for keeping house. This had resulted in the inability of a woman to attain material comfort without the necessity of a restrictive marriage. Many women had to turn to prostitution which became the fourth largest feminine occupation in Victorian England, and these prostitutes, products of a society power-structured on the basis of gender, were regularly hunted out, manhandled, and arrested indiscriminately by a male-controlled government on account of the rising sexually contagious diseases in communities without a consideration that their male clienteles might have well been the carriers.

Among The Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act which had sought after protecting the rights of these prostitutes, the liberal feminists wielded handy political and legal instruments to pursue other reforms on employment, education and marital laws. For the ideal home woman image had also fostered domestic violence, emotional abuse, skewed sexual morals in favour of the man, lack of ability of the female to own property of any sorts after marriage, or to have custody of her children after divorce.

A major figure here is Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of the female writer that gave the world the classic “I, Frankenstein.” She and others long after her fought to release women from the kitchens and into schools and higher educational institutions. The success of the movement had shown that women could at their ease take on scholarly interests just as could men, and it saw women flourish who came to believe that their potentials as women in society were clamped by these pre-conceived gender roles. Classic examples of these are Beecher Stowe, who would go on to be delightfully charged with having written a worthy contender for the Greatest American Novel; Marie Curie, the noble lady that died discovering radioactivity; and Mary Ann Evans, the wordsmith who had to use a man’s name in order to ensure appropriate critiquing of her works.

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Socialist feminism

The crowning achievement of Liberal Feminism was to have been the giving of the vote to women and their enrolment into parliament. But these electoral and political reforms did not automatically translate into social or economic success. Women were paid less than men in workplaces and in parliament, there were still little opportunities for social advancement as the issue of pregnancy, maternity leaves, low psychological threshold were often cited as among many rationales for women’s low wages or forbiddance to higher echelons of office in industry. It was during this time also that Socialism gained rage. Marxist Socialism as a revolutionary concept charged the working class to upend the current exploitative capitalists to achieve a classless society in which everyone, including workers and industrialists, was equal and had the same amount of rights as the other.

Feminism hopped on this ideology and proclaimed that women were still subjugated because of the capitalist politico-economic system that exploited women who exercised both free labor of home-duty and poorly renumerated long-hours labor of semi-skilled factory work, while the male capitalists were eating fat from their underpaid labor, and so from that higher economic ground men could constantly dominate them in other social spheres. Compared to other class contradictions the Marxist feminists held the social and economic subjugation of women as the most fundamental oppression and a situation that had to be altered only by the means of a socialist feminist revolution.  

Radical feminism

While some leaned on socialism, asserting the masculine gender, the upper class of the capitalist society, as an oppressive force to be leveled down, others saw feminine subjugation as a fact of humanity that long preceded the coming of capitalism. The ancient civilizations of the Bronze Age, said these radicals, had cultures that were intolerant of females and their desired placements in society, as for example the Chinese women of the 1000 B.C. Zhou were foot-bound until they could no longer walk and were thus admonished to stay at home to serve their husbands.

Examples like these had caused the radicals to believe that the only way to fully win women’s rights was to completely overhaul more than five thousand years of orchestrated oppression. And this condition was naturally blamed on the fact that it was the woman who bore the brunt of reproduction and naturally had more stake in a child who had dwelled in her womb for almost a year.

So they had advocated family planning and birth control policies, fought for the promulgation of abortion law, and even went as far as fielding the plausibility of some futuristic technology that would make breeding possible outside the female reproductive organ. It is the ultimate hope of the radical feminist to make the world genderless so that political, social, and economic rights are not awarded on the consideration of what sexual organs one possesses.

Cultural Feminism

For those who had thought the proffered solutions of Radical feminism very unorthodox and infeasible but had come to share their beliefs, especially of how reproduction defined gender, they came to an understanding of role of society in constructing gender roles and norms, and how these norms had come to be politicized and helped to maintain the male-female power dynamic. This movement became prominent after the two world wars when the belief in the purpose of humanity had taken a forlorn tone after the catastrophe that splurged in their wake.

Women began generally to lash out against the prescribed traditional norms of homely and gentile spirit attached to a woman, and to wear loose clothing that accentuated the shape of their body, took up smoking which was previously a masculine pastime. They also spoke against the laxity with which society viewed male promiscuity while reinforcing the role of the faithful wife or the virgin female youth.

Individual feminism

This movement began to bloom with the Millennials, and went in line with the dogma of their rugged independence. They preached for the female to accept responsibility for her actions and her life. They preached the respect for all sexual choices, the legalization of sex work, the sexual liberation of women, and freedom to take up more than one sexual partner if they so desire, without having to be rebuked for it. Today, it still rides with “Fourth Wave feminism” which has begun to speak out against rape, sexual harassment, and body-shaming.

These three terms are usually interchanged even though they don’t define precisely the same things. So what is the difference between racism, bigotry, and prejudice?

Prejudice is judging people or reserving attitudes towards a certain social group without any rational basis. When somebody pre-judges a person using an already constructed stereotype of the person’s social group which they know little else about, then they are being prejudiced. Prejudices could be positive or negative. For example, if you believe tall guys are smarter, you in effect believe short guys are dumb.

Bigotry is a kind of narrow-minded belief is strongly held attitudes and values, especially when they propagate discriminatory behavior against a certain social group. For example, if you believe short guys are dumb without manifesting any discriminatory behavior towards them because of that, then you cannot be a bigot. A bigot—who would have to be tall and believe narrow-mindedly in his own smartness— is apt to take their prejudice a step further to demean, humiliate, and embarrass, any other person lower on the smart totem pole than he is. Some would say Donald Trump is a bigot.  

Racism, a common word is thrown about in the media these days. When pre-judgments are made about a certain race and are used to discriminate against them, then that is racism. And when these discriminations become the basis for limiting the group’s political, social, and economic rights, then you have systemic racism. That is, the racial discrimination has been fully normalized, propagated, and is being constantly reproduced by the system so that the discriminated group can do almost nothing to rise above its low station since the basis for its position is equated inherently with its undeniable origins.

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Some minority groups in America hold certain values contrary to the mainstream, like the conservative Pennsylvanian American-Amish, say, or the alt-right movement. If these decide to condemn their beliefs and join up with the conventional herd, there’s nothing to stop them from accessing resources equally with the rest of the American people. But a black man cannot decide to stop being black for the same reason. His blackness is a visibly inherited testament to his place in society.

It was until after the vulnerable blacks became slaves to the Americans, that the whites brought themselves to believe—without any rational basis—that the black man had to be something relatively dumb and sub-human, and that they themselves were by nature the superior race. Then came the civil war when the blacks were liberated from slavery and given all sorts of unfulfilled promises of property and political rights. Then came the post-Reconstruction era when Jim Crow was effected on the basis of racial segregation. And then came King and his civil rights movement and the political liberation of the black minorities. Yet at this time psychological scientific theories founded on conducted intelligence tests were floating about, propounding the natural dumbness of the black man, and the need to limit their retarded numbers in the delicate dealings of State.

But how did a black man expand his mind on certain matters when he hadn’t the choice to pick out a home in a decent neighborhood that fostered adequate learning, or the wherewithal to see himself through school? How did such a man hold any interest in affairs larger than himself, when he struggled night and day from dirt-paying jobs when he had little options in a country that denied him access to economic rights and so pushed him to make illicit trades just to keep alive?

Then the system comes along and calls him a drug-dealing low-life criminal, sending out killers in police uniform to rid the streets of the hoodlum. And if the system is called to it, there is vehement denial at the fore, edicts, and citations that prove that there is indeed equal access to opportunities for all, that the Black Lives Matters movement is just a big victim-playing hoax, while behind there still stands in-group partiality for the prevailing social group.

It is little wonder that James Baldwin had said about Luther’s budding success, that “You know, and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.”

Almost forty years since Baldwin’s speech, and we still clearly attest to indiscriminate police brutality against blacks and unlawful accusations of rape, murder, and assault like in the Jim Crow days.

It can only do to hope for now that—come the next sixty years— Baldwin’s words should turn out to be mere speculations of a celebrated essayist in a fervent moment of epistolary scripting.        

Is it only mere optimism to suggest that sometimes wars are needed to get peace? Or a practical tour de force borne out on historical conscience? Or rather common knowledge needing nothing as punishing as rigorous insight? Or, when stripped of self-righteous rationalizations, a questionable ethic founded on a Marxist, far-right-wing, or progressive liberal-minded ideology?

Before consenting to any of these possibilities, we would have to point out two inevitable assumptions inherent in the suggestion itself. First, in plain view is the assumption that war is, sometimes, a requirement, or one among a requirement for peace, a bitter price to be paid today for a peaceful future. The second is the rather subtly hidden connotation that, sometimes, peace is the hoped-for conclusion to war, or what is the same thing, the reason behind war regardless of its untold outcome. To begin to think about the second assumption is to attempt to bring the first justice. For if the true motive for a war is first laid bare, we might hope to find compulsion in connecting its final achievements to its initial purpose, and learning something of its success as a means to its stated end.

Then there’s the unavoidable issue of knowing exactly what this stated end is, as, with every other concept, peace is as much fuzzy in its dimensions to offer up a cut-and-dried definition for our use. To keep this as clear as possible and at the risk of presenting so shallow, and in consequence meaningless, a simplistic model for truth we shall skirt around every entanglement that might waylay us journeyward and stick only to generalizations, digging in only occasionally, by way of examples, for clarification’s sake.

Before consenting to any of these possibilities, we would have to point out two inevitable assumptions inherent in the suggestion itself. First, in plain view is the assumption that war is, sometimes, a requirement, or one among a requirement for peace, a bitter price to be paid today for a peaceful future. The second is the rather subtly hidden connotation that, sometimes, peace is the hoped-for conclusion to war, or what is the same thing, the reason behind war regardless of its untold outcome. To begin to think about the second assumption is to attempt to bring the first justice. For if the true motive for a war is first laid bare, we might hope to find compulsion in connecting its final achievements to its initial purpose, and learning something of its success as a means to its stated end.

For our purpose, for the purpose of discovering the true motive of war made on a peaceful strength, we shall define peace then, as defined by them whose job description contains the legal right to make war, that is the governments of the modern nation-states. Because the right to rule of governments comes from the mandate of its subjects, peace must to them be a national state of affairs in which the lives of their subjects are successfully protected from both internal and external threats, the supposition, of course, being that democracy is that glittering opaque dress in which the government of the day strives to be seen, however deadening maybe its appearance in the nude. Defense from internal and external sources then is what, from here on, we shall mean by peace. Let us now depart from this point, and see where that takes us.

Peace as defense from an external source, be it a border skirmish with a neighboring country, aggressive air warning-strike from a rivaling nation, or terrorist threat from a foreign group or country, immediately sends us prying into the missions of global bodies already set up to mediate international relations in hope of some form of stable geopolitical order. Permit the UN to come to mind.

Sprung out in 1945 as a result of the distaste of witnesses to the large-scale inhumane ravages left in the wake of the war, the newly formed UN, a composition of countries grown averse to the idea of a global dispute of any kind, started to organize peaceful military missions in regions like post-war borderlands to ensure that the compromise reached between warring party countries were effected as agreed. Hitler’s war had been a military lesson in the inevitable danger of appeasing policies, and the UN had taken note. With only armored cars and light weaponry, the blue-beret UN soldiers served to intimidate the usurping elements into deterrence for the duration of the peacebuilding process. To keep the peace, the UN needed only to employ a tacit threat of violence, a will to act – a simple response that could have entirely prevented a second world war. Even after the murmurings of Hitler’s imperial ambitions heard in French and English towns had climbed to confident screams of aggression by Germany on her neighbors, the powers that mattered stood idly by, afraid to risk war, continually giving in to each of Hitler’s demands hoping that he could be appeased. But by the time it was too late to do anything, a war had penciled itself in the schedule of unfolding eventualities. “Throughout history,” says Erik Durschmied in his book, Blood of Revolution, “it has been the weakness of those in power, men who failed when the situation called for strong, even brutal measures, that allowed  the barbarous to take charge.”

History is scattered with such tales as weak leadership wreaking disastrous consequences. Before Wudi, the war-making Han Emperor of China, rose to power, other emperors had appeased barbaric straddlers who raided the empire’s borders and the result was always that they continued more aggressively with their raid, but it was only until the coming of Wudi that peace bribes were done away with and an army was fielded to force the barbarian’s retreat away from the borders and into the steppes.

Han Wudi
Han Wudi | Image from Ancient-origins

As we too well know, wars in the past have been fought between countries on the flimsiest of excuses from the prince of a kingdom bedding the queen of another, to unfounded ridiculous ideas like Manifest Destiny. But today we find that the simple threat of a nuclear attack is efficient enough to halt the splurge of spats between countries into a war. Witness this year’s (2020) US-Iraq conflict, and last year’s Indian-Pakistan Kashmir dispute, heated confrontations that eventually fizzled down to an airstrike or two, some fatal gunfights, and copious internet memes.

Although we can trust that sometimes wars, and the threat of them or fear of their consequences at least, are sometimes required to ensure international peace, how about the crises in the Middle East? They are to some countries as remote a problem as the fabled Armageddon, and an investigation into their hybrid nature reveals a complex tangling up of more than three ethnic factions fighting for hegemony, sometimes backed up with proxy agenda. Except to assume that these wars are fought to restore internal peace or to defend external peace by waging a global anti-Jihad crusade against Islamic terrorists, we shall not concern ourselves with these intricacies.

To internal peace. It is the agreed function of government that it should ensure peace whenever there break out sectional differences, terrorist elements, and anything at all within its geography that chooses to threaten the lives of its subjects, those from whose assent it derives its power. But when statistical evidence pronounces that six times more people worldwide were casualties of their own governments than of international wars, we might start to ponder a revisit to the meaning of peace. Do we take for granted that these casualties of government are usurpers of the peace, or do we contend that the government, legally wielding a monopoly to violence, has become a usurper itself, and is thus no longer qualified to offer us a proper definition?

If we are to select the second and more open-ended option, to whom does it fall then to rescue us from this semantic upheaval. The subject, on whose behalf the government exists, and who is better fit to make them more worthwhile assessment on the success of his/her being protected from internal or external threats? It cannot indeed be otherwise. So at any rate we are made to understand that the government itself can at times constitute an internal threat against which the subject should fend itself. And it is only when the glittering opaque dress of the deadening democratic politician in the fullness of time washes away transparent that the subject can discern the truth.

Nigeria is a country happily tolerant of abuse. Its people blunt their will to act when they too readily settle for national crumbs, and not least because they pine for a day when they can be just as moneyed as the corrupt politician of the time (there is a book in the works I have with this concern as its theme) when they can stand tall and influential among their peers.

There is also the material Marxist who, given to sentiments about food, would find it astute to suggest that man must live first by bread, and then faith or whatever keeps a man whole, and, if he were to be deprived of bread, would sooner die. So to empathize with the Marxist, protecting the life of the subject would go so far as including not depriving him/her of food. It becomes the prerogative of the subjects to bring war to such a system that they should think to normalize that kind of injustice. Such is the situation with civil wars, where a minority economically maligned and politically abused, fearing for its life, rebels and tries to secede, only to have war pronounced on it by the national government. Here too, we can hold the motive to be peace, purporting, from now henceforth, that it is the maligned subject or group who can lay claim to a proper definition of peace. There is the other peculiar case where the civil war is not between a maligned group and an oppressive government but among equal ethnicities such as seen in Somalia, or Congo. What then should we call peace here, when all warring ethnicities are just as afraid of the other and are struggling to be in power to protect the lives of its own people? That is of little relevance to us, if we are at once to recall that since all the citizens are “equally maligned” and are looking to change the status quo, then the motive for war here is also peace.

Having gained one more knowledge of this vague concept that is peace, should we not also recast our earlier assessments in a richer light, and so doing expect to make a more enlightened value judgement about peace-driven wars at the end of this noise-making?

Now that the authority of proclaiming the conditions for peace lies with the subjects, the international order would only be thought peaceful when every citizen in every country believes in the justness of the international economic systems of world tarrifs and quotas and political systems that do not provide for any kind of abuse or deprivation of bread. But it is not so. We have only to refer to the US accusations of unfair economic practices towards lesser countries and political manipulations of third-world country leaders that would go to make an american neo-imperial hegemony to see the futility of this resolution. Even religious pollution from western decadence has received its due blame in the reason for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. If wars should be fought on these grounds, on the grounds that the war-makers are seeking a peaceful system adjudged from their perception of what is economic and political comfort, we should hope to see, on an international scale, the citizens of third-world countries, apparently deprived by bodies like the WTO, declare war on the profiting countries, we should hope to see Africans holding onto old colonial grudges, “nursing racial grievance like a virtue” as described by Naipaul’s Ralph Singh, at last given a vindictive opening for war, we should also hope to see relatively rich south korean tech moguls, whose 5G technologies unjustly deprived of American markets in a world of gradually liberalizing economies, in league with marginalized poor african peasants suffering from aggressive US agricultural tarrifs.

This last point automatically presents an irritating problem. Just when can you say you have been deprived of bread? The sensitive American, decrying his marginalization on social media by the big one percent of his country, does so from an Apple laptop in an air-conditioned room. How do we know, as finely put by Achebe in a Man of the People that “Nanga has taken more than the owner can ignore,” if he did take at all.

Outrightly disgusting is the reality that peace is, first and foremost, a mundane matter of comparison, an ideal striving for equality, and later a genuine fact of oppression. It might be true that all humans are equal. but it is more so true that, a la George Orwell, “some are more equal than others,” for a time at least. Yes, western abundance was an invariable consequence of precolonial mercantilism, slave trade, and colonialism. But it is easy to forget that the form western exploitation takes today is made possible by the present corrupt third-world leaders when we gloss over our internal realities and focus rather on scaling both African and Western economies, not knowing that industrialization was no more expenditure of mental energies of generations past than it was an investment funded by cheaply acquired African raw materials. When we begin to look to ourselves, first of all, basing our own growth on our own energies, releasing ourselves from the consequences of our local corrupt politicians, when we do this and still sense an unfair economic world order bearing down on our liberation from neo-imperial dependence, then we can resume lamenting the old injustice of the White Man again and thereupon bring war to his doorstep. So too with the sensitive American who, year after year, ungratefully scales up his economic comfort, so that he always manages to be in a position to cry poverty at such time as there should be a war to be made on an economically oppressive government.

 We must not agree with the Marxist, who believes in some clockwork contradiction that timely arrives in the shape of a revolution to drive society to another needed phase of equality and hence prosperity, just epochs shy of that much-awaited moment in the horizon when the worker shall rule for all eternity on the behalf of all his fellow equal comrades. Nor must we agree with the liberal man who, given the optimum opportunity, merely sows the seed of anarchy in a point of man’s history to flower in the annals of posterity.

That leaves us with one basic condition on which to wage war: upon deep dialogue and understanding. It is too often said that if the Treaty of Versailles had been ratified with the weakness of the defeated Germans taken into account, they would not have felt humiliated enough to do over a global war. But it is also my belief that if the German principalities had not been strengthened well beyond their capacity for policing the imperialist tendencies of post-Napoleonic France, they would not have felt any exaggerated national pride and any vainglorious need to militarize and draw the other powers into an imperial world war, only to be defeated and, in a chronic bout of inferiority disorder, to pronounce themselves a superior race worthy of an empire.

When wars are mindlessly fought for the sake of peace, without a deep dialogue to ascertain what this peace is in terms of the strength and weaknesses of both sides, then it is at best a temporary or fragile peace, and at worst an invitation to the repeat of another war. Take the Nigerian civil war for instance. The Northerners were suspicious of Igbo economic dominance, the Igbos of northern political dominance. But what if they had parleyed in brotherhood? What if they had come to the understanding that the leaderless and enterprising Igbo, the least inexperienced in state administration, could for the time relinquish genuine democratic power to the North while piloting the economy for the newly independent people, making the peaceful Yoruba a mediating group to see through this understanding and as well protect its interest and that of the other minorities until some gradual communalism lumps each of these groups into one national whole? Could we have seen the hatching of a roughly democratic nation-state? We may never know. If only because first, inconsolably inflamed sensibilities are a natural given in the haunt of newly familiarizing strangers, and second, the African state was at the time mired in the complex web of neocolonial interests which it had no time to contemplate.

Nigeria Civil War
Ojukwu and the Biafran Soldiers | Picture from Vanguard Nigeria

But we do know that after a civil war and a pronouncement by the Nigerian government that there was “No Victor, no vanquished,” the ethnic tensions between these two groups to this day still run as deep and fresh as sixty years ago.

The difficult question still remains, is the price for peace, war? To this, I offer nothing as nearly absolute as an answer, but only caution: war should be waged, only if deep dialogue and understanding have failed. A dialogue that probes into the capabilities of the subject citizen, to see if his being alive, taking into account the activities and beliefs that keep him so, is hampered by the state, an understanding that his strengths are not exaggerated in his agitation for peace, an understanding that holds governments accountable to their citizens,  an understanding that a genius in a capitalist state who has worked out his wealth from value creation must not prey on the worker’s right to live, renumerating him as handsomely as his skill demands, an understanding that the worker in turn, wholly satisfied with his job and not possessed of the mental equipment to churn out value or wealth but is still able to support a modest fairly-holidaying lifestyle, must not, in comparing himself to the genius, confess to marginalization and start seeking a redress of wealth through orchestrated revolutions. He must view himself as one more unique tool in the service of humanity, and nothing more. It is all too sad that gratitude has lost its virtue.

Lastly, we live in an age where truth has dropped its proud universal airs and come to settle among the dwellings of mortal men, and we see this plurality of truth (that most sophisticated weapon of the liberal man), attempting to unravel some four hundred years of nation-building work. With little foresight one can understand why in these times it is only with patience that we can dialogue and understand the varying opinions of one another. Though the results might be uneasy compromises, skewed in favour of the most dogmatic, patience will always weed out the unfavourable policies, and love . . . love conquers all.