By Bamuturaki Musinguzi
Published December 15, 2011
A new book by a Ugandan author that attempts to analyse the challenges facing Africa concludes that Africans have been slow towards solving their problems in all spheres of life because of the overreliance on religion, witchcraft and magic to overcome their predicament.
“The African regime had correctly studied the African mind and seen that despite the suffering the modern African endured, he still found enough capacity to endure more. Africans loved the comforts and joys life had to offer,” Ismail Ali Dramundru argues in his book, Diary of an African Fanatic.
Published in 2010 by RoseDog Books, the book says that having known that religion was the opium of the masses, African rulers encouraged it unlike the ban that was put in place in Soviet Russia. However, these rogue rulers let a lop-sided version of religion prevail to make the people more subservient.
“African regimes have to be thankful of the opium said to be in religion because Africans are a mightily religious lot and their slow response may directly have something to do with the beliefs passed on to them by religion,” Ali writes. “In Africa when religion failed, there was always the recourse to the witch doctor and magic. It was not that God had abandoned Africans but Africans had abandoned God because they lost belief in a God that wanted total obedience. The African chose to take a shortcut to the spiritual realm by way of the witch doctor.”
What is the solution?
“The African God is the only God capable of saving Africa from its wretched place on earth, seeing everybody had a God in their image, it was not too much to ask of Africa to produce its own God. If Africa can go into its illustrious past and draw on the culture of its ancestors, they will know and learn about the God they feel has abandoned them,” Ali writes.
The narration in this his first book is partly a personal experience and fiction. “The events in the story either happened to me or to somebody I know,” he says.
The book tackles issues of colonialism, civilisation, the leadership and accountability crisis in Africa, poor polices, the dangers of tribalism, environmental degradation, and the challenges of rural – urban migration, terrorism and gay rights.
Ali believes that Africa’s biggest problem is fear in confronting the bad leaders who have let the continent down.
“We are so fearful to fight for a larger cause than our next meal. The world over, people have fought for their freedom and continue to exhibit very strong tendencies of keeping it that way.”
To prosper, he says Africans will have to discard the fear it has generated over many years. “The fear to lose one’s own life for a just cause must inspire Africans to fight injustice wherever they find it on the African continent. If as is the case, millions of Africans wallow in poverty, sickness, and disease. What else do we have to fear? How bad can it get now?”
Ali says he co-founded a non-profit venture called the African Self Help Initiative (ASHI) with an emphasis on community development in Uganda.
“ASHI soon became successful attracting the attention and greed of the ruling party and eventually paid a heavy price for refusing to unite its social work and the political message of the ruling party. They arrested our members on dubious charges of treason and terrorism. Our offices were shut down and soldiers placed to guard them. We were accused of corruption and defrauding the public,” he narrates.
He says he fled to the USA where he got admitted into a post-graduate programme at a business school in New York City. He had to work to raise his tuition fees, which turned out to be a hassle. He discovered that bad employers take advantage of students without work permits to offer them low pay, not to pay them, physically abuse, insult, taunt and harass them.
Ismail Dramundru Ali lives in Washington, D.C., USA and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications studies with a minor in Islamic Studies and a master’s degree in human resource development and counselling.