The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Rise of fanaticism

Mar 18, 2002

The following article was translated from Le Pouvoir aux Travailleurs (Power to the Workers) put out by comrades of UATCI, Union Africaine des Travailleurs Communistes Internationalistes (African Union of Internationalist Communist Workers).

A Nigerian woman, Safiya Husaini, was buried up to her neck and then stoned to death. Her crime: giving birth to a child out of wedlock. This was decreed by the Islamic court of Sokoto, one of 11 Islamic states in northern Nigeria (out of the 36 states of the country). Another woman, Hafsatu Abubakar, was prosecuted for “fornication” because she had sexual relations outside of marriage.

As in Afghanistan, where the majority of women are still enclosed in burkas, it’s the women who are the principal victims of the dictatorship of Muslim fundamentalists.

But it isn’t only religious fanaticism which proliferates in Nigeria. There’s also ethnic fanaticism. Over the past few years, thousands of people have died in clashes between ethnic groups. During December and January, according to the press, a hundred people killed each other in the course of conflicts between the Lokus, Udeges and Agutus. In this case it was for the control of fishing resources in a lake situated in the center of the country. At the beginning of February in Lagos, a violent fight between Yorubas and Haussas left several dead. A simple neighborhood dispute, which before could have been settled amicably, was transformed into an inter-ethnic blood bath.

The current escalation of ethnic violence flows from the explosion of inequalities and the brutal impoverishment of the planet. Nigeria, which is the sixth largest oil producer in the world, has suffered under a severe drop in oil revenues as a result of the world economic crisis and the rapacity of the oil companies. The great majority of Nigeria’s 120 million inhabitants don’t benefit from this oil income. Only a small minority of local privileged people linked to business and to the heads of the state apparatus have benefitted from some of the financial fallout. It’s the same for the upper military ranks who have enriched themselves thanks to corruption and to misappropriations of state funds.

Parallel to this type of behavior in the upper levels of the state apparatus, there was an increase in every type of organized violence and hostage-taking. Assassinations and racketeering are carried out by organized gangs who fear no one. In addition, inequalities worsen between the oil provinces in the south and the north, which is literally abandoned and as a result has become an easy prey for Muslim fundamentalists, who benefit from financial support from the leaders of Saudi Arabia.

Nigeria, this giant of Africa, is sick today. The evils that it suffers from flow from poverty. The giant oil companies keep the largest part of the oil wealth for their big stockholders to the detriment of payments made to the Nigerian state.

But after all is said and done, it’s the whole of this system which is sick and which is leading this giant country into catastrophe – if the workers don’t extend their hands to each other independently of what ethnic group or religion they belong to.