I’m currently deeply immersed in Fintan O’Toole’s absorbing tome “We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958” that an English friend recently lent me.
As I came up for air earlier this morning on Twitter, I found someone had tagged me in this Tweet, featuring the Kenyan Ambassador Martin Kimani’s remarks to the UN Security Council yesterday.
If you're gonna listen to any speech about #Ukraine 🇺🇦, let it be this one.
The Kenya ambassador to the UNSC perfectly explains how people across Africa understand Ukraine, and what the Kremlin's acts of aggression mean in our post-colonial world. pic.twitter.com/0gTuAni0DC
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) February 22, 2022
The context was the tensions and the search for homogeneity inherent in the tensions between Russia, but there’s clearly lessons to be learned from the speech much closer to home…
Today across the borders of every African country live our countrymen with whom we share deep historical, cultural and linguistic bonds. At independence, had we chosen to pursue states on the basis of ethic, racial or religious homogeneity we would still be waging bloody wars these many decades later.
Instead we agree that we would settle for the borders that we inherited but we would still pursue continental, political, economic and legal integration rather than form nations that looked ever backwards to history with a dangerous nostalgia we chose to look forward to a greatness that none of our nations and many peoples had ever known. [Emphasis added]
“A dangerous nostalgia” is a line to conjure with given how the fractious history of our shared island has been continually riven with the obsessions of cultural and political fanatics.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty