ALUTA GOSPEL ACCORDING TO COMRADE PATRICK AFUBERA
What is ALUTA?ALUTA Continua, Victoria Acerta! This is the slogan for the struggle all over the world, from student unions to Labour unions. Emphasis in this discourse will mostly be on student unionism, as we seek to utilize this platform as an avenue to offer mentorship to young and upcoming leaders.
Accordingly, it is imperative to start this discussion by taking a close look at the meaning and origin of the word ‘ALUTA” which is actually from the phrase ‘ALUTA CONTINUA, VICTORIA ASCERTA” which means ‘The Struggle Continues, Victory is certain’.A luta continua (in English: the struggle continues) was the rallying cry of the FRELIMO movement during Mozambique’s war for independence. The phrase is Portuguese but was used by FRELIMO leader Samora Machel to cultivate popular support against the Portuguese colonial presence. Machel became the first president of an independent Mozambique in 1975 and continued to use the phrase a luta continua as an unofficial national motto.
The word “ALUTA” in the real sense classically means “STRUGGLE”; the word is widely associated with a STRUGGLE for Freedom or LIBERATION of people from any form of Oppression, Repression or Subjugation. ALUTA was a household word used in AFRICA when the generality of the Africans were charting and chanting for freedom from the Colonial Masters during the Colonial era.As stated above, the full phrase of the shortened word ALUTA is “ALUTA Continua, Victoria Ascerta”, meaning “The Struggle Continues, Victory is Certain”, which is fashioned after the Portuguese saying: “A luta continua, Vitoria e certa” The phrase ‘ALUTA Continua’ was later made popular by the legendary South African songstress, Miriam Makeba in her song titled ‘Aluta Continua’ which she released during the anti-apartheid struggle. The phrase again became associated with the anti-apartheid resistance movement. It has since then never disappeared from public discourse in AFRICA and then spreads widely to every part of the world where there are people fighting for freedom from one form of oppression/repression or another.
For a country like Nigeria, where there are plethora of entangling struggles for self liberation in all facet of life; “Aluta Continua” has become a common phrase in our lexicon, yet not many persons actually know the origin or the true meaning of the phrase, hence most times, there are tendencies that the phrase is misused by those who put on the white toga of “activism”. From the struggles of the Ogoni people to save their land from oil spillage led by Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others together known as the ‘Ogoni 9’, to the struggle by the NigerDelta people for resource control by Asari Dokubo and the NigerDelta Volunteer Force, then the struggle for self determination by the indigenous people of Biafra led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and very recently, the struggle for self determination by the people of Oduduwa led by Ighogho, and many other struggles engaged by Nigerians in different facets and forms.‘ALUTA Continua’ became a general word used by the Nigerian Students, particularly the Student Revolutionaries, Comrades and Activists. ALUTA Spirit, which is the Spirit to fight for ones rights by engaging in peaceful/nonviolent protests and other forms of civil disobedience against the perceived or actual acts and policies by any form of government became a Spirit inbuilt to Nigerian Students with the belief of “Injury to one is injury to all”.During my years of studentship as an undergraduate student, being deeply involved in student activism to the extent of becoming Student Union President of my institution, Nnamdi Azikiwe University in 1999, ALUTA is the students’ way of venting their grievances against the obnoxious policies of the authorities through peaceful demonstrations. We undertook very well-coordinated protests without allowing miscreants to hijack the protests, in most cases, vandals who attempt to hijack the protests and make it violent were severely dealt with by the Comrades leading the protests.
Regrettably, the reverse is the case among the contemporary Nigerian Students. They could hardly organize a peaceful mass resistance.The misapplication of ALUTA has led to situations where many schools are shut down whenever students protest. Increments of School Fees by the management of tertiary institutions have always led to Students rampage, as students often resort to embarking on protests to express their displeasure. They take to the streets, make bonfires, barricade the roads, and disrupt vehicular movement for hours. In some cases, institution’s properties are vandalized and destroyed. There are cases where angry Students set fire on buildings and vehicles. Some cart away valuable goods from the shops along the streets as they march in protest. All these are done in the name of ALUTA. Going on destructive demonstration and stealing in the guise of protest is against the Spirit of ALUTA. This will ultimately lead to the mission of Nigerian Policemen being drafted-in to tame the wild protestants, they then make worse the situation as they often resort to firing teargas in an effort to disperse the rampaging students. The students in their usual manner start throwing sticks and stones at the policemen.
Provokingly, the police then also go riotous by shooting at the students, ultimately leading to loss of lives and grave injuries to some students. The problem with the use of violent confrontation as a strategy of fighting against the authorities is that they quickly escalate to the point where the parties’ only concerns are victory, vengeance and self-defense. In these cases, the moral arguments of the people (students) who are being unjustly treated become irrelevant. What matters is that they have used violent strategies and their opponent (the Government or School Authority) is, therefore, justified in a violent response, thereby complicating the issues as both sides usually argue that the other side started the violence. Violent protests can never provide a means to a secure and peaceful end.Contemporary Nigerian Students fail to understand that non-violent protest is a peaceful way to face an enemy.
Fighting for one’s right non-violently helps in not giving the enemy the satisfaction of seeing a weak point and using it against one. It is an advantage of being able to outwit one’s enemy. Nigerian Students should realize that it is in their interest to make their grievances known through peaceful demonstration, without any form of violence; as with that, the school authority will listen to their demands and still the school will be in session for them to continue their academic studies, because if they embark on destructive and violent protest as a result of increment of school fees, thereby destroying and vandalizing properties, they will bear the brunt later. Present day student leaders should be smart enough to adopt other advanced ways of engaging the authorities to drive home their points and ensure that the concerns of the students are taken into considerations by the authorities when they make their policies.
Also, the authorities should endeavor to engage the students through their leaders, the student union government, make them understand and see reasons for the proposed reviews of the school fees where and when necessary. In early 2004, as factional NANS President, I led a nationwide protest against increment of fees for bed space in student hostels in tertiary institutions, but right now, the national economy has been bastardized by those managing our economy, and there is no way any tertiary institution can provide services with the school fees paid by students remaining as it has been. But like I advised, the authorities must ensure the student leaders are carried along in making such reviews.
Comrade Igwe Patrick Afubera writes from Abuja.