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Many moons ago,

I went to the market square,

Saw a beautiful goddess

And was left bereft of word

.

I then remembered what my father used to tell me

“Son,

Metaphor is the horse of words;

And when a word is lost,

A metaphor is used to find it.”

.

When she was about to walk past me,

I quickly closed my eyes,

And knelt to pray.

And behold, she did not pass.

Today, we celebrate a year together.

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Never again – Will I sit on the fence And I wish I could also March with Tu-face Idibia

I wrote this post on Saturday before I read the protest had been called off by Tuface himself. It is not my place to judge Tuface given that I am writing this post thousands of miles away from Nigeria. It is what it is. I believe that the protest is still going to happen but I’m not sure if it would be as effective. Today, I salute those who gave everything including their lives for our freedom, no be beans.

Please read!

I am just a man who was lucky enough to be born into a middle-class Nigerian family somewhere in Osun-State, so I doubt if I would have been able to swing votes or any of that stuff during the 2015 presidential election; not even that of my siblings who were old enough to cast votes. However, one of my deepest personal regrets in the past few years has been my fencist position during the last election. My position during the 2015 election was more nuanced than those who outrightly supported Buhari and presented him as the best thing since sliced bread.

I was utterly disgusted with the ineptness of Jonathan’s administration like a lot of Nigerians that I did not consider a fact — now known — that we could have it worse and not necessarily better. I was faced with a conundrum of desperately wanting the Jonathan led administration to go and a Buhari I knew had nothing to offer Nigeria. I knew that the iniquitous APC leaders were just opportunists who were ready to do whatever it took to get into power — even if it meant merging and repackaging one of the old clueless relics from Nigeria’s past, wear a makeup for him and present him to Nigerians as a messiah. But my desperation for the former outweighed the latter and I kept quiet; I secretly wanted Buhari to nick the election. In hindsight, this decision of mine was vapid and immature and time has kicked my butts for it.

I am happy that Tuface Idibia will be marching on Monday and I wish more than anything that I could be there in Nigeria marching with him straight into the heart of the Nigerian Federal Government until they understand the hardship they have plagued the Nigerian masses with. I expect a huge turnout on Monday. Nigerians don’t need an expert to tell them they are hungry. My only fear Is that the uproar and the anger brewing up in the Nigerian youths would — on this day or — some other day turn into a paroxysm of rage that would be too late to curtail. I say this because I know that the orientation of the Nigerian Police force — just like the colonial days — is to protect the Government and the elites, and not the Nigerian masses.

So please, for those who will be marching on Monday, let us try and make it a peaceful and an effective protest. #ISTANDWITHNIGERIA

Buhari was the wake-up call the Nigerian middle-class needed

This is a threnody; one with a topic.

Nigeria has always been saddled with the litany of bad leaderships since 1960 and the middle-class has always been silent or at worst — they somehow justify the incompetence of the Nigerian government even when they should know better. The middle-class are either silent or making faint noises as long as they are able to pay their rents, eat three square meal, switch on their generators, and take a once-in-a year trip to Dubai. They have enjoyed their heaven until Buhari came with his half-baked policies which are now making sure that the numbers of middle-class are fast diminishing while being left in state of impecuniousness.

The Nigerian politicians built a system that favors them. A system where they strategically position themselves and their friends to attract wealth for themselves and their generations to come. If the policy doesn’t favor the rich, it dies while it’s still in its gestation period.
The middle-class are only vociferous when the government denies them of their ‘heaven’. When people are being killed in Southern Kaduna, they won’t say anything. When the blood-sucking-horse-climbing demons called herdsmen go on a killing rampage, you won’t hear anything from the Nigerian intellectuals and middle-class. If it doesn’t affect their finances or loved ones, they are fine. But the incompetency — a type that hasn’t been seen for some time now — of the recent occupant of Aso-rock has brought the hypocrisy of the Nigerian middle class to the fore.

Yesterday, a Nigerian military jet mistakenly dropped a bomb on one of the IDP camps in Borno; leaving some people dead and many injured, and the president is yet to visit them. It seems the president is allergic to domestic trips. Where is the outcry? The Nigerian middle-class do not care about the danger that comes with their silence, or the damage it leaves in its wake. When are we going to start valuing the life of a Nigerian?

One would think the middle-class and the intellectuals should be the voice of the poor but this is obviously not the case in Nigeria.

The Nigerian middle-class must wake up and lend a collective voice to every ill of the government; and not only when their master card is blocked and they cannot use it outside the country. It is time to stop cherry picking on issues. Every issue must matter; every life must matter.
And to those youths who write potboiler articles to justify the actions and inactions of the government, I hope the brown envelope is fat enough, you will answer to posterity. Those who dish out amphigories for the glory of clicks, I hope the traffic is worth it. And the town criers who get hired to cloak a blatant ineffective government with palliatives and give them a tap on the back, you will all get your reward.

I will end my rant here by taking one from the smorgasbord of Soyinka: The man dies in everyone who keeps quiet in the face of tyranny!

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Today, I celebrate myself

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.}    Walt Whitman

 

 

Let it not be said that my God is a faux god.

Let it not be said that I was not broken.

Let it not be said that I stayed broken.

Let it not be said that I lost in the battle of love.

Let it not be said that I do not contradict myself.

Let it not be said that I am ONE—I am an entity.

Let it not be said that I am not a paradox.

Let it not be said that I am a perfect being.

Let it not be said that I did not fail.

Let it not be said that I never felt insecure.

Let it not be said that I never felt vulnerable and weak.

Let it not be said that I, Àlàní, who ate 20 wraps of pap and asked for more is not the son of my father.

Let it not be said that I kept quiet in the face of tyranny.

Let it not be said that I was cowered into silence by shame and her agents of backbiters.

Let it not be said that I’m ashamed of who I am.

For I am ME, and today I celebrate all of ME; the ME that was, the ME that is, and the ME that would be.

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Benue Massacre (Nigeria)

The food basket of our nation,
We stand with you
As you are being ripped apart
By Horse-climbing-blood-sucking-demons;
The turbaned ones.

 

Comrade Napoleon’s hearing is now dysfunctional.
His sojourn to the land of men who talk through their noses
Hasn’t helped his cause,
He still cannot hear your cry for help.

 

Today, we wax lyrical about your braveness.
We rave about your doggedness,
As you wade through the flames of this consuming inferno
Lighted by blood-sucking-demons
Scribbling epitaphs of fear on your streets.

 

Today we chant dirges
For all those
Whose dreams have been aborted by
Demons wielding AK-47s

 

Shame on those
who keep mum 
As your ranks are being diminished

 

Your heroes have traded decorum
For Pieces of silver.
They now reek of foreign currency.

 

Shame on those who promised
To speak for you.
Those who now have lost their voices
To cynicism.

 

Those who promised to Protect you
Now ply the enticing corridors of power;
Completely disconnected from all their pledges.

 

Those who promised to listen to you
now wine and dine on the altar of politics
Where your dreams and future are being ravenously ravished
By feckless mortals
insensitive to your tears.

 

Stay strong our brothers and sisters,
Hold the fort while yet you may.
One day,
These demons.These fake heroes.These frauds
Shall be exposed
And justice shall be served
Collectively.

 

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We should all be Storytellers

Depending on the mindset or interest of the reader, the idea presented by the bulk of this article could be considered already so archaic that there hardly could be anything done to effect any change about it. However, I don’t by any means buy that.
There is a perennial debate on the use of language in the Nigerian classrooms. I do not want to dwell too much on this but i will quickly like to ask both sides of the divide a few questions. Since we don’t have basic texts translated into our own languages, how do we compete globally if we decide to relegate the English language? Also, what is the hope of our core cultures and traditions if children are only proficient in English language?
There are writers who write in their native language, a good example being the prominent Kenyan writer—Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. I remember reading a comment of Achebe in one of his interviews. He made a submission that the difference between himself and Ngugi as writers was the fact that while Ngugi believes it has to be writing in English or one’s native language, He (Achebe) believed one could decide to write in both. Achebe mixed both English and his native language, Igbo in a very fascinating manner. He appropriated the use of English language so well that the reader could sometimes be lost in between the lines with a feel of reading in the Igbo language.
For Achebe, I think English language is a weapon he had to master so as to achieve his dreams of telling African stories in his own unique way. There was no other way.
I am with Achebe on this one. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but a fine balance between the languages as one so desires. The children can learn both.
We find ourselves in an age in which globalization is driven by Science and Technology. English language is the fuel that drives this vehicle. This is a reality we must face.
In the past, there was the emergence of a crop of literary icons from Africa; such as Cyprian Ekwensi, Chinua Achebe, Amos Tutuola, Wole Soyinka, Jomo Kenyatta and some others, who decided to challenge a certain tradition of the British writers writing about a mythical Africa. These African writers rose up to tell their own stories with the aim of creating a balance, at the very least or going head to head with the European writers for our right to write our own stories. Achebe spoke extensively about this in his apt and engaging book titled “Home and Exile”. To draw some excerpts from the book;

This was said about Africans by Elspeth Huxley in his book white man’s country; Perhaps it may be, as some doctors have suggested, that his brain is different: that it has a shorter growing period and possesses less well formed, less cunningly arranged cells than that of the Europeans-in other words, that there is a fundamental disparity between the capabilities of his brain and ours.

As mentioned by Achebe in his book, a British writer, Mr. Pedler wrote, “When Europeans talk of Africans buying a wife”. This particular one by Pedler lacks veracity and is also misleading. We don’t buy wives and the hypocrisy in that statement is loud and clear.
The aforementioned excerpts are statements made decades ago, so you can imagine my amusement when I got to America less than 3 yrs ago and found that certain condescending questions about Africa still thrived.
To mention a few examples; my Chinese friend said he thought Africa was just a country in a bush with no roads. A Caucasian asked me where I learned how to use computers or the one who was stupefied on hearing there are “African writers”. A black American once asked me if I learned how to speak good English in America.
In the eyes of some of those who ask these questions, one can see the spectacular naivety masquerading as innocence. In some others, one can see the feigned innocence laced with bigotry so thick. It seems to me that this singular stories written of Africa by the old British griots built a mansion of false and misguided impressions in the minds of people outside Africa and these impressions are being passed to subsequent generations.
Some would argue that my claims are banal or obsolete or I am being too sensitive, but we need to ask ourselves if these issues have become really obsolete. Should we really not bother about these “banal” topics? Is it that the Achebes and the Tutuolas didn’t do enough? Why am I still being asked such condescending questions Achebe was asked in 1967? These men could only do so much, what about us?
Should we continue to blame the iniquitous British colony and western media for painting Africa in any light they see fit?
This is the 21st century, the age of a beast called the internet. The beast that allows one to go on a trip to anywhere in the world without moving an inch physically. Why are we not telling our own stories to the world? This is our job and we can’t leave it to “the others”. Writing is not the only weapon that can be used to achieve the results I/we desire. The African musical industry and the Nollywood have also done incredible jobs in telling African stories but their efforts alone are clearly insufficient to propagate the accuracy of our stories to all parts of the world.
While I quite agree you can only do so much, people will believe what they want to believe. Yet, I believe playing a part by telling these stories will go a long way in sowing a seed of truth even in the most obstinate of outsiders.
If I, in all the glory of my demureness, with but a few years in the west under my belt often come face to face with these experiences, I wonder how many times Africans abroad are being asked laughable questions about Africa on a daily basis.
A friend of mine, a fellow Yoruba man, the other day told an American that the Yoruba language is a dialect, I had to stop him right there, scowled at him and quickly corrected him, that Yoruba is a language and not a dialect. Many a time, this is how we create false impressions in the minds of highly impressionable people. How can you properly and accurately tell a story you know nothing about?
One of my favorite African proverbs goes thus; “until Lions learn to speak, the story of the hunt will always glorify the hunters”. In this article-‘the secret to a promising future’, I talked about the importance of having an identity, of knowing who you are and where you are coming from, the importance of telling your own story.
Shame tries to keep us mum, but we need to rise above shame and tell our stories. We can’t afford to leave it to “the others”, else, we should be ready to embrace the damaging distortions to our stories as well as the labels we face every day.
Continue to Rest in Peace Chinua Achebe – The master storyteller
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The Falconer

She meets a bearded demon clothed in Agbada,
He tells her tales of his Ancestors,
Who could reduce an ocean to ashes,
by breathing fire.
 

 

He mixes up promises and lies
In a chalice of affection
And shoves it down her throat.
Although acrid, she falls for the saccharine flavor.
 

 

Then he parts her red sea with his staff of truth.
He breaks her heart, gorges it out,
And sacrifices it at the Osun shrine.
She then gets tossed into the evil forest.
 

 

But she finds her way out.
She comes out stronger,
Defiantly grows another heart,
And ready to love again.
 

 

She is gutsy,
She is brave,
She is the epitome of strength and hope
She is a falconer— in the making.
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Camelot’s Coronation Chimes

And when it’s all said and done,
In the future, Sarathur Kindragon will turn
to the people of Camelot.
He will ask to be crowned king.
He will hire vuvuzelas,
with drums and flutes carved out of the gaunt bones of the common man.

They will eulogize his greatness.
With measured Cadence,
They will sing his encomiums
The ovations and adulation will be loud,
Pretentious, and patronizing altogether.

Even the Ahithophels?
The ones with Summa cum laude?
For few pieces of Silver and 140 characters,
They will work as town criers,
Chanting propaganda at the market square.

The sanctimonious and the pseudo puritans?
The will hold Vespers in his honor.

And we, who stare history in the face and call her a liar.
We, who see death and call it life.
We, who tag Absalom the unsullied one;
Who even swear David’s lush-haired son is Moses.
We, who become mute as mules in the face of tyranny,
until things fall apart.

Would we ignore this blatant Travesty?
Would we ignore this well staged charade?
Would we take off our shoes and dance?
Again!??
I am no soothsayer.

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We are dying a ‘cultural death”

I am not an Economist and I do not intend to sound like one, but I have always believed that culture plays a very important role as far as economics is concerned.
Discussions and deliberations about economics should not be left to only the Economists, it is expedient for even the common man to be a part of it. The reason I decided to write this isn’t far-fetched, it is the same reason I wrote the ones I have on my blog, the ones on my social media accounts, and the ones on my iPad; that will never experience the beauty of the internet (because they are too dark or the internet is simply too beautiful for them)—the urge to share my thoughts. The things that keep me awake at night.
As Thomas Sowell mentioned in his brilliant book Wealth, Poverty and Politics; Geography, Demography, Social conditions, Politics and Culture all play important roles in shaping the economy of a nation. These are factors that are conveniently swept aside when discussing policies and Economy; especially in Nigeria. Why is it that when we try out proven policies, they still fail in Nigeria? We keep running around in circles, trying this and that and nothing seems to work, yet when Nigerians travel abroad, they soar, why? This proves that the best policy could be counterproductive in a place or nation if the aforementioned factors are not carefully considered. This is why context is important.
In 2013, virtually 25% of the 120 blacks in Harvard business schools were Nigerians. As early as 1999, Nigerians were overrepresented among black students in elite American colleges and universities by a factor of about ten. Nearly one fourth of Nigerian households in the USA have incomes of more than $100000 [Source: Wealth Poverty and Politics]. Someone should have shown Mr. President these stats before he decided to slander us on an international stage.
This tells us that our political structures or the lack of it, coupled with culture are the major factors that keep us from reaching our potential as a people and a nation. Culture especially is the banana peel on our road to prosperity. I am by no means blanketing our culture as a whole and shaming it, but there are some aspects of our collective culture that need to be brushed aside if we really want to fulfil the potential we’ve been talking about since 1914.
A nation that creates social obstacles to the use of the talents and potentials of its own people, whether those obstacles be ethnicity, sex, or what have you is not going to fulfil its potentials.
Are we saying that, if a time comes in the future and the best person we have for the presidential job is an Igbo man or a Nigerian woman, we would reject him or her? Chew on this, Barack Obama is a Luo man from Kenya and the chances of a Luo man being the president of Kenya are as good as having a female or Igbo president in Nigeria.
Just read this article about one of our leaders (here) as he gingerly opposes a bill that speaks on “Equal Rights and Opportunities for Men and Women”. The problem is we don’t want to learn; we don’t want to evolve. We are too quick to oppose certain motions by tagging them “western culture” when it should be basic human rights. On women’s day, our senators were busy discussing how they should take more wives. They turned plenary to an upgraded beer parlor. Why do we keep thinking in this manner? The bigger problem here is that education cannot even save us from this. I have observed that the thickest form of misogyny and bigotry is found among the learned in Nigeria.
What I see is that, our culture dilutes our level of education thereby making it next to useless. See my article on Cultural ethics and education. Our leaders send their children to schools abroad but are now trying to discourage others from schooling abroad. Imagine my amusement when the president said at his Al Jazeera interview that “those who can afford the tuition can still afford it”. That statement means CBN will not allocate forex for education again. We really want to joke with that? We really want to reduce the numbers of students who school abroad even though we know the abysmal state of our tertiary institutions? Our nation has nothing to attract the best brains in the world, so how exactly do we intend to burgeon economically? Governor Ambode, the other day was begging the Nigerians abroad to come back home and make a difference in Nigeria. Our leaders know better, it’s the reason most of them send their kids abroad anyway.
Nations that are not immigrants attractive understand why they have to send their best brains to the U.S. Or UK for education. Take China for example, the Chinese are not ready to change their ways (politically or culturally), there is language barrier so it’s the last place any immigrant wants to go to school. They send their best brains outside for upgrading the nous of their science and technology, economics and so on so as to return with new ideas that can be applied in their own context.
One of the reasons why America is great is because of its ability to attract the best brains in the world. The arrivals of Jews from Europe to America helped in the creation of the first nuclear bomb on which America’s international position as a superpower rested.
Between 1638 to 1868, the government of Japan cut the country from outside the world, emigration from Japan was forbidden and those abroad were forbidden to return and that was the beginning of the end for Japan. They started to diminish drastically until they lifted those ridiculous policies. China did the same sometime in the 18th century and they paid a heavy price. There was a vast increase in the technological gap between them and Europe.
Most of the countries that rose from obscurity to prosperity e.g. Singapore, South Korea in the 20th century, Japan in the 19th century didn’t do so by saying no to foreign investors or by putting policies that are not attractive to foreign investors. Nigeria is doing the exact opposite. Springing up policies that are not attractive to foreign investors, making statements like “Nigeria for Nigeria”, “dollar is not our business”.
Culture isolation keeps us from keeping up with the advances of others. Cultural evolution is by no means a change that can happen overnight but when we have the chance to do so, we must embrace it. Again, I read the equality bill, and this could have at least breached the gap between men and women in the Nigerian society but our leaders shunned the bill with petty excuses.
A lot of honest and blunt Nigerians would agree that corruption is a culture in Nigeria, it is our way of life. Here is an excerpt about Nigeria from “Thieves of States” by Sarah Chayes “if there is a project, every minister checks the money on the project first and not its usefulness. If it is 10 million, the director tells them to make it 12 million and the permanent secretary further tells them to inflate to 25 million. Then they award the contract to themselves”. We must talk about these things and face them head on before we fade into obscurity.
And our amnesic tendencies, where we totally ignore history as though it never happened, Pitiable!
I was on twitter the other day and I came across a tweet. “If you are a billionaire, why then do you have to join politics?”. This exactly is the mentality most of us grew up with, that public office is supposed to be another means for amassing wealth, rather than, at best, an addendum to the desire to serve our nation. While this is not a negative thought, it must not be what drives our political ambition.
Thomas Sowell puts this brilliantly “Third world countries are not being asked to create their own societies, after some calamity, they are being asked to create a western economy without the centuries of a particular cultural evolution that led up to those economies in the west”
We want to flourish like the west but we don’t want to go through the processes. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but culture is another Jonah in the boat that needs to be tossed into the river if Nigeria wants to fulfill its potentials.

Credit to Thomas Sowell (Wealth, Poverty and Politics)

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Are you even a Moses?

What good are you

If you abandon your scepter of probity?

With what will you swallow the corrupt

Snakes that feast on our yams?

How do you intend to part the Red Sea? ehn!!?

 

What good are you  

If water dries up

From the rocks of our economy

And you cannot bring forth prosperity?

 

What good are you

If you surround yourself with “lots” and Judases 

Who rape our future 

on the altar of politics,

sell integrity for few pieces of Silver;

and give up decorum for brown envelops? 

 

What good are you

If you keep going back to Egypt

With the swiftness of Hermes

to calumniate us

Instead of singing our encomium?

 

How will we get to the Promised Land 

If you keep going back to Egypt, 

Bowing down to every Pharaoh? 

 

Are you even a Moses? 

Or an Ajala masquerading as a Moses?

 

 

Ajala was a Nigerian globe-trotter, and freelance journalist who visited nearly hundred countries within 6 years.