My mother left me a message on WhatsApp on Thursday;
“Grandma is unconscious”.
I was at the office and I muttered “Blood of Jesus”
I rushed to google to ask her what unconscious meant, did you even know Google Grandma?
She is a know-it-all machine and I trust her, another wizardry from the white man.
She told me not to worry too much, “that you probably aren’t feeling any pain”.
Your heart was beating but your body wasn’t dancing to the beats,
Your body must have been very tired.
Maybe you just wanted to announce your own death;
To give those around you the opportunity to listen to the rhythm of your heartbeat before crossing to the other side.
How kind and considerate of you Grandma,
Although I’m not sure it helped much.
Wumi and I always spoke of your resilience,
You hung on for so long
Against all odds.
And we are proud of you.
I woke up to another message from my mum on Friday,
Saying: “She died”
I thought I had prepared myself for this message,
But it stung me and I felt very sad!
Suddenly, I remembered when I’d visit you at Oke-oniti
And I would run my hands through your fragile body.
You would say “Stop touching me if you won’t give me money”
And then smile and follow up with a word of prayer.
The thoughts of those smiles will forever be etched on my memories.
I have heard stories of your bravery, sacrifices and doggedness
From my Mother and Mummy Dolapo;
I walked in on them several times as they talk about you gleefully.
Everyone is proud of you;
You did well by your children.
We, your grandchildren are all doing well and progressing,
Your children have not tried to separate us.
The family is big and knitted together,
We all keep in touch with each other and
Celebrate some of our victories and pains together.
We will create a museum in our hearts,
And immortalize your triumphant stories.
We will tell them to our children and their children
And watch them with pride as they bask in the tales of your greatness.
You won’t be forgotten.
Even after writing all this,
I am still sad.
Maybe because some pains are our duty to keep.
But I’m sure it will get better,
Because even though the human side of us weep,
The spiritual side of us rejoices as we know this transition is worthy of a PRAISE.
Sùn re o Àdùké
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
The food basket of our nation,
We stand with you
As you are being ripped apart
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
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.
These demons.These fake heroes.These frauds
Shall be exposed
And justice shall be served
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
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.