ajagunna

I discuss Nigeria and the world at large because I strongly believe MyOpinionCounts!

Category: Ahjotnaija GuestBlogger

The Black Burden by Ola Dunni

One day,

My nephew arrived from school

Tapped his mum and asked in a very innocent voice

dunni

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Doctoral student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Are Africans stupid?

Are we stupid mum?

Were we shocked at this question?

No

Wary?

Yes

We needed some more time before we had to do the whole black stereotype discussion

We wanted him to be innocent for a few more years

To grow up like every other kid

And not be weighed down by the black burden we all have had to carry for centuries

He was just 7 years old

7 freaking years old

Why do you ask this?

His mum inquired

My classmate Bobby said all black people are stupid

With further digging and prodding,

We realised Bobby’s mother was the origin of this statement

Bobby’s mother told Bobby who called my nephew stupid

 

My nephew is the only black kid in the school

A very smart kid who has been promoted twice

But he questions his intelligence because a white kid said so

Unfortunately, that is just the tip of the iceberg for him

I am not pessimistic, simply realistic

He is gonna encounter far worse as he ages and leaves his cocoon

All we can do is arm him with tools to navigate a world which has been tilted against his kind

Educate him on history which was scripted to subjugate his kind

While stealing from him

Got us convinced we are not good enough

Got us convinced our religion is paganistic

Our way of life is far from the ideal

While stealing and raping our culture

Got us convinced our culture should take a back seat

While we embrace another whole heartedly

For yours is the standard of civilization

The bible was given to us in exchange for our freedom

And now you want me to continue to pray to a god which looks nothing like me

Believe in a fairy tale which paints an image of my kind as never do well slaves

You wear my hair as wigs during your carnival

While I am still struggling to wear mine as they grow from my head

Without being subjected to regulations on the definition of beautiful hair

 

My flatmate once called Kenyan food smelly and disgusting

With her nose scrunched up at me

Probably wanting me to apologise on behalf of Kenyans

Me shrugging my shoulders and retorting

Yours too stink and taste like rubber

The smell of cheese makes me want to puke

But the difference between me and you is understanding that identity is a construct

And no one chooses to which race, country, family he is born into

And that whatever you are,

Your taste, favorite food, fashion, culture is largely dependent on these 3 factors

What one chooses however is how you treat another human

How you don’t assume your own normativity should trump another’s

I am no longer going to be defensive

Apologizing for my culture, food, hair, body and colour

I have a right to own my narrative same as you do

I do not owe nobody an explanation either

For I am tired of smiling to the camera

Like some props to be displayed at the market square

 

Ask every black person

And you would hear the same story

How we subtly double check ourselves at every store

Before walking out the door

Making sure no article is tagged to our body mistakenly

We all sadly make fun of this

But it is a worry that plagues us all

That even if we got nothing on us

The alarm would still ring and we would be doubly embarrassed

So we pat ourselves stylishly

Because we are always automatically guilty until proven innocent

Who decides the innocence?

You

How do you then decide my innocence

If you are already plagued with your stereotypes of me

That I am a good for nothing criminal

 

The young guy who screamed monkey from his car

While high-fiving his friends

All laughing drunkenly

The doctor who requested for my asylum card

Automatically assuming my identity

The checker who came directly to my friend

And asked for her ticket

While the white dude who minutes before told his friend on the phone that he had no ticket was ignored

But of course he’s white so no one assumes he would drive black

Only black people drive black

The bouncers who refuse us entry into the clubs multiple times

The people who try to justify this act

The girl who dug her hand into my hair without my permission

Giving me her unsolicited opinion on the texture of my hair

Like my existence desperately needed her validation

The guys who ask to date me to satisfy their fetish

According to them,

Black girls are this and this and that

I was just some black face to them

And still told me I was the racist one for not throwing myself at their kind

The old woman who dragged me to her living room

To show me pictures of black kids she helps back in Africa

Oblivious to my discomfort and mechanical smile

All I wanted was a room to rent

The people who say we are all one when it suits their narrative

And scream go back to your country

At other times

The problem is not our difference

The problem is the interpretation of our differences

How we are narrated as not good enough

By the one who has the structural power

A proverb says,

Until the lion is able to write

The story will always glorify the hunter

 

So I told my nephew

Do not let society own you, shine so bright it dims the one who tries to stifle you

You are not intelligent, beautiful in spite of being black

You are all these because you are black

Embrace an undiluted image of you

Love yourself unaplogetically

But remember,

You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have

Standing tall in a world that has been programmed to proclaim your negatives

And impose their narratives on you

 

So when you say All lives matter

I ask you

Will your kids die with the world on their back

For mine will.

Lost in Transit? A Long Poetic Conversation on Language, Culture and Identity by Ola Dunni (!SiDOS)

dunni

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Doctoral student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Hasten up,

I’d like to take my shower before we leave

No, it is take your bath, not shower, my friend corrects me

No, it is shower, I insist

No, you shower when you want to cool off your body

And take your bath when it involves scrubbing your body

Whatever, I’m off to the bathroom

Lets continue this English lesson in the bus

Ola I’d like some tea

No I don’t have tea

But I got chocolate if you want that

Well that’s tea, my friend shakes his head at me

No it’s chocolate, I insist

Tea comes in a bag

We argue over this for some minutes

Until I shrug my shoulder, “Whatever leave me be”

 

Hey Ola

Can you direct me to the closest cafe around here?

Sure, it’s right around the corner after the traffic light

You want to get some bread and coffee?, I inquire

What?, my friend stares at me incredulously

I want to print some documents

Oh! Its a print shop you need and not a cafe

No, its a cafe I need to go

 

These are the excerpts of conversations

between my newly arrived Nigerian friends and me

For two weeks, I’ve been made to pay attention to my grammar

With the realisation that I’ve picked up the German English

And lost my Nigerian English

Replacing peculiar Nigerian words for German phrases

It doesn’t end there

 

Wake up, your phone is ringing

The guy slaps the girl lightly on the shoulder

Wake up, it’s your alarm

Wake up, you have a message

I stare at them both incredulously

Why you do you have to wake her up to pick her call?

You should just mute the call and when she wakes, she calls back

Why would I do that?, he replies

Your suggestion is weird

Well, you waking her up to pick a call is weird too

I sigh

 

The guy is gone to class

Just me and my girlfriend at home

Her phone rings

I am awake so I mute it

She wakes up later

Hey Ola, did my phone ring?

Yeah, you were asleep so I put it on mute

Why didn’t you wake me?, she grumbles

You didn’t inform me that you’d like to be woken up to pick a call,

I replied

 

Hey Ola, can I use your perfume

My friend shakes my shoulder to wake me up

Is the home on fire?, I ask sarcastically

My sleep ridden face all squeezed

No, but I’d like to use your perfume

You actually wake me to ask this question?

I wasn’t even pissed

I was flabbergasted

You know you should simply use it or leave without using it

Either way, it’s rude to wake me up

I note the differences in our interaction

It will be difficult not to

 

These differences are very obvious

How I walk, how I interpret and respond to messages

My gestures, short mechanical smile I give to strangers

Do you know that person you just smiled at?

They ask

No, we don’t know each other. It’s just simple mechanical smile

Why you smile then? They ask

The hugs of goodbye and welcome I share with my friends

These ones opening the door without hugging me

Me still talking about the weather while they already gone back to the room

Weird people, I shake my head at them both

You are the weird one, they laugh at me

Why you hugging everyone

You not even in a relationship

 

My two newly arrived Nigerian friends

Remind me of the fact that I’ve lost the authentic Nigerian identity

Yes, I have a green passport

And I say I am Nigerian to everyone I meet

Holding on to that identity

But I realise I am swimming against the tide

And I am at the point of drowning

My friends tell me every minute

You are not Nigerian

You are so German

You wont fit into the Nigerian society

 

I have not visited home in 4years

Without my friends showing me what it means to be Nigerian,

I would continue to insist on my authenticity

Telling archaic stories and slangs

No one uses that word any more

They’d laugh at me. This is how we say it

Even your English is all mixed up

It has lost that peculiar Nigerian accent

Your words are pronounced on a very high pitch

Our pronunciations are very flat and low pitched

You are hybrid, just accept it

 

Then I remember the woman at the train station

On a Sunday morning

Shouting in anger at a young boy

It was a small argument that quickly escalated into a fight

I was tired

It was 5am and I had partied the entire night

All I wanted was to take the bus home in peace

But these two were at it

Exchanging words

And then the outburst

Go back to your country!!!

The woman shouted at the dude

It was obvious his facial structures was Arabian

We all turned in alarm

Shock written over our face

Condemning her in our silence

But of course we said nothing

That’s how it always goes

No one was willing to tell her how terrible that was

Then the dude responded, back to where? Bitch!

I was born here, same as you! I belong here!

I am from Germany!

 

He was from here

This is what he’s known all his life

But his identity was snatched from him in seconds

And he had to fight to reclaim it

Who knows how many times he’s had to do this?

Fight this identity battle

Telling everyone willing to listen, I belong here same as you

I pondered to myself

He didn’t look fazed

His statement was very flat

 

So when you say, tell me about Nigeria

I can only tell you about memories

Locked up

Brought out once in a while

Cleaned till it glitters

And locked up again

To be pushed out when the occasion arises

 

But my Nigerian identity has been contested

By my newly arrived friends

I cannot even eat their food

Neither can they mine

I talk about how we eat pepper a lot

Not realising that I do not eat the Nigerian quantity of pepper anymore

They say my food is bland

I say theirs is too hot

Almost ripping my tongue out

How can you feel the taste of the food if you douse it with this quantity of pepper

They say the pepper is actually the taste

So we decided to cook separately

 

I do not know what I am

Of course I’m not German

But they say I’m not Nigerian either

And I’d have to learn how to be Nigerian

So I cannot in good faith regale you with stories of Nigeria

Or how it feels to be one

That will be claiming an identity I do not 100% fit into

Neither do I 100% fit into the German society

 

So I have decided to juggle both

Be the German in the very Nigerian camp

You should lower your voice when you talk

Use your earpiece when you listen to music

Wait for the traffic light, be very time conscious

And be Nigerian in the very German camp

Laugh at the top of my voice, be the pepper eater, invite strangers into my home

This way I have my peace

And I do not have to try too hard to be anything.

Taninomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): Joy Isi Bewaji vs. Hallelujah Challenge Brouhaha (JIB vs. HCB)

Don’t throw the child away with the bathwater. While many of you are calling for Isi Bewaji’s head because of her rant against the Halleluyah challenge, you seem to neglect the salient lessons. She was wrong to have interfered in the religious business of faithfuls who decided to come together to worship their God. It was not the Ministry of Science and Technology or the Ministry of Education that called the challenge, it was a group of Christians and that is why they called Christians. But she was also right in the rant; religion has to a large extent adversely affected us. It has made us more selfish, close minded and unquestioning.

So, I went to an ‘SU’ secondary school, those schools where the proprietor is an ultra-religious adherent. We had a long list of dos and don’ts. The school directress, who at that time was running her PhD in English, told us not to read Festus Iyayi’s Violence, a NECO prescribed text. Her reason: it was ‘corrupt.’ The intolerance was top-notch; these were people willing to kill with the rod in order to bend you to the mould they think is right.

tmomo

Hand-in-pocket: Oluwaseun Tanimomo of TPoM

In general, it seems besides salvation a number of Nigerian churches have no other good to offer. Church here means an organized body of people on earth who gather in a place regularly to listen to a scriptural exegete. What obtains in the religious circles in Nigeria and some African countries is different from the reality in Western countries, where Christianity and churches appear to be compassionate. In Germany for example, I know that the Catholic Church and the Protestants have scholarship stipends for students. They have hospitals and organise conferences and fairs. In Nigeria we build big churches and organise big programs year after year. How do you explain to the people that they are the real church when we spend millions adorning buildings? And are those private jets really for evangelism or for jetting out to world capitals where the honorarium is heavy and enticing? Do our super-pastors travel to the villages in Adamawa, the poorest parts of Malawi and Mozambique to preach? It seems to me that the good news is only for the super-rich. That is one other thing I like in my German church; offerings are collected to travel to the very poor, for ‘development aids’. Just look at the good Pope don’t you like him?
Religion for a number of us is a tool for control; a tool to force people into your line of scriptural interpretation. It is the reason we are so quick to fight for our God. Imagine! In my second year at the Obafemi Awolowo University, I had picked a Quran to read, so this boy called Maxwel, who we had all thought to be Ibo and consequently Christian told me to drop the Quran. I smiled and thought the bros was joking until he picked a knife. I like my life! I dropped it immediately until another good Muslim friend, Damola is his name, explained to me that they don’t treat their holy book the way we did ours. I asked Damola why he chose not to stab me instead. After all, they are both Muslim . Damola condemned the action of the violent Muslim.
Still in my second year, a group of student-religious leaders decided for the whole hall that it was wrong to watch adult movies in the common room on Friday nights. They succeeded because they added violence to their quest. This was a hall of residence for students majorly above 18 years. adults. Anyways, we went on a two week break after that, we called it Mojo break.
As a child of about 8years, my mum once left her work to come pick me and my siblings at my grandma’s place in Ijoko-Ota because the Gods of the Ota people did not know it was the dusk of the 20th century. Businesses shut down and a pin-drop silence accompanied by a palpable fear enveloped Sango-Ota area, a midway city to Ijoko-Ota, and its environs. The Oro festival was being held. Talking about Oro festival, I once attended a vigil as a child and Oro visited. They charged at us because there were women in the church. Women should not see Oro. Well, our Pastor’s wife and also a family friend said she was not going to hide that she had rights. Fearless woman! Whether you interpret this as a Westernized Christian woman, disrespectful of her culture, standing in the way of tradition. Or a fearless woman standing for her rights against a patriarchal religion is another matter. I choose the latter.
Family members, friends complain about the gridlock along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway from time to time. True, it might not be the responsibility of the churches to build roads, but I believe these churches have enormous influence on governments.
Whatever shape or form religion takes in Nigeria, it seems that those at the helm of its affairs are one way or the other complicit in the oppression of the people. Our ancestors had seen the tyranny of religion and concluded that religion or whatever deity we choose to serve must be able to save us and make our lives better. Orisa bi o le gba mi, se mi bi o ti ba mi, our ancestors warned. In the act of our ancestors, they preempted a danger of an unbridled deity, hence the insertion of the freedom clause in the design of our Gods. The freedom to choose is important, saving which the head of a particular God may swell and tell adherents to kill or punish non-adherents so that (s)he can be more God.
Christianity, Islam and our traditional religions sure have many positive sides. But to be a slave to religion is to be a slave to unreason. Religion should help and not be a problem. In fact, I am against this seeming adopted Westernized religious manicheeism in Nigeria that clearly divorces reason from feeling, and religion from science. Fact is, science and religion can walk hand in hand and lead humans to a more humane world. It does really not have to be this manicheeism kind of approach as it is presently in Nigeria.

!SiDoS Slams For Girls in Münster Germany

This is For Every Girl Fighting The System

dunni

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

It was the end of the school term
I accompained my mum to my brother’s school
I was four years old
My brother was nine
The three best students for each class were always selected
And prizes awarded amidst claps and encomium
It was the turn of his class
He came second
A girl came first
I was glad, I was proud of him
I clapped so hard my hands began to hurt
My mum wore her pride like a peacock
And marched out with him to receive his prize
But her face was marked with lines of unsatisfaction
Well, must it be because the first position was snatched out of his hands?
I questioned myself
Every parent wants her child to be the best

On our way back home
My mum said to my brother
Congratulations, you did well
But a girl beat you to the first position
A girl
You shouldn’t let that happen next term.
Whats wrong in being a girl?
My four years old brain pondered
Why cannot a girl be the overall best
In an egalitarian society,
My mum would have said
Congratulations my son, you did well
But second place is not the best
Try harder next term
I am proud of your achievement

My mum bought me every kind of dresses
Puffed shoulder, wide- lacy-frilly skirts
But I envied my brother’s trousers and t-shirts
All I wanted was simple t-shirts and trousers
Why couldn’t I have clothes like him
I wailed at my mother
Because you are a girl
She responded
And girls should not wear what belong to boys
I hung my head in despair
Pondering on this argument
Why make this much effort for someone who don’t want it
Well, you don’t have a say in this, she smirked at me
So I wore my dresses and pranced about in my girly shoes
Cussing at my life for being a girl

Visiting the tailor was another scary day
My mum and I always came home mad at each other
I had to make my pick out of the feminine collection
I was always very quick to choose the simple dresses
Can we go now mum
I would say to her
Oh, so quick
She would stare over my head asking me to show her my choice
Well, here it is
I would fume at her
Why not this? She would say
Why that? I would reply
At least now, you can’t question my choice
It’s still from the freaking female catalogue
So can I have my deserved space
I would glare back at her

I enjoyed playing football with my brother and male cousins
Running, jumping and screaming to high heaven
Oh, the scent of freedom and liberty
But my mother wasn’t having any of it
It was all good at the beginning
She didn’t care too much
But whenever an errand needed to be done
It was me who had to go
What a heavy burden
The boys continued with their football
While I quickly went on the errand, returning to join in screaming
One day, the football had to stop
Why?!
Because you are a girl!
You shouldn’t be jumping around!
You are beginning to grow boobs!
Wow!
I hate my boobs then!
And would like to cut it out if given the choice
I bared my teeth at her
But then I found a way around her
Whenever she wasn’t home
I joined them
But my long dresses wasn’t made for the sharp turns and twists of football
Often, the ball got buried in my yards of skirts
We had to dig through to find it
But my cousins were super nice
So we came up with a plan
I had to be the goal keeper
Both team wanted me even if I sucked at it
Because my wide skirt did the job of fending off the ball
That’s quite smart right?
Hell yeah
My team always won
My skirts did a very good job
The moment we heard my mother’s car horn
I scrammed into the house
Wiping off my sweat and trying to stabilize my breathing
To get caught was to be flogged
And lectured on the proper way of being a girl for days

Sunday was the Lord’s Day
It was another day to spell out your gender codes of conduct
The pastor was the police
The bible was the constitution
It was a predictable service
I’ve heard it countless times I could become a pastor
Woman, be submissive
Learn how to please your man
Be quiet when he is angry
Give him food when he is hungry
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach
For a submissive woman is a woman after God’s own heart
I would dose off mid speech
Waiting for the service to end
So we could go home to eat rice
One Sunday,
My mum said
I don’t want you to sit in the front pew any longer
Well, I don’t care wherever I sat
I would rather stay home
If I had a choice
The back pew would be more comfortable for my sleeping session
But out of curiosity, I asked her why
She said I was disrupting the church with my negative rebellious energy
Well, if your pastor was making sense
Perhaps, you won’t be staring at me during the service
Trying to pin down what energy my body was emitting
I grumbled under my breath

I was always the best in school
I was smart
I had no competition
My report sheet was predictable
Intelligent but rude
The intelligent part always got my mother so proud
But she would shake her head and beg God to change me
I could understand her though
I had one flaw
I was a girl
And girls shouldn’t be considered rude
They shouldn’t have a cause to fight for
They shouldn’t talk back to people
No no no, they shouldn’t even have opinions
I would laugh at her and run into my room
Screaming,
You don’t have to be worried for me mother, I don’t want to be married either

The more I aged,
The more my femaleness became hell for me
So I distanced myself from anything considered feminine
I didn’t want my brother’s penis either
So no, I had no penis envy
I just wanted to do things everyone labeled boyish
And also liked the benefits that came with having a penis
I would sit with my legs wide apart
Strut around like a peacock
Pick up fights with boys in school and on the street
I was tough
I was assertive
And I dared anyone to correct me
So everyone called me a tomboy
And I began to wear the label with pride
Because it meant being different from other girls
It meant power, authority, intelligence and superiority
It meant being able to wine and dine with boys on the same table

But then as I began to put things into perspectives
I realised the problem wasn’t me
The problem was the society and its perception of the female body
I realised being called a tomboy shouldn’t be a label I should wear with pride
I realised whenever I talked, men listened
But whenever another feminine girl talked, she was always shrugged off
I realised there is language and there is language
The difference between the two is how you wield it
I realised that whenever I wrote articles and responded to comments
People always assumed I was male
I always took great joy in telling them I was a girl
Then they would ask again to be sure
Are you sure you are a girl?
And I would puff out my chest in great pride
But then, I stopped smiling whenever my guy friends said
We don’t see you as a girl anymore. You are now part of us.
You belong to the guy club. We can’t date you.
So I would say: No, I am a girl. A girl who doesn’t want to be a boy either
You don’t get to mutilate my female body to consider me equal

This is it: I ran away from my life. The problem
I didn’t run from my female parts. The physical me.
The problem is this: We raise girls to be different from boys
Now, I still love to wear big t-shirts and trousers
And there are days I like to wear dresses and paint my face
It dawn on me that the dresses are not the problem
The problem is the baggage attached to the dresses
The problem is being taught hours hours unend how to rightly be a girl
Investing so much effort in teaching to live life as the inferior gender
Talks like: Keep your virginity. It’s a big price to pay for
Don’t have multiple sex partners or you would be considered a slut
Let a man decide for you what he wants or he might get turned off
For the big price, why don’t you go sell me in the market then?!
Meanwhile, the boy child is left off the hook
He doesn’t need to be taught these things
Only the wings of the girl child must daily be clipped
For the unfortunate reason that she is a girl and must fit the norm

So I reclaim the female parts!
I take great pride in the boobs and vagina!
I love big t-shirts and sweaters!
My favorite color is blue!
I do whatever I want without giving it much thought!

I sit and ask:
What if I was super feminine and liked frilly dresses, and stylish hairdos?
Would I still be taken seriously? Wouldn’t I always have to prove my worth as female?
Why can’t girls be happily girly without their femininity attached to inferiority?
Isn’t this why boys stay miles away from anything labeled feminine?
These asymmetrical relations, that can be traced to no beginning! Will it ever end?

I will say this:
A culture that weighs down a woman to feed the ego of a man is bad!
I am a woman. I sit on the same table with you. As a woman!
I have boobs and vagina! And I will behave whichever way I want!
I will be feminine! And masculine. I will be whatever I want to be!

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Ola Dunni of !SiDoS Slams for Girls in Münster Germany in a Spoken Words/Poem Event titled “Kunst gegen Bares”

Sub War Culture: A Nigerian Perspective on Roforofo Fight by Ola Dunni and Ahjot Naija

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Ola Dunni and Ahjot Naija

Background

Conversing on the exchange between Joy Isi Bewaji and Njoku Nkiru, we will analyse two primary texts, reflect briefly on feminism and sub wars, the place of society and/or culture in this exchange and the benefits of sub war culture.

The first hurdle was deciding the appropriate description for the phenomenon, the core of this piece. Anyone who had read the exchange between the two women, and if per chance is Nigerian, will have little difficulty understanding what roforofo fight is. We must but go beyond the assumption that Nigerians will understand at first sight, to define in no unclear terms what this is, a deconstruction is necessary for the benefit of all.

What is a roforofo fight/sub war?

A sub war is calling someone out personally in a public or private space (without) mentioning the name of the person. One might be tempted to call it badmouthing, it is not entirely badmouthing. The space, public or private, is the medium through which the sub war is realized, i.e. birthed. Until it is birthed, as in passed on for consumption, it is still not a sub war; at best it qualifies as an unrealized sub war. It is safe to say, it is the medium that gives life to this art.

The Medium

A public space is for example the social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, a Whatsapp group chat etc. It is a public space when at least two listeners or readers have access to the message. Beyond social media, a church, mosque, an open/closed gathering, school, playground, market, meeting, family, house etc qualifies as a public space. A private space can be, but not limited to, Whatsapp chat, telephone conversation, E-Mail, one-on-one talk, SMS. Using our primary texts as an example, Joy Isi Bewaji and Nkiru Njoku chose Facebook- a public space as a medium to birth/realize their sub war.

The History

Sub war is not new in Nigeria. It is an old art. In our myths, folklore, stories, daily activities abound narratives of sub wars. This is not to suggest this is a peculiarly Nigerian phenomenon. No doubt, there can be features specific to Nigeria. For instance the proverbial Apari Ado among the Yoruba. Of course, it is not meant solely to be a sub, there are other ‘wisdoms’ derivable from the saying, it is but first and foremost a sub to the proverbial people of Ado. Another instance of a sub war in our folklore, and this is realized in a public space, is Ijapa’s call for help in the open market fight between Asin and Okere. To begin with, it is not Ijapa’s fight. He only comes to settle a fight, at least according to Ijapa’s version of event. Before long, he gets a chunk bitten off his nose by Asin. In the song (call for help), Ijapa lays bare his ordeal to onlookers/spectators. Below is the songtext:

Asin toun t’okere. Jomijo. Asin toun t’okere. Awon mejeeji. Jomijo. Awon lonjonja. Jomijo. Ijawon mo wa la. Jomijo. L’asin ba bu mi nimuje. Jomijo. Egbami lowo re. Jomijo.

Of course, if Asin was given a chance to narrate his side of the story, it definitely will be different from this version which presents Ijapa as a peaceful arbitrator, harmless being, who is unfortunately caught in a bad fight. In short, in the song Ijapa succeeds in the representation of himself as the good one, the positive character in the sub war.

Before the advent of social media, it is not unusual to read in mainstream newspapers, gossip magazines, and other media of exchanges between or among public figures (men and women alike); these reports come in different forms, they include news, revelations of transpired activities hitherto kept secret or outright lies. There are enough reasons why A felt it is time to reveal or talk about a particular matter. B may go all out to counter, or reveal something about A, that which is even more damning or scandalous. This trend continues, until peace is reached. Peace is not often reachable. Much older are quarrelsome exchanges between or among family, friends, neighbours etc. In an effort to outdo the opponent, it is not uncommon to throw abusive words at each other and/or at the family in particular, the lineage of the opponent. This is expected, as it gives the message a special weight when disseminated. A sub hardly qualifies as a good sub if there is no vulgarity. It is more potent if the vulgarity is extended beyond the direct opponent. Vulgarity is an essential characteristic of/in a sub war. The belief, an individual is a representative of his family, his lineage, and that through him one can get at his ancestors, explains the inclusion of the family in the course of throwing vulgarity.

The Exchange

Nkiru was informed about Joy’s inappropriate reference to Didi, Nkiru’s daughter, who was born blind. Joy referred to Didi as ‘needy’ in a conversation. In Nkiru’s opinion, the word was to get at her. She normally would not respond to any of Joy’s rants. Joy knew this so well, so she (Nkiru) claimed. The only way to get her (Nkiru’s) attention was to involve the physically challenged Didi. That way, Joy was sure to get the needed attention. This, I believe, is the summary of Nkiru’s piece, if other parts of the text were ignored. Joy, in response or counter-response, wrote three pieces. These pieces are best summed up as denial of a wrongdoing as conceived by Nkiru, acceptance of a wrongdoing (if the word ‘needy’ counts as abusive) and an apology. She (Joy) accepts responsibility for a careless choice of word in a heated exchange, that the physically challenged Didi came up in the conversation was reason enough for her (Joy’s) acceptance of a blame. (Source: Facebook Timeline of Joy Isi Bewaji and Nkiru Njoku)

The Subs

I will analyse two pieces, one each from Nkiru Njoku and Joy Isi Bewaji respectively. Starting with Nkiru’s, we shall take a critical look at the subs in her piece and their specificity, which qualifies them as such. She started off with a typical introduction of a sub. Lets read her:

“I have been advised to stand down from this. I listened. But then I un-listened. Because my motherhood instincts far outweigh my cool-as-a-cucumber status. Heaven basically forbid that I sit by being calm and unflustered while my daughter Dirichi, takes one for the team, in the hands of a silly woman.” ( Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline, 2016)

A sub introduces itself often with a distinction of the sub-giver, a kind of ‘I am different’ badge, ‘I would normally not do this if not for the situation’, ‘my hands are tied, as such I have no alternative response’. She (Nkiru) had been advised. One can deduce from this that she is one that is advisable. She is sure to make clear that ‘she listened’, but something emergent outweighs the advise, as such her decision to act differently. In this manner, we are informed of her character, something of a near flawless personality, a positive self-appraisal. According to her, she (Nkiru) is as cool-as-a-cucumber. After the positive distinction, follows the sub. She refers to the source of the exchange as one that comes ‘in the hand of a silly woman.’ A sub will not only positively distinguish the sub-giver, it will go further, it will tell why the assailed person is indeed the very opposite of what the sub-giver is.

Apart from positive self-appraisal, there is another well-placed constraint the sub-giver employs to justify her effort at being different (distinguised), the conditionality forces an alternativeless action. Here she goes:

“Heaven basically forbid that I sit by being calm and unflustered while my daughter Dirichi, takes one for the team, in the hands of a silly woman.” ( Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline, 2016)

Nkiru basically said it is the involvement of the physically challenged child which necessitates a reaction. This, while passing out a sub, leaves her positive personality intact. The sub act is successful.

After a successful introduction, she goes on to inform the reader about her road trip, making sure the reader is not uninformed of Didi’s condition. Didi has so far slept well through and through. She gets information about ‘her opponent’s madness’ upon stopping to refill fuel. Here are Nkiru’s own words:

“Then boom. I am told that Joy Isi Bewaji has gone to places she shouldn’t go. Joy dragged Didi and her blindness into her madness. I am stunned. Joy should know better. Joy should have a little bit more sense than this. Just a little. But then I remember. She lacks love. As in, Joy was clearly never loved as a child, therefore this is the mess she has grown to become. You can insult me as you’ve done before. My resolve is never to fight on my Facebook wall and if I ever fight, not you – Joy. You KNOW that I do not value you that much. You are aware of this and it has hurt you in the past and it continues to hurt you. I will never understand why. But that is your monkey and your circus. Your problem to deal with, not mine.” ( Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline, 2016)

Taking out phrases like Joy’s madness, Joy’s ‘sense’ should be a little bit more than this, Joy should know better, the reader is told that much more is expected of the said character, that she can be more than what she is or that she is in fact not expected to be caught this way. The character is successfully subbed yet again. It is sometimes not the abusive languages in themselves that qualify the act as a sub, but the manner of conveyance. a character, who is expected to be distinguished does otherwise, the character causes a damage, the damage coming from him/her makes the act worse.

Nkiru, who knows Joy’s (marital) past, alludes to this in her assertive declaration. She claims confidently, Joy lacks love. She goes further in her claim. According to her, Joy was not loved as a child, an act resulting into ‘the mess’ Joy is as a adult. Nkiru weaves her narrative well. She knows Joy had marital problems, she concludes it must be that she lacks love, she extends the search for the reason(s) for this lack of love beyond the publicly known fact, digging farther into Joy’s childhood. This way, Nkiru connects the reader to Joy’s childhood, a possible horrific experience, to ‘the adult mess’ and the supposedly act of wickedness against her (Nkiru’s) child. On the surface, this is plausible, and this is exactly what the writer, Nkiru, achieves- superficial plausibility. A sub does not necessarily have to be truthful, it can be a baseless assertion, one which is probably superficially plausible.

Lets look at this part:

“You can insult me as you’ve done before. My resolve is never to fight on my Facebook wall and if I ever fight, not you – Joy. You KNOW that I do not value you that much. You are aware of this and it has hurt you in the past and it continues to hurt you. I will never understand why. But that is your monkey and your circus. Your problem to deal with, not mine.”(Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline, 2016)

The first sentence suggests this is not new. Joy had done this in the past. And Nkiru’s decision not to fight was unbroken. Joy knows she is of little to no value to Nkiru. This knowledge, according to Nkiru, hurts Joy so badly, she insists Joy still hurts. She does not want to understand, declaring this as Joy’s monkey and circus. This kind of attitude sums perfectly well a typical characteristic of a sub war and a sub-giver. The line of demarcation is always drawn, that the sub-giver is positively different from the opponent. Reading this part, the Nigeria peculiarity could not be more obvious. the writer declares, ‘if I ever fight, not you- Joy(…)’. There is a sense of an oral transportation into the written form. This line transports the reader into a particular mood, that which is best imagined as of a physical presence of both parties to the exchange sorting out their difference in a thug of words, fist cuffs and all attending theatrics in a Nigerian atmosphere.

This is also of interest to the subject matter:

“Please say absolutely anything about me. I don’t mind being ‘subbed’. That shit doesn’t affect me the way it affects many people. So please go ahead and project all you want. Identify everything that you are, and say that is what I am. Foam at the mouth as you do so.” (Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline)

And this too:

“In any case, may you find love one day. True love. Whether it be from family or friends or a romantic interest, I actually wish that you find love. The kind of fierce love that I have for my Didi. Maybe your life would be better then. Maybe you won’t feel the need to make such needless displays that show you for who you truly are. You make me laugh. You’ve always made me laugh and I’ve also always viewed you with a mixture of suspicion and pity. I was not wrong about you.”(Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline)

Hardly goes a paragraph without a sub, clothed as a non-sub, this does not make it less a sub. While trying to suggest the opponent is probably satisfied at the thought of the created mess, she (Nkiru) subs her opponent by calling her ‘the needy one’, ‘In need of attention and not caring how you get it’. She refers to her action as ‘such stupidity’. This is Nkiru in her own words:

“I hope you get that satisfaction now. I hope you gloat. Because this is the sort of person you are. Calling my child needy? When you’re the needy one. In need of attention and not caring how you get it. Such stupidity.” (Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline)

She ends her piece with a sub:

“But you see Didi – don’t ever fucking come near her again. Or speak about her blindness with derision. You silly, silly woman.” (Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline)

Lets consider Joy Isi Bewaji’s piece, a response to Nkiru’s. The introduction is not much different from Nkiru’s. In the same manner, it is someone who insisted Joy must do this. This qualifies for the ‘I don’t normally do this badge’ a sub bears. She is coerced against her will. This act of coercion presents the writer in a different light, a positive one; this introduction attempts to convince the reader to see she (Joy/the writer) is unaware of a wrongdoing, or at least it is not intentional if any wrong/harm was done. This is how she starts out:

“This is not the easiest thing to do…but Toni Kan is not going to let me rest if I don’t.

He knows how to string his words that will wrap around my neck like it’s about to choke me. That feeling can be very uncomfortable.” (Joy Isi Bewaji (JIB), Facebook Timeline)

Somewhere in the introduction is this:

“Toni Kan says this roforofo fight is beneath me. Long note. But it touched me. Iheoma Obibi says the distraction is beneath my brand. I agree. These are two people I respect. I have seen their works and their love for me runs deep.” (JIB, Facebook Timeline)

After the admittance of the task at hand, that is to ‘do what she is unwillingly doing’, follows a sub:

“In all of this, a child is involved. It was the mother I wanted to chop into bits and fry to a crisp. But the child found her way in.” (JIB, Facebook Timeline)

She wants to chop the mother (Nkiru) into bits and fry her to a crisp. To tell the truth, she did exactly this in the piece. Joy wastes no time in telling us what her mission is. She is out to sub her opponent. Her choice of words is unmistaken. She dilutes or attempts to dilute this clarity with a tint of kindness, when she admits that a child is involved. Suggesting it was not about the child, but the mother, she wants the reader to focus on two things, one, the sub and the subbed person (who is anything but the positive distinction the sub-giver is), two, the child. The second being the sub-giver’s way of stretching her own positiveness in the course of the sub war.

The reader is informed of Joy’s two healthy children. In contrast to Nkiru’s physically challenged Didi, the message is not lost on the reader. She (Joy) never intends to involve the child, it is an accident. While taking responsibility for her action, at the same time she shifts blame away from her person; she is a mother just like Nkiru. She would not cause another mother pain, especially if the pain is one that she personally does not know. This way, she taps so well into the sub war frame.

Joy has not only Nkiru to deal with, Chioma, another character, comes up in her narration. This is what she wrote about Chioma:

“(…)I got munched tweets from a twitter handle I didn’t even know who it was. I was accused of subbing their sister…and sincerely, how do you sub Chioma? There’s nothing to sub. I know nothing about her. I have no records of any achievement. Not even a proper job. Or career. Or exceptional goals. She is on twitter. And that is all I know of her. And she uses the hashtag #Winning alot for the most trivial of activities. It was all I could gather when I ran through her timeline (is that what they call it on twitter?) to understand what the issues were. And I was really offended. (JIB, Facebook Timeline)

To Joy, Chioma cannot be subbed because she has no record of any achievement beyond being on twitter. In that case, we see Joy admitting she subs, she indicates the criteria which the character for her sub must fulfill. There is a standard. She would not sub for the sake of it alone. Does it qualify as a sub to conclude that someone cannot be subbed because her career identity is unclear on her twitter handle, has no proper job or career or exceptional goals? Yes, it does. In the same text, Joy ‘was really offended’ because she ran through the timeline to understand what the issues were. The reason for her being offended and the tone employed are apparent; she found nothing worth subbing about when Chioma is the character involved. She does not meet the criteria.

She further emphasizes on the criteria. She wants trouble ‘with a worthy contender’. Thus being caught in a web with this below-my-sub-character infuriates her more. Throwing a jab at Chioma’s sister, she employs an abusive word used by the latter in bringing home her message. She describes her relationship with Chioma as a “preek”, stating that the word was borrowed. She dilutes the message (sub) with a touch of apology for ‘unknowingly’ firing at a child. Below are her words:

“If I want trouble, I want it with a worthy contender. It was insulting, and I just concluded that her sister was right- the only relationship I have with this person is a “preek”. That’s her sister’s words, not mine. And it irritated me further. And I aired my irritations. But thing is, I have very strong opinions about people and groups they all are involved in. So the heat never really goes away. I really don’t mind the heat. But not when a child is involved. And I dragged a child into this. Unknowingly.” (JIB, Facebook Timeline).

Worthy of note is, the art of conveyance (as visible in the diction, the tone and texture employed) is important in a sub war. It drives home the point. Take for example the use/choice of the word ‘preek’. Limiting the definition of the word to the context, we can read ‘preek’ to mean ‘a tiny minuscule’. A minuscule is already very tiny, unimportant, it describes something or someone absolutely immaterial. Lets now imagine the addition of an another adjective to qualify this word, and the choice of the new word is ‘tiny’. The effect of the doubleness is not expected to be lost on the reader. In Yoruba language, repetition can be for emphasis, in fact, it is a common tool employed for this purpose. Driving home a point in a sub, it is not out of place for a sub-giver to employ this tool for a purpose, namely to strongly emphasize the absolute uselessness of something, someone, a situation etc. In this case, Joy excelled at this with her use of the word ‘preek’.

Rounding up, Joy lands hard on her opponent and the opponent’s supporters, subbing them all. In an advisory voice, one not completely free of scorn, here is how she ends her participation in the sub market:

“In the last 24 hours, I have been reminded of the most heartwarming things I have done and I could do with the brands that endorse me and my platform. These are the things I want to focus on henceforth. I am rising above it. Without anyone’s permission. What else? Yes. Hymar. Son, are you hungry? I’ve always wanted to ask that question. Your hunger can be cured. You are not an angry man. You are hungry. There’s a difference. Until subs and counter subs and comments and likes translate to money or flight tickets… I will like to concentrate on the things that actually cover my buttocks. Iheoma says there’s alot of work I need to put my name on. Many worthy causes. (…) And we are here, living on subs. This is crazy. (…) I can’t do these things if I am going to keep up with the sub market. It ends now. Have a beautiful Sunday y’all.” (JIB, Facebook Timeline)

Feminism and Sub wars. Any Connection?

An attempt to localize the discourse in feminism will not be out of place. The authors of our primary texts are women warriors, they are feminists. Feminism is a movement for gender equality for women in every sense of the word, not only as opposed to the other gender, that is the man, it aims to remove any form of intra-gender bias and inequality that exist among and within women. Does sub war diminish the work of the movement? No, it does not. Although it adds some negativity to the personalities involved, this deducts nothing from their contribution to feminism. Does sub war have a place in feminism? No, not at all. One can be a feminist and sub-giver at the same time. The sub war culture is not peculiar to women or feminists. Anyone can sub. Neither must one be a woman nor must one be a feminist to sub. As far as their works in the feminist movement is concerned, both parties in this sub war are independent women who want to make changes, they want to change the narratives and perception of women in the society. Among other things, they challenge the status quo and expose the inherent double standards in the society. With this sub war, of particular interest/relevance are unavailable pre- and post-sub war texts. Notwithstanding the unavailability, that which becomes evident from the primary texts is this: Both parties do not understand there is no particular way of who and what the new woman should be as this would be plying the same route we are trying to avoid. No one should own a monopoly of the new woman entity. Independence, economic, cultural and social rights, and the right to be considered an individual irrespective of her attachment to a/no woman/man are desirables in the walk to equality; really, the freedom of choice is what feminism should be about taking into cognizance many factors like race, class, sexuality and many more in the advocacy for gender equality. In the absence of this, we will be shooting ourselves in the leg; in fact, we might be unknowingly ignoring many factors which inhibit the realization of equality. In short, what we are saying is, sub wars can only be evidence of shallow feminism; it is unconnected to feminism.

The Place of Society/Culture

We are undeniably a product of our society. The sub war confirms this. Narcissist tendencies are commonplace in our society. Going through the primary texts, of particular interest is the use of vulgarities. Reading between the lines, we can see that the parties strive to portray each other not only negatively but also to show that she is the better person of the two fighters. There is a kind of ‘I did not ask for this’ attitude in the narrations. A claim that the other fought dirty is clearly a pointer to one’s fairness in an unjust fight. References are made to different people, apparently both parties flaunt supporters, while the other tries to mud-sling the other’s supporters; there is a show-off of loyal supporters. Is this narcissist and like our society? Yes, it is when we think of it this way: Why does one need loyalty, will it not be enough to simply have friends, family members instead of loyal friends, loyal family members, and by so doing creating (un-)willingly grounds for new sub wars or reviving of old strife?

Weaving out words and more new words to cuss out each other adds linguistic angle to it, that which is much connected to our society and culture. The Yoruba language is a tonal language, a very rich one, it is creative when it comes to coining new words, placing identities on people, things, acts, actions, attitude etc. The tonality helps the creativity. This must have informed the parties, or at least one of the parties, use of this creative linguistic form in the sub war.

Freedom is relative. In the South West, at least among the Yoruba, we are a free society, until the borderline is crossed. What exactly makes up the acceptables in this controlled space of freedom is not difficult to make out, when one see them, they are recognizable. There are gray areas too. Same goes for behaviors, actions, or situations outside the border of allowed societal freedom. Our freedom is controlled. We are at liberty to do whatever pleases us until we cross this thin unwritten border. We internalize this relative freedom as we daily become and grow into our society. We call it the Omoluabi character. It is thus not unusual when strands of this societal norm find their way into our words, oral or written; in exchanges we want to determine where these borders are, what makes up the border, and more important is who sets the borders. We negotiate these things among ourselves. There is for example a right way to talk, eat one’s food, there is a right way to dress, to party, to have fun, to think etc. This is much visible in the primary texts. Take for instance, the un-listening by Nkiru after being talked to (advised), the attempt by Joy to contextualize or neutralize the word ‘needy’ as used by her, the acceptance by Joy to attend to a matter after being persuaded upon by another character etc.

The Benefits

Who roforofo fight don epp? Are there benefits for individuals and for society at large? As it is presently, hardly. Sub war is a societal norm, an indigenous art form, which if refined, can serve us positively. A recognition of this societal norm is a step in that direction and can help create an atmosphere of constructive criticism, an indigenous streitkultur sans the vulgarities characterisitic of sub wars.

 

A Telephace Conversation by Tanimomo Oluseun

tmomo

Hand-in-pocket: Oluwaseun Tanimomo of TPoM

When she came to you last Sunday and asked which part of Africa you were from, you thought she was not one of those people. Those white-church people who thought Africa was a single country with warring and half naked peopled tribes. So, you smiled at her and said “Nigeria”. “I am Igbo, from the Eastern part of Nigeria”, you added. She smiled back; her blush reddening as she took the empty seat beside you. 

She told you she had been to Ghana where she attended a good church with fire, she stressed the fire, her accent bending the word to sound like “foya”. She told you of her time in Uganda, Zambia and South Africa; she had visited Uganda and Zambia with her second husband and South Africa with her third and present husband. She told you that in those countries she met other fire brand Christians who could pray an entire week without food. But she had never been to your country, Nigeria though she had heard of the revival in your country of men and women who really sought and knew God not like the Europeans who had abandoned God and church.
She was beginning to sound like them you thought. “People should be able to subscribe to whichever religious system they want to. If Europeans don’t go to church again, they have their reasons. And Nigeria is not a Christian state” you had told her praying she would be kind enough to leave you at that moment.
“Don’t you think we should be doing something about that?” she responded. “Souls are perishing in Africa, many Africans are going to hell if they don’t change from their voodoo ways” she added with that knowing mischievous smile you had seen on many other faces.
You were beginning to hate her now. She was obviously one of them. One of those Christian people you had met in several other churches you had attended across Europe. But you allowed her; you were willing to suffer her foolishness gladly. “Don’t you think you should be more concerned about your country than Africa where religion is presently a problem in some parts?”
“No, you don’t understand, we need to save Africa, polygamy, female genital mutilation and all those” she quipped back. “Most especially with voodoo” she waved her hand like a conductor leading an orchestra when she said “voodoo”.
Your Nigerianness slipped in “Ehn ehn?! So what’s wrong with polygamy?”
“What’s not wrong with polygamy?”
“I don’t think polygamy is wrong provided it is done with consent and the woman is also allowed to come home one day with another man and tell her husband she has a second lover”.
She looked at you in surprise, her blush a dark red, she threw some strands of straying hair to the packed lots and muttered with something close to anger, “no, that is not right and we have to save the Africans they are perishing, their souls will rot in hell if we don’t save them”.
You were beginning to enjoy how she looked and it was your turn to enjoy the moment. You dropped the shell and shattered the friendliness that was budding between you two, “but you are also a polygamist if we look at it from a Biblical stance, you have divorced two husbands before your present husband.” You fired.
She went ballistic, her high-pitched voice filling the church hall. She told you that you had no concern with her private life and that you were not genuine with your Christianity and that you, Emeka who had gotten born-again twenty years ago as a secondary school student, were an ungrateful servant saved but not wanting to save the many perishing lots in Africa.
“We can start from here, from your country” you retorted with a mirth.

Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): SLOW AND STEADY DOES NOT WIN CAR RACE

tmomo

Hand-in-pocket: Oluwaseun Tanimomo of TPoM

Because it is fast, short and life-altering, sprint-athletes spend years steadying and hastening their paces before big events. Planning, self-denial and discipline are some of the recipes for success in such big life-time events. Who builds a house without counting the cost? So, it is surprising that the Buhari presidency delights us with stories of unprecedented corruption in high places that marked the immediate past government. As a result, we are encouraged to believe the journey to Eldorado will be slow but steady.

Being Nigeria’s president is not childplay but a post that exerts carefully coordinated campaigns in outwitting opponents, it is preposterous therefore that after months in office, many supporters of the president still delude themselves in the slow and steady discourse the media team of the president forced down their throats.

One would have expected that within the first months in government, the APC-led government would have departed or at least distanced itself from some of the policies it criticised the former ruling party for. For one, what are the plans of the present government as regards the autonomy of the Local Governments? What steps is the government taking in making sure that Nigeria becomes a true federal state as repeated by the APC during the PDP administration? Is the presidential hanger still adorned with numerous PDP-purchased aircrafts? Who exactly in the whole of the APC-government complains about the jumbo pay our elected politicians earn? And what happened to state policing?

The in-due-course narrative that the government has sustained as a visage for its slow progress is both tiring and excruciating. His first months might have been greeted with unanimous stories of frequent power supply and general public service sit-tightedness, many took this as a sign of progress and bought into the slow-and-steady business, months after it is beginning to look like business as usual. My theory is that many of these civil servants sat tight because the No-Nonsense President was in town, President Buhari should have rode on that momentum. Iron bends better when struck hot. As it is, it seems that a number of civil servants who were used to a laxed lifestyle under previous administrations have fallen back to their old selves to their shells.

At the coronation of the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, President Buhari (then presidential aspirant), evidently miffed, had asked “what is Boko Haram!?” His anger seemed to demonstrate a deep understanding of the menace and a detailed line of action. Unfortunately, months down the line, Boko Haram has claimed by a rough estimates at least a sixth of what they did under President Goodluck Jonathan. While our soldiers have shown great commitment, audacity and tenacity in bringing this menace to an end, more can still be done. What we have in the NorthEast is a full-fledged war and the government should not be reluctant in assembling the full might of Nigeria Military in handling this imperilment. Another question: Will our girls be brought back?

The economy has not recovered and as at the time of writing this, the Dollar exchanges for well above 200Naira, close on the heels of 300Naira. Unemployed youths still roam the streets unattended and customs and immigration officers at the airport still ask for bribe though now in a mild manner. The government should focus its energy on fixing paralyzed sectors, and revamping the economy. The presidency should as a matter of urgency attend to the fuel crisis; thankfully there are fewer queues. It is time to implement those electricity policies that the government promised during the elections.

It is worth noting that the media has been favourable to this administration. As an instance, the war against Boko Haram has not been reported in the same light as during the Jonathan administration. But support soon wanes when there are no noticeable improvement. The pervasive recklessness and cluelessness of the former administration does not help matters so that a call for action in this present administration reroutes you to the Jonathan years. This administration seems in many regards knowing of what to do, so it should move beyond semblance.

In fictitious spaces and imaginative realms, the tortoise can outrun the hare but in real life, complex and sophisticated situations, slow and steady does not win car race neither does it help a country develop. A lesson to be learned from the fable: the tortoise won because the hare lacked strategy, was lazy and overconfident. In my humble submission, our president can be fast and steady. We celebrate countries like Canada, Singapore, Georgia because out of nowhere they have risen and towered high in record time.

It is almost 2016, if we are still stuck on basic infrastructural development when will we start talking about other pressing issues that concern us like ecological problems? When will we have trains that run from Aba to Zungeru? When will we have well-lit streets, drainage or national health insurance scheme for every Nigerian? When will there be social plans for the very poor and foreign aids to other countries? When will we be able to call the police and expect to see them at the door within 10 minutes? My spirit tells me that if an African country gets it right others will follow suit. I want that country to be Nigeria.

Hajj 2015: Thoughts and Recommendations by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Isiaq 'Deji Hammed. An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed.
An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

The airlifting of pilgrims back to their home countries started in earnest as Hajj 2015 is practically over since 27th September. All seemed to flow perfectly well until the morning of that fateful Thursday when Muslims all over the world were preparing for Eid-el-Kabir, and pilgrims who had spent the previous day on Mount Arafat moved from Muzdalifa to the Jamaraat area for the symbolic pelting of Satan with pebbles. Barely two weeks after the unfortunate crane-crash in Makah which claimed the lives of over 100 people with several  hundred injured, little did anybody know that a worse tragedy was about to happen. The stampede at the intersection of Roads 204 and 223 resulted in over 700 dead and many sufferers of varying degrees of injury.

Before any comprehensive investigation was conducted to unravel the causes of the incident by the Saudi authorities, trading of blames and voices of condemnation were already at the highest decibel in the Muslim world and among concerned members of the international community. The first salvo coming from the Iranians: “The Saudi government should take full responsibility of the tragedy.” Some blame the incident on the indiscipline and failure of pilgrims to follow official directions on movements. As if that was not enough, the Head of Central Hajj Committee, Prince Khaled al Faisal blamed the disaster on “some pilgrims with African nationalities”. This irked a number of Africans who considered such utterance as racist. Yet some went as far as weaving a conspiracy round the incident. They insisted on the invisible hands of Teheran being responsible, with the sole aim of embarrassing the Saudi government and portraying same as incapable of assuring the safety and well-being of the guests of Allah.

As we await the conclusion of the investigation into the incident as ordered by His Royal Majesty, King Salman, the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques,  whatever might be the immediate and remote causes of the stampede, we owe it to justice and fairness to set the record straight. This is so because a lot of barefaced lies, half-truths and hate-filled allegations are flying all over the news and social media.

First, it will be incorrect to blame the incident on the ill-preparedness of the Saudi government.  Hajj, a gathering of millions of people (this year over 3 million), poses a serious and inestimable challenge of crowd control and safety. Millions of people perform the same acts and rites almost at the same time, within specific locations requiring movements and displacements covering several kilometres back and forth within a definite number of days. Any slight panic and loss of serenity could result in fatality and catastrophe of horrendous proportion. That this sort of awful disaster happened last 25 years ago is enough testimony to the serious planning efforts that the Kingdom deploys to ensure yearly safe and successful Hajj.

This year, a team of 100,000 security personnel consisting of an elite counterterrorism unit, traffic police and civil defense was deployed. At Mina air-conditioned and fire-proofed tents with heat-sensitive water sprinklers were provided. This is in reaction to the 1997 fatal fire incident. There was free medical care with toll-free number in many international languages in case of emergencies. I wanted to work as volunteer with the French section in Riyadh. I could not realize this wish because I was an intending pilgrim.

Jamaraat is no doubt the most tragedy-prone of the holy sites; little surprise the stampede occurred close to it, just like in 1994 and more recently 2006. The five-storey stele was constructed to facilitate and ease the bottlenecks at stone-throwing. Multiple access roads, water vapour spraying from metal pipes to cool the crowds, over 7000 cameras to monitor the crowd influx with police and paramilitary cordons stationed at strategic locations, including metro lines from Arafat to Mina through Muzdalifa.

Second, there isn’t any modicum of truth in the insinuation or attempt to insinuate that the Saudi government is racist or racially motivated in its dealings with Muslim faithfuls coming for Hajj from all over the globe. A cursory look at the reception arrangements made for pilgrims at the famous tent-city of Mina lay to bare this fact. The city was carefully divided into 8 zones and marked with different colours and numbers on the map guide for easy identification by the pilgrims.  The zoning includes pilgrims from  1. Saudi Arabia  2. Arab Gulf countries 3.  Iran 4. Non-Arab Africans 5. Arab countries 6. Turkey with America, Australia and Europe 7. South East Asia and last but not the least 8. South Asia. Aside where they were each mostly concentrated, small numbers of these pilgrims dotted every other parts of the Mina landscape and intermingled with different races.

In my case, being an internal pilgrim, I shared the same tent and male compartment with dozens of other internal pilgrims of different nationalities: Saudis, Nigerians, Pakistanis, Ghanaians, Sudanese, Yemenis and Indians. We all used the same facilities and helped ourselves to the same sumptuous buffets throughout our stay in Mina. This same reality held for other colleagues and compatriots in their tents.

Third, rather than blame trading and shifting, Muslims and Muslim communities should take a fair share of responsibility. There should be concerted efforts and planning from us all to avoid a repeat of such “relatively avoidable” massive  loss of precious lives.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj should adhere more strictly to quota system and restrict massive influx of pilgrims. The five-year recommended lapse for renewal of Hajj permit to intending internal pilgrims can be replicated for foreigners, and extended if need be to ten years. National Pilgrims Board should dissuade regular Hajjis. We should not see this measure as antithetical to free choice/worship but as a necessary step to safety and comfort to our fellow brothers and sisters, while simultaneously ensuring that a large percentage of Muslims from across the world can embark on this spiritual journey at least once in a lifetime. We may consider such restraint as a personal sadaqqah and a social responsibility for the well-being of other Muslims.

It was noticed that many Saudi security personnel speak only the Arabic language. This made communication and adherence to guides and instructions difficult as the majority of the pilgrims do not speak Arabic. There may therefore be the need to teach Hajj-designated security officers and other allied officials English, French and relevant international languages. An array of Hajj Volunteers Corps drawn from nationals of participating countries may be specially trained to collaborate and work with the Saudi officials for the duration of Hajj to limit cultural or linguistic barrier. Citizens of  different countries studying in Saudi universities may come in here handy.

At this point, it needs repeating that Hajj is not a compulsory aspect of the Islamic religion. This is also in line with clear cut injunction that Allah has not placed any burden on His servants than they can bear. Sending aged, weak and sick family members to Hajj should stop forthwith. The Hajj rites I witnessed is not stress-free. Perhaps this explains Allah’s precondition of “ability” to embarking on Hajj. There is therefore the need to tamper the urge for Hajj with a degree of reasonableness. We must not forget this: there are other acts of Ibadah commensurate with Hajj in rewards that Allah’s Apostle magnanimously  recommended.

It will not be out of place to advise those who intend to do Hajj to prioritize it, so this goal is accomplished while they are relatively young, healthy and full of energy.

On a final note, I enjoin the families, people and governments of affected pilgrims to take solace in Allah and in the reassuring words of the  Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubeir: “The Kingdom has had a long history of spending tremendous resources to care for the pilgrimage to ensure that the pilgrims who come there have a successful pilgrimage. And we will reveal the facts when they emerge. And we will not hold anything back. If mistakes were made, who made them will be held accountable. And we will make sure that we will learn from this and we will make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I want to repeat again this is not a situation with which to play politics.”

Personally, I commiserate with families of the victims of the stampede, crane-crash and all those who lost their lives to other sundry causes in Hajj 2015. May Allah accept them as martyrs and grant them the best part of Al-Jannah in the company of pious predecessors. (Amin)

FacebookUpdate (FUp): The Philosophy of Awomoju by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Isiaq 'Deji Hammed. An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed.
An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

If you have been dreaming that one day you will wake up and see ex- President Jonathan clobbered with manacles round his wrists, you better wake up now. Stop daydreaming. It won’t just happen. That possibility is at best a tall order in a military regime and at worst utopic in a civilian administration. Mind you I deliberately refuse to use democracy because the latter in its truest and uptimal form is in itself another utopia.

Yesterday, I read Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, my Facebook teacher’s latest treatise in her weekly Tuesday Premium Time column where she posited that whereas Jonathan’s minions should be prosecuted and sent to jail if found culpable, he should be spared of any humiliation but at most be made to return his loots. Courtesy of a successful election cum a peaceful transition.

Again this morning my most  Respected Bishop Matthew of the Sokoto diocese was on Channels TV Sunrise daily. Mind you, this man, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Cardinal Onaiyekan and recently Father Mbaka  are the clerics that have my ears and heart when it gets to Nigeria’s issues. So, Kukah again underpinned Mummy GO’s position. Courtesy of this same historical display of sportsmanship and statesmanship on the part of the man from Otuoke.

I remember sometimes in February while having our regular banter with my colleagues in our school canteen in Riyad, I posited that it a person gets to a point on the ladder of leadership that s\he becomes an untouchable. An awomoju. Like it or not. Believe it or not.

That “all animals are equal but some are more equal than the others” is real.

This universal aphorism will not be an exception in Jonathan’s case.

It may not be an ideal thing but that is the reality. That is the norm. The World over.

That is why a people must be careful in their selection or election of leaders at the helms of their national affairs. Reason being that the Prerogative of mercy or clemency or amnesty that a leader exercises over his or her ‘subjects’ (the governed is ideal here) will later turn to his or her benefit. Out of office, s/he in turn becomes a beneficiary of public clemency and amojukuro. Like it or not. Accept it or not.

Let me draw some parallels in our recent history.

Ivory Coast. Over three thousand Ivorians lost their lives within few months as a result of Gbagbo’s obduracy to vacate power when he lost fair and square the 2010 Presidential election. His main challenger, Alassane Ouattara, agreed to a negotiated soft landing with him which included amnesty from prosecution,  full honour and prerogatives as a former Head of State as well as choosing any country in the world where he will like to retire to. Angola and South Africa were ready to receive him on their shore. He bluntly refused and fought to the last man standing. Today he is at the ICC. The story will have been different had he yielded to the sybaritic proposals.

Just like how President Abdallah Saleh of Yemen case’s was different. Just like how Ben Ali of Tunisia was different. Just like how Houssein Mubaraq case would have been much different had he succumbed and left Egypt on time.

Where are the George Bush of this world with his atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq? Where are the Ariel Sharon and Netanyahu of this world with their constant carnages in Palestine?

 Don’t be surprised,  if Bashar Al- Assad  of Syria and Omar Bashir of Sudan negotiate their ways and relinquish power tomorrow, nothing will happen. All their hitherto crimes become ajemonu and they become awomoju.

Unfortunately, that is the reality of our world.

Even in the Quran,  Allah sent Musa (Moses) and his brother Aaron to Pharaoh to invite him to His obedience and sermonise him in the best and gentlest of manners. Had Pharaoh yielded, he would have been forgiven and spared of the perdition of the Red Sea.

Similar occurrences abound in history. Both recent and distant.

Jonathan’s case will surely not be different. The highest we will get is the return of some his loots and maybe coupled with the incarceration of some of his minions.

And that is all.

And even at that,  given the porosity of our anti graft laws and the criminal leniency of some of our judges, the most determined political  will on the part of President Buhari alone may just not be enough to handle this lower  bunch of avid kleptomaniacs talk less of the Ogas at the top. Our ex-Presidents.

Let the reality dawn on us.

Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): Motivational Speaker, No Teach Me Nonsense!

Mr. Tanimomo is a scholar resident in Germany. He guest-blogs on http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com He is author of the popular bi-weekly: Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM).

Mr. Tanimomo is a scholar resident in Germany. He guest-blogs on http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com He is author of the popular bi-weekly: Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM).

So, a few years ago, my cousin and I started a business, we were not expecting to be overnight billionaires but we had hoped to make money from the business at least a little something. So we started our business – executive fish farming. We formed an alliance that seemed good, he gave the money to start off; I gave the capital for day to day running . On paper and fueled by a high flow of youthful Adrenalin, we were going to be quoted on the stock exchange in no time.

Signs of failure started emerging when I could not meet up with the day to day running because I had under-estimated the cost of feed. I based my assumptions on one of those books I read. Worse things were to come. I managed to grow some of the fish but the buyers seemed to have colluded to run every fish farmer out of business. But it was not just the buyers, it was actually the government. Grapevine had it that frozen Thai catfish were imported and Uncle Aregbe in Osun was also through one of his programmes producing fish. It also boiled down to BAD GOVERNMENT.

Why did I foreground my piece with so long an epistle?

This is one of the types of stories your average motivational speaker wouldn’t tell you when he spurs you on to go make it, when he tells you about the lad he knows who has two jeeps from just following his passion. Or when he takes you through the Mrs. Alakija’s school of becoming a billionaire through fashion designing. He forgets to hint that Mrs Alakija sewed for the high and mighty. Once a very good friend showed me an article by one of them, the speaker was angry at the youths, very angry, he abused us and in his narcissistic ego masturbation he encouraged us to do something with our lives instead of talking about politics or soccer. Interestingly, our self-styled motivator however exposed his ignorance by enjoining us to do businesses like snail-rearing which he claims cost nothing. You see, I love agriculture and I know one or two things about animal rearing, and from experience, it is absolutely not possible to earn anything from snail-farming in the first 18 months. As our fathers say, ‘roasted dogmeat is delicious but what do we eat between the many hours when we set the dogmeat on fire and when it’s being roasted and ready to be eaten?  So, what happens within the 18months? Feed on oxygen to survive?

It becomes worse when they encourage the government to abdicate its responsibilities and summon that American president’s quote of “not asking what your government can do for you.”

Anyways, as for me, I will ask my government what it can do for me, since up till now it has not done much. And please, in case you know one of these far-torn-from-reality motivational speakers, tell them never to compare us to youth in other countries. It is (was) easier for Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to do what they did because their government gave them the platform. I know a lot of Nigerian computer guys that can compete with Zuckerberg. Walahi, I am not lying, but they may never develop something like Facebook, Windows, Apple etc because Uncle Bolaji will not loan them money as they lent Steve Jobs and friend. NEPA will not bring light. MTN will thief your bundle before you finish browsing and Third Mainland Bridge traffic jam will kill their muse such that when they get home at midnight, sleep will be the most desirable. And if he lives in Ikorodu, he has to get up before 4:00 am.

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