ajagunna

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

Tag: Opinion

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.

BreakingNews: MIN Ambassadors Visit President Buhari in London!

“Agba to so agbado modi, lo so ara re di alawada ediye” Yoruba Proverb

Buhari is clinically dead. No, Buhari is dead. No, Buhari is dead and his handlers wouldn’t let us the people of Nigeria, we voted for him overwhelmingly in the last presidential election, mourn a good man in peace. He actually was an evil man, but one doesn’t talk ill of the dead. He deserved all the good and badwill, he worked his life off gathering them in tons. He was part of Nigeria civil war by the war, a repeat of which Nnamdi Kanu is not calling for, but this same president is encouraging with all his body language and actions, right from Nigeria to London in his dying hours.
Meanwhile, two people from MIN, don’t ask what that is, just Google, (MIN is a very powerful group feared by the Aso Rock Cabal on and off Facebook, if that description epps)they visited Buhari in London, the same Buhari that the Cabal prevented our Dearest Aisha, the wife of our dying president, from seeing. The two MIN ambassadors saw him.

buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

First of all, he’s taking his Nigerian drugs, I mean Buhari is taking his drugs, no fears, the ones that our doctors packed in his aeroplane parked in London hanger, very expensive place to sleep for a Nigerian aeroplane and strange too. No sun, no rain, nothing, nada for the poor aeroplane. We will come to that later.
Meanwhile, Nigerians, knowing what hell the poor creature is facing, have been calling for his immediate retrieval home, I mean the aeroplane, not the person it carried across the ocean, but Femi Adesina, the mouthpiece, whose son is now a pilot, not that the son flew Buhari to London o, he’s not involved, but his father has been talking about him plenty of times these days since Buhari absconded office, it was this Adesina who said Buhari is not dead, as if we needed any confirmation of his being alive, and that tje aeroplane should wait there, not considering what the people are saying. He said many more things which this book cannot contain.
Back to MIN, they saw him and laughed out loud, with the president of course. Who wan die laughing at a sick president! One of the MIN ambassadors is a man disguised as a woman, the president didn’t notice, he’s so sick. If not, he would have been wondering who brought a kitchen material into a hospital space. No respect. Our president is that tactless, no respect for Angela Merkel, Germany’s powerful Chancellor. It was in her presence Buhari shamed his own wife, the wife he married in the right way, Yoruba will say, nisuloka, with yams and yamflower. Poor Aisha I cried when I heard the news and saw the video for myself .
Anyway, this is not about my emotions, back to the president matter. He’s hale and healthy, even Asiwaju is short of words at the moment, Asiwaju The Great. Yoruba oni gbagbe e lailai! It was Obasanjo who gave us Yaradua. Asiwaju topped that in record time. Another dying president sold to us in a beautiful package! APC! The packaging powerful! How did we buy the elephant in the house?! Just how?! All our great people, the intelligentsia in America and Europe and the abroad, they are now calling it what it is, a bad market, but before now, they swore on their own lives that we had no better alternative at that moment.
Meanwhile, one MIN member back then was shouting so loud he lost his voice. He said and I quote: “my people, vote for Jonathan and go and vomit thereafter, it will not kill you if you vomit early enough.” He said so many other great things, like, let me quote again : “APC and PDP are latrines, my people, I advice you as a proud MIN, choose the latrine with two P in it, the one that featured Jonathan as president.” End of quote.
Not that Jonathan was the best Nigeria had to offer, but this MIN member was sincere enough to admit we were already screwed and Jonathan would screw us slower than this unlimited screwing we have been enduring from Buhari since that we can’t take it no more. As I was saying, many many quotes, check them out yourselves on Google, they are everywhere. They littered everywhere some Cabal blocked this selfless Nigerian self for the great effort to save Nigeria from us. That’s history.
Now back to the visit. Buhari spoke not in Hausa this time. He was polite he chose Edo, the language of the Gods, a dialect of The Great Yoruba Language. Alright. Alright. Is alright. No quarrel, yet is not about language or dialect that is not dialect or important, that discussion will come later. For now, it’s about the body language of the president. He’s suffering from speech impairment. Sahara Reporters don’t do fake news. They are real. To be sincere, the president is in bad shape. I have known and seen people in his condition. He deserved all the pity and prayers in the world.
The latter will help no more though. He cursed the Gods too many times they have chosen to ignore any of the latter that involved the name of our president. A tip: When saying a prayer for him, do not mention his name. I repeat, avoid mentioning his name. Just pray.
Some badbelle people are saying the photos from the MIN people are photoshopped. Others say, and so what?! We are okay with them like that. All we are saying is for President Buhari to come home hail and hearty. We love him that much. Dead or alive, just bring hin home, his family doesn’t deserve this shame. Let a good man be brought home with dignity. President Buhari is not like this. It’s people who have been laundering his image since he happened to our public consciousness decades ago. And till today. Lies! Lies!! Lies!!! Imagine how quick bad names stick. Only that in this case, Buhari did all the bad bad things people said. At least, this presidency is a nightmare already, and people are saying this is even childsplay, it pales in comparison to the terribleness of Buhari’s first coming. Is like, the more we are screwed, the juicier it gets for the old and new brigade alike. The politicians and their sidekicks, the people.
I am speechless but not speech impaired. Thank goodness. Anyway, before we lost thread of the conversation, we are still looking for our President, someone said he’s in hiding, seeking asylum in London, some said he’s dying. We are not sure sha, but we know he’s dying. All our Great Dibia from the North are not seeing good things. Imams from the East are speaking with one voice, not seeing anything different. According to Ifa priests from where they are from, there’s tunnel at the end of the darkness. The Babalawo of Osborne is at rest, he believes the Imams and The Dibia and The Ifa priests. Nothing evil, no evil shall happen to our president. Ten thousand shall fall by the right, tens of thousand by the left, none of this shall befall him. I believe too, like the #halleluyahchallenge, Nigeria will survive it. Let us pray.

EuroSpot: It’s (not) the Greeks again!

It’s (not) the Greeks again!

Lets end before we start: Greece is bankrupt! So crystal clear is this truth even a blind man sees the broke-country is finished. Think of the Nigerian Pidgin proverb: Dem no dey tell blind man say rain dey fall! It is raining thunderstorm in Greece!

A backjump. September 2006. Newspaper served. On a KLM cityshopper from Amsterdam. The title on the front-page: Greece Fiscal Misery! Same old topic; a bizarre submission that Greece had lied to the European Union Common Currency Zone (Eurozone) to gain entrance. In short, she was a cheat, the report concluded.

Greece Prime Minister Tsipras

Greece Prime Minister Tsipras

There are reasons for admitting this proverbial broke-vulture into the Eurozone. The least believable is to blame a Greek-manipulated fiscal report. Long before Greece admission, politicians in Europe were acquainted with the truth that Greece is as corrupt as any country in Sub-Sahara Africa, for example Nigeria. The political nepotism and economic irresponsibility of Greece far outweighed anybody’s imagination. So, a claim of being a cheat could not be tenable to have neglected doing the needed if Greece must be admitted into the Eurozone.

At the other end is one of the strongest aims of Greece admission, which is, the ‘Big Fishes’ of the Eurozone were out to make a ‘permanent’ financial-quickie of a country double-killed by her own potpourri of corruptible tendencies. Admission into the common currency market only catapulted a comatose country into her own abyss.

Therapies to bring back Greece to fiscal sanity long before 2008 economic meltdown had not worked; attempts by finance-czars to halt her continual fall after 2008, if it worked at all, amounted to near-killer suffocate-dosage. Greece became to Europe an economic nuisance.

The blame is not solely on the doorstep of the bigger Eurozone countries. Greece had her problems before admission. I need not remind that longthroat is a perfect character of leaders running a corrupt state. These leaders forget most times there is a singular winner in a quickie-affair; except parties involved are clear about their intention from the word-go. Anything aside this is pretense. Greece and her leaders were never smart to have hidden her financial woes because her yansh was never covered. With this action, I could only think of Greece as an ostrich hiding her head in the sand.

Trust politicians, they are always spot-on with all sorts of rhetoric to whip-in maximum gain for themselves. The ensuing fiasco as to (non-)implementation of the austerity plans is a good chance. Think of recent gain by various right-wing parties in the last European parliament election and the picture is complete; Greece’s problem was a good selling point. A comparison of Greece prime minister and his finance minister to a second-hand car dealer from whom no one would want to buy a car is the least of jabs shot at Greece in recent times. When a bigger suffering befalls a man, smaller and hitherto below-status insults will begin to show face. Such is Greece misfortune at the moment.

Prime Minister Tsipras and his Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis

Prime Minister Tsipras and his Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis

Hurling insults at Greece will not make the problem leave us, we must discuss issues in ways that construct solutions. To begin with, Eurozone’s insistence on pulling through the hard austerity measures for which successive governments in Greece had been voted out by angry Greeks is an indicator of a failed policy. Latest protest in Athens against Tsipras Leftist-led government is an indication of what shall happen should Greece be pressed further. Reason given thus far that other countries have gone through same and returned cleaner is nothing but a hoax. European politicians know.

Reality check is a confirmation of contrary claims that financial sanity cum structural stability has returned to Italy. Spain’s (youth) unemployment rate is a clearer pointer to a looming problem waiting to explode. The Irish idyll is what it is at the moment: a sham. That Ireland and Portugal were able to payback billions as scheduled does not prove austerity measures are working. Sarah Warenknecht, German Leftist Leader in the Bundestag, said the obvious in a recent debate: The giant/stronger p(l)ayers in the Eurozone have thus far only been paying their own bills. They send money to broke-countries only to disburse/return them in installments as agreed in the austerity plans. The much needed structural reforms are not achievable (and cannot be) within a short period. The imminent collapse of the house of cards only need time to materialize. And we are confronted with the next crisis.

By the way, one cannot cease to wonder if Europe’s strongest woman-politician Germany’s Angela Merkel is this bereaved of ideas to rescue this house from collapsing. Only if in self-denial, the current austerity measures as put together will help only to postpone the next crisis to a later date. Speculation is that she wants to sit out her current/last term as German chancellor managing an European crisis she helped create with far-from-reality policies and disillusioned politics.

Talking about collapsing house of cards, a related Yoruba proverbs sheds light on the next issue. Ile ta ba fi ito ko, eri ni o wo! A house built with saliva is bound to be demolished with the first dew. That the Eurozone has only moved from one financial turbulence to the next confirms a foundation-fault. Think of the Leftist position upon the introduction of the common currency, which is that many countries outside Germany and countries with comparable strong economies and stable structures were not ready to introduce the Euro. Weaker countries may be allowed at a later date but not without having put in place crisis-proven structures and good economies.

Europe failed to listen. Many European countries, particularly the volatile members would not have listened anyway. They were bent on catching-in cheap monies. The immediate benefit of reaping now to sow later was too alluring to be ignored. Either way, Germany will always benefit from the arrangement, she too was interested in the immediate economic gains. This way, the countries with the Euro plunged themselves into spiraling crisis.

Were there intelligent political managers at the helm of affairs in countries like Greece, they would not have agreed to an all-importing economy; beyond farm produce Greece hardly exports anything tangible to/outside Europe. Same goes for Spain and Portugal. They are of course holiday paradise, a booming branch so long people come to their shores. Not to forget, Germany, Holland, France etc are also strongly represented in this branch, so the earnings are not going to the South alone. Add to that was the crazy unsustainable house market-price boom. The crash of the utopia could not have been louder anywhere than in Spain. House worth millions depreciated beyond redemption. Truth is, an economy built on market speculation and abracadabra economic theories cannot survive tomorrow. Germany’s Economy Minister summed-up the woes of these countries when he emphasized in a speech only an economy based on trade, handwork and industry is that which last the test of time, not one established on finance speculation and non-existent money/gains a la hedge-fund trickery etc!

Not only must Greece be enabled to start a new country by canceling a larger portion of her debt. If she must remain in the Eurozone without being caught in the next crisis, she must put structures in place, no doubt, but not under the scrutiny of current austerity measures. Here is the reason: Like Germany would never survive a day with a Greek-led economic package, same way can Greece never survive a Germany/Brussels-led economic package. Think of Germany’s ways and you inch a step closer to understanding the logic. Greece is not Germany, and Germany is not Greece. For instance, Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder was made possible not only for the Marshall Plan but because of Germany’s cultural understanding of the work concept. Greece will rise again within the Eurozone, if allowed to stay, but at Greece’s own pace and as acceptable within the purview of her cultural understanding of the same concept. Forcing them to work on a diet of rationed “dictatorship” from Brussels will not work; it will at best lead to successive Greek government being “toppled” at the polls even before her election!

On a final note, some are of the opinion the much talked-about wrong-footed take-off of the Euro is an issue we ought to be done with. I disagree. The mistake was made because political optimism was prioritized against commonsense economic choices. The current crisis is an opportunity for the Eurozone to correct these foundational faults. The fingers on the wall at the moment, particularly in Greece, point unfortunately to hurry-hurry politics that helped made the crisis possible in the first place. How else does one explain the initial no-renegotiation-stance by the Eurozone upon Tsipras’ election as Greek’s prime minister as if there was a singular correct perspective to resolving Greece fiscal problem. Think of Germany’s chancellor unwarranted meddling in Greek’s internal affairs shortly before election with soft threat that voting a party other than one which follows through on the austerity plans might spell doom for the tiny country. Few weeks after, the Bundestag voted with a resounding majority to temporarily extend Greece credit; an indication for other European countries to follow suit. Desperate moves would have been unnecessary were the package humane/good enough for any country to begin with.

Greece exit is in nobody’s interest. Of course, the Eurozone will survive with(out) Greece, but a stronger Greece in the Eurozone will benefit both Greece and the Eurozone. Like the adage goes, when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. At the moment, we must not forget the worst sufferer of the crisis is the common (wo-)man in Greece. They must be relieved.

Mildred-Ides-Aziegbe-Speaks(MIAS): I Never Knew I Was Poor

Mildred Ides Aziegbe (MIA) is a Nigerian youth and a very strong advocate for political tolerance, women and minority rights among many other issues. She comments and writes on many issues, particularly Nigerian and the world at large. She can be connected/followed on Facebook and other social media.

Mildred Aziegbe is a Nigerian youth and a very strong advocate for political tolerance, women and minority rights among many other issues. She comments and writes on many issues, particularly Nigerian and the world at large. She can be connected/followed on Facebook and other social media.

I attended a private school. It was one of the best in Ughelli. I grew up in this small town. Father loved education. He believed it was his only way to escape poverty. He ensured we got it.

I did not get a new uniform termly or every session, but my uniform was well maintained. I trekked to and back from school daily. For me and my contemporaries at that time, this was not strange. We enjoyed the trekkingtrips. We chatted and played mischievous games.

We ate only breakfast. No lunch in school. Yet, we were perfectly fine. Lunch and dinner was at home. Most neighborhood kids lived pretty much the same way. This was considered normal.

Father’s love for education was evident in success. Everyone with his surname- Daniel Ighalo Aziegbe excelled academically. I was no exception all through my education.

After university, my preoccupation was to get a job. I wanted (1) to work and (2) leave Nigeria for further education- a Masters Degree. With a Bachelor Degree, I got the best Nigeria could offer. I wanted something else. I craved the international exposure.

In 2013, after four years of working, my dreams came true!

I received a full fellowship in a USaccredited institution in Europe. All I had to do was get myself to the university. Every other expenses was covered. I was thrilled. My excitement knew no bounds. Education is truly one most-tested mean to escape poverty!

Then, came the shock of my life!

For the first time, I realized I was Black! Whatever that meant, I later figured out. I am from Africa. This meant I was poor and must be helped. I always knew Africa was in bad light, but I probably knew *too little* until I arrived in the Western World.

Every talk on poverty and disease found its way back to Africa. Sometimes , people represent a sorry state of poverty or suffering with a black face, even when the focus was not on Africa. I visited France on my birthday. In the restroom was a poster of an African Child that needed help and education– “Help feed an African child. One Euro will go a long way!”. The black skin color used in a negative light.

I had many questions- for myself. Was it the same continent I am from? Is Africa that poor? Do we really need help?

At first, I was furious. I countered every argument in class that depicted Africa as a continent that needed to be pitied. How dare one say I should be pitied! My childhood was normal. It was the best. I saw nothing wrong. However, the longer I stayed in this society, the better I understood the concept of poverty.

First, there are good paved roads. No dirt. Anytime I walked, my legs are not messed with dust or mud. I could plan to go anywhere in a bus, tram, metro or train. Arrival was punctual! Transportation was uncrowded. I sat comfortably. Most times, I stood because I WANTED to. Not because I HAD to. In Nigeria, I stood in buses because there was no seat.

There were large shopping malls, where I was spoiled for choices. Food varieties are unlimited. I could buy milk skimmed or unskimmed, organic or inorganic, flavored or unflavored! What about eggs? I only knew eggs as eggs in Nigeria! Alas, in my new world I saw different types with many names. Then, there was the rice– short, long, whole, brown, organic, basmati andsoon-and-so-forth rice! In my head, I questioned why they did not simply make these things easier for people like me, who are accustomed to RICE! Rice is RICE! Period!

In Europe, I developed a new life- a life of choices. I did whatever whenever I wanted. I only needed to plan.

I am currently in the US, where the array of choice is worse, sorry, better! Sometimes I stand at a supermarket shelf more than ten minutes to figure out what tomato-type to buy. There are simply too many types.

When I returned to Nigeria upon completion of my studies in Europe, I saw the country differently.

In the market, I wasn’t presented with different kinds of tomato. There was only one tomato. There was no organic or inorganic chicken. Chicken was chicken. I finally noticed the potholes and bumps on the road. I could no longer ignore the garbage on the street. “But why can’t Nigerians just dispose waste in bins?” I asked quietly. Why are there open drainage? And why are they filled with muddy water, dirt and large swarms of mosquitoes? Why can’t the government clean them up?” And being a passionate waka-about, I wanted sidewalks so I could walk comfortably. I wont have to dodge okadas and car drivers in permanent hurry.

Did I consider myself poor before I left Nigeria? Did I ever feel I missed out on something? Did I know I need to be pitied? Never for once! Why then do people say Africa is poor? With these questions and counter questions, poverty took on a new meaning. The only explanation I found is CHOICE.

In USA, I walk to work daily. I do not take bus. On my way, motorists do not stop to lift me. They don’t think I walk because I own no bus or car. Generally, it is considered that I walk because I choose to. Especially when I wear work/formal attire.

I choose to buy only what I need and in this case, what I was accustomed to in Nigeria. For food, I don’t venture out of my comfort zone. I choose not to buy the cheaper American food. Sometimes, I skip lunch or even dinner. In a day, I choose to have fruits as food throughout. I cook my own food and don’t eat out. I want this way of life- I CHOOSE it!

In most parts of Africa, people live the CHOICE-LESS way because they have to. It is the ONLY way life present them. Unlike these people, I am (now) not poor because I (can) ignore choices! At work, colleagues eat tiny food pieces in a bid to keep fit. Sometimes I am tempted to ask if the food was enough. To me, they look (very) sick. If they were in Nigeria, they would look that way because they had little food to eat and NOT because they CHOSE to be skinny.

This is my conclusion. If one lived this kind of lifestyle out of necessity, then one is poor.

Now, that lack of choice can be interpreted differently. Limited infrastructure or lack thereof, few jobs, poorly equipped government hospitals, badly maintained schools etc are signals of poverty. For if these were available, we would have a choice to either take a bus, tram or metro from Oshodi to Obalende. I could decide to quit a job in UBA to work for Oando PLC. I could choose to cook with beef, goat or pork instead of only ponmo or kote-fish. These choices are missing. I HAVE TO TAKE THE OPTION THAT STARES ME STARKLY IN THE FACE! This is (Nigeria), by extension, all of Africa.

!Simply-Dunni-on-Spot !SiDoS: Your Chimamanda! is Not My Adichie!

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

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

On Facebook a friend’s post about Chimamanda Adichie’s Americannah read thus:

So I finally finished reading Americanah and there is nothing spectacular about the novel. I think Adiche has over flogged some issues. She really should try something new.

We are all entitled to our beliefs and opinions. I refrained from a reaction to this piece of mind because it was *my-keeping-mute-week.*

I was at a book reading in September. An European questioned the authenticity of African diasporic writers, mentioning in passing the exponential increase in diasporic writers in recent times. The opinion of the friend and the question of the European are related. It was time for a response.

In my reaction, I emphasized, the authenticity of writers from the diaspora should not be questioned; on no account should they also be compared to writers at home.

These two writers write from different perspectives and environments which follows that there is a wide contrast in their subject matters. Therefore, a diasporic writer might overstretch particular issue(s) in her novel because she has one more reason to do so, namely her newly added perspective. How she infuses these into her writing is best known to her/him.

In this light, a reader living in Nigeria might identify well with a book written by a live-in-Nigerian-author. The same reader might not with a live-abroad-Nigerian-author. Our perceptions differ based on the environment we live in.

Here a practical example. As a resident in Germany, I can make as subject matter *Mineralwasser* in comparison to *Nigeria-Tablewater*.

The live-in-Germany-Nigeria-readers might have a good read and good laugh. On the other hand, live-in-Nigeria-readers might be vexed when they read my book. Simply put: we have no Mineralwasser in Nigeria. Thus, it will be difficult to imagine the bad taste Mineralwasser leaves in my mouth. I can picture the live-in-Nigeria-readers asking what the hype is about the book.

I read Americannah few months after I arrived in Germany. I finished reading it within hours. It was unputdownable. I bet if I was in Nigeria when I read the novel, I still would have finished reading it because I love reading, but I would not have understood some key words, thematic preoccupations, White-Black dichotomy etc.

Take for instance Ifemelu’s experience, the protagonist who left for America for further studies and what she went through in pursuit of her dreams. Living in Germany and reading this novel remedied that for me. I was Ifemelu in that novel, I could relate Obinze to some friends who live an undocumented life in London and the trauma of using friends’ passports to get jobs that submit 40% income to these friends. Probably, some other diasporic readers could identify with one or two characters in the novel. I have since read the novel three times after my first read.

My desire to write about the black-white dichotomy in my Master thesis also surfaces from living in Germany. I am sure I would never have thought about doing my research on a topic like that living in Nigeria. The reason is this: I was never *Black* in Nigeria. I became *Black* when I stepped on the shores of Europe. So, how can my live-in-Nigeria-readers understand my master thesis and the mumbo-jumbo? This has nothing to do with intelligence but they cannot picture the world from my view.

In a nutshell, lest one think I am over-flogging issues here, diasporic African/Nigerian writers are not less authentic, the presumed issue over-flogging is not necessarily true and their confluence of narratives are clearly different from live-in-Nigeria-writers due to among many other factors the departure from home, thus adding another perspective to them.

MidweekSpecial: In Quest of a Terrorist-Free World by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Isiaq 'Deji Hammed is a passionate Social Media commentator and contributor on various world issues, particularly those of Nigeria and Africa and Middle East interests. He bares his mind on issues objectively and engages dissents with civility. He is a Scholar presently based in the Middle East and guestblogs for AhjotNaija

Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed is a passionate Social Media commentator and contributor on various world issues, particularly those of Nigeria and Africa and Middle East interests. He bares his mind on issues objectively and engages dissents with civility.
He is a Scholar presently based in the Middle East and guestblogs for AhjotNaija

The issue of terrorism has become a recurring decimal in our contemporary world. For over a decade now, It is mostly the dominant news items in every breaking news on mass media. This bothers the mind and elicits questions. Who are these terrorists? What factor(s) explain(s) their terrible acts? How did we get here? Is there any hope of an end in sight to these unending bloodsheds?

I will address these questions not as a security expert or scholar on terrorism and terrorist groups, but a passionate observer and a peace-lover. I have been following terrorist activities around the world with keen interest and analytical mind. Without minding whose ox is gored, I will concentrate more on Jihadist related terrorist acts. I shall see beyond the various propaganda peddled by groups with vested interests and the hollow, almost empty attack and counter-attack rhetorics from different people of different faiths.

In trying to proffer answers to our earlier-raised questions, we observed that of the greatest calamities that have befallen our world or the human race is to see evil not as evil but to see it from a diversionary or delimitational prism. Somebody engages in theft, the next thing that comes to our mind is to find his name and categorize him. Oh, Chinedu. He is an Ibo thief. The Ibos are like that. Oh, Paul. No wonder, he is a Deeper Life Christian. Oh Umar, he is a Muslim terrorist. Muslims are just like that…

Unfortunately, such unwarranted preconceived notions, assumptions and generalizations have done us more evil than good. By threading that diversionary path, we have not been able to put a halt to social vices plaguing our common existence. Remove the adjectival appellations (ethnic and religious colorations) and we could have collectively dealt with Chinedu -the thief, the extremist Paul and Umar-the terrorist. Better still, the most honorable and effective reaction that would have yielded optimal result for our collective humanity is our unity against the forces of evil. Let’s dare to even care less about the names. We must all deal with this thief, this extremist and this terrorist in our midst.

Having said that, who are these so called *Islamic* terrorists and what could their motives be? Who backs them and fuels their annihilating machinery? Needless to state here that terror or terrorism is not, has never been and will never be the exclusive preserve of a faith or race. A simple Google search will reveal the terrible terrors in Fascism, Nazism, Apartheid, Holocaust and atrocities perpetrated by groups like the Seleka forces, the Anti-Balaka Militia, The Lord’s Resistance Army etc.

Don’t mind the dichotomy rhetoric between terror and terrorism, between religious and non-religious terrorism. Terror is terror, and terrorism is terrorism. Just as evil is evil. It has no two names. Without digressing from the nucleus of our discourse here, *Islamic terrorists* can be classified in to four.

The first category are those who are being described as “Les fous de Dieu” in the French editorials. These are those who have radicalized and who believe that they must spread their own version of Islam through violent means. Their every act goes against the very basic tenets of the religion they seek to impose on others. Qur’an 2 Vs 256 states: ” There is no compulsion in religion”.

Commenting on his official Facebook page, Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of Hassan Albana, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, and Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University has this to say about the ISIS in Iraq and Syria:

What the Jihadi extremists are doing in northern #Iraq is hateful and anti-Islamic. Mistreating Christians and removing crosses from churches is a clear betrayal of Islamic principles. These men, supposedly acting in the name of Islam, must be confronted, first, by the Muslims from around the world, determined to denounce them (and those who control them), condemn their behaviour and resist their actions, in the very name of Islam. This is our dignity, this is our duty. And, of course, we must also condemn what they do to their fellow Muslims and all the people of other faith, without exception.

The second category are the State-sponsored or -tolerated terrorists. A mere critical analysis of the ammunition, coordination and sophistication of some so labeled *Islamist* terrorist organizations reveals the financial and logistic backing, tacit support and approval they get from some Western powers and their Arab allies. We all watched probably without questioning when some Syrian rebel groups were being armed by foreign nations in other to topple Bashar Assad’s regime.

The ISIS, Al Nusra Front and some other radical groups benefited directly or indirectly by laying their hands on these dangerous weapons. Hillary Clinton confessed in an interview sometimes ago the CIA created the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan to counter the Russian influence. In so doing, they even funded, trained and armed the Mujjahidins.

The third comprises of the ignoramuses Muslims who are easily brainwashed and manipulated. They are as gullible as they believe there is a *shortcut to make heaven*. In a funny picture that a Facebooker posted sometimes ago, a supposed *Islamist* suicide-bomber wore a metallic underpants so as to protect and preserve his manhood for the seventy virgins when he arrived in heaven. The simplest understanding of Islam should have revealed to that ignorant suicide-bomber that our physical body on earth and the one in heaven are not the same. And that any Muslim who commits suicide in Islam is liable to go to hell, not to talk of killing innocent people unjustly.

The last category are those I tagged as *The-Pushed-to-the-Wall*. A number of times, we push people to react violently by being unjust and oppressive towards them. And again, this has no religious undertone. It is simply natural. Even animals in the jungle are not left out. We resist with whatever means or technique we could amass. Just like the Yoruba proverbial goat that turns back and bite when pushed to the wall, the Niger Delta militants, the black South Africans during Apartheid (remember that Mandela’s ANC used to be on the US terrorist blacklist) and just like the Al Qasam Brigade and Hamas (of course they are more or less entirely Muslims).

Hypocritically, the West-dominated mainstream media tag some people *Islamic terrorists* when they are Muslims but *Freedom Fighters* when they are whites or non-Muslims. The Israeli Government even equates Palestinian fighters in Gaza with ISIS in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist who has written extensively on the brutality and inhumanity of the Israeli occupation affirms in a documentary:

Terrorism is a weapon used by the weak. It is a terrible weapon and I am completely against it. But I understand where it comes from. It comes from despair.

Muslims must as a matter of urgency and divine responsibility engage the redeemable members of various Islamic sects in intellectual discourse as regards the true and acceptable ideals of Islam. And this is in line with the Qur’anic injunction:

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.” Qur’an 16 Vs 125

As for those who are irredeemable, it is incumbent that we fight against them, just like the first Caliph of Islam, Abu Bakr, fought against the sect which entered into heresy by denying and refusing to pay Zakat, one of the pillars of the Islamic faith. This is because they are hydra-headed evil that does nobody any good. They destroy even the name of the religion they claim to defend, they destroy themselves and they destroy innocent human beings.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike must rise up together above double-standard and hypocrisy and unite against the forces of evil (both the instigators and the instigated) that seek to always put the human race at loggerheads through falsehood and deceit. Fairness and justice must also be upheld for humanity to know peace. Verily, the terrorist’s bomb does not discriminate. It destroys us all.

 

 

SundayStarter (SS): Personal Thoughts In Quest for Self-Discovery! by Oladapo Ajayi

Mr. Oladapo Ajayi is Nigerian and Master student resident in Germany. He is the initiator of the TACTProject, a NGO practically committed to giving poor children a fair chance at education in Nigeria. He is an activist and a grassroot political and community organiser

Mr. Oladapo Ajayi is Nigerian and Master student resident in Germany. He is the initiator of the TACTProject, a NGO practically committed to giving poor children a fair chance at education in Nigeria. He is an activist and a grassroot political and community organiser

I have come to realize that one difficult matter to write about is oneself, especially if it must be in a bad light. The idea comes readily available but the point of admittance is just too tedious. For long, I always had reservations talking about me.

Caution! Do not excite too soon to read part of my secret! Keep calm and read on!

Actually, it is still not time to *divulge* myself for even the self in myself is bigger than me. I may not be capable of divulging it!

This bigger self houses personal history, the self that brings relationships to the forefront; I mean that self that travels through ethnic leanings to the country of birth, daring even to the continent itself. Behold, it is this complex self I am ashamed to write about!

Earlier this year, there was a wave of controversy on the African continent- Homosexuality was criminalized! It is needless to remind I strongly felt it was a shame for us to have convinced ourselves we had done the right thing. Yes, even when we justify it by the God of Abraham, whom I serve too. Even when we use our colonial science mind to define gender. We simplified it with a tag; it became *That Western Phenomenon!* In our mind, we un-african it!

In following divergent views, what was shockingly consistent was the manner with which we were quick to repudiate the act of homosexuality as a Western import and imposition on our pure culture. We therefore thought that criminalizing it would be a perfect cure to the Western ideological disease we dared to be healed from. In short, many say why do we need the West in the first place? So simple right? This is a question I wish I could ask.

Unfortunately, the truth is different. The slave-master relationship cannot be wished away by unknotting the neck-tie with the leg placed on sofa and hands on the iPad-machine! Africa need realize/accept it is *not yet uhuru*.

To help you get into my small thoughts, I will use my fears and realities as example.

First, let us imagine what we have so far read about Ebola virus and its manifestation; the fatality and the incurable state of the epidemic. Will it be smart of us to imagine the virus manifestation as something very tech-like, experimental, which is created or deliberately designed by some freaky scientists? A response in the affirmative is not impossible.

For me really, I suspect the Ebola virus could be manmade, planted for a purpose. I know of hypertension and stroke, I know of many stages of cancer, I know of malaria fever, I know of cholera,even typhoid. The symptoms seem familiar. Has anyone ever wondered how and why even a corpse becomes more contagious than the living? As suspicious as HIV/AIDS could be, it does not spread like gasoline fire! My un-scientific picture of Ebola virus sees a complete hybrid virus with very high toxic nature, potentially explosive and extremely difficult to contain.

A good/plausible question is this: why should/would a master use a dangerous medium to teach the slaves a lesson of their lives? At his point, it would be helpful to demarcate established hierarchy in the relationship of master and slave; this is paramount particularly when a forgetful slave is involved. A master enjoys a god-like nature. He has exclusive right to life and death of his slaves. Once the master is angry, a slave must be prepared to pay the utmost price for any act of disobedience.

In economic sense, I will unashamedly admit that people from my part of the world are permanently in an imbalanced state. Our labor and resources are best at creating a generational wealth that outgrows the first slave-owners to the modern day corporations. Fact is, corporation dictates the direction of every government. For Nigerian readers, this is what this translates into: the Aliko Dangotes, the Otedolas and the Adenugas dictate government policies to the president and his cabinets. It is never a mistake to see these business tycoons in economic management committees. Corporations exist even in our small slave world.

Now, connect the picture to a Western corporation and its operation? Yes, you will be helping me if you imagine a corporation that will be able to provide Ebola treatment drugs, the vaccine, the gloves, the sanitizers, the protective gloves etc. The truth is, (un-)knowingly the Ebola crisis is a business blessing for some people/nation. Like the saying goes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain!

America and the West are not called super-power for nothing. They watched while we rebuffed them during the anti-gay marriage bill. They knew we would soon come begging, cap in hands asking for a help or the other – and voila here we are. We need them to help find our girls or as we have it not, fight Ebola.

So, it is shocking to notice how *godly* Nigerians, who were arms up against the *ungodly* West following the signing into law of the homophobic bill, have a tongue-check, racing back to the West for help! We probably need be reminded some of these scientists are gays and lesbians. We can only hope very earnestly that these *ungodly* scientists quickly come to our aid by providing ZMAPP or just any vaccine.

I sometimes tell myself that we are sick as Africans. Unfortunately, I cannot diagnose our sickness. Many would always trace our sickness to the trauma of slavery, colonialism and imperialism. Should we probably accept that we have disappointingly under-performed and did not take the bull by the horn in areas of development?

Talking about elections in Nigeria and Kenya for example, the citizens managed to successfully elect some wanted politicians as president and vice-president respectively. Of course, these are independent and sovereign countries, so why would USA interfere? I believe in this light, Mrs. Clinton announced to Kenyans before elections that choices come with consequences. Mrs. Clinton, an American who has been consistent in her messages to Africans and African leaders recently talked again of “hard choices and convenient choices”.

Personally, when people warn about choices and consequences, one must beware they are likely privy to some exclusive information; they have what you don’t have, they wield that which you lack! If this is the case, then a Whitechapel-relationship is inevitable. Whitechapel is a character in the novel The Longest Memory by Fred D’Aguiar. This character is a slave with an unfortunate maneuvering skill. He has a fair share of his privilege from the master.

My fragmented thought points at a big offense African leaders have committed against the master in recent times, namely our re-engineered focus towards Great China. Africa wants China’s form of development. We are however less diplomatic about it though. We think it is our destiny after all, so we want it our way! Big and small loans, soft and hard loans…so long it is Chinese, we take it! Do I need to remind us that our new Tower of Babel, i.e. The New African Union Secretariat was built from Chinese loan? In fact, our leaders took their beautiful jets to the Assembly of China Economic Summit!

Now, the master seem to say, *Thou ambitious slave, have your Chinese funded Tower of Babel, have Ebola, have Terrorism and even Religious Crisis and Remain in Perpetual Confusion!

Beyond the homosexual war, the master’s corporations are technically running out of business. The business of the master and his corporations are threatened because the slave is getting too ambitious. The apparently too ambitious slave seemed to have thrown all caution to the wind.

I have always written about the fact that we lack leadership. Equally, the followers are docile. Africa must re-evaluate her decisions and manner of approach and realization of goals and objectives on many issues and fronts. Take for instance, sexuality is a private matter, and so should it remain. This thought is a difficult one to pencil down for me, but that does not change the fact about the truth. There is a link between Africa’s relationships with the outside world and her daily realities. If Africa learn and work with this fact, she will survive and rise. The world is divided, the world is separated, and the world is entangled. The world is a global project anchored on former and current masters. Africa will only be able to sail successfully the stormy terrain by seeking knowledge and discover herself.

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