Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Expired Old folks and the rise of Nigerian counterculture

Theodore Roszak coined the term counterculture in 1968 to explain youthful opposition to older generation’s principles and approaches towards politics, education, the arts and social relations. Counterculture would eventually enter into world mainstream discourse as a term to describe similar oppositions to elitist, high modernist ideals. It was deployed majorly during American cold war era when liberal economies failed to salvage the post-world war decline, and also during the 1960s devastations ignited by the Vietnam War. Indeed the late 1960s saw increasing youthful opposition to the contested ideology of the old’s technocracy not just in the United States but all over the world. The 1960s was rocked by the American-Vietnam War, Civil Rights Protests, assassination of US President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jnr, the launching of the Cuban Missiles and many more. In Africa, it was marked by youthful agitations to take control of Africa’s leadership from the colonialists. Then, most of these old politicians were at their best and were in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
         The term counterculture befits Nigeria at this moment.  This is because Roszak proposed counterculture as a response to pervasive enemy of youth idiosyncrasy. Counterculture simply means the youth opposing the archaic, unrealizable, expired, unworkable ideas of the old generation. And this is what plays out, needs to play out, in Nigeria at the moment.
         To be clear, this is not an attempt to stereotype against the old generation. When I use ‘old generation’ I mean the same old politicians who have been hanging around in Africa since independence. They have orchestrated wars, exterminations, famines, genocides, ethnic cleansing, corruption, kleptocracy, name them. I mean the Mugabes, the Zumas, the Biyas, the Jamehs, the Omar Bongos, the Musevenis, the Dos Santos, the B…. The list is endless. All their supporters also belong to this old generation. If you qualify for youth category and you support them then you are an old generation. It means your ideas are old and expired. Common guys, these are expired old folks with expired brains. So they will continue to inject expired stuffs into your veins.  If the average age of the African continent is the 20s it means that more than 70 percent of Africans were not born when these bunch of leaders clung unto power.
       Counterculture will deliver you. It delivered Ethiopia where the young, dynamic, president has applied laxative to wash and set the engine of the Ethiopian nation. An inventory of some other African states suggest that the young generation performed better by washing and setting their nations.  Nigeria desperately needs counterculture to wash and set all the parts now. If you have once visited an Ogbonge herbalist you will understand the meaning of washing and setting. All the debilitating parts of Nigerian parts needs to be tumbled, dissected, rinsed with fuel or kerosene, or Ogbonge liquid, and set back.
       Oil and water can never mix. Old politicians and their supporters are mutually exclusive with rational youth idiosyncrasy. Old, expired, politicians are irreconcilable with vibrant, healthy youth aspirations. This is a case of apartheid versus anti-apartheid.  It is just an incongruity to think that old polit-trickians can deliver a young, novel idea. Imagine Mugabe reading an old state of the nation address to his parliament sometime without knowing it was an old address. What of Buhari who read a stolen address of Obama sometime without knowing, and who claimed ignorant of most happenings under his watch, prompting the wife to raise alarm that he is not in control.  
       Imagine. The Nigerian president calls the youth lazy.  Imagine losing 27 percent jobs that belong to the youth under one year. Yet most youth in Nigeria drive the small scale industry sector. In the music industry the Nigerian youth are world champions, recording most millionaires than every other Africa nation. By 2020 the Nigerian music industry is expected to generate 50 million US dollars. In the SMS businesses they drive the economy by thriving under a counterproductive economic environment provided by the clueless old politicians. It is obvious that the leadership of this nation can only succeed when counterculture reaches Abuja and drives away the old, expired cargoes, and sits on the exalted chair. New engine is better than old engine. Old engine breaks down every now and then. And sorry when the engine breaks down in the middle of nowhere, just as that of Nigeria has broken down in the middle of the desert.  
       The youth are the livewire of the Nigerian economy as they rebel against the high modernist economic policies that the old generation politicians invoke to deceive them. I give the youth of Nigeria credit because, judging from the rest of Africa, Nigeria ranks as the nation where youth hit the street and make it without depending on the non-existent government. So counterculture is constantly at work here. But the real counterculture would be when the youth march en masse to Aso Rock, bring down the engine, dissect it, wash it and then set it.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

As Mbaka apologizes, EFCC ‘Mene mene tekel Urphasin’ and touch not my anointed’.

EFCC should have learnt some lessons from the Mbaka’s episode. Mbaka seems to have tampered with the anointed son of God, Peter Obi. Mbaka’s disgrace of Obi on his alter at Adoration Prayer Ministry Enugu (AMEN) made Obi more popular and occasioned a Social Media war by Obi’s numerous fans against AMEN. It was as though the Social Media answereth by fire and Mbaka suffered the severe burn of the fire set at his video by the Social Media warlords. It seems Mbaka and other churches thought they were the only people who controlled the instrument of casting by ‘fire’. However, the ‘fire’ that the Social Media combatants spewed were burning Mbaka and AMEN. He quickly saved himself from the ravaging inferno which almost burnt down his video on the Social Media. He apologized.

By Apologizing at the same alter he ignominiously disparaged Obi, Mbaka exhibited a heroic Christian rectitude that suggested that he is still a true man of God. He has vindicated himself by clearing the skepticism of many who doubted his calling as a man of God. He also realized how he worked against the prophetic statement: ‘touch not my anointed Obi and my prophet Obi do no harm”. This is the story of Peter Obi.

This story commenced when Mr Peter Obi won the governorship election of Anambra State in 2003 but was rigged out by the professional godfather of Anambra politics then, Chief Chris Uba. Chris Uba was the king of Anambra politics then under the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo. He was the Alpha and Omega of the dirtiest game.  He awarded victory to whoever he chose.  

So not minding that Obi won the election, Uba picked Dr Chris Ngige and, holding him on his palm the way giant King Kong would hold a tiny creature, flung Ngige unto the governorship seat. Does this metaphor suggest that Uba was the giant then and Ngige, the ant? Ngige was the servant exemplified by the manner Uba commanded him and he (Ngige) obeyed with that unpretentious mien of ‘yes sir’.  Funny. In fact, at one time when Ngige’s meek decency as a governor became somewhat questionable he was kidnapped, thanks to Atiku who saved him through that fellow at the hotel where Ngige was kidnapped. Politics is indeed the dirtiest stuff.

Ngige stubbornly perched on the anointed seat like a drunken bee. Obi went to court. After many years of court case, Obi won and Ngige vacated the anointed seat. Obi took back his anointed seat on 17 March 2006. After some time Uba orchestrated yet another evil plan. This time to impeach Obi using the Anambra State house of Assembly. He succeeded. Obi was impeached as a governor on 2 November 2006. Another woman named Virgy Etiaba, aka ‘Mama sainiara m’ mounted the anointed seat. Obi left and went back to court. After few months of court case he won again. Etiaba vacated the anointed seat and Obi took back his seat on 9 February 2007. Are you still doubting whether politics is the dirtiest game? Dramatic.

Obi was there, yet again when Andy Uba came. Andy Uba, brother to the skilled godfather Chris Uba, harping on his position as the chief cook of the then president Obasanjo, used his Abuja connection to rig the second election in Anambra State even while Obi was still a governor serving his tenure. Uba mounted the anointed seat on 29 May 2007 and Obi went back to court. After few weeks of court case, Obi won. Andy Uba vacated the anointed seat and Obi mounted it again on 14 June 2007. Obi remained there. Having noticed that Obi was the one whom God said: ‘touch not my anointed and my prophet do no harm,’ every other evil turned away from him and Anambra Government House until Obi completed his tenure as governor.

That was Obi’s story as a politician before the Mbaka episode. Then came lately when he decided to join Atiku as the vice presidential candidate. Mbaka had summoned him to join the AMEN bazaar with other politicians. Obi came. Mbaka disgraced him because he refused to pronounce to the hearing of AMEN worshippers some million Naira project he will undertake for the church. Mbaka received his dose of the anointed lashings. He learnt his lessons.

Now it is the turn of EFCC. The problem with power is that power is too intoxicated to notice when danger looms. Again overdose of fiendish liquor benumbs power from learning bitter lessons of history. Power only learns by force and by fire. Very soon EFCC, a dirty power, will learn by fire and will discern the handwriting of ‘Mene mene tekel Urphasin’ on the wall meaning: "MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed ... and found wanting;" and "PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” You know the meaning.

EFCC will soon hear the divine voice of ‘touch not my anointed Obi and my prophet Obi do no harm’. This time I don’t know if they will be able to apologize because the God that had mercy on his servant Mbaka may not save EFCC. The children of God shall proclaim like Elijah: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (1 Kings 18:36–37). After this prayer the 450 servants of the false god of Baal may be consumed by the fire from above. God said ‘touch not my anointed and my prophet do no harm’.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The president’s speech: evident disharmony between theory and empirical data

Listening to the President’s Independence speech, I was gravely seized by the gross burden of mental pain. This is not because the speech was not a product of proficient rendition by the paid writer, nor because of the speech's defective elocution by the presenter, it is because of how the contents of the speech create an antithesis of the real. It is because of how the speech writer achieves a dramatic disharmony between written texts and fieldwork experiences.

Almost all the contents of the speech contradict Nigerians’ practical experiences over the past years. You keep wondering why the speech writer determinedly misrepresents and consciously distorts. No need ex-raying how each sentence distorts our collective and individual experiences over these years. Just read for yourself and answer the question. No time to do the entire exercise here.
But one thing is certain: every Nigerian Independence day is always foreshadowed by a certain misadventure that signals an ailing nation. This year’s own was preceded by a gruesome murder of an entire family in Jos, Plateau State. Yet it did not receive any mention by the president in the national broadcast. Some may argue that the life of a single family may not deserve mention in an all-important business as the Independence broadcast but the fact is that the life of a single individual is as important as the life of all human in a nation. Again given that this incidence just happened a day or two before Independence, the freshness of memory should have saved their plight from the misanthropic insensitivity of collective condemnation seen in the speech. Again, the manner of the murder which is an abrupt annihilation, a closure to the family tree, which included a two year old child, you cannot help but give in to an unbridled flow of tears.
Take it or leave it, the president’s last sentence in the speech which reads thus “I want to assure you that as President, I will continue to work tirelessly to promote, protect and preserve what really matters: a united, peaceful, prosperous and secure Nigeria, where all, irrespective of background, can aspire to succeed” is an encapsulation of the entire speech which as I strongly argued opposes the empirical data of his actions as we see it happening everyday. Unless those reading this are not living in Nigeria.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Osun: Tragedy and dreadful enactments of a failed state

I can authoritatively say that both INEC and the three leading political parties in the Osun election are not credible. Should I say that they are all incredible?

All epitomize the dreadful traits of a failed nation, not a failing nation! What other signs do we need to conclude that Osun has symbolically enacted the tragedy that will befall Nigeria in 2019? And what other signs do we need to prove that sooner or later Nigerians will be filled with a poignant sense of tragedy?

Tragedy has been theorized by many scholars yet one of the most striking is what Gritzner describes as a ‘dialectical structure of feeling.’ Big grammar here but I will explain: it means something close to withdrawal, indifference or ‘estrangement from life’. Again it could philosophically imply a sense of being a foreigner unto oneself and others. Simply put: aloofness.

What am I trying to say? PDP gave birth to APC and as some people have hinted, APC is beating PDP in the unscrupulous game.  ‘The child is now father of the man’ if I borrow from William Wordsworth’s poem “The Rainbow”. This poem also, subtly, mirrors the profound signification of tragedy itself in which the man is a consequence of his own damnable preoccupation from birth. So APC, the child is now the despicable father of the immoral PDP man.

I do not pity PDP at all. SDP is not even in the question. SDP is not a party. It is a group on a haggling mission to butcher and snatch the weightiest part of the kill which they have just done. So in essence whether you want to believe it or not, tragedy has constituted an existential condition of Nigerians and it is a metaphor with which I make sense of a failed postcolonial state. Simple!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The visual message of Trump and Buhari's laughing photograph

by Okechukwu Nwafor

Many people have commented on the implications of Buhari's visit to the United States. Among the comments is a submission by Farooq Kperogi who praised Buahri's smart moves in the course of fielding questions from journalists. I am not particularly sure, and convinced, that Farooq exhibited a cautious articulation that corresponds to his erudite intellect as against his rather impetuous endorsement of the president.
On my part, I want to comment on the visual message of the photo showing Buhari signing a document amidst a smile while Trump also wearing a wry smile crouches behind him. This photograph is quite compelling yet many Social Media users would rather not reflect on the underlying nitty-gritty of both president's laughter or smiles as seen in the photo.
First, the image suggests that their smiles are mechanical. There seems no reason why both of them should exhibit that weird grin simultaneously especially at the instance when Buhari was just signing a document. While the content of the document was not made public one wonders how such signing should suddenly elicit the amusement that, in actual sense, looks curiously emotionless.
First reason: Buhari knew within him that Trump does not like him neither does he like Nigeria (ala shithole, and Christian sentiments), yet he was desperate for American backing in the face of severe widespread opposition by the Nigerian masses.
Second reason: Buhari knew that a smile for the camera means a lot: it is a chimerical strategy of hiding awkward and difficult bilateral relations. It is also a way to mock Jonathan loyalists, and other opposition, who think that their repudiation at the home front would translate to western rejection. No. He seems to say that no amount of killings, human rights abuse, corruption and bad leadership, could actually blight Trump's camera from perceiving him (Buhari) as a white angel instead of the black devil Nigerians portray him as at home. His smile, captured by the American camera, has indeed restored his temporary misfortunes and fixed the political catastrophes that would bear remote consequences for his future ambitions in his country, Nigeria.
On his part, Trump knew inwardly that he does not like Buhari, Nigerians and Nigeria but he needed to do this. He needed to force a smile no matter how spiritless. Despite his acerbic utterances he needed to do diplomatic job, imperial job and, above all, rapacious business with a deficient clientele. He is the only one who understands what Buhari was signing. And the smile on his face seems meaningless to him because he managed to squeeze it out for the purposes of imperial enrichment and postcolonial impoverishment. And we know that Trump has always made headlines for his mischievous smiles. This time around the mischief in the smile became even more pronounced.
Whichever is the case their smiles look unfeeling and detached and a case based on the fairy tale of the Lion and the tortoise. Yet, here, I am yet to figure who is the Lion and who is the tortoise.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Chimamanda's needless bickering

by Okechukwu Nwafor

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie recently responded to one of her traducers in Facebook over her comment on 'wife' during her interview with Hilary Clinton. The caption of her response reads thus: "Dear Unnamed Person Who I Am Told Is On Social Media Saying I am Her Family and Telling Me to Shut Up".
I read Chimamanda's response many times and I said wow, many times. I think her convictions are too eccentric or even esoteric. Quite unpretentiously, a tone of sheer indignation runs through the response. At some point it seems the delight one takes in reading her pleasurable and beautiful writing style would be marred by her wacky submissions. Not just that a somewhat misrepresentation in her text suggests an inwardly disobedient trait, or perhaps an inborn anomaly to revolutionize without actually knowing why.
She said "I am tired of Nigerians who read a headline and, without bothering to get details and context, jump on the outrage bandwagon and form lazy, shallow opinions." Yet she goes ahead to state that she stands by her word that Clinton goofed by starting her twitter page with 'wife'. So I wonder where these Nigerians read a headline and misunderstood her. What they read is her outright sense of repugnance at Clinton's choice, and placement, of 'wife' in her twitter page and nothing else. So I didn't see it as a headline. Now why should that apprehension constitute 'lazy, shallow opinions' in Chimamanda's mind?
When I read how Chimamanda used the word 'lazy' two times, to qualify Nigerians in her text, I said Nigerians are in trouble. I said that the difference between Chimamanda's use of 'lazy' and that of Buhari is that Buhari was more compassionate to qualify a segment of Nigerians being 'youth' with lazy. But Chimamanda was more malevolent to categorize all Nigerians who listened to her interview and felt uncomfortable with her submissions as lazy.
Again she said "Feminism is indeed about choice. But it is intellectually lazy to suggest that, since everything is about ‘choice,’ none of these choices can be interrogated". However, I still think that she might constitute part of that laziness because of her failure to appreciate the beauty of engagement that comes from Social Media users. In the manner she felt cross at Nigerians' altercation over her convictions on 'wife' so do these Nigerians feel over her avant-garde views that now seem to trouble the traditional cultural canons of certain individuals. So in essence while the 'unnamed person' asks Chimamanda to 'shut up,' Chimamanda calls her, and other Nigerians 'lazy.' So my question is who is more civil? This statement is at variance with her submission in her response. It also suggests that it is intellectually lazy on her part to assume that there must be a collective compromise on her feminist choices.
Her response throws up so many picky situations. For example she is again upset that this 'unnamed person calls her family. She rejects this association. She fails to understand the context of family in African cultural system. Indeed, any Igbo could be family to any other Igbo, depending on the contexts. Family extends to remote ramifications and she cannot undo that sensibility.
I conclude that Clinton's use of wife has no problems at all and should not, in any way, be an object of such uncompromising lamentation from a person as cerebral as Chimamanda. Whether Clinton starts the twitter page with wife or ends it with wife should not in any way cause Chimamanda severe headache. The most important thing is that wife is wife and husband is husband unless she prefers to delete the English word from the Dictionary. This is a human world, choices must be interrogated and there must not be any closure on levels of intellect meant to interrogate such choices. 

Okechukwu Nwafor. 25/4/18.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Resolving Anambra Political Arithmetic

I shall try to resolve the political reckoning of Anambra at the moment. In fair estimation the battle is between three powerful forces: APGA, PDP and APC.  Each of this party is standing on a foundational endorsement of formidable political agents. For example in APGA Ojukwu's photograph is constantly implanted at the rear of the photos of APGA's governorship candidate, Dr Willie Obiano and his running mate, Dr Nkem Okeke. By this visual gimmick, it is assumed that Ojukwu, the celebrated leader of  Biafrans, shot into prominence by the Nigerian Biafran war of 1967 to 1970, would invoke the medieval science that will ensure  victory for APGA come November 18. By this visual stunt, again, it is assumed that Ojukwu, the Oxford University graduate of History, being an acclaimed Igbo leader and a founding father of APGA  would evoke ethnic sympathy whereby APGA is seen as an Igbo cause that will enable a landslide victory. However, a critical assessment of the import of Ojukwu's photo into APGA's visual images and posters may provide a counter reading. Peter Obi deployed this visual strategy and won election as governor under APGA, for two consecutive tenures. The fact is that the circumstances that surrounded Obi's emergence then were far from what is currently obtainable today. APGA's legitimacy as at then was not in question. I may not want to delve deeper into the question of legitimacy at the moment for obvious reasons.

For PDP, the contender Oseloka Obaze has been described by many as a man of decorum, a man of letters and a man whose scholastic life disgusts the oracle  of ignorance.  He subtly stands on the supposedly superlative political demeanour, or antecedents, of Mr Peter Obi who is seen as his benefactor. However, a modicum of public observers believes otherwise: that Obi is just a political Mafioso, desperately canvassing to oust the incumbent governor for some narcissistic reasons. Yet, majority of Anambra citizens believe that Obi's political style remains an unresolved conundrum. And that Obi is, as described by High Chief Ndi Obi, "a young man who can conveniently sell sand in the desert". Whatever Ndi Obi means by that I do not know but I think he was overwhelmed by Obi's transcendent political prowess at a time Anambra seemed asphyxiated by some powerful forces of the PDP. Obi defeated PDP by invoking all the combative political arsenals of APGA to emerge as governor and now Obi has dumped APGA and is now fighting with all the pugnacious armoury of PDP to send APGA packing. Are you surprised? Don't be, for that is politics. In politics, they say there is no permanent friend or permanent enemy, only permanent interests. Again, some believe that Obi-Obaze amalgam is a huge miscalculation. This few sceptics believe that Obi does not mean well and that he is only coming back for vengeful recuperation where the current compromise with the incumbent seems to have been toppled by forces beyond Obi's control. It could be true, because Obi's compromise with the incumbent governor could actually be for the genuine actualization of the gains of democracy which he established in Anambra and wished to be sustained but which, perhaps, was mishandled. Obi is seen as a saint in politics by many.

For APC, Dr Tony Nwoye is  seriously basking under the hefty political weights of the leading national party in Nigeria, APC. APC defeated PDP to produce the Nigerian president and majority of the governors.  If APC could produce the president and majority of the governors in Nigeria, what with this Lilliputian called Anambra. Nwoye believes he is positively advancing his flotilla towards a win. Many Anambra people think in the obverse: they see APC as a mere joke. In the minds of many voters in Anambra APC  is a painful infliction on NdIgbo. Since the inception of Muhammadu Buhari as president, there seems to be an upsurge of baleful acrimony running in the veins of NdIgbo all against the president and his winning party, APC. Again, the president seems cognisant of this ill will and intends to penalize NdIgbo for their untoward feeling. His body language and actions proved this: the Nnamdi Kanu incarceration, the continuous human rights abuse, the dissenting presidential speeches and the consummate brutality of Nnamdi Kanu's house invasion. What else? NdIgbo in Anambra believe that no Jupiter can manoeuvre victory for APC. Tony Nwoye's determined confidence in the inexorable machinations of APC will play out on November 18. Then Anambra NdIgbo will know whether the Baboon and the Monkey will be smeared in blood.

On another level IPOB is counting on their Social Media wrangle to declare that there will be no election come November 18. They have asked all Anambra people and Biafrans to stay at home that day. For some individuals, IPOB members are not just cynics, they are political atheists in the eyes of November 18.  They neither believe in APGA, PDP nor APC. Their kind of politics is radical: declare Biafra an independent State or nothing else. For a handful of opinionated Anambra, and indeed, NdIgbo elites, IPOB is a psychotic set-up that must be dismantled. Tobenna Okwuosa​, Chigozie Anarado, Colin Oguzie Uju​ and Ikeogu Oke  belong to this group. Yet for others IPOB is the inevitable backwash of a historic mistake, the aftereffect of a thoughtless politics and the underprivileged subordination by the devilish political aristocracy. Yours truly, Chike Ofili, and co belong to this later group. What can I say again? My people, November 18 is decisive; let us await it with a prophetic mind.

Okechukwu Nwafor is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts and the current Head, Department of Fine and Applied Arts in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.