By MC Asuzu
There are obviously many sources of wisdom in the world; and every culture, every civilization, every race, and every true nation, is endowed with enough of those! In this way, all the people who would genuinely seek for them will most surely find them! In many African cultures, some of these sources can be found in the wise sayings, the adages, proverbs, and parables of the elders! Jesus, who is also called the Christ, used a lot of those. Chinua Achebe told of many of those in many of his books of the African literature series and many of the Yoruba idioms do so, amply as well. These are also so very rich in the quotes that we know of Aristotle, of Confucius, of the Buddha; and many of the well-known gurus, mahdis, and rabbis of the world histories.
One of the commonest quotations of this wisdom that readily come to my mind as I considered the writing of this article is the one that starts with the opening statements such as, “there are three things that are too amazing for me to think about, four that I do not understand …!” In relation to Nigeria, the words of the above adage may read like this: “there are so very many things about Nigeria that still baffle my mind to behold, far too many that make me laugh to see…….”!
So then, Nigeria is obviously a wonder, an enigma, a baffling entity to behold many times; and surely, the funniest piece of drama to watch! In totality, the Nigerian drama, its enigma, its fun, as well as its mostly self-accumulating miseries also provide these same sources of wisdom to behold – how funny can people get? – both as individuals and as groups! How can people be, or claim to be, two entirely different things at the same time, talk with the two ends of their mouths saying exactly two different things, and still continue to persuade themselves that they are saying the truth, or that they themselves believe in the two opposite things that they are saying? How can we continue to say that we are the giant of Africa, the richest economy in Africa, the force to be reckoned with, and still/then, go about the bowl in hand begging and borrowing money from everywhere in the world, a pariah state that nobody wishes to play with except to take advantage of her to exploit to the point of death, etc, etc? And yet, we do not see any of these? How can we tell ourselves that we are one indivisible nation and yet we know all too well that we are not a nation at all? ALL of our celebrated “heroes past” have said so ad-nauseam, and yet we do not remember that? We make no genuine efforts to honestly and equitably address those truths; and yet, we just go on as a matter of fact of these our claimed perfections?
How can our most highly admired (even worshipped by some, if we will be honest with ourselves) Ahmadu Bello, tell the colonial British that there will be no independence for their so-called Nigeria, unless it is given to any others that they like but not to HIS “Northern Nigeria”, until he had developed it enough in his image and likeness, and we refuse to know that such was an important history of Nigeria. How can we continue to run a country, referred to as “the mistake of 1914” by the nearly worshipped Sir Ahmadu Bello, by all sorts of subterfuges and deadly compromises on all sides and still try to believe that such is how countries should be run, be great, a giant, and all those other silly notions that we have? How can we continue to run a country referred to as “a mere geographical entity” but not any nation at all, by our nearly as equally admired and nearly worshipped Chief Obafemi Awolowo, one of our surely “heroes past”, and continue to believe that we are doing a sensible thing without addressing what makes us a mere geographical entity but not a nation, according to this acknowledged sage whose wisdom has continued to fail to yield the fruits commensurate with the size of that wisdom?
How can we at so-called independence have the funny British go to Sokoto a little while before it, to conduct a Durba as a traditional political handing over ceremony, and then come to Lagos to perform an obvious sham theatrical show of a so-called independence ceremony right after that; and we continue to believe that we are an independent, democratic, secular yet God-loving and mutually self-respecting nation? How can we have independence based on the existence of a NORTHERN PEOPLES’ CONGRESS (NPC), a political party that ONLY SO-CALLED NORTHERNERS may be members of but no other Nigerians, without such a party declared as the illegality that it was; yet upon that, AGREEABLY get entrusted with running our nascent independent nation’s government over us all? How can we continue to run a country in which on the traditional part, we have meetings of so-called traditional leaders, and many of the ethnic nationalities’ leaders are not represented in it? How can we continue to run a country where these so-called traditional leaders are meeting and the chairmanship of the meetings do not go round those leaders from all those ethnic nationalities, IN THE MODERN SO VERY WELL CIVILIZED AND DEMOCRATIC WORLD, and believe that we have a nation or that it will last forever, or even for ANY reasonable length of time?
How can we continue to run a country in which law enforcement and security agencies are in the hands of a select few of the same ethnic nationality or something close to it, and not know that we are at the extreme of brigandry and political corruption? How can we have such security, social services, and law enforcement agencies (such as SARS) doing things in one way in some parts of the country and in exactly the very opposite ways in another, or indeed the others, and keep trying to convince ourselves that we are a clever race, nation or even sensible country? How can we run a geographical and secular entity and one or more religions in the place believe that their job is to disturb the peace, the tranquility, and the rights of every other person or religion and believe that we know, worship, take God seriously, and are working for that true God, or for peace and progress?
I have no doubt that these questions are what has been troubling the minds of many Nigerians over the years, despite our gross persuasions at self-deceptions in those regards. However, it would seem all too obvious to us that nobody is ready any more to live in these self-deceptions, these double speaks, and the unmitigated miseries that they bring! My advice therefore to all those who will like to believe that they are ruling Nigeria or desire the best out of her will be this: Please know it Sirs and Mas, that the time for all these past self-deceptions is over! The giant of Africa must rise up now! Let all those who love, or even only just simply admire her or her expected rise to her long denied glory, rise up to be counted! Democracy; equal rights; justice in all its meanings and ramifications; mutual respect; the pursuit and service of EVERYBODY, EVENLY; and the win-win culture of THE COMMON GOOD, must become our deeply accepted, respected, and pursued cultures, personally and corporately in our various groups. Anyone who opts out of this present wind of TRUE CHANGE and progress should not say that s/he was not told when the time comes! God bless the up-coming and true Nigeria! Amen.
Asuzu, Professor of Public Health & Community Medicine, University of Ibadan.
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