A READER'S REACTION...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I received the following via email and it is a response to I think Nigeria Needs a 'Revolution' and also reacts to a post that was on The Afrobeat.

I am curious to know your thoughts on this one...

From 'Wise Old Man'

Thanks for sharing the ongoing dialogue. The comments are fascinating. There seems, however, to be an assumption that there is common understanding or agreement on the terms or concepts used in the dialogue. There is also a bit of shall I say insufficient knowledge of, or acknowledgement of Nigerians' long history of political activism. Without a proper historical context, and the lessons that derive from it, formulating new ideas reduces the prospects of efficacy, which itself is quintessential in all calls for political change, and all acts engaged in, in pursuit of change.

I might add, perhaps parenthetically, that one of the pains (not quite tragedy yet) of Nigeria's extended malaise is the evolving propensity amongst us, genuinely disappointed with our inexcusable and unconscionable failures, to see others, quite uncritically, as having it all right. The analysis of the Kenya Crisis in the ongoing dialogue [at The Afro Beat], for example, would seem both uncritical and seriously flawed. One could ask: Is it possible, for example, that we all have the same problem---Nigeria, Kenya, even South Africa looking ahead? If so, and the case can be made with dexterity and dispatch, then should we not be looking for what is fundamentally wrong with governance in Africa?

[I have a] theory of the pedigree of seemingly intractable problems. That applies in what I see as letting our deep (perhaps profound) disappointment fast tracking into disillusionment with Nigeria obstructing our strategic analysis, perspicacity and judgement. In this regard for example, the Prof, whose articulation of the anguish of the Kenya crisis (at The Afro Beat) is captivating and deeply felt, seeks to distinguish the Kenya legacy from that of the African experience by suggesting that Kenya has never been really subject to ethnic conflict. What happened in the same Rift Valley amongst the Kalenjin and the Kikuyu in 1992 when Arap Moi, himself a Kalenjin, was seeking power? That the conflicts never deteriorated into full-blown civil war should not be heralded as a distinguishing accolade. That the ethnic passions and hostilities exist and that they are exploited by politicians to hide their incompetence and betrayal of the will, trust and mandate of the people, especially the poor masses from ALL ethnic groups, that is the issue.

What if, again for example, one argues that the very fact that after all these years, long after Kenya seemed to have achieved full national integration, only suggests that the belief that Kenya had "distinguished itself" from the rest of Africa by its "political stability and democracy" was flawed, perhaps a delusion? This question is important because one of our problems in Africa is that we are so focused on how we look to the outside world than how we really are, that we seek to design our dreams to meet the expectations of others. In the process, we dig our heads in the sand, believing that all is well because others say so, when, more sober and smart, we could use the limited time, energy and resource Africa has trying to truly identify, define, diagnose and solve our fundamental problems. What is the value, in real terms, of being called "an African success story" especially vis-a-vis other African countries? All it means is that when there is a tough problem, as there always will be when genuine efforts are made to improve the condition of man and society, it gets blown up because we have "damaged our image".

Every time the world seems "surprised" by an eruption in Africa, such as event in Rwanda (where Nigeria spent so much resource pleading with the whole world to intervene before things erupted out of control the then Nigerian ambassador to the OAU flew all over the world trying to prevent the genocide -- just as Nigeria also tried so hard to prevent Somalia from erupting, with no credit for doing so), chances are that we spent so much time trying to be the "good boys" rather than undertaking the hard work of being good, that we neglected to pay attention to obvious signals of trouble. In all such cases, our idea of being good was in response to what we thought others wanted us to be, not what our own people demanded and expected of us.

This, I am afraid, is one of fundamental flaws of Africa's development paradigm, one of those that I am trying to focus the bright lights on, so that we can go back to square one and begin to build an Africa that meets the genuine dreams and aspirations of the African people themselves. Ironically, when we do that, not only will we be safe, secure and developed, because our efforts will be respectful of; and responsive to the people's will, but it is only then that others will respect us, because they will know that our own people respect us, honour us and will stand by us whatever the challenge.

Further Reading:
- Putting A Nigerian Revolution in Context
- I think Nigeria Needs a Revolution
- My Nigerian "Revolution" meme


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Naapali said...

"This, I am afraid, is one of fundamental flaws of Africa's development paradigm..and begin to build an Africa that meets the genuine dreams and aspirations of the African people themselves. "

A most perspicacious post indeed. I believe Nigerians and other Africans, desire the same things the Founding Fathers of the American experiment held to be inalienable truths. That all men(women) are created equal, and have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, it is sad, that we place little value on life (as the extreme and brutal violence that explodes with any disagreements on our continent bear witness), we value liberty even less. Most citizens of our continent struggle to survive such that the pursuit of happiness seems too remote to even merit consideration. We are instead locked in this primal fight for power, because power on our continent bears every privilege and no responsibility. The ultimate dream of the tyrant (though Kipling credits this as the prerogative of the harlot).

I sadly do not see a way out of these problems.

Waffarian said...

I was going to leave my final comment on the "I think Nigeria needs a revolution post", but I think here will be just fine as well. I believe the reader has summarized all I have been trying to say in this sentence:

"so that we can go back to square one and begin to build an Africa that meets the genuine dreams and aspirations of the African people themselves"

I strongly believe that we need to listen and talk to the people. Without getting down to that level, I am afraid we will go nowhere.

I understand Snazzy's vision and it is a worthwhile cause if it reaches the right people(after all, the nobel peace prize winner, Muhammad Yunus 2006 did exactly that)most in need of such investments.

My hope is that MORE people can work together on ONE solution. We have to realise that one person can not change everything but everybody can change something. Instead of dividing our resources in different sectors, we will make a bigger impact if we all pull through and hammer away at one.

We all in our different ways want the best for our country. Together, we can only be stronger and that is what I hope for. That we are all strong enough to not only voice our opinions and ideas, but also implement the changes that will be forthcoming from those opinions and ideas.

Omodudu said...

By the second paragraph, I was lost in the grammar. I will be back to give it another try when I am well rested. By the way, what's all this big grammar on your blog. Have we been invaded by the Nigerian Village square. Lol I am a trouble maker I know.

guerreiranigeriana said...

now, this is a blog that NEVER disappoints...what a well thought out, well-written and insightful piece...i am so thrilled that your blog and that of afrobeat are producing/resulting in such important and critical thought, analysis and dialogue...there is hope, always...he makes very poignant points...

...and after the dust and musing of the intellectuals, artists, dreamers, bloggers, idealists, philosophers, students and professionals settle, i am curious what the average, non-blogging, i'm hustling anyway i can to survive naija man or woman would have to say...and how do we get to hear them?...

...why did the doctor order rest?...baby number four?...

aworan said...

I've just woken up so I'm having a quick glance at this post, but will get back to you on it..

Obinwanne said...

long grammer...will have to go back to it and read again...

TheAfroBeat said...

Sorry for the hiatus Solo! Thanks for posting this up (wonder how come we didn't receive his email on The AfroBeat)! But definitely, some great points he's made. A lot of the conflicts plaguing the continent (from Darfur to Somalia) are not new tensions, a lot of the political activism has roots in old movements, and by learning about these, we can mould this revolution to "build an Africa that meets the genuine dreams and aspirations of the African people themselves".

Thanks to the Wise Old Man as well...it's definitely helpful to get some insight about the history of our struggles. I agree that we're so engrossed in how we look to the outside world that we forget what WE really want ourselves (and OUR Nigeria) to look like.

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