After the attack of that “irate Nigerian“ on Obasanjo, a lot of tongues have been wagging about the readiness of the masses to finally stand up and claim their due RIGHTS from their “governing “ rogues. Some pundits pondered about the possibility of an imminent revolution of the people, about the likelihood of a tenacious campaign, not necessarily violent, for the achievement of a decent standard of living as guaranteed in Articles 25 and 26 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
In Part 1 one of this article, the following question was raised:
Would Nigerians, armed with the knowledge of their entitlements from their government, really go out there and slug it out with their exploiters and oppressors to stake their claims and to retrieve our stolen billions and trillions?
The answer depends on a few factors:
1) OUR CONCEPT OF GOD: So far, we have been busy, praying to the God of Israel and Allah of Saudi Arabia to come down and rescue us! When that did not happen, we said we were cursed! It is very unlikely that those Gods ever cared to listen to us in the first place. At least, the evidence on the ground would tend to confirm that assessment. One can therefore safely assume that those Gods were too pre-occupied with Israel and Saudi Arabia all these years. We were, we are, and we will NEVER be on their priority list! The smart thing to do would be to confront the kleptocrats and DEMAND our rights. If someone stole your bag of rice, it would be very strange indeed, if you would then fall on your knees and start to pray to God to come down and wrest it from the thief!
So, we have to re-examine our beliefs in foreign Gods. There is a legend about a true African leader, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana. It is said that he asked school children in a class room to pray to God for food. The kids prayed to God without end, until they tired out. Yet, manna did not fall from heaven. Then he asked them to pray to him, Nkrumah, the Osageyfo. Almost immediately, food rained down from the ceiling!
What does that tell us? Bob Marley offers an answer in the same song, “Get up, stand up“ (which he co-wrote with Peter Tosh):
“ We sick an' tired of-a your ism-skism game -
Dyin' 'n' goin' to heaven in-a Jesus' name, lord.
We know when we understand:
Almighty god is a living man.“
Almighty God is a living man! To many people, that may sound like a sacrilege! But what the academic, Kwame Nkrumah, and the musician Bob Marley wanted to point out, albeit in a graphic way, is simple: God does not appear personally anywhere to deliver you a parcel. You do need people to do that. Talk to God or Allah as much as you want, but at the end of the day, you have to deal with real people! You have to fight by yourself! God can not do for you, what you can do for yourself!
Secondly, if the alien Gods have failed us, maybe it is high time we went back to the original triad of African deities, the Holy Trinity of Osiris-Isis-Horus, which the Christians later plagiarised, banned and destroyed- temples, priests, our Serapeum (forerunner of today´s Vatican), the Great Library in Alexandria and all! The Muslims also borrowed heavily from our religion. Their Inferno is nothing else but a script from the Osiris passion, their Hajj a rehash of the pilgrimage of Osirians to Abydos in Ancient Egypt, their sun-regulated prayer times and rites a reflection of the astrotheological aspects of the original African cosmology! Their monotheism,without the Mother-and-Son-of–God rendition had already been enacted by our own Black Pharaoh, Echnaton, about 2000 years before Islam.
The oldest religious book in the world is black: “The Book of Coming Forth by Day And Night“, which the British changed to the “Egyptian Book of the Dead“ in 1895, about 11years after the Berlin Conference that sliced up Africa like a piece of cake, gluttonly shared by white racists. Praying to a foreign White Jesus that did not even exist, that is actually a copy of our Black Horus, will not do the trick, apart from the fact that it enslaves our minds and souls, while draining our pockets. Imagine the billions of dollars wasted every year on foreign pilgrimages without any improvement in our morals, when we should be going to Ife or Oshogbo, which are good substitutes for Abydos. Like the white Suzanne Wenger did. (Sorry to hurt anyone´s religious feelings but like they say, only the truth can set you free!). We ruled the world, as long as we stuck to our three-in-one Black God!
2) COWARDICE: On one of his foreign trips in 1992, Babangida told a bewildered world audience that Nigerians are docile! Of course, having been subjected to decades of brutal military dictatorship, our people have been reduced to (thanks to FELA) “suffering and smiling“ in silence, only muttering their dissatisfaction behind closed doors. We love life so much, no matter how miserable! Barely anyone is really willing to take a risk! Our own Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, in his song “SORROW, TEARS and BLOOD“ expressed it so aptly:
“ My people self dey fear too much
We fear for the thing we no see
We fear for the air around us
We fear to fight for freedom
We fear to fight for liberty
We fear to fight for justice
We fear to fight for happiness
We always get reason to fear
We no want die
We no want wound
We no want quench
We no want go
I get one child
Mama dey for house
Papa dey for house
I want build house
So policeman go slap your face
You no go talk
Army man go whip your yansh
You go dey look like donkey“
Well, that was then. But have things changed since Fela? After that Obasanjo experience at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, the powers-that-be can no longer be too sure about this cowardice factor. That singular event may have changed the attitudinal trajectory of Nigerians forever! The people have literally crossed the Rubicon, at least in their minds. There are little signs here and there that the critical point has been reached., that the time is more than ripe for their battle to free themselves from the shackles of oppression, exploitation and dehumanization. They have taken more than enough battering and become very very desperate. There is no telling what desperate people can do, when the lid finally goes off and the eruptive energy is laserly directed against the source and cause of their troubles.
3) RESPECT FOR ELDERS: A very admirable trait in African tradition is the respect for age. But that respect has a price tag attached to it: wisdom, altruism, moral values, responsibility and exemplarily good behaviour. It´s a two-way affair, not a one-way street. There is an unwritten convenant between the young and the old, between those who wield power and those at the receiving end, between ministers (another word for servants) and the people they should be SERVING! When those, who by virtue of their age or position enjoy certain privileges break this pact, they can not expect the masses to continue to adore them or worse still, pray for them. That is when respect should stop! A thief is a thief, whether he is an adolescent or a grand father! As a matter of fact, a roguish elder, who stultifies the development of his children and grandchildren deserves more scorn and vilification than a young petty thief, who is only struggling to stave off starvation!
4) STOCKHOLM SYNDROME: This is a pretty weird psychological phenomenon, whereby victims of abuse, instead of hating their captors, actually develop sympathy for the criminals holding them to hostage. Or is that the Christian indoctrination to love your enemies? Anyhow, in the Nigerian version, we no longer ask for accountability and justice, we actually defend the culprits! “Abeg, let them just go and enjoy their loot, jare!“, “Babangida is more corrupt than Obasanjo“. Or vice-versa! Journalists attend nocturnal meetings with despicable murderers for crumbs of bread, instead of tightening the screws on the villains, so we can be free once and for all to feast sumptuously forever thereafter! The yardstick is no longer how good you are; it is how BAD you are!
So, will the Nigerians eventually stand up and fight? When they ruminate a little about those 4 factors and throw retrogressive archaic indoctrination out of the window, when the newspapers fill their pages with horror stories of suffering Nigerians and educate the people about Articles 25 and 26, when radio and TV stations inform the masses about their God-given rights in all Nigerian languages, when all the students read up on what they are entitled to, then something will give!
When musicians emulate Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and of course our own inimitable FELA, and set our rights down in music, that will send ripples and waves across the country. “MUSIC IS THE WEAPON OF THE FUTURE“ was Fela´s slogan during the later part of his career. If that´s true, it would only prove that Fela already lived that future, he was way ahead of us! Indeed, he used his music as a weapon against the “Zombies“ in power, not minding the losses.
Fela lived that slogan to the fullest. He took risks. He was persecuted. He suffered. But still they could not shut him up. The more they whopped him, the louder his scathing lyrics and irresistable rhythms reverberated with a vengeance! ITT, Zombie, Army Arrangement, Colonial Mentality..... You couldn´t give Fela any kind of envelope, brown, yellow or green. You could neither silence nor threaten him. He was not afraid to die!
He knew one thing: these rogues are only strong when we are silent. They are only bold when we are cowardly.
They keep dipping their hands into our cookie jars because we do not challenge them, because they get away with it!
and what they steal are not just cookies and peanuts. They rob us of billions of dollars, literally devouring our children´s food and destroying the lives of generations of Nigerians! We can no longer stand by and watch! We should turn on the heat from all directions to a deafening crescendo. Then, they can no longer feign deafness!
Coincidentally, as if to buttress my point, news just came in that
“the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja has ordered the Nigerian government to provide as of right, free and compulsory education to every Nigerian child. This judgment followed the court’s earlier ruling that declared that all Nigerians are entitled to education as a legal and human right.
The ECOWAS Court’s judgment read in open court today, followed a suit instituted by the Registered Trustees of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) against the Federal Government and UBEC, alleging the violation of the right to quality education,the right to dignity, the right of peoples to their wealth and natural resources and to economic and social development guaranteed by Articles 1, 2, 17, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.“
That is the African equivalent of Articles 26 And 25 of the UN version. Things are cooking! Femi Falana, Adetokunbo Mumuni of SERAP are following in the footsteps of our dear GANI. They are out there fighting for us, using their weapon of legal expertise. We could all show a little appreciation by joining this campaign with our own talent and resources, even if it is just screaming and shouting, clapping hands and stamping our feet!. If we can do that for our 419 pastors, we should be able to do that for ourselves and our children. That way, we will be using our voices to vote for our own interests, for ourselves! A vote that no one can buy!
Let no one be deluded about the forthcoming elections. No matter who becomes President, nothing will change for better, if we do not join forces with the Falanas, if we do not listen to FELA to demand, fight and maybe die with dignity for our rights, instead of living in perpetual bondage. We no longer have any excuse to stand on the fence. A situation, where 1% of the population is pulverising 80% of our revenue is totally inacceptable. We now know what´s our due. Bob Marley (and Peter Tosh) ended the song in question with this reminder:
“You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can't fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do?,
We gonna stand up for our rights! “