The nagging spirit constantly plagues the resolve to desist from these posts. But one finally having come to the realization that one can no longer bear such foreboding, one finally gives in. Hence, I act one last time. However, this is unlike previous disgusts at our political system. I now bear in mind that the intended victims of such outbursts are hardly affected, and even if they were, daily demonstrate that they have completely lost their ability to feel ashamed. Simply put, they have become lower animals. They have lost it – that which gives us the human dignity and separates us from the wild. I summon now, the conscience of our generation and juxtapose it with the performance so far – that of our fathers’ and mothers’. Indeed, it requires a great deal of sincerity for one of theirs to look at the trend over the past five decades and give that grand and accurate summation: “a wasted generation”.
So I begin with that question, which, by now, should bear in the mind of the reader. To borrow the words of that ridiculous Professor which I once played in a drama skit, the question poses, “what is the causal antecedent of this scenario?” Of course, the reader could construct the same thoughts with different words, “Where is he coming from? Or “exactly what is brojero referring to?”
The answer indeed blows in the wind. It is not far-fetched. It is found in what lessons surprisingly, could be derived from that gawking exercise which we all perform from time to time ever since the black box in question became a triumphant entrant in the habitual of man. And now the details: the time of production is precisely 1980; the time setting, sometime between the sixties and eighties; the place, USA; the title – to save the most important for last – Brubaker. Should the reader now feel the urge to hiss at the lengthy introduction of something somewhat trivial, (after all, there are countless movies which share the same theme, are in better picture quality and perhaps executed in grander style) h/she should kindly save the rheum and hear the writer out; for what made the writer coil out of sweet hibernation to the tediousness of pen and paper is the discomforting similarity of that true-life drama, told decades ago in some faraway land, to his present situation.
A man of virtue stood against a tempest of human malignity and fell. He did not fall dead to the ground fortunately. He was spared that fate and was simply ousted by mechanisms of selfish interests. It is a fact however, that a contemplation of absolute elimination from the land of the living took place. Somehow, this man of the people (it is not often that a movie ends with an ovation – that is usually reserved for theatre) survived and was made to simply walk off the scene. The moral of the story, evil triumphed over good. Yet that great literary genius known to us as T.S Eliot, teaches, “it is only a fool who thinks he can turn the wheel on which he turns”. It is due to such teaching that many of our generation have submitted to the resignation, “since you can not fight the system, join it or at least, let it be”. The question I ask is whether the reformer then, is insane to attempt to fight the system; to attempt to turn in clockwise motion, the dysfunctional wheel on which he turns.
As I write this, the words of the greats and those who have gone before play their torturous tunes in my head – resulting in that dangerously discordant sound – one of which I feel compelled to share with the reader simply for the benefit of refusing to suffer alone.
“This voice from the grave urges itself on our hearing. For let no one be in any doubt – the life-and-death discourse of the twenty-first century is unambiguously the discourse of fanatism and intolerance.”
The writer, of course, is none other than W.S – that lion whose roar shall echo for centuries to come. The situation, a preface to the work of another, Tahar Djaout, who was killed for his writing – the one whose voice transcends the great gulf between the dead and the living, and would not be silenced. I could go on and on in continuous effort to illustrate the wise words of those who have gone before but that would be missing the point. Besides, anyone who searches diligently would find them. What is important is to note that there are two different streams, which flow, in two different directions. The one we follow would define and shape what would become of us, Nigerians and Africans, in the following decades. I believe the perfect illustration to these conflicting streams is seen the words of our dear parents to we, the beloved sons and daughters:
The child is to engage all his endeavours to be comfortable against the harsh conditions amongst his kin, clan, communal and countrymen.
The conflicting streams are self-sustenance and service. That vicious critic should hold his peace. I am in no way instigating a debate of one economic theory against the other. I do not put hurdles against the impulse of a man to fend for himself and family. I simply summon the conscience against that spirit which sees the political landscape of our degenerating country as a means to gain wealth. I speak to the complacent spirit who resigns against the challenges to build our country. I detest and rebuke that which follows the bestial precedents; which tramples on the means of others as its own means of survival. We should not be deceived that in our kind of climate the search for self-fulfilment through fair means can not be achieved without a dance with the devil. Or with the anxiety that if we do not go to the dance, it would surely come to us. Herein now, as it was before and it shall be in the hereafter, we find ourselves in a confused state of these two parallel lines. As I compose this, the trend has already commenced its corroding effect on our generation.
Yes, even now! The antagonistic spirit weighs its breath on our consciousness. Therefore, sit awhile! Hearken! Do not shuffle in your seats or screech your chairs with the noisy floors. Listen, it is the reigning spirit who speaks:
“Does anyone think that our generation would succeed in administering the antidote? Are we really projecting that no sooner had one of us borne these mantles than we’d see the desired changes take place – a transformation; a total reversal; a speedy rate of development; a restoration of values; a renaissance in our educational system; a meting of justice, a checkmating of malpractices or at least, a repercussionary mechanism to effect same? No! At least, I do not think so and I draw my conclusions from what I see around me.
However noble the idea that after the bagging of foreign degrees, one would return to the service of his/her nation, one must again, call to mind that dysfunctional wheel. Those who have sat at home all this while, nurturing dreams of a succession of power from godfathers to we, the sons and daughters, would ensure the status quo. The reformer-entrant, like those who returned in the 1960s would either be killed for being actively mad at the system, or would simply save their heads and return from whence they came. Of course, things would not take place as exactly as prescribed. There would be varieties.
Nonetheless, a generic similarity. There are those descendants of the prime elite (in all respects – educational and otherwise) from time immemorial who are just too arrogant to give a damn because their corners of the world are a little too cosy. And there are no indications whatsoever, that things would turn otherwise. When the time comes, there would be a powerful coalition between this class of the refined and knowledgeable, and the power-wielding imbeciles; for none can do without the other. Then our reign would commence for another 50 years or thereabout. Being that the challenges of our generation far supersedes that of those before us, the one with a good imagination should indulge it and watch tales of the cataclysmic effect.
The nagging spirit draws my mind to the perceived vainness of these posts. It asks, to what extent? And if without reach, then to what effect? But the mind resolves to pen and paper just for the record – just so it can be said, it was said. More importantly for that inner tranquility. Should the reader ever wonder on what grounds the writer stands, having expressed the hopelessness of the good effort, mark my response: the one who tries to turn the wheel on which he turns is like the lone soldier who finds himself overwhelmed by the monstrosity of the charging opposition. Yet, he draws sword and brandishes shield; braces himself and makes that last battle cry. He fights till the end. He is no fool!
(Image via NewInternationalist)