Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream for Nigeria

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This is an adaptation of MLK II famous speech ‘I have a dream’ to fit the Nigerian situation.

I am not happy as I pen these words on the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s historic speech for freedom, as our nation Nigeria struggles to reach its potentials.

Five score years ago, a British colonist, in a symbolic show of political sagacity amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates creating the largest black nation in the world, Nigeria. This momentous decree was seen as a great beacon of light and hope to millions of Nigerians who had hitherto been a scattering of ethnicities.

But one hundred years later, the Nigerian is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Nigerian is still crippled by the manacles of nepotism and the chains of economic discrimination. One hundred years later, the Nigerian lives on a crowded island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity brought by the flow of black gold. One hundred years later, the common man is still languishing in the corners of the Nigerian society and finds himself a beggar in his own land. So I have come today to dramatize a shameful condition.

When the architects of our republic wrote the words of the constitution and Fani-Kayode moved for independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every Nigerian was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba as well as others, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, prosperity, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that Nigeria has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as the common man is concerned. Instead of honouring the sacred obligation, Nigeria has given the common man a bad cheque, a cheque which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this cheque – a cheque that will give us upon demand the riches of prosperity and the security of justice. We have to remind Nigeria of the fierce urgency of the now. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of poverty to the sunlit path of social justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the sand of nepotism to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

But there is something I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we will always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those asking, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Nigerian is a victim of insecurity. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Nigerian’s basic mobility is from the village to the ‘face me I face you.’ We can never be satisfied as long as our graduates are left floundering in the unemployment market for years. We cannot be satisfied as long as our votes are stolen in rigged elections. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Go back to Makurdi, go back to Aba, go back to Sapele, go back to Gusau, go back to Lokoja, go back to the savannas of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Nigerian spirit.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.”

I have a dream that one day on the Islands of Lagos, the sons of indigenes and the sons of non-indigenes will be able to sit down together on the table of true brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Borno, a state sweltering with the heat of insurgency, sweltering with the heat of terrorism, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their tribe but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, up in Abuja, with its many politicians, with its myriad politicking and manipulation; one day right there in Abuja the Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Efiks and others will join hands with Igalis, Ijaws, Urhobos, Tivs, Idomas and others as brothers and sisters.

I have a dream today.

 Twitter: @sirwebs

The Best Rejoinder to FFK

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“….the domination of Nigeria and Africa by the Igbo is only a matter of time.’’ – Charles D. Onyeama

 

In Chief Femi-Fani Kayode’s (otherwise more popularly known as FFK) asinine and bigoted rant at the Igbos he narrated so many things. As an Igbo, I want to place my rejoinder.

FFK seems to be know a lot of history but he doesn’t know this story, told severally across the River Niger about the confrontation between mammy water and Nnamdi Azikiwe. For the uninformed, Zik of Africa (FFK should note the Africa) and mammy water took out a bet on who will last longest when stuffed in a bottle. Zik took the first turn and went into the bottle. After a little while he signaled to the mermaid that he couldn’t hold his breath again and she opened the bottle. Smiling in anticipation of her impending victory she got ready to enter the bottle and gave Zik the keys to River Niger to hold. Once she ‘downsized’ into the bottle – not unlike a genie in a bottle –  Zik corked it tight, threw it into the Niger and walked away with the keys, the keys to the River Niger. The keys with which he could have used to open the floodgates to drown the Federal troops but for his magnanimity.

Chief FFK did not hear about the momentous trip of pre-independence Nigerian leaders to see Her Majesty in London. When Awo saw the golden cutlery used in the service, he pinched one when no one was looking and put it in his pocket. Only Zik saw the maneuver. So during the vote of thanks, Zik of Africa told the British delegation that he would perform a bit of African abracadabra for their delight. He will take a golden spoon and put in his own pocket and it will appear in Awo’s own. The Oyinbos were skeptical, but lo and behold when Zik put a golden spoon in his pocket and asked one of the hosts (not the Queen obviously) to check Awo’s pocket…….

FFK’s history teacher told him about Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams and Dr. Nathaniel King but conveniently forgot to tell him that Oluadah Equiano was Igbo and had written an autobiography in the 18th century. Stolen off the coast of Onitsha, the little Igbo boy showed classic Igbo enterprise and graft and became the first African author.

As I write this FFK has apologized for dropping the names of Bianca Ojukwu and the other delectable ladies in his diatribe. I want to say that Igbo men have for decades wondered how and why Bianca, the most beautiful girl in Nigeria, ignored all the young men and married someone old enough to be her father. She was reported to have no patience for young men. Now we know the source of her impatience with men nearer her age.

For you to successfully date an Igbo girl, you have to be smart, enterprising, confident and not stingy. For you to date three and flop, it is certain you are a ‘juu man’ as kids from my generation will say. Or as the whizkid generation will term it, “you have no swagger.”

 The Igbo live everywhere in Nigeria, build homesteads and businesses and like the Jews face hostility from indigenes because of their enterprise and prosperity. While some Igbos have gone as far as to try and prove common ancestry with the Jews, it is common knowledge that wherever you go in Nigeria and don’t see an Igbo man, you are best advised to flee. This includes FFK’s village.

The above piece is a journalistic  satire written in the tradition of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.

 @sirwebs

 

 

The Spy who loved Me

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In John Le Carre’s spy novels he illustrates the lives of spies as they grapple with the physical dangers and the moral qualms and ambiguities of espionage. Mostly set during the Cold War, Le Carre’s psychological thrillers are different from the swashbuckling, adrenaline-pumping, all action Bond ones, even though Le Carre’s spies and 007 are all engaged in Her Majesty’s Service.

The travails of Edward Snowden draw parallels with Le Carre’s characters and situations, and even though we live in a post Cold War era, countries still spy on each other and agents and double agents are still faced with the moral ambiguities that come with taking decisions or partaking in actions that hug the ethical borderlines and fly in the face of everything one knows. Like Ygritte was always wont to say, “You know nothing, John Snow.”

As Edward Snowden revealed, Big Brother is watching and listening and we might as well all be living in a matrix. In The Matrix by the former Wachowski ‘brothers’ (one has recently had a sex change) the government of the day (alien machines infact) are so plugged in that just expressing fear or surprise could set off alarm bells and alert the authorities. In today’s matrix, the NSA and Prism and GCHQ, and all the other acronyms are so plugged in they can flip on the microphone in your android phone, let alone mine meta-data. In Le Carre’s The Spy who came in from the Cold, the line between good and evil is blurred and agents cross back and forth over the ethical and moral divide all in a good day’s job.

So I ask the question, which character does Snowden think he is playing? Neo, the ‘one?’ – the anomaly if you’re agent Smith – or George Smiley, or Hans-Dieter Mundt, or the many spies that Le Carre has spawned and written off? Spies who come in from the cold are an enigma. One never knows whether to pity them or to rail against them. Spies who end up consorting with lawyers and foreign governments are supposed to be turn-coats and double agents. Yet another part screams, what the hell are these Western Powers doing, remotely controlling my latest android gizmo?

I don’t know what they teach in spy school, but I do know that Edward Snowden realizes that Russia is not Zion. Russia and the Kremlin are more like the Oracle in The Matrix, another form of control. Control, however, in John Le Carre’s sagas is a hard nut realist who plays the game ruthlessly, without qualms and emotions. He understands that no matter whose ox is gored, no matter the consequences, what matters is that his home government (London) win.

Le Carre, a real life spy whose cover was blown by a double agent in the 1960’s, paints this unrelenting portrait of spies: “What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs? They’re a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors, too, yes; pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play Cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives. Do you think they sit like monks in London, balancing the rights and wrongs? I’d have killed Mundt if I could, I hate his guts; but not now. It so happens that they need him. They need him so that the great moronic mass you admire can sleep soundly in their beds at night. They need him for the safety of ordinary, crummy people like you and me.”

Somebody find Snowden a copy of The Spy who came in from the Cold. He might need it to get past the cold Russian nights looming in the horizon. And flip off that shiny, mobile gadget. One never knows who could be listening in, old sport.

@sirwebs