Saturday, October 29, 2005

epiphany's like wadi in the desert...

you know when you have a moment of insight, then when you verbalise it back to yourself it sounds a bit lame? Then you struggle to dignify the thought, embellish it with posh words etc. Well, I had something like that earlier today about Ng - but I still think there's something to it:

at the moment, Nigeria's sheer diversity (the most diverse country linguistically and ethnically on the continent) is its weakness. But if you think from a systems perspective, or a genetic perspective, or an ecological perspective, diversity is usually a marker of strength. We all know what happens when the gene pool is restricted..

So many different patterns of thought suggest that one of the qualities of the necessary fiction that is Nigeria is not being revealed as such. The question is: what stands in the way of Nigeria prospering from its diversity?

A major part of the answer to this must come from the extractive curse of oil. Ethnic conflict is a deliberate foil to hide a simple appropriative dynamic: only a small few have access to rent from oil. In order to maintain this exclusivity, various ethnic groups are set against each other - historically with support from the oil companies (with various well known intelligence agencies also probably playing a role).

So moving the economy away from an over-reliance on oil is crucial. It is positive to note that the economy should start to do this with a consolidated banking sector sometime next year (lots of enterprising unemployed bankers, banks needing to invest in new businesses to satisfy their increased shareholder base etc etc). Larger more stable banks will also attract fdi.

But there's a narrative level which needs to be addressed outside of fiscal/monetary transformation. At the moment, the tedious hausa-igbo-yoruba tittle tattle is usually constructed from a negative or cynical perspective. Just imagine if these triadic yoyo stories were told from a positive perspective: celebrating Fela when talking about the yoruba (or celebrating some of the fabulous yoruba pantheon stories); celebrating the creative industriousness of igbo culture (and its intellectual traditions); celebrating the links hausa culture has across many thousands of miles of West Africa all the way to Senegal...

Change comes when we begin to change our perceptions of the world. Its easy to say Abuja is a boring place full of wannabee contractors, corrupt civil servants and politicians on the make. But that's a cynical perspective. There are many progressive civil servants moving in; there are many politicians who are increasingly demanding change; and its harder and harder to avoid due process. And Abuja is beautiful: Aso Rock is an inspiration - everyday it shows a different face. The landscape around FCT is gorgeous - primeval igneous lumps dotting the landscape, beautiful birdsong; pre-modern people living alongside post-modern people.

So, without sounding like a dopehead, I think its time to start embracing the beauties hidden inside this land, and embracing difference outside of the stupid stories that circulate..


uknaija 4:40 pm  

That's right,'s loving that crazy, maddening complexity that's the key....

barka de Sallah

the flying monkeys 11:51 pm  

What stands in the way of Nigeria prospering from its diversity?

The founders of Nigeria (a misnomer) are the ones with the problem, they are the ones who handed down this monolith, and as long as we continue to follow them blindly, we will continue to delay our greatness. At the time of its founding, did they (its founders) understand the ideology of the inhabitants (West Africans) of that sphere (Nigeria)? Consider the fact that the founders (the British) who also live in a pluralistic society, are practising a religion (Christianity) which to my mind promotes intolerance, a religion that does not respect others beliefs.

But if you consider the philosophy of the Yoruba (they need no introduction) people for example, i.e. their religion (before it was corrupted), the truths upon which it is founded and the teachings that are the foundations of this religion are to be found in the proverbs and stories of the 16 and Ifa divination systems. The proverbs and stories are teachings about the nature of the world and what our (human beings) purpose is here in the world. It teaches good virtue and character i.e. in one of the verses Ogbe'ate, you will learn that “we cannot use evil to secure goods and expect them to be anchored firmly”. Equally, that “even if the beginning of wrongdoing is pleasant, the end of wickedness will not be good.." There are other verses, including Oyeku Oshe which sets out that “let the corrupt go home to receive new character so they may return to the world”.

Now tell me, if practiced in Nigeria or any other pluralistic society (including the UK), whether such a religion (of the Yoruba’s) will bring friction or hostility? A religion that preaches tolerance. According to Wole Soyinka, the Yoruba Gods are the very embodiment of tolerance!!

What Nigeria needs is a new name and refinement of its ideology.

I would advocate theocracy.

PS: As an aside, we should be proud of our culture and traditions. For example, in the Uk today they celebrated a mordern Celtic tradition, Halloween, which can be traced back to 2000 years and a time when Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter. To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP