Monday, October 24, 2005

wahala dey

Just got back from a weekend in Lagos doing stuff for the Lagoslive website. I’d intended to come back on Saturday night – but Bibi persuaded me to make a weekend of it. So: a close shave with the old mortal coil. Meanwhile, we know quite a few people whose friends/colleagues died.

I wasn’t feeling too pukka on Sunday morning so I tuned into the local telly to catch up on the crash. Of course, the reality was there was better quality information coming from CNN and BBC news than most of the local content (but even then there were some data-wobbles: are they alive? Which state did the plane crash in?), however, the Nigerian stuff was better at unintentionally revealing some of the deep-seated problems over here. On NTA, the owambe-anchor ran out of prayers, so they wheeled on a pastor. He too ran quickly out of prayers, so they switched to a press conference with the Minister of Information (a man called Frank). He assured Yemi-public that all was ok and that the emergency services were on top of things. If a poll had been conducted at that precise moment, I’m sure 0.000001% of the population would have believed him (the 0.000001% being the left side of a grandmother’s brain as she lay sleeping in her Maduguiri compound). Then the MD or Chair of Bellview came on telling us all to ‘relax’. Unbelievable hutzpah. Well, it may force their company into bankruptcy (that and Virgin Nigeria nicking all their routes).

Even now, two days after the event, most media-heads are talking about being prayerful and equivalent spirit-level guff, when what needs to happen is a series of pointed questions directed at the govt aviation bodies and the local airlines:

- Is it wise to use 30+ year old aircraft in a country with no maintenance culture?
- Why did it take over 14 hours to find the bloody aircraft?
- How come the airline took hours to come up with a list of passenger names?
- Why did the village chief decide to “sleep on it” when the nearby village heard the loud noise (they didn’t investigate until the next morning)?
- Are the reports of scavengers stealing money etc true? If so, what does this say about the moral depravity that permeates this country?

More simply, a core problem in Nigeria is that people should stop being so fucking prayerful and get with the reality: there are masses of problems to be solved which praying will do bugger all to solve. Sunday really showed how fundamentalista religion in Nigeria is getting in the way of social transformation and is part of the problem at the moment, eroding people’s ability to respond rationally to crisis situations. As I told a bunch of pastors at a meeting the other day (rephrasing Herr Marx): evangelical Christianity in Nigeria is the crack-of-the-people. Needless to say, they weren’t too chuffed.

Then there’s Stella and her untimely demise in advance of her 60th next week: death-by-liposuction (or was it renal cirrhosis?) in Marbella, of all places. The reactions to the death are more interesting perhaps than the deflation itself. Ngige sent his condolences to Baba from Texas: he was midway through that time-honoured gubernatorial rite: the medical vacation. Nzikwe airport this ‘avvy was chokka of governor’s jets (all visiting El Presidente to pay their respects). The poshest one was the Rivers State plane (he's not just a suave dresser). Then there were shots on telly about Stella at a function in China, Stella in Kenya. RIP Stellar Stella: iya s’owambe.

Lots of other stuff to report from the Lagos jaunt, but I’m a bit fagged so this’ll have to do for now..


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