Thursday, November 10, 2005

State of Origin, public intellectuals etc.

Thanks for the book MW - I will surely pass it on to the poet while getting a sneak clean-fingered preview to boot. You spur me on ever further to learning your melifluous language. I'd wanted to go to the RKSW event last night but the South Bank Ticket Office woman told me it was Returns only - a long way to hobble only for the door to close in my face. I hope the event went well..

Public intellectuals: apply within
Thinking of KSW, Nigeria needs new public intellectuals to take over the tireless struggle of Soyinka and crew (they deserve to rest now and drink their palm wine and have their feet rubbed in peace) - perhaps some of the new forces were there last night? My friend Bolaji Risiji may be one of those to emerge onto a wider platform with his work with PRONACO and NNNGO.. but there needs to be many more sharpened tongues to point the way forward to social and ethical transformation in Motherland. With an economic boom coming next year post bank-consolidation, Nigeria doesnt want to go the way of China: economic growth + suppression of democracy - a recipe for disaster in the long term.

A theatrical proposal
Someone should write a morality-tale about the people of Lisa and the Bellview crash - doesnt it remind you of an Attic or Shakespearean tragedy: the fall of the Elder who orchestrated the looting of watches etc from body parts on that night; the way in which the police were alerted (only on account of a fall-out between villagers on who deserved what amount of stolen booty) and now the N1000 each villager has been forced to pay to avoid confrontation with the angry ghosts whose watches and money were pilfered). This is prime source material for dramatisation - reflecting back the moral depravity at work even in a rural Nigerian setting (rural Nigeria, as in Dele Olojede's speech, is often taken to be free of urban moral decay). Its time a dramaturgical mirror was help up on contemporary Nigeria, instead of relying on plays from twenty or so years ago. Only then perhaps will people be shocked into moral transformation and away from religious hypocrisy. Someone start writing now!

More on the constitution: State of Origin
Musing through the Ng constitution again, it strikes me you can argue that the divisive and pernicious State of Origin regulation (whereby legal proof of identity is traced back through the father's line - such that if you ask a Nigerian where they are from, they are conditioned to respond by saying that they are from wherever their father or grandfather is from, regardless of where they grew up) is actually unconstitutional, if you take section 15 in its entirety.

Although only passed into law in the 1970s, the State of Origin rule is now second nature to most Nigerians. It acts as a barrier to a more unified country with intermingling of ethnicities. Surely it must be challenged by PRONACO - it lies underneath all discussion about resource control etc as a key divisive factor. Here's an example to illustrate how it works: When my host Mr Badejo grew up (pre State of Origin) in Kaduna (as a yoruba boy), he had no sense of being different to the other boys he played with: all shared a Northern culture; all spoke Hausa (and other languages). His youthful equivalent today, thanks to State of Origin, would not be permitted to say "I am from Kaduna" - he would have to say "I am from Osogbo" (or wherever the father's line is traced back to). In this way, a common cultural heritage based around a common regionalised background is denied. It is against this legal backdrop that violent clashes between "settlers" and "indigenes" can flare up.


Anonymous,  10:01 pm  

[from a friend in New York]

Black Box

In twos and threes
people emerge from the forest at Lissa
and poke at the debris with sticks.
Smoke slicks around a silver wing.
The spirits continue to gossip.

Our ancestors
are keeping watch in the darkness,
sweeping the compound,
adjusting the video cassette recorder,
doing altogether less
than we or they had hoped.

A young couple, their limbs
smashed together, are united for eternity.
The black box is all information
and no secrets. Where are the secrets?
The spirits of the unborn
stand around the landing gear,
hands in their holey pockets.

Anonymous,  9:30 pm  

Please accept my

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