Monday, January 30, 2006

Dreaming of revolution..

Changing oneself can take a few seconds or may never happen at all, no matter how intense the reflective frustration. Changing societies involves an exponential increase in complexity. The rate of change for the good in Nigeria is still at present frustratingly slower than the rate of change for the ill. Worse still, I don’t see this equation changing very quickly. Prevailing attitudes are cynical, lazy, unethical, fast-buckish, out here in the Wild West. Meanwhile, other developing economies are getting their act together apace. The legacy of the black-hole years of military dictatorship is still bleeding scar tissue on the surface of the polity. Pus and gangrene congregates; the wound isn’t allowed to suture and to heal. There is still corruption from the very top to the bottom of society on a level that only a few other countries can match for sheer hutzpah (witness the gargantuan amounts of moolah Dariye extracted from the citizens of Plateau State). There is all-pervasive bad faith and self-delusion among the elite: everything is illusion, from religion to business to love. As long as you have a Benz and live in VGC you’re ok. Those in leadership are usually clueless, too old, too tainted by the past, unaware of technology, over-burdened by dependents, turned-on by their power and the freedoms of abuse over others it affords. It is testimony to the enduring (and utterly non-rational) power of social norms that the African duty to respect the elders continues when those elders have so utterly failed to build a nation.

My whinge (if it is that: I’d call it productive criticism) is that so few here take responsibility for their actions. Everything is outsourced to God. Nietzsche’s criticism that Christianity can involve an abdication of responsibility is surely correct in Nigeria’s case: everything (in the South at least) is deferred to Jesus (or to the Devil). Evangelical Christianity has become the crack of the people. Cold turkey and facing the realities of the task ahead for Project Nigeria is not going to be easy or pleasant. Slowly, the tide turns against the pastor-thieves.

The frustration is that we all know that countries can transform literally overnight. We all remember images of the Berlin Wall coming down, and more recently, of freezing nights in Kiev when the people demanded change and change came. How many dream like me of an overnight victory for Nigeria, when all the intelligent, ethical, passionate Nigerians out there in the diaspora decide to return en masse to take back their country? MM Airport swamped by people with funky hair and funky brains, re-taking each and every organization and institution one by one; homophobes and fascists and theological nutters retreating to the margins, as elsewhere.

All one can ever do is to continue to work toward change and hope for change. It might not come in our time, but it will come.


Grace,  11:04 pm  

Pus and gangrene congregate.....hilarious.

Ore 8:58 am  

I understand your feelings of frustration - totally. But I also do believe that big changes are on the way. Right now, changes may be relatively small, sub-terranean and so not yet evident.

People are coming back from the diaspora, bringing with them skills and knowledge acquired abroad. They are also bringing with them and starting to implement new ways of doing things.

A small, but significant example, would be the improvement in the quality of customer service in many places of business today. I have called-up or visited several companies where I was very impressed at how quickly and efficiently I was attended to by someone who was knowledgeable about their product or service. Yes, I do remember your post from yesterday, we know that innovations tend to appear in privately-owned businesses for whom keeping the customers happy, and thus making good profits, is key.

Yes, improving business processes is crucial and many companies are starting to understand that and act on that knowledge. Although it would be great to wait on the government to institute change (and we do need policy that supports economic and social development), I believe that changes really come from businesses and individuals.

becausechangeisinevitable 2:28 pm  

The seeds of the revolution are indeed germinating as we speak. If we have not noticed them, then that may be because we are looking in the wrong place. You see, this revolution will not be popular. This revolution will not driven by a proletariat, fed up with its cynical and duplicitous masters. Neither will it be characterized by mass protests, national strikes or a rainstorm of molotovs. No, this will be a quiet revolution – driven by the wonderfully antiseptic properties of transparency and truth.

Rumour is indeed a weak basis for revolutionary change. Not only, as someone suggested earlier, can it wound the blameless, more often than not it simply provides a cloak for the disingenuous. The perception that much of what we think we know is baseless allows the guilty to dismiss any accusation as the tittle-tattle of idle minds or “political enemies” (as our now not-so-fat-friend-from-Bayelsa would say).

A suugestion was made in an earlier blog that strengthening the media is the answer. Or, that alternative media, such as Teju and Jeremy’s blogs, can really catalyse change? Well, I guess I would agree… but only if they provide us with the right tools to turn ideas into action. We need hard data, facts, numbers, names as our weapons. So…. we believe that every member of the National Assembly is corrupt. But is this universally true? How do we really know this to be the case? We need information on names, amounts stolen, theft procedures and the like…. Admittedly, it is often difficult to get our hands on this info, but I believe that there are enough faceless consultants with access to sensitive information, willing to play their small role in smoking out each and every enemy of democracy.

ijebuman 6:57 pm  

"Everything is outsourced to God" unfortunately God doesn't do consultancy work. Sometimes i feel i'm the only Nigerian out here who doesn't buy into all this religious crap.If there are others out there please lets get together and free our people from 'religious bondage'.

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