Monday, December 18, 2006


Nigeria can test anyone's mettle, and dampen the most exuberant spirits. Every layer of society is infected with strange forms of malaise; dis-ease is everywhere. If you live here, you better have a strong immune system (ethical and otherwise) or you'll quickly sink in one way or another. The local newspapers, awful products at the best of times, are now showing themselves to be the mechanisms of greed and disinformation that are their true colours. Almost all of the content is planted by some big men or other. The only stories that are not paid-in-full are of the schlock-horror variety: a bushy area near a busy road in Ikeja with where women are taken to be raped every night (torn underwear litters the scene); 20 people shot dead in eight separate armed robbery attacks on banks in Lagos in one day last week etc. If any one of these stories occurred in the West, there'd be inquests and analysis and endless discussion (witness the ongoing East Anglian prostitute murders). Here, as soon as they appear they are yesterday's tragedies and silently forgotten. One only hears police sirens in Nigeria when a big man is being carted from A to B - never would you hear the police rushing to the plight of an ordinary mortal.

Nigeria brutalises and is brutalised (just listen to the way many if not most Nigerians talk to their servants like master admonishing slave). It is like a post-conflict zone, without the conflict ever having taken place (or was slavery the original sin?). Humanity loses its humanity and perhaps even its animality in the process. Even in the brightest sunshine, the country seems to sit under a permanently stationed cloud of immorality and gluttonous impoverishment.

Nearby, the hand-choppers have been playing loud music through their loudspeaker all night (perhaps this is the initial prompt for my mild despair this morning). Most of the time, it is Northern/hausa music which would be interesting to listen to were it not so loud and so continuous. Bizarrely, they put on some dancehall/reggaeton music every now and again. Perhaps this is what their governor listens to on his pleasure trips to Sin City etc.

Talking of Big Men - all the gossip is of Odili or Godfather Uba taking the VP slot. They have ill-gotten gains enough to pay their way in, the trouble for both of them is that they are overly tainted material - the EFCC is strongly on the Rivers State governor's case (he'd have to dismantle the organisation immediately to have any peace), and Uba's role for Obj in his business dealings in the States would only lead to questions dogging him wherever he goes. On the other hand, Duke seems all of a sudden to be a spent force (but let's wait and see), which seems to leave Nnamani as the only remaining viable candidate.

But politics in Nigeria is as boring and tainted as it is in the UK right now. Quite what gives Blair the right to a final pontificatory ramble round the Middle East, with the cash-for-peerages row and the Saudi bribes-for-arms scandals is anyone's guess. Goods have rarely been so damaged.

I need to get away from the depravity of it all. Human beings are continuously disappointing, especially in Nigeria right now.


ijebuman 12:47 pm  

Damn that was a depressing read. As regards to getting away from it all, unless you're planning to top yourself there's hardly any escape from it.

Anonymous,  5:28 pm  

Jeremy, you're problem is that yo've allowed yourself to dream. It hurts twice as much when you dream and it's just another real life nightmare waiting for you when you wake up. You should maintain a constant state of cynicism and scepticism, so that in the remote snowball's chance in the Sahara that something good happens, you can let out a mild titter. Welcome to Nigeria.

Anonymous,  5:34 pm  

I suggest suicide, old boy.

funke,  6:36 pm  

I suppose it has to get to you sometimes, but I applaud you for perservering in your wife's homeland for so long.
You are right, Nigeria is brutal. It is a way of life, survival of the fittest and all that. The servant/master relationship if you can call it that is reminiscent of slave/slavemaster relationship you read about in history books. I have rarely seen a Nigerian treat their staff like equals, and I have certainly never seen their staff paid decent wages, given decent holiday time and benefits. Like most other places, the rich own and control the destinies of the poor because it makes their cosseted lives easier to live. It's just that more visible in Nigeria. I was brought up amongst wealthy Nigerians as a girl, but I've cut most of my relationships with them off in adult life, because I cannot stomach their selfish, self-serving, ostentatious way of life. I married a poor man, something my ex-girlfriends cannot comprehend. I do not have servants, again another sin in their eyes. I know in my heart I can never live in Nigeria again, this saddens me, but I can't turn a blind eye to the sheer desperation of the average Nigerian.

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