Friday, November 07, 2008

The brutalism of everyday life..

I am at best, the most amateur student of Nigerian history. How could an outsider ever hope to master all but the tiniest slice of events, without putting in years of study?

However, it seems to me that the deeper significance of the Uzoma Okere beating earlier this week is the way it exposes the ongoing brutalism of everyday life in Nigeria, and specifically the normalisation of violence against women. Stripping a woman near naked, battering her, drawing blood, carrying around horse whips just-in-case someone gets in the way... where on earth did all this apalling barbarism come from?

Perhaps the roots lie way back in the colonial administration of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. I'm too much of a beginner to be able to see that far back. However, the most recent time horizon would seem to be the reign of Idiagbon and Buhari in the early 1980s. It was during their War Against Indiscipline (WAI) - no doubt motivated by the noble goal of curbing corruption and other 'sharp practices' - that military-style beatings of civilians in the street became commonplace and accepted. The news footage of those beatings is out there, if you wish to find it.

Whatever the complex of historical causes, it is clear that the wound of military rule in Nigeria still festers and is far from healing. Just as South-Africa went through the trauma of a Truth and Reconcilliation process, perhaps something along those lines is needed in Nigeria? Until then, it seems hard to work out how civic life can be given the guarantee it needs. When will citizens be able to walk or drive the streets of Lagos without fear of a random violent attack?


nneoma 12:42 am  

thanks for the insight, from another student of Nigerian history who is still a bit wet behind the ears. though I think the "normalisation of violence against women" most likely pre-dates the "war against indiscipline" and will probably take more than simply a national discussion on the issue.
despite the fact that we are indeed a democracy, I find that the latest spate of events (the Okere beatings, the Elendu and Asiwe detentions and the like) are vestiges of former military regimes that we have not agreed, on a national scale, to let go of.
the idea of a SA-style truth and reconciliation process is an interesting one, for i believe that the transition from military to democratic rule in Nigeria was probably just as hastily brought about as our independence from colonialism (correct me if i'm wrong here). though i think its difficult for us to come to the realization that our self-inflicted abuse is just as grave as apartheid which involved an easily identifiable "enemy."

Boosh 11:10 am  

Sorry, I'm not a believer in many of these movements to change things in Nigeria. The MO is to get all fired up the week something bad happens and then just allow the momentum to fade. This is why bad behaviuor continues. The perpetrators (Gosh, hate that word!) only have to lay low and they KNOW the fury and indignation will SOON blow over. I blame our enemies, our step mothers and maybe to a small extent, ourselves for not being able to maintain anything - cars, houses, protest movements, etc. Anyway, I add my voice for what its worth but will we still speak out tomorrow and next week? Or will usual kick in?

Beauty 11:47 am  

May I add that common acceptance of military-style beatings of civilians in the streets predates War Against Indiscipline by Major Gen Babatunde Idiagbon & Gen Mohammadu Buhari (Jan 84 - Aug 85). Lieutenant-Gen Olusegun Obasanjo probably ushered in the koboko mentality. When the Nigerian government asked Fela to participate in the Second World Black Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1976 -- Nigeria's attempt to be at the center of the African cultural world -- Fela rejected the invitation and instead held an alternative festival and released "Zombie".

Uncle Sege took it personal, the song was openly embraced by Nigerian youth, particularly on the streets of Lagos, who often bore the brunt of violence by the Nigerian army, furthering the embarrassment that Fela's initial rejection aroused. In response to the government's raiding of his alternative festival, Fela constructed a compound, surrounded by electrified barbed wire and a concrete wall and proclaimed it the Kalakutu Republic. 100s of soldiers raided Kalakuta with horsewip and Nepa wire, Sorrow, Blood and Tears was released by Fela to expose the brutality.

The Uzoma Okere ordeal is all over the web, and the state governor concerned is involved. Congratulations to all that made this happen and I am hopeful this education is the turning point in Nigeria's history of brutal existence.

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP