Frankly, we don’t care much about the political skulduggery that parades up on down the pages of Nigerian newspapers because, fuck politics, that’s why. Most of what you see is the same old news: ass licking, back stabbing and fifty shades of public masturbation. Even more importantly, there are world-shaking current events that requires our immediate attention, if not even outright demonstrations.
But, now and then, some gem of an ironic cock-up comes along, grabs you by the throat and tickles you hard in the ribs till you want to seize your office-issued laptop and throw it across the room in annoyance.(Which would be totally cool if you tried it right now.)
Now, this particular issue isn’t a shiny new story, it’s the same old crap, with a touched up tissue paper. And no, it isn’t the particular scandal you’re thinking: you know, that pile of wank about the Sanusi-Boko Haram conspiracy theory; that story circulated (allegedly, allegedly—this is for the damn lawyers) by a presidential aide who has to be the most interesting man in the Nigerian social media circle right now.
We’ll get back to Sanusi. But, for now, let’s focus on the ringleader of the president’s batshit crazy media circus, our erstwhile tutor and rebel leader, Mr Reuben Abati. See, back in 2009, before the mischievous gods took a hand in his affairs, Abati wrote this thoughtful article where he advised Nigerians to reflect before celebrating independence anniversaries. Not one to be intimidated by a few lines of hyperbole, Abati proclaimed that: “The world is passing us by. At 49, we are a nation of malcontents. When last did anyone tell a happy national story made on Nigerian soil?”
A fair enough observation, especially from a bright and hardworking intellectual who had had to face the hard knocks of working class reality in a country consistently administered by rouges since 1914. Life as an everyday Nigerian isn’t sexy–and damned if Reuben Abati didn’t know that shit. There was nothing to celebrate in 2009, and he looked ahead to proclaim that there was nothing to celebrate in 2010–and by extension, 2014. But Abati, hot and brilliant writer that he was, sucked hard in the prophecy department, for, as we all know, his personal life became a happy national story. The deadbeat jalopy gave way to presidential jets, and our previously angry discontent turned into a contented philosopher.
So, great, Abati discovered financial orgasm and renounced his activism. But the hunger-inspired words he wrote some four years ago still require some serious consideration. Especially after the Sanusi debacle. Especially after the Boko Haram debacle. Especially now that our government has gone bonkers with a centenary celebration which good old Soyinka frankly refers to as a “canonisation of terror“.
Of course, hard as his PR team may try to deny it, we all know that President Jonathan is quite the connoisseur of wine, women and the good life. Which are all fine things for the modern gentleman. But with a terrorist takeover of the North East, allegations of financial misconduct, and several other shenanigans, the dude needs to connect with the current atmosphere of the country—and then, you know, maybe take a break from one or two delicious female members of the cabinet.
We don’t begrudge celebrations. But the current socio-political mood is just as important as a sense of history, and neither of the these two point to the need for a jamboree today. Think of this: Abati wrote years ago that there was nothing worth celebrating; Sanusi, former member of that same government, says things are even worse than they were years ago. But Sanusi is what happens when you have an activist in the government, and Abati is what happens when you have the government in an activist. Somewhere in between these two is some common sense, but common sense doesn’t receive centenary awards. And if you still don’t get the point, then get the fuck outta this blog.
The funny news is this: this Sunday morning in Lagos, President Jonathan genuinely baffled us with the statement that, without the backup activity of prayer warriors, Nigeria’s security status would have been even more screwed up than it currently is. Now, we know that you, our readers, are prayer-addicts and good luck—no pun—with that! But when a democratically elected President makes such a statement on public safety, you have to—as they say in England—shine your eyes well-well. Although, on the bright side: at least you know the President has a security plan in place.
Now, reliance on prayer is not so shabby a security blueprint, (although we consider it totally ass-fucked), considering that it seems to work well enough for the Vatican. The problem is, while the Vatican has Angel Michael on speed dial, someone in the Ministry of Defense forgot to obtain VIP pass for final approval from God—or whatever witchery you have to perform to get your prayers working—for, no sooner had the President finished his statement than Boko Haram flipped him a finger and pulled another dick move—in what has to be the most astonishing case of conflicting reliance on divine instructions.
Now, of course, Boko Haram isn’t a new issue in the country. In fact, every well bred Nigerian—unlike us—knows that a situation stops being a “pressing issue” after three days of non-resolution by the government. And, after two weeks it stops being an issue altogether. And accordingly, the most successful public policy of Nigerian governments has been: “Hang on guys, let’s allow this one to blow off by itself.” And if the particular public official ranks high on the asshole scale—they may even pass it off as an unsolvable spiritual problem.
Common sense says Boko Haram isn’t going to blow off by itself, and an offering-load of prayers will not resurrect one dead victim. But this is Nigeria, and we love to screw around with vital situations, and that’s why the government is committed to investing prayer into public issues—and that’s why religious leaders have tried to re-brand the president as some Old Testament king.
And as long as the Nigerian government continue to muddle personal spiritual issues with public policy issues they will continue to screw the job they are given. But, naturally, the government has always responded to social criticism by mistaking unhappiness with discontent: but Nigerians are not merely discontent with the half-assed attitude a government that relies on magic—miracles, if you wish—they are truly unhappy about it.
But GEJ is a sly dog. Instead of facing his critics on the continued Boko Haram insurgency, it is plain easier for him to file the problem away as a “God vs Satan” affair, and leave Oritsejafor and his book club members to sort it out. Afterall, no “sane” Nigerian really expects Goodluck Jonathan, Mortal, to do all the work when it comes to waging war against the damn Devil.
And when the majority of Nigerians are wired to think this way, then the government wins the lottery. And here’s the lesson for today: the Nigerian government counts on your approval to a spiritual argument. Even more, it counts on your inability to detect when your brain is being messed with. You see, GEJ isn’t just appreciative of your prayers, he’s also appreciative of your tendency to forget the underlying issues by the time you are done reading this line.
We apologise to our long-suffering readers. We’ve been away for too long that we have no idea how to craft an appropriate apologies without sounding like clingy, readership needing, page-view counting blog. Which we totally are. But you see, the Nigeria’s madhouse effect is gradually beginning to reflect on our carefully maintained schedules and we’re also going topsy-turvy. Really, there’s been lots of fun activities going around in the past few weeks. It’s a combination of : million dollar rewards, romance in the banks, wars and rumours of wars, killing of the gays, and the most important of all—Big Brother Africa.
But of course, it’s no real concern to you what assholes are waging wars, and which farmer’s ox is gored as long as you continue to have your three square meals and DSTV subscriptions. After all, life is short and fleeting, and the essence of getting up at unholy hours and going to bed at unholier hours, commuting to work with the suffering of a martyr, is to be able to be as happy as as practicable in this up and down world. that agreed, why then do folks get all riled up over issues that, when all the cards are down, neither takes a morsel of food nor cancels their right to watch that sweet African Magic?
And this brings us to the story of Lilliput (and Blefuscu–which is unimportant) and the issue of the Lilliputian Big-Enders and Small-Enders. These names would sound familiar to those of you who actually sat up to listen to the boring drone of that damned literature teacher (we will pray for your wasted childhood) instead of fantasizing over the potential response to the love letter hastily scrawled on a sheet of 2A Onward Big Exercise Book.
But back to literature class, the aforesaid Lilliput and Blefuscu were two neighboring island “kingdoms” in Jonathan Swifts book, Gulliver’s Travels. (Insert appropriate expression of recognition here.) Now, Lilliput had been at war with Blefuscu for a while, principally because the trouble seeking Blefuscu encouraged and supported some errant Lilliputians who had refused to toe the generally accepted beliefs of Lilliput. You see, it is a religious belief of Lilliput that a boiled egg (yep, religion does talk about food) should be broken “at the convenient end” before it is eaten, so the scripture said. Traditionally, “convenient end” had been interpreted as the “big” end of the egg—until some folks decided it actually meant the “small” end of the egg. The Small-Enders eventually converted most people to this religious thinking and gained the rulership of the kingdom. But some die-hard Big-Enders, now the minority, would have none of that shit. They got reinforcement from Blefuscu and a series of religious civil war began in which “…one Emperor lost his life, and another his crown.” Yeah, it was that bloody, they took that egg-breaking business very seriously.
But you see, it’s easy to make light of this story when you are unable to apply it to current realities. There are lots of Big-End and Small-End issues that cause unnecessary friction in real, everyday life. Of course, it is proper to hold a belief and stick to it, but it is improper to force that belief on others. Even more improper: taking violence or the threat of violence in order to force that belief on others. Because, as someone said, beliefs are like big swinging dicks—it’s good to have one, but bad to wave it in someone’s face. Only a club, tribe, cult and other exclusive societies requires that everybody must maintain the same beliefs. But in a complicated, admittedly fucked-up world, such as we have today, beliefs have gotten to complicated and numerous that everyone had better share the damned space together or simply blow up the world in the process of determining which belief will survive and which one must die.
And that’s the lesson for today, folks: the world doesn’t belong to anybody. You meet stuff here, you’ll leave stuff here. And all the stuff you think you’ve built up forever can be blown off in the puff of a madman’s nuclear bomb in a part of the world you didn’t even know exists. But as long as you’ve got to share this tiny portion of Space with other people, history has proven that any attempt by any majority to dominate a minority for the purpose of forcing everyone to behave in a particular direction always results in disastrous consequences. So you see, it boils down to everyone having a peace out or everyone having a piss out.
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Hello again, folks! Its a new month, April Fool’s day, a holiday and yes, despite all evidence to the contrary—at least in this part of the world where we are consistently spiritually fastidious—it’s a Monday!
And while there are better ways to celebrate such a rare day—the best of which we think is to lie in bed all day—we have decided to take some time off our lazy schedule and cook you up your regular Monday dish. Consider this our Easter Message to you—but more on that later. First of all, let’s take a quick look at the idea of conspiracy theories—aka “I’m totally nuts” mentality. You know, that idea that someone somewhere is actually running the show for you.
We all have that friend—except if that person is you—whose neck we want to wring whenever a debate starts. The one friend that doesn’t take issues at face value but believes that there’s always a secret agenda, by a secret group of people, to control the ups and downs of social interaction. Try to explain to this friend that, for example, the value of the Naira is falling because of unstable Central Bank monetary policies, and he or she will argue that actually, it is the Intergalactic Confederation of Biafra that is trying to destroy the Nigerian economy.
Of course, there are some kick-ass situations that have once been regarded as outlandish conspiracy theories, but before you reach the conclusion that fiction is actually fact, a little scientific principle called Occam’s Razor should have been set in place. Occam’s Razor, to explain it as simply as possible, advises that in solving a problem, the simplest explanation is usually the right one, and that, you should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.
And that’s how you do it in everyday problem solving and activity—starting with the most simple explanation: from basic problems such as deciding whether to ignore the sound of a door opening in the middle of the night or bringing out your shotgun and firing wildly to solving complex socio-political problems—such as the vexatious Boko Haram issue—and this brings us to Goodluck Jonathan’s and the Easter message.
If you were sensible enough not to bother about the goodwill message, permit us to intrude upon your blissful ignorance through this link. And for those of you who still can’t be bothered, the gist of the message is that we should love one another and not allow terrorists to destroy our unity—-very basic stuff, really. But in the midst of these yawn inspiring exhortations, an insightful inkling into the mindset of the president slips out. He tells us whom he thinks is responsible for the crisis in the North.
As far as the president is concerned, the Boko Haram issue is not a local problem—it’s a global problem, far bigger than the domestic concerns of Nigeria. In fact, there is little or nothing Nigerians can do about this problem except suck-up to God in fervent prayer, while hoping that the “global terrorists” will have the decency to leave us in peace and go bully someone their own size.
And that’s the lure of conspiracy theories—it allows you to be lazy and indulge in wishful thinking. Even worse, it encourages you to think that whatever failures you have are not your fault—but the fault of some other factors; ignoring the fact that some other person was successful despite the presence of those same factors.
There are no global terrorists plaguing our country: Boko Haram is a mash-up of bad policies, religious illiteracy and political ambitions, and someone has to explain that to GEJ. Meanwhile, here’s the proper Easter message for today: troubles cannot be wished away by referencing some external controlling agent. If you cannot tackle the issues that you face with proper diligence, then you will continue to suffer. Stand up and go kick that “cabal” in the ass—or die trying. Just sitting around, moping about your circumstances will achieve absolutely jack shit.
Today, as tempting as that discourse is, we will say nothing referencing Goodluck Jonathan’s “media chat” yesterday. No, we will not go down that road. We will say nothing about the “subsidy” removal, or the Boko Haram “dialogue”, or the inter-state expressway contracts. We will, however, briefly mention our agreement with Mr. Jonathan when he said: “It is dangerous for this country if PDP should win all the states.” That aside, I am sure the saner readers of this blog have brutally murdered all the fucks they had for Mr Jonathan and his media chats. In any case, we all have more important things to do this morning.
That’s why, instead, we will take time of to commiserate with our ill-used Christian brothers and sisters who manage to endure crazy Sundays in Lagos—and certainly in other parts of Nigeria too. And by “crazy”, I mean the sight of tired, almost bedraggled, Christians, lining the bus-stops from Epe to Sango to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, slowly baking under the sun, while their so-called shepherds, the “pastors”, drive past in nice air-conditioned cars. And sometimes, in a convoy of nice air-conditioned cars.
You would think by now, over 30 years after Fela sang about religious leaders boolsheeting their way to a life of luxury on earth, Christians, especially the Pentecostal ones, would have cottoned on to the mind-fuck of a religious scam. But noo! They had to go ahead and donate money for a private jet while most families paraded in motorised rickshaws and motorcycles. Fela would gladly stick the pointy end of his sax up their collective butts if that would let them get his point. Almost all Pentecostal churches in the country follow this pattern of neglecting the poor and donating to already wealthy pastors. If that’s not a confusing mind-fuck, then nothing else is.
Well, again, these materialistic pastors are not only to blame, their materialistic, divine intervention prone, miracle seeking, prophecy motivated congregation can be faulted too. Only greedy people are victims of a scam. And when you believe that your faith in God should be measured in Naira and Kobo, then you will only end up making your pastor incredibly wealthy.
Fela may be a moral scumbag, but he understands the Sermon on the Mount more than most Christians. It is the duty of the shepherd to feed the flock—and not just with spiritual boolsheet. Jesus fed the Five Thousand with some hardcore bread and fish. A modern pastor would have carried the original basket home to feed himself instead. On the fair side, though, Jesus was an ass-kicking Son of God, or maybe even the first incarnation of Superman; while these pastor folks are hungry humans also looking for a life of ease and a sizable pension. In fact, pastors and bankers have come a long way from the days when Jesus whipped the money-changers out of the temple.
Let’s cut to the chase here. If you were idle enough to check out the links above, you’d have seen from good ol’ Wikipedia that the word “pastor” is derived from the Latin for “shepherd”. And that’s the lesson for today: there is no moral justification for any pastor to be well fed while any single member of his congregation is hungry. There is no moral position for a pastor to transport in comfort while any single member of the congregation treks. As long as any single member of the congregation is unclothed, no pastor has a right to wear the best clothes—and the same goes for shelter, and other basics. Any single member. Its a high standard, but that’s why pastoring is not meant for just any imaginative Tom, Dick and Harry with a good command of English and a scrappy knowledge of the gospels. Pastoring is for people willing to suffer, and suffer hard, for the sake of others.
Well, as Mr. Jonathan could have told you in his media chat yesterday, if you’d bothered to watch: it is easier for a pastor to purchase a private jet than for a common man to travel on the Benin-Ore Road.
P.S. Sorry, I told you it was tempting.