Its another cheery Monday, and therefore, a very fine time to throw punches at our cherished social norms. So, let’s start off with this insignificant news item from last Friday that still has many Nigerians mystified: the President paid a surprise visit to the Nigerian Police College in Ikeja, Lagos.
But, as the constant readers of this blog will tell you, we try not to take things at face value on this blog. Accordingly, we are intrigued that the President’s sudden visit to a long forgotten institution has to be—for want of a more appropriate term–-coded. There shouldn’t be anything to hide, really. But the nature of the visit, the suddenness of its occurrence, and the general distrust we have for our leaders suggest that the President’s visit has more to it that meets the eye. In fact, it must have involved a very very pressing matter.
Of course, the President must be worried sick about the consistent welfare of our beloved police force. We all are.. Worried sick, that is. But, however innocuous his visit was, the fact is that the simplest governmental gesture cannot be trusted. So, we cynically listen to Abati’s praise of the event and draw our own conclusions: maybe the President went for a private meeting, at best; or at worst, someone is angling to for a major police college contract.
This reasoning itself is a consequence of our government’s attitude towards information feedback and appraisal. To translate that into blog English: the government doesn’t give two fucks about letting the people know what it’s up to. Policies, activities, decisions: there’s always something, somewhere, left unaccounted and unsaid. Instead, we have plenty hidden agendas and public denials. Therefore it becomes hard to trust the government. Turn on the TV and listen to a public officer speak, and you just can’t be sure he is saying the honest truth.
But we have little time to waste on government talk today. It is generally agreed that our government is fucked-up. The real problem is this: a fucked-up government is merely a composition of fucked-up individuals who have emerged from a fucked-up society. The people whom we elect into government publicly feed us with the same kind of crap we like served to us, hot and steaming, in our own private lives.
We are quite comfortable with deception—either in the name of government policy or spiritual authority. We lie to others and other people lie to us. Hereabouts, we are all public saints. Oh yeah. Especially when it comes to morals. We are all fine religious folks: we abhor masturbation, reject foul language, condemn abortions, ban porn, criminalise homosexuality, censor Big Brother Africa shower scenes, strongly oppose nudity in the media, crucify pre-marital or extra-marital sex and lie through our teeth with a straight face.
We have all managed to consistently project the hypocrisy of being so good and nice and saintly and Christian, without vice or sin or blemish. We are so spiritual, the situation would be outright hilarious, if not for the social implications. Especially when the evidence around suggests we are not. And yet, we all know the truth: we love the nasties. So, here’s some unsolicited advice: instead of clinging stubbornly to a false spirituality, why not just embrace the reality of the sin?
That ability to say: “Yes, I did it” takes some magnificent balls, but it can go a long way to making your life more peaceful. Cut out the crap and let the world know what you are, a character quite separate from what you hope to be. Tell the world boldly that you’re not above natural human desires and instincts, including drinking inappropriate amounts at the local nightclub and spilling it out all over the toilet seat.
And this is the moral for today: honesty is refreshing for the mind. You have no one to fear when you are an honest sinner, you have everyone to fear when you are a dishonest saint. And when we are done removing our individual self-deceptions, then we can then take a broom to our shitty government and clean it out properly.
Unless, you’re not a Lagosian, or you’re a Lagosian who’s been sleeping off a 2 month hangover, you know what today’s post is all about. Right?
We’re talking about the newly signed law which is guaranteed to fuck up your undisciplined Nigerian attitude to traffic behaviour in more ways than one.
The big deal of the new traffic law include: a three year jail term for one-way offenders, a three year jail term for riding a motor cycle without crash helmet for rider and passenger, a 6 month imprisonment for driving with a fake number plate, and a three year jail term for one-way offenders. Oh, I said that last one before? Good, you’re paying attention.
Now, you may thank your stars that you don’t even have a car, “so whatever”, but, I’ll come to that later. For now, who here hasn’t gone wrongly on a one-way road in Lagos before? Either driving or being driven? Show of hands. No one? Nobody? I didn’t think so. You see, one-way roads in Lagos are like established men of God–you never see them coming. Whoever was in charge of crafting the one-way routes definitely has a sense of humour just barely above that of a foot-mat. Unless you know the route, every one-way snaps on you by surprise and you’re already in the waiting arms of the happy law enforcers before you even realise that anything is amiss. With the absence of signs, and the confused state of traffic, it takes high powers of divination to be able to spot a one-way road before you land in it. Unfortunately, few Lagosians can divine their own identity much less that of a side street.
The first six months of implementing the new law would then see almost all commercial drivers, and half of the private drivers sitting in jail, despairingly awaiting trial. “Damn, I’m almost late, let me take this shortcut.” is what you thought. Busted, is what happens next. You’re going to jail, man. In fact, it will become normal for people to leave home for work in the morning and call lawyers before 9 has even struck the a.m. The rate at which people would be getting arrested, everyday would be blowjob day for criminal lawyers.
Now, back to those who take solace in not driving cars. Ever heard of the word “accomplice”? Well, its a crime. Accessory before the fact, accessory after the fact, aiding and abetting. Whatever. You’re all going to jail with the driver. Look it up. Maybe, you told the driver to stop, maybe you warned him against taking the one-way road—well, you may get an acquittal in court—but meanwhile, your boss has sacked you for getting arrested in the first place. By the time your ordeal with the lawyers, police, LASTMA, court officials and the judge is over, you’ll be wishing you had HIV instead—at least they are not discriminated against.
And maybe you sent your friend a text message describing how to get to your house, and your friend follows your instruction, lands in a one-way road and gets arrested. Well, there’s good news for you! You can join him in jail for conspiracy to commit a felony! Isn’t that thoughtful? Look it up! Look it up! Now the two of you can simply get together in jail and plot even more dastardly crimes against society. Yeah?
Now, here’s the sweetest part of this whole legal stuff and shit. You don’t even have to commit the crime to get your ass in jail. An attempt is sufficient. You and your buddies, just chilling at the junction debating whether to take a one-way or not. Then someone says: “C’mon folks, let’s do this shit. Its just a one-way road!” and everybody says “Yeah”. That’s it. Game up. The law on attempts says that’s just as bad as doing the act itself. The police can bust your collective asses right there, and you all get the green card to jail without even enjoying that so sweeeeet one-way road ride. Look it up! Look it up! LOOK IT UP!
Meanwhile, with almost all of Lagos (including my humble self) nicely packed off into one prison cell or the other, we’ll have cleaner streets, saner roads, lesser or even no traffic…oh, wait, I see where you’re going with that, Gov. Fashola. Nice one. Nice one! Thumbs up, bro!
Today’s lesson begins with a flashback to pre-colonial Africa. For those of you who skipped secondary school history classes for bathroom sex, what is called Africa today was once a continent of several civilizations and empires. These empires and civilizations had fine standing armies, highly developed cultures, hypocritical religious creeds and even functional and corrupt bureaucracies–all without European intervention.
Well, those sneaky Europeans, having squandered their natural resources on inter-tribal warfare, decided to come and help themselves to some of the takeaway from the free-for-all party jam going on in Africa. First, they set up shop and started by trading for gold and other rich resources–when the profit and loss account didn’t satisfy them, they then moved to purchasing the people themselves. The Africans, nice folks that they were, obliged the Europeans. After a few centuries of, mostly, conflict free trade, it hit the Europeans that they were wasting valuable pounds and dollars buying human and natural resources when they could simply exchange their tenant status for that of a landlord and own everything: land, humans, and resources.
The Berlin Conference of 1884 gave birth to Europe’s follow-my-customs-or-eat-shit programme referred to in polite circles as “colonization”. But Africans weren’t taking any of that nonsense. It was one thing to trade, it was another to be governed. Across Africa, from Egypt to the Cape, the rallying cry was “Occupy!”. Well, not exactly. In fact, it was much more worse than any Occupy Protest.
As nice and commercially inclined as these pre-colonial Africans were, they were also fierce warriors and soldiers, defending their wives and property with the fury of a castrated celebrity porn-star. They honoured and even encouraged death on the battlefield (modern terrorists are mere copycats), and a woman who had lost sons or a husband to war was a proud one. Cowards were ostracized and anyone who was not prepared to die for his land was a bastard. But despite this solid patriotism, the Africans lost the wars for their land principally because of lesser firepower and the activity of the cowards and scoundrels among them.
While some Africans were busy physically fighting off and terrorizing the Europeans, others were preaching peace and acceptance of European customs and religions. These cowardly peacemakers were educated in European ways and history and given authority to govern their fellow Africans under the shadow of the established colonial government. Africans who kept fighting against the government and who tried to reclaim their land were killed off, exiled or locked up in jail.
In obedience to the laws of natural selection, the brave and stubborn ones died off with their brave and stubborn genes, while those who accepted European authority went on to become educated Christians or tolerated Muslims. And because whether cowardly or brave, people will always have sex, these cowards went on to reproduce their genes and today their descendants are spread across the country. Essentially, every post-colonial African today is a descendant of one of those cowards or scoundrels that refused to die rather than give up their authority. We are the sons (and daughters!) of cowards and scoundrels. Once in a while, though, remnant genes from the brave Africans show up.
Unfortunately, the now pervasive cowards-in-authority are always quick to wipe out such resurrections.