What’s the great trick? To know the stereotypes about other people yet treat each of them as an individual. Even when the stereotype proves itself right time and time again.
For me, it is an insistence that people are people, subject to flaws but also capable of the highest accomplishment. It’s hard sometimes. But that’s why it’s an insistence, isn’t it?
The Ijebu guy who cheated me cheated me, not all Ijebu people. The Igbo girl who jilted me jilted me, only she did. The Hausa chap who manipulated me over a commission did so, him alone.
I’m not saying we should be blind to ethnicity or nationalism or any categories. I don’t think that is possible. Even I have to catch myself on occasion. What I’m saying is we should not insist all individuals must square into these phoney boxes just so we can be “offended” and “angry” and feel better at not having given each of them a chance.
I’m from central Nigeria. This is our ethos. As I understand it. Rest of my countrypeople, can we not at least try this? Hard as it is but still try?
The hideous lies you’ve told about each other in the last weeks frightens me. Because I know these are informed by the worst examples. And that these slanders do not hold true for most people. Give each person a chance to err or to impress. Equally.
Ugo belu, egbe belu. As my new fried, Danda, would say, “He who feels what is good is not good for him should put his head in a mortar and see how he likes it.” This putting our head in a mortar, let’s not do it.
It’s #Kwibuka season here in Rwanda, in remembrance of the genocide twenty three years ago. The country shuts down to remember its dead, killed in one of the darkest periods of our continent’s history.
It’s a sombre, solemn period. It even rained this morning, as it did that April. A few years ago, I visited the Genocide Museum in #Kigali and afterwards, I sat and wept. I felt sad, connected, lost. Never again, we say, we desire, never again. I join all of Rwanda in the spirit of Kwibuka. #OneAfrica
Listen, we are holding on to the things that we desperately want to matter. But if suddenly those markers are taken away, the facades we build so crucial to our notions of civilization and sense of self, will crumble. And we will become what we are truly, not a whole lot no matter what we have done, believe we are, dreamed to be.
So, when someone holds a hand out to you, do not mock or think them weak and yourself strong and central and powerful. Such a person is only begging that you participate in a fiction by which you, yes you, will not be doomed and destroyed.
@SomiMusic, a Rwandan musician, released The Lagos Musical Salon, in 2014. It’s perhaps the most brilliant exploration of a city in music on this continent. Her subject was Lagos, Nigeria. Yet, how searingly her lyrics bare the Nigerian ethos, and its underlying sadness. The rivers are crying. Please enjoy a particular favorite track.
When River’s Cry
Feet crushing plastic
Moving windows tossing bottles dry
I can’t get past it
Waste and dust still choking road and sky
The trees remember days of plenty
Before rivers cried
Winds carry sorrow
While forgetful dreamers pass us by
No one stopping just to wonder why
Old men recall the kindness of the sun
Before the rivers cried
[The rivers tell a story of
God’s reign and glory
Pay homage to the land of those that came before me
The land of the mother and the first man discovered
Look overseas and see waters that are troubled
The bridge somewhere in the truth and the kids
Somewhere in the spirit of the kids the truth lives
I died many times many lives just to live again
Contemplating on where my life and river blends
I was ignorant to the earth and what we did to it
Never seek to find. Yeah, I hid from it
So when the rivers cried, I never felt the sentiment
Until the hurricanes – that’s when I caught wind of it
My Paps said the hurricanes was the ancestors
Reminding us of who we are and our transgressions
Lessons of the mother and the waves
I’m the sun reflecting the earth these days]
Green belts tug at the necks and bellies
Of our beasts and times
Flush with irony and oil mines
Eroding shorelines lap at memory
While the rivers cry
The state of international law and politics in West Africa now indicates just one thing: Don’t be a Jammeh.
If you want to be similar to a Jammeh, make sure you distinguish yourself from him in salient aspects–having regional friends or a bigger country and, of course, not holding elections and changing your mind afterwards at the unfortunate turn in history when ECOWAS is particularly serious about elections.
But, take my advice. Do not be the Jammeh in any condition. They will just use you as a line in CVs and a footnote for Academese grammar.
In all, I’m very pleased with the position of Nigeria in this matter even as I feel that mediation could have avoided the show of force. But even this show of force adds to the corpus of thinking around multipolarity and makes a strong case for regional blocs like ECOWAS. I like a West Africa in which Nigeria plays a strong role.
But we must also sort out our internal security while at it.