By Kole Omotoso. Originally published on guardian.ng
E jawo ninu apon ti ko yo!
E lo gb’omi ‘la kana!
Desist from the pursuit of a blind alley!
Follow the path of humane possibilities!
Two years of travelling through the country by road, by foot, by air (both private and public jets) by waterways and by rail, Alaba and Trouble came to the conclusion that sanity as defined by Nigeria and Nigerians is wrong. Sanity is not coming to terms to whatever exists, “managing” to survive as Nigerians call it. Our Economics, our politics, our Spiritual life and our social life are all insane. Nigeria is insane.
There is nothing sane in managing to adjust/survive in this insane country. Over the years Nigeria and Nigerians have “fashioned ourselves to be appealing products on the personality market, becoming no more than objects for sale to others. ‘I am as you want me to be’ is our personal creed and our work, our social life, our family life all are disconnected and increasingly unrelated to us in other than materialistic ways.” So, the world no longer wants oil? Well, we have other selves we can sell to the world. We can sell our solid minerals, we can sell our cocoa and palm oil, we can even sell ourselves and our babies, please come and buy us! We can discount our humanities as well!!!
The Nigerian is loud, boastful, arrogant, pompous, rascally, impatient, discontented, greedy and vain. And above all, the Nigerian is selfish and inconsiderate of the rights and privileges of others. The place that best demonstrates this selfishness is the motorways. Here is the field of our folly. Where there are dual carriageways, vehicles drive in both directions on both ways.
Those who brought about the idea of dual carriage ways did it so that going and coming would be exactly that, not coming and going, going and coming on both sides leading to the same jam-jam of the single lane motor way. And should the way be the single way, then multiplications of the road take place and where there were perhaps road for two vehicles side by side, six vehicles attempt to fit. Instantly, they occupy all the road/room that is possible, facing one direction. From the other side, the same thing happens and in no time, standstill results. From henceforth, the management of insanity commences.
Meanwhile, as part of that management of insanity, road blocks exist manned by the police, manned by the army, manned by the customs, manned by the road safety, manned by drug security outfit, road blocks supposed to help the road to unblock. The management of insanity dictates its own logic. Those to help the unblocking of the jams are not where they should be. Hence, they compound the blockage by adding their own roadblocks. And the vehicles do not bother to stop, merely tossing fifty naira and hundred naira notes to the police or soldier or whoever stands between the vehicle and the continuity of the uneven road. Our Economics is insane but we continue to manage.
We consume what we do not produce and produce what we do not consume. But this is a healthy situation considered fifty years ago as a critique of colonial capitalism. Today, we not only consume the left overs of what others have consumed, we no longer produce anything in exchange for the left overs that we buy and relish. The left overs of others have become our breakfast, lunch and dinner. What enriches others makes us poor! This is because production was once thought to be the main means of prosperity. Then, it was discovered that consumption could also lead to local prosperity. But it must be the consumption of wholesome products of our shores and other places.
Our politics is insane. Naming and renaming provides all the change that we seek. With that we ride forth into the fray as if we are clad in invincible armour whereas all we have is mere pure water plastic sachet. It does not provide a management armour for what we need to do. Our politics pursues the management logic of insanity and who was yesterday was impure, today is an angel and goes forth claiming the mantle of all the prophets and saints of old. But they are ineffectual. The management of insanity makes them ineffectual.
Our spiritual life is insane. First of all, it is suffused with an insane familiarity with God, and an assumption of relatedness to the Godhead that breeds a lack of respect of what God represents. God is not our Daddy, God forbid! Seeing what we have made of our daddies and mommies in Nigeria, it is insane to talk of God as daddy, living in our house and doing for us what we should be doing for ourselves. God is the totality and finality of all that can be best in our lives and in our hereafter. God is not the limited impossibilities of our daddies and mommies. God is a spirit and those that worship must worship in spirit and in truth. We have no right to communize God and the Godhead. We must return to the path of sanity in our spiritual matters.
Our social life is insane. We are a society of utter poverty parading, no, showcasing our poverty as wealth, strutting our royal fathers and mothers, displaying mud huts as palaces and mere uncultivated farmlands as imperial holdings! What sham! What idiocy! Crowns made of straw hats! Beads made in China or Taiwan! Titles manufactured over the internet! Perhaps somewhere in our inner self we suspect an inadequacy. Somewhere in our inner self we are conscious of our possibilities but unaware of our limitations, of the things, countable, that make it impossible for us to achieve our goals, let’s dwell on these things. As we go in search of the other Nigeria/n let’s think of those who encourage sharing, not those who eat everything and make it impossible for the game (opon ayo) to go on. Sharing is life – ajoje l’odun!