All over the world, condemnation has left the dictionary to refute the inimical act by South Africans against foreigners in their country christened xenophobia. Since a fortnight, Nigerians have been awash with retaliatory statements. Some say businesses owned by South Africans in Nigeria should be confiscated. Others say things similar to arbitrariness. These persons no doubt were entitled to their views, but do their views go with Democratic tenets?
Telling President Muhammadu Buhari to do this or that to South Africans tantamount to the same street mob urchins in South Africa have perfected. Giving Buhari such a blueprint means that these Nigerians are in support of the undemocratic features of the president recorded here and there in his cause of governance.
What happened in South Africa was too unfriendly, where about 10 persons were reportedly killed and billions of dollars businesses destroyed. Albeit, the Nigerian government should not be quick to anger without following diplomatic due process. The Nigerian government should avoid reducing itself to the level of what the blindfolded South Africans did. They knew nothing other than destruction, of which most of those involved in the act in pictures spreading around looked kwashiorkored and drug-ridden.
The in-thing should be the government here redressing the many internal squabbles here and there in Nigeria. One is the issue of Fulani herdsmen, Bandits and nepotism across the country. With these addressed, the Nigerian government would be sending a message out to the world that Nigerians value human lives and have respect for human dignity. These bad eggs in Nigeria can’t be having a field day in their killing expertise and Nigeria wants other countries to respect her nationals resident in their respective countries.
If Nigeria should bend to pressure to deal with South Africans and their businesses in Nigeria without first setting the Democratic compass very well, it means that Fulani cows that continue to damage people’s farms across the country upon public outcry against the impunity of the Fulani in the respective states across the country should be confiscated by such states. Let Nigeria get one thing right before the other. With that, she would be telling outside world that a section of her people have stopped destroying lives and property in Nigeria, like their uncivil counterparts in South Africa.
The recurring dislike-of-foreigners in South Africa by South Africans especially against Africans from other countries resident there is too bad an act. But if we look beyond this dastardly act, we could see through history a time there was Industrial Revolution, World Wars, Cold War, among others. While we condemn xenophobia in more than strong terms, these inhumane exercises, no matter the name given to them, are not alien even in Nigeria, other parts of the continent, among citizens in the same country; and it may drag beyond human comprehension.
For instance, there was a hate exercise in Rwanda between brothers that was globally characterized by genocide. The Germans once had a toll on Jews. There have been intermittent killings of people in their communities across the country by supposed Fulani militia. Just name them.
In many families in our clime today, siblings of the same parentage hate each other for some reasons that do not meet the eyes, or meet the eyes. There is acrimony everywhere. It all boils down to love for materialism.
Man has hated his spiritual self for bogus lifestyle and has eschewed his innate humanity. These killings are just a tip of the grip of nuisance against family ties and ethos we sheepishly lost. These killings started from the lost of our aboriginal self. The later was where and when the Laws of the Land were supreme to the Laws of Self. Today, the Laws of Self have taken over the Laws of the Land. People behave in ways fitting to them and humanity has headed to destruction.
The aberration is also found in religions. There is a clash of interest between people of the same faith; there is also the crisis of superiority between adherents of different religions and creeds against each other. The fight is also in economic and political interests between countries, political parties and sundry. The hate for humanity continues to escalate.
There was the Clash of Civilisation (CoC). What we have today is Clash Within Civilisation (CWC) – within the same home, country, siblings, and so on. Man no longer observes the Universal Law of Love One Another. This matrix transcends religion, even the existence of man.
Till man went back to his old self where he was in tandem with the dictates of nature in reverence to the Universal Subconscious Mind, he will not stop being animistic degenerating cannibalistic in his modern behaviours. Till man recognized that the best way to unite with the Subconscious Mind is to think WE, first. The idea of thinking ‘I’, first, has ruined the world and will continue to ruin man till this 5th Atlantis is over; this era when man has so immersed himself in material pursuits.
The era of awakening, when man will abreast his true self devoid of materialism is coming. That would be the 6th Atlantis. By the 7th Atlantis, man will retrace his ways back to the days of his forebears when they were in unanimity with nature and it dictated what they did.
However, the most important thing is for man to know himself. Sadly, many mouth of knowing GOD without knowing themselves. This is the bane. Too much politics in everything, even in spiritual matters. Too bad.
*Odimegwu Onwumere* is a Poet and Writer resident in Rivers State. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brother Theodore returned from Cameroon that evening. My contemporaries and I were playing ball on the dusty entrance leading to the compound of our forebears otherwise called Ama. We were joyous to welcome our brother. We took his luggage and jumped on his tall body, ecstatic. He was tremendously happy.
Brother Theodore is my cousin. Well built. His frame is the size of an apprentice weightlifter. Fair in complexion, slightly stammers. He is all a man should be, bodily wise. As children, our eyes were on what he returned from Cameroon with. Different sweetening gifts, nicely perfumed soup and other items were in gift items he came back with. He gave us what he felt were due for us and we were thankful.
Often, Brother Theodore danced Mucosa (or was it called Makossa?) a brand of Cameroonian music that only one who was high with alcohol could dance. The dance step was alien to us in the village. We enjoyed it though, but saw such dance step as weird. But that always brought joy to his spirit. He would tell us how he was risking his life on the high sea through Oron to Cameroon. His expression of the turbulent waves on the sea, won’t appeal to any one who wanted to take on such adventure. Brother Theodore was all about stories such as the mien nature of Cameroonian Gendarme.
We were on the dusty entrance playing ball, the day he was leaving for Cameroon. There was a feeling we all had, a feeling like one who lost a beloved one. We would be missing his company, gifts and sundry. The few days he stayed were fun, in the boring village, where every minute was occupied with assorted errands programmed for us by our parents and guardians. We were awestruck, as if he should stay back, as if he should take us to Cameroon. We would be missing him, his rather weird dance steps, the music we only heard the lyrics, but were lost in the meaning.
During telling him bye, I entreated he buy me a ball, in his next visit. He obliged. This raised burning hope in me. At least, I would own a better ball, unlike the orange we played as ball, unlike the stone-like plastic ball we played, or the ball we moulded from gums we extracted from rubber trees. I was full of hope.
About a year, Brother Theodore was in the village. I rallied around him, inspected his bags with my eyes to see if there was any shape of ball in any. He didn’t know this. To my chagrin, there was no ball. There was none and I wanted to dive to the Ama and play the ball, lure my contemporaries to be envious of my new ball. But there was none. When he had rested, I reminded him of his promise of getting me a ball. He diplomatically shied away from telling me his position. I was aghast and downcast. Not happy with him. Although, I hadn’t the temerity to express my grievances for fear such behaviour could earn me his cane.
Not long, he left for Cameroon. When he came back, owning a ball was no longer a priority to me. As years passed, anytime I see Brother Theodore, it’s as if I should ask him, ‘where is my ball?’
It has been over a little weeks since I lost our Grandmother, Ezinne (Helena) Onwumere, popularly called Mama Aunty, to death. The enlarged Onwumere family has not been the same. Everyone has a vaccum to nurse because of her passage. The waiting trial is that we will be planting her to the soil by August 26-27, waiting when she will germinate again.
I will be missing Mama Aunty’s spices of Ofe Ukpo na Ede; some others garnished with utazi, uzuza, nchuawu, ugbogiri, oha soup, and others. Her demise keeps running in my head over and over again. Her transition is one of the million things that have given a new way and meaning to my reasoning. As I grow older and without some of our family members I started the journey of life with, a part of my world does not relish with comfort as it used to.
Some loss of beloved ones are hardest. This loss is one! My head has not been with me lately even though I do not sob hysterically. I would have sought for the support of our family members to overcome my grieve, but I would be disappointed because they are grieving as well. Well, I will take solace in the fact that there is someone out there who has my back and I am not into this alone.
August 19 2019.
Mama cries each time she is reading the newspapers but we wouldn’t know why she does that. The paradox is that she puts on black clothing, sits at the corner of the parlour with a black pen, and ticks the newspapers. We often ponder to understand why she does that, but the answer keeps eluding us.
The significance of the colour – black – in our house is inscrutable. The walls, chairs, floor and almost everything in our house, are painted black. Mama would pause while reading, raise her head and gaze at the ceiling. She stays that way for minutes before returning to read and continue ticking her newspapers.
Whenever she leaves looking at the ceiling, she reads with maximum concentration, like our Muslim neighbour, who was praying one day and his food was burning in the kitchen. He didn’t care to stand up and clean his kitchen of the burning food, upon pandemonium which neighbours stirred to do so, till he was through with his prayers.
This is how dedicated Mama is to her newspapers. She does not even allow any of us to see what it is she ticks. After reading with tears wetting a better portion of the newspapers, she would go to her bedroom and hide the newspapers.
We became worried about Mama’s strange behaviour and complained to Uncle Ibe, her only surviving brother, who resides in the neighbourhood. One hot afternoon, Uncle Ibe visited our house to ask her why she cries when she is reading the newspapers.
Mama never budged to respond to him, even when Uncle Ibe persisted. He is sweating profusely now, perhaps due to mind-numbing hours he has spent questioning Mama, and there is no electricity for the fan and the hope of it is farfetched.
Uncle Ibe resurrects a popular comment always made by people which is, fat people are pronto sweating. He is very fat and anyone who does not take a proper look of him can mistake him for an eight month pregnant woman. For this, his friends and admirers nickname him “Mr. Biggy” (a colloquial word we use in our environs to describe anyone who is excessively fat).
I am in turn referred to as “small biggy” because they say I look very much like him. Uncle Ibe’s bosom friend, Psychologist Nawata, tells people that Mr. Biggy is our uncle’s identity and he relates with it ultimately. Of which he does. But sometime, some persons cajole Uncle Ibe by their connotation in addressing him, yet he does not get angry, but avoids such people with his strength.
Psychologist Nawata makes it known that we all have identities and it is needless to insult each other because of how nature made them. Some have theirs through association, or any other thing, says Psychologist Nawata. He gives an instance that in the USA., where he practiced for three decades before returning home to drag ancestral land, people identify themselves as “Americans”.
“Americans is a collective identity,” he says. “Each of them has their personal identity.”
Psychologist Nawata says that individuals identify themselves as male or female, brother or sister, employee or employer and so on. “Not what you know only qualifies one as having an identity,” he says. “It is also how you know something that qualifies one to have identity and again, identity changes over time.” He advises us that we should not have poor self-esteem, but should be like his good friend who is proud as Mr. Biggy.
For real, Uncle Ibe does not have a poor sense of self-worth. Whether people are persuasive or not at him, he does not care. He plays down to accomplish laughter in people. He is in control of his life, although he eats too much and this habit does not go well with Mama, who always warns him of his asymmetrical eating habit. He persuades Mama to tell him why she cries, but she will not.
When Uncle Ibe saw that Mama was not giving in to his persuasion, he begins to tell us of an epic story. It is a story of how our forebears founded remote hectares of virgin land and established in them hundreds of thousands of years ago, which is the town where we reside today. Our elders have hidden this story from the younger ones for years, because they did not want us to feel bad of our history, for fear of stereotype from people in the surrounding environs.
“It was my mother, in her propitious manner, who told me that we are not aboriginal owners of our town,” Uncle Ibe says. This revelation came at a time migrants were drowning at the Mediterranean Sea and we wonder whether Mama cries because of it.
A woman living in the next flat to ours, Mama Chude, also cries whenever she is reading the newspapers. She is called after her child, Chude. At least, we know why she cries: because of the drowning migrants who are mainly Africans, wanting to cross the sea to Europe. Majority of them are asylum seekers and economic migrants, and they experience unfriendly treatment in many of their host countries.
With this, when Uncle Ibe told us that our forebears were migrants, we unanimously concluded that we are all migrants and this is our identity, no matter the name given to it: be it regular or irregular migrants. We are part and proud of our history.
Hours have gone by he has been questioning Mama and he is unsuitable for her now. She left for her room. We are amazed as she left, because we had thought that it was only Uncle Ibe, whom Mama would listen to. Disappointingly, she did not. What formed our opinion was that he is her only surviving brother out of four that had passed away as a result of sickle cell anemia at a tender age. Uncle Ibe was expected to die at nineteen: the age his brothers died. But he is forty-seven now with a wife and four children. His children are not sicklers. Conversely, people know their father and they are addressed as “Mr. Biggy’s Children”.
As Mama refused to tell Uncle Ibe why she cries always when she is reading the newspapers, he left in anger. We are not happy as well given that we wanted to understand the reason Mama cries. While we are brooding, echo of “Mr. Biggy! Mr. Biggy!!!” rent the atmosphere of the neighbourhood. We hear Uncle Ibe’s voice reciprocating to their thunderous ovation for him. He usually thumbs up at his callers and says, “I’m Biggy, you are smally!”
Children like him so much for this and follow him up and down anywhere he went. Uncle Ibe’s body frame makes him lose his privacy. He does not walk the street without being noticed. If one person sees him and shouts “Mr. Biggy!” the whole street will be aflame with “Mr. Biggyyyyyyyy!”
Mama is sleeping in her room and did not lock the door. I sneaked in to check where she hid the newspapers. My mind skips anytime she turns or makes some chirpy sounds. I searched for the newspapers from one of her box to another, they are not there. I gave up the search and was about to leave when I saw a heap at an edge covered with rug. I went straight for it, lo and behold, there are the newspapers. I flip through one, two and many others. I found out that Mama ticked issues pertaining to obesity and fat people. I did not need a soothsayer to tell me that Mama is crying because of her brother and the identity tag from people. Now, Mama rolls from one side of the bed to the other, and I stealthily left.
When Mama wakes up and notices that her newspapers had been tampered with. She summons all to the parlour. Not bright looking, she asks, “Who went to my newspapers and what did the person see?” The identity in our house is that we do not lie. When Mama repeated her statement the second time, I own up. “I’m the one, Mama,” I say. “I saw that you marked obesity related stories and I am wondering.”
Mama’s look is horrific, askance. She gazes into the thin ceiling, returns her gaze and asks us to listen attentively. “We have a history of sickle cell,” Mama says. “Ibe is not my only brother; those before him died as a result of sickle cell anemia and the only surviving brother is obese.” This is the reason Mama marks obesity related stories in the newspapers with curiosity, we guess.
Mama says that her fears are that obesity is taking over smoking and around the neighbourhood, there are severely obese children and the number is on the increase. She is shedding tears now when we heard “Mr. Biggy” renting the air outside. We know that Uncle Ibe is coming. Mama wipes her tears with the back of her left hand. She pretends as if nothing happened even though we can read the pains long years of her thinking about obesity, her brothers, has caused her. As Uncle Ibe comes in, we greet him. I look at him and myself and it dawns on me that I will be like Uncle Ibe when I am of his age but can only survive if I listen to what Psychologist Nawata teaches.
Psychologist Nawata teaches that obese people can combat the problem if we look at our mental and physical health to avoid depression, watch what we eat and exercise. This can benefit posterity. At this point, Uncle Ibe asks Mama why she cries whenever she is reading the newspapers; she did not say a word but enters her room. Uncle Ibe left our house in anger and vows never to come to Mama for this again. I bend down in rumination of my life, hoping that I will follow the rules outlined by Psychologist Nawata, in order to evade future tears from Mama.
Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. He founded ooreporters.com
Houses collapse in Nigeria without a gap of time leaving many killed and others with degrees of injuries, and government policies on this are better not imagined let alone hoped on, ODIMEGWU ONWUMERE writes
Building collapse has become a frequent occurrence in Nigeria with authorities paying lip service to arrest the situation. There had never been stringent punitive measures and policies that could spur building engineers and regulatory bodies to wake up from their aged-long slumber. The successive governments in Nigeria are best known for setting up Commission of Inquiry to look into the root cause of the collapse, which dies immediately it’s set up. Statement that could follow such make-believe commission would be, “Federal and state agencies are investigating the cause of the collapse of the building”.
Such lackadaisical policies that the Nigerian Government operates had held it back not to prod into action and demolish a three storey building housing a school, at Itafaji, Lagos Island that was marked for demolition since 2014, till it killed over 20 pupils on March 23 2019, with over 100 trapped. Moved by the tragedy, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), a regulatory body in the state where the incident occurred, stirred to demolish 180 affected buildings around the area. The body barefacedly traded blame that they would not understand why property owners were unconcern to bring down their marked houses, having been served notice to do so, dating back to 2013.
It did not meet the eyes why authorities could not go after such building having found them ineffective. On Monday, March 25 2019, barely two weeks for the bubbles of the collapsed school building to settle, a two-storey edifice collapsed in the middle of the day at the same Lagos Island. Another side to the story was that no one died given that occupants of the building had noticed its junk nature and exited their apartments. This building had also, been marked for demolition by the Lagos State building control agency, few days before it collapsed.
While no death was recorded in the two-storey building collapse, no fewer than 34 people were killed on 8 March 2016, when a five-storey building under construction in Lekki District, Lagos, collapsed. Death was also the fate of 115 people, when a guesthouse that was situated inside the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) property in Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos State, collapsed on 12 September 2014. It was noted that the National Emergency Management Agency (NAMA), supposedly withheld information pertaining to the incident but this singular act, earned them condemnation from the citizens.
Without a doubt, junk houses sprinkle Nigeria but they are majorly in Lagos, the country’s former seat of power. This trend of building collapse started happening like every day event, after the country got its independence from Britain in 1960. Notwithstanding, reports from the authorities suggested that many of the buildings exceeded the number of allowed floors, but property owners connived with corrupt government officials and exceeded approved plan. Some government agencies like the Nigeria Building And Road Research Institute (NBBRI), the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), and the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), had warned against inadequacies in building construction.
Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. He founded ooreporters.com
As the Yobe North lawmaker, Senator Ahmed Lawan has emerged President of the 9th Senate, crossing the margin of 54 votes needed to win the election today, June 11 2019, there are little things we need to look into.
It’s not about defeating Senator Ali Ndume of Borno-South senatorial district who polled less than 28 votes, with 109 Senate seats but only 107 were present at the inauguration. It’s not about the jubilation by APC senators, as Lawan garnered 79 votes.
While this treatise was not meant to debase the success of Lawan or uphold the failure of Ndume, one thing we should consider is whether the senate would be independent referring to the three tiers of my elementary study of government: Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
I’m not sure why some people were jubilating that the emergence of Lawan would become the death of Biafra, PDP, but “Up, Up, Up for Buhari”. Whatever this means. Some believed that with Lawan’s win some anti-corruption laws can be passed.
Some of the people who believed in this were of the view that the senate which Dr. Bukola Saraki was its president carpeted such laws. How true is this notion? Remember that Saraki separated the senate from the executive and this does not mean that he was opposed to Rule of Law. No.
I think Saraki wanted a senate where Due Process was supposed to be sacrosanct, and not buying into Buhari’s fascism in a democracy. Or, as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo once put it when he held sway as President of Nigeria — “Do or Die” politics.
While congratulations were renting the air for Senator Lawan, we must not fail to congratulate with Senator Ndume for his autonomous mind.
Ndume was stoical and never allowed himself to be pushed around. He was accommodating not to be a ‘yes boy’ in the house. The later is where the fear lies with the emergence of Lawan as senate president. Is he going to be a ‘yes boy’ or independent minded like many have given the later to Ndume?
Let us believe that Lawan will keep to his campaign promises that the budget would be passed within3 months in each year. He also promised that the budget would run from January to December in each calendar year. Lawan also promised that he would promote anti-corruption, anti-unemployment and restore the economy laws.
Nigerians have heard of such promises in the past that later turned bogus. It is not about this win but about the senate becoming independent which was how it should be. Let us pray that the laws Lawan will be interested in passing not be those of Fulani herdsmen and the Miyetti Allah’s move to recolonise Nigeria by planting Fulani across the country. In a nutshell, let’s pray that the Senate under Lawan will not be an additional-room of the Buhari presidency, which was not what the senate under Saraki represented.