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Molefi Asante: Breathing Africa, Living Blackness

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Attahiru Jega: The Measure Of Excellence And Integrity

THE  TOYIN FALOLA INTERVIEWS

A CONVERSATION WITH MOLEFI ASANTE, PART 1

By

Toyin Falola

Molefi Asante Breathing Africa, Living Blackness

Professor Molefi Kete Asante

 

Em hotep nefer weret!

I have listened to his lectures. I have served on committees with him. I have read his books. I have adopted many of his ideas reworked into Black liberationist thoughts. He has taught me as much as I have taught his works and ideas in classes for over forty years. I have reviewed his books. I have evaluated his manuscripts for publishers. I have gone to Temple University on multiple occasions, the last time to give a lecture on “the construction of words” to his graduate class. I have been asked to endorse the use of his name for two major prizes named after him. When I heard that he wanted to criticize the emerging concept of decoloniality, I did not mind that the venue was in Pretoria, South Africa, far away from my base in Austin, United States. His fans awaited him in Pretoria, and the hall was packed full. The lecture was provocative.

 

Molefi, the brave Asante

He does not call color red as blue

A brave deity

Who says it as it is

Who does not call a bad thing a good thing.

The knowledgeable one

One that sees everything

He understands the dawn and the sunset

The priest of wisdom.

 

I’ve been to many strange homes,

But none like Nubia, the home of Asante

Where nature is beautifully alive.

I’ve tasted the milk of other lands,

None matches that of mother Africa,

The Black Egypt

Where Molefi was born bright.

 

The great philosopher came;

Saw the future in Africa

He took her and showed her the part of life

Gave her everything needed to forge on;

Blessed is Mother Africa,

With great heritage and culture

Blessed is Molefi,

For keeping the culture, as the name bares.

 

A super communicator, passion comes with his words, as if the Yemoja, the preeminent goddess of the sea, comes out of the Atlantic Ocean in Bahia to deliver a message from Orunmila, the god of divination. Energy defines his engagement, like Sango, the god of thunder and lightning, issuing majestic commands. Conclusions must be revisited, and Asante turns into that powerful god of the crossroads, Eṣu, whose name must not be called in vain. The past lives in him, the living Pharaoh in the Black World. In another era, Asante would have been transformed into a god and venerated. There are no two people like him. Divide a city into two: one half belongs to Molefi and the other half to Asante!

Molefi Asante: Breathing Africa, Living Blackness

Conversations around African knowledge productions and the audacity to lay claim to it without being intimidated by the imposing frame of the Western epistemic system would have generally been impossible without the irrevocable commitment of some dedicated persons. Africa was confronted with the demanding tasks of challenging the webs of misconception and the desperate identity assassination that the imperialists dragged them to in the prelude to and aftermath of colonialism. This identity shaming, it must be emphasized, was considered a strategy for which the people would not only be conquered in all dimensions―politically, culturally, socially, economically, and maybe philosophically―but would also be the foundational justification for the subjection of the people to the deprecatory experience they faced during the period of colonization.

Africans were innocent, ignorant of the possible dangers inherent in being conquered by the imperialists, and not prescient enough to foresee what their future would look like with the history of the European expansionism dotting their evolutionary process. The damage was done, and colonial engagements within the 100 years when it held the continent by the jugular shattered, damaged, and trashed all the progress that the Black people had made before the colonizers invaded them. This damage was more debilitating for reasons that are not unconnected to the fact that even when the victims of colonization, Africans, this time around, were dragged to the ground of dishonor, they were practically unaware that the colonially erected institutions left in the wake of colonial imperialism would carry the mark of disrespect, and continue to serve as the agency to sustain the molestation and prostitution of the African image.

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After years of anger, the motivation to challenge the age-long calumny overtook a generation of Africans, to which Asante belongs. They began to counter Western fiction with fact, challenge European biases with catharsis, and, more importantly, correct wrong notions with sound knowledge. In the group of African intellectuals who embraced this call to duty is Asante, providing solid and unwavering academic insights that replaced ignorance with knowledge, changing the revisionist information with verifiable information, and substituting jaundiced views with relatively objective perspectives about Africa and Africans.

Molefi Asante: Breathing Africa, Living Blackness

Asante became an intimidating posture in the academic wave of resistance that is tagged Afrocentrism. The movement began in the mid-21st century as a potent force erected to counter the existing derogation of Africans by the West, eventually becoming an interdisciplinary thing in the long run.

Dubbed as among the most prolific African-American scholars of all time, this intellectual figure has cracked the knot that was considered impossible and made landmark accomplishments in academic waves where his sound contributions enthuse the occupants of the imagined center. There is an infinite possibility, Asante argues, what Africa and Africans represent if they function effectively without hindrance. That many black people do not exude the expected confidence to challenge established biases in the academic, political, or economic systems is a condition facilitated by the colonizers’ watertight efforts to keep them eternally repressed in their deplorable conditions.

It cannot be contested that Africa has contributed meaningfully to the human race and has made impressive landmarks in many areas before the ascension of the European power. Underestimating the continent continues because they have refused to stand up for themselves and make impressive development in areas where they have all been badmouthed. But then there is Asante, who persistently challenges this negative view of black people, from Lagos to New York, not with emotions this time around but with educative works and insight that set straight the records that have been wrongly stated in the first place. We must credit people like Asante for setting the pace and raising the bar and for the effective wave of resistance in all fields.

Molefi Kete Asante has published widely, and his body of works has changed the narratives of the African and black people for good. Central to his academic engagement is promoting African/black interests to repudiate the damaging misconceptions and assassinations of the African image and identity. In his recent publication in 2020, with his scholarly work titled The Afrocentric Pan Africanist Vision, this prolific scholar discusses the vision of the people about what they have in the contemporary time. He argues that the current situation of the people does not in any way represent who they are, and being victims of the history of colonization does not in any way have the possibility of running them aground forever. For Asante, the Pan Africanist vision is shaped by the accumulated experiences that the people have been challenged by in recent or distant times. In other words, the determination to make Africa distinct from the rest of the world is informed by the awareness that they would continue to face predatory temptations by the civilizations that have attained technological and economic transformation if they did not solidify themselves and begin to put in place the needed transformative energies.

It is essential to picture an African future reflective of their true self and capable of accommodating other civilizations without sacrificing their African identity in the process. This means that such a future holds the potential to transform the continent nearly in all conceivable ways. There would be a level of economic self-reliance and technological transformation which would align with their ideological and philosophical principles without necessarily taking away their political beliefs, freedom, and identity. This vision means that the continent would be expediently independent of all the vested interests who have fleeced the continent for ages under different guises. They were considered less technologically advanced, so they were suppressed by the European imperialists and lost nearly all their resources to external civilizations that came to encroach on them for generations. In essence, Asante, in The Afrocentric Pan Africanist Vision, talks about the importance of having this vision and emphasizes more the need to prepare for creating a civilization that can birth and sustain this system. Africa deserves freedom, not only of any political imposition that comes from all civilizations who believe that their economic development should be an automatic ticket for abusing Africa but also of the socioeconomic entanglement they have helplessly found themselves in the recent years.

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A very devoted observer of Asante’s academic engagements would notice that not only does he appear to create a breathtaking relationship between his work, but he also makes them appear like an academic work in series. One would be marveled by the close relationship between the work identified above and the one he produced some five years preceding it. In his work, The African Pyramids of Knowledge, this preeminent scholar of inestimable intellectual capacity is unequivocally direct about the fecundity of Africa in knowledge production and value creation. To be candid, there would be no reliable vision for a continent that does not have good intellectual resources on which they can depend for the transformation of themselves and the dislocation of baseless narratives created to keep them under perpetual repression. The knowledge base of the people is used in the management of their society, and this accounts for the enhancement of the identity despite century-long pillaging and deprecatory encounters with the external civilizations. In this work, Asante argues that contrary to the assumption that blacks were devoid of critical thinking and are a strange bedfellow to productive engagement, numerous historical and cultural accomplishments are evident in their greatness even until contemporary time.

Meanwhile, one year before that, in 2014, this same intellectual giant premiered the book titled The History of Africa, which gives sufficient information about the past experiences of Africa and Africans. It is nearly impossible to talk about the African knowledge pyramid without knowing about the people’s history. This indicates that the book written by the sage in 2015 on Africa’s knowledge production and systems is backed by the history, foundation, and past events of the people across all aspects of human endeavor. The History of Africa serves to place in perspective the past experiences and records of the people. For example, the book talks about how the people organized themselves into different political groups using systems that favored and worked for them in the political domain. The decision to organize a political strategy is informed by the knowledge that they demanded very organized structures to enhance their collective progress. If they did not have a robust template for the political system across the continent, the possibility of arranging themselves would not only be slim; it would also be very hard. Asante’s book explains this aspect of human history that they lived before the ascension of Europeans, Arabs, and even during their post-settlement in the continent.

More than it addressed their political past, the book, The History of Africa, also concentrates on the African cultural and religious systems. There seem to be unending ill-conceived generalizations that many civilizations have made concerning Africans, including but not limited to the assumption that the African people were not intellectually evolved to build cultural traditions that are vibrant enough for contemporary times. It would have come as a surprise for people who do not understand the deep-seated connections between colonialism and these narratives. Still, people who understand the underlying Eurocentric agenda from such a position know that it was an attempt to rubbish the continent and justify the corresponding political overtake they later introduced. As much as we understand that such a position lacks a strong background, there would be no way of challenging the impression if individuals do not make necessary and befitting efforts to counter these positions. However, there is no need to panic because people like Asante continue to fumigate the lies against Africans for centuries with facts and figures about their past that can be confirmed by research and replicable scholarship. Essentially, The History of Africa addresses nearly all the aspects of the life of the people and how they did evolve as other peoples of the world did in their various cultural and political experiences.

Asante’s academic contributions do not exclusively center on Afrocentrism. He also has many works that address thematically different yet intellectually complementing themes. For one, this scholar has written essentially on race issues and discussed how the concept had generated more than necessary controversies in the academic world. His writings on race have developed to an edition-by-edition engagement where the idea of racism is looked at from different angles, all of which add to the contemporary understanding of the politics and motivations behind the division of the world along racial lines.

Titled Erasing Racism: The Social Survival of American Nation, the 2009 edition addresses racism and how it has polarized the American society beyond imagination and repair. The American society, it seems, is founded on a philosophy of othering where those who do not come from America or do not express their ideological beliefs are considered less critical, if not less human. To the extent that the society has institutionalized a master-subordinate relationship among their people, they have continued to place themselves beyond others, even unconsciously. Therefore, the book states the different dimensions that racism has taken in American society and how the oppressed groups have made substantial efforts to adapt and protect themselves in the process.

The book, which comes as a recommendation to the international community, instigates more questions than it appears to answer. Asante argues that the African-Americans are overwhelmed and are gradually losing themselves to the carnage of racism. Their identity, cultural traditions, history, and social system are victims of persistent verbal abuse, so much that they do not understand how and where they can begin to challenge the racist prejudices that have faced them from time immemorial. That is the level at which they have degenerated in recent history. Eradicating racism begins with accepting that society has been lopsidedly arranged across racial lines from a distant time. This would put people in the right frame of mind to understand how the white race, the privileged ones in the American society, have enjoyed series of benefits, advantages, and privileges to the detriment of some other people in the society, specifically and the world generally. In this awareness and acceptance, they would begin to correct the age-long anomaly consciously. Without following this systematic path, it would be difficult to talk about putting an end to racism, which has overtaken American society.

In 1971, Asante published a book that seemed to clarify the justification of the same theme covered in the above work. Titled How to Talk to People of Other Races, the book brings up the issue of plural identities and cultural diversities that exist in human engagements. There is the general impression that people would be different in their racial and cultural disposition, though this does not mean that they would not have reasons to depend on one another or forge a strong network of alliance. However, this dependence would be determined by people’s communication when dealing with individuals from different cultural backgrounds. Therefore, the language of communicating with individuals of different races must be respectful. In other words, talk, which is personified as the form of exchanges between people of different races, must be such that the integrity of some people is not threatened or their identity molested. How to Talk to People of Other Races shows that the responsibility of submerging racism stands on the agreement to stem its tide by the people who are important as far as the need to forge a common bond is concerned.

Additionally, it would come as no surprise that this man of inestimable intellectual brilliance is duly recognized far and wide in the world for his outstanding contributions to knowledge production. Apart from being awarded professorate honor in different academic environments, namely, Zhejiang University (2007-2010) and the University of South Africa (2009-present), he has also bagged for himself honors that befit the intellectual greatness he represents. The protruding accolade for which he has been associated reflects the assumption that his contributions do not in any way go without making a substantial impact.

For a man who teaches in the United States, there is no doubt that he has registered a lasting place for Africans in Africa and even in the Western world. Asante’s intellectual activities promote rather than demote African image in places where they have suffered grandstanding and monumental shaming. There is no place in the world where the influence of Asante’s work has not spread to. Asante’s works have served as points of reference and motivation for drawing different academic strategies for upholding the African image across different African countries. Evidently, the recognition he has attracted over time is long overdue.

Beyond the activism in academics, Asante has participated in different involvements that have to do with redeeming Africa’s dented image and restoring its identity in all fora. He once served as the coordinator of diaspora intellectuals, Pan African Scientific Council, African Union, all in 2009, where he promoted quality and excellence that skyrocketed the values of the associations. Interestingly, Asante founded an academic institute, the National Afrocentric Institute, in 1989, and its creation became an instant success across the board. All these establishments he created or where he serves as a member witness immediate transformation because he is conscious about their advancement. He is also a driving force paving the way for them through his intellectual productions.

It cannot be emphasized enough how this philosopher has motivated people who decide to retrace their steps to discover their true African identity. Asante has shown pride in the continent of Africa through his academic involvement and in the various sociopolitical groups he belongs. When academics talk about his greatness, they do not over bloat his importance; when they mention his contributions, they merely state the values he represents. Asante has already won for himself a beautiful place in the knowledge production about the African people. He has expanded the African-American academic engagement magically and retrieved for them the lost image of their ancestors.

Rather than be fazed by the intimidation of others who have considered themselves the general standard for knowledge artistry, Asante has mastered the way to popularize his ideas through the agency of academic engagement. The redefinition of African literature, culture, and history speak for him in decibel that cannot be fully consumed in the annals of history. From political science to historical scholarship, scientific engagements, and professional researches, Asante has roared deeply, and his voice has spread to places one cannot readily predict. He is a dedicated human to the cause and actions he believes in. There has been no time when he backed down from the ideological convictions he is identified with. In the academic industry, he is recognized for the outstanding efforts he makes to advance the collective aspirations and goals of the people.

Asante

The immortal man

Born before our black eyes,

The magical writer,

Touching the marrows of men,

Forever may you live.

No one hears the death of a hoe

You will not die

No one hears the death of cloths

You will stay till the world’s end

No one hears the death of the land

You are covered.

 

Asante

The man of the people

Who grants rights as privileges

The kind, humble and gentle-hearted

Who sits among the living skeletons

The hero of our people,

May all your wishes be accepted by the gods.

Aṣe!

 

Please join us for a conversation with an eminent professor and philosopher, Molefi Kete Asante.

 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

5:00 PM Nigeria

4:00 PM GMT

11:00 AM Austin CST

Register and Watch:

https://www.tfinterviews.com/post/molefi-asante

Join via Zoom:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85124202652

Watch on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tfinterviews/live

Watch on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2lvX7A2iVndiCq0NfFcb0w/live

Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

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Opinion

The Menace Of Bullying In Hostels – The Sylvester Oromoni Tragedy

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The Menace Of Bullying In Hostels – The Sylvester Oromoni Tragedy

By

Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

Anyone who went through secondary school hostel/boarding house life knows that often, some seniors or some of the bigger boys or girls often bully the juniors. Yes, girls bully the junior girls too. Bullying comes in the different forms- in form of depriving the junior ones of their own ‘provision’, extortion, psychological torture, and/or physical beating. There  used to be the formal bullying, where all Form One students in the hostel went through what was dubiously called ‘fagging. On that day, often at night, all the kids in Form One would be assembled in a hall and subjected to all forms of indignities, from bathing them with cold water in a cold weather, pouring food remnants on them, and beating them. After that ritual, they would now say ‘Your tail has been cut off.  Sometimes, the young and the vulnerable ones continue to be bullied till they get to a senior class or till their tormentors leave the school. I don’t remember now whether that was how the notion of school father started, a senior student who would be one’s protector.

Bullying does not always cause death. But death sometimes occurs. And covered up by the school authorities. The trauma of bullying often lasts forever. Sadly, bullying continues every year even when the hostel authorities try to put a stop to it. Bullies thrive on fear, the fear of their victim. Often the victims tragically believe that silence and cooperation would save them from the evil hands of their predators or oppressors or extortioners. Sadly, some bullies are also victims of previous trauma or bullying.

READ ALSO: Nembe Oil Spill: Let’s End This Affliction Now

The sad and tragic death of Sylvester Oromoni (Jnr) last week, a student of Dowen College Lekki Lagos has once again brought the menace of bullying to the fore. Dowen College is a ‘co-educational and boarding school with over twenty years record of excellence’, according to a statement on its website. But with the death and the spilled blood of Sylvester, I have no doubt that that claim to excellence is gone forever. When I watched the video of the poor boy moaning in what turned out to be the throes of death, I could not stop the tears in my eyes. I wept for the boy. I wept for his parents. No parent should lose a child; no parent should watch their child go through the circumstances that led to Sylvester’s death.

The father of the deceased Mr. Sylvester Oromoni’s narrative is a serious indictment of the management style of Dowen College. I will produce a summary of Mr. Oromoni’s narrative. According to him, the events which culminated in the painful death of Sylvester started in October when it came to light through the 12year old’s elder sister that some bullies wanted to know if he had seen the nakedness of his elder sister. The same boy who had bullied Sylvester into admitting that he had seen his sister’s nakedness reported to her that the latter claimed to have seen her nakedness. This ought to have been a strong alarm bell for all involved. Then a week before the calamity, a call from the school summoned the father to Lagos from his Warri home because, according to the school, his son fell while playing football and was sick. Mr. Oromoni took his son home for special care. At death point Sylvester revealed that he did not play football and could not have sustained any injury while playing football. He then narrated how he was tortured and beaten up by five senior boys because he refused to join their cult. He named the murderers as Benjamin Favour, Anselm Temile, and Michael Kasamu. Tragic. Wicked.

The school Principal Mrs. Adebisi Layiwola issued a statement and stated among other things that ‘we immediately commenced investigations and invited the students allegedly mentioned for an interview. His guardian was also present during the interviews, which revealed that nothing of such happened’. The State government through the Ministry of Education has responded by shutting down Dowen College till further notice. Obviously, the school did not do a thorough investigation and the State Ministry of Education headed by a former school Principal, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo must have smelt a rat. Sylvester Oromoni was killed while pursuing the harmless dream of educating himself in an expensive private school in Lagos. WHO KILLED SYLVESTER OROMONI JUNIOR? The public demands an answer. The family demands an answer. Every parent who watched the video or who has heard the story demands an answer to all the questions. What transpired in the hostel that night that made Sylvester ill? Have the boys whose names were mentioned been invited by the police? Would there by high-powered connections to try and kill the case? The blood of Sylvester demands justice. May Heaven visit anyone who tries to kill the case with raging fury!

READ ALSO: Nigeria As A Movie

I have shed tears for Sylvester. I didn’t know him. I don’t know his father. I have connected with the story as a father, grandfather, and a human being. He could have been anybody’s child, anybody’s nephew or cousin or grandson. A grieving mother told me after reading the story that she would not allow her only daughter go to the boarding house!

Schools need to do more on stopping bullying and molestation. As we write, bullying is ongoing in some schools. It is not only students in the hostel that are bullied. Day students are also exposed to bullying. Does your child look sad every time he returns from school? Does he look thin? Does he refuse to eat? Have nightmares? Listen to your child. Insist. If a child as much as suggests that they should be taken to another school, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY UNTIL YOU FIND THE TRUTH EVEN IF THE CHILD SAYS NEVER MIND DADDY!

Schools need to do more to protect kids in their custody. There is need for intelligence gathering in schools, both at night and in the day. As Senior Prefect of Baptist High School Port Harcourt in the late 70s, I had some junior students who fed me information routinely. I protected their identity. Let there be a specially selected teacher or teachers who all exploited students can confide in. My mental health NGO Mind and Soul Helpers Initiative (MASHI) once visited some schools to educate them on mental health. When it was question time, we received a few innocuous questions. But from the notes they sent anonymously, a postgraduate student could do a project on the trauma which some of our children go through while going through secondary education.

All reports/complaints by our children, wards must be taken seriously by parents, guardians, and school management. Managers of schools should realise that the life of one student is more important than the reputation of the school. As parents in loco, Heaven will ask them to account for the death of any child who dies in their care!

Finally, I commiserate with the Oromonis. Sylvester was a hero, a strong character for refusing to join a cult despite threats and intimidation. His death must not be in vain. There must be justice to reassure victims of bullying that all bullies will ultimately face the law. If it is true that the culprits have been flown abroad by their parents, such parents must be compelled with the force of law to produce them for proper interrogation and punishment if found culpable. Shutting down the school should be temporary because the careers of innocent children in the school are in jeopardy. Open the school and punish the guilty.

READ ALSO: NADECO’S Under-ground And Open-ground Patriots (1)

What words can one tell the Oromonis that could reduce the trauma of a painful but avoidable death? No words! No words! No words!  Yet, condolences we have, and condolences we must give. I hope to meet the parents personally and let them know that we all stand by them in their moment of grief.

Professor Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha can be reached on 08023220393

 

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NADECO’S Under-ground And Open-ground Patriots (1)

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NADECO’S Under-ground And Open-ground Patriots (1)

By

Tony Afejuku

As I write this, I look forward to the day, the beautiful day, the historic day and historic time and historic prospect which we shall hail with fitness and firm firmness of joyful coo of patriotic liberty of NADECO and of poetry as conceived by the originators and all sincere joiners of the movement. Now why am I still dwelling on the subject I sincerely meant not to hurl furthermore into the magnificent river of our public opinion after the hint I gave last Friday? Several communications, verbal and written, I got have compelled me to say one or two or three or four things I deliberately allowed my reticence to keep in check. But rather than the full consciousness of my pen to do so, I am yielding for now the column to two readers from across the Atlantic.

Before I do so, however, let me divulge this pertinent information. It was the late Chief Michael Imoudu our country’s universally acknowledged foremost Labour Leader, who asked MKO Abiola to go to Comrade Jonathan Ihonde to request him to plead his case and cause before Chief Tony Enahoro (and other patriots awaiting the historic opportunity we are still waiting to hail). The late Festus Iyayi also played his own dazzlingly revolutionary part as an under-ground patriot of the movement. The late Abubakar Rimi and Balarabe Musa (both of the Aminu Kano school of politics) were top guns who similarly played their parts of positive dialectical patriotism in the Nigerian project and vision as conceived by the original NADECO.

READ ALSO: NADECO’s Bliss That’s No More

As is well known, both of them were respective governors of Kano and Kaduna States under Aminu Kano’s People Redemption Party (PRP). Zamani Lekwot, an ex-military governor of Rivers State, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, the late General MusaYar’Adua, Mr. Fred Agbeyegbe and several others were lights of the movement. And I must underscore this point: M.K.O. Abiola became an authentic comrade who sacrificed his life for the NADECO cause – meaning that created situations can always alienate one from a reactionary pattern of life and turn him or her in the richest moments of his or her life to be a patriotic rebel and revolutionary. MKO Abiola’s open rejection by his former fellow reactionaries turned him into a comrade and rebel positively in the house of patriotic thunder.

Let me now open the minds of some NADECOists still on voluntarily patriotic exile.

“Good day, my dear Brother. Your piece on NADECO resuscitates memories of past opportunities and possibilities. NADECO was, as you correctly observed, a movement.  But it was a movement of a special type peopled mostly by several left-wing leaning political activists. The intent in certain constituencies was for NADECO to metamorphose into a political party housing the Awoists and the talakawas of Aminu Kano, etc., into a new progressive entity.  As is known in Political Science, a political party is a party when it survives its leader. Unfortunately, after the demise of Chief Obafemi Awolowo on May 9, 1987 (you and I stopped at Ikenne to pay our last respects to him on our way to Ibadan to watch Flash Flamingoes versus Leventis), his political party began to disintegrate systematically.

“ ‘Pro-democracy’ is an elastic conglomerate of competing ideological prisms. I recall meeting with Chief Tony Enahoro and Mr. Mike Ehimah in his hotel in Hull (now Gatineau) across the River Ottawa from the city of Ottawa. I accepted the invitation to accompany him to the Canadian House of Commons where he addressed members of Parliament on the atrocities of the Abacha regime. Several NADECO stalwarts, including Senators Cornelius Adebayo and Femi Ojudu, sought refuge in Canada during this period.

“That NADECO was conceived as a movement to restore the victory of MKO at the June 1993 Presidential Elections fostered an internal contradiction of political philosophies. Thus, NADECO was born prematurely by the need to honour the results of June 12 and not to propagate the ideals of left-wing or progressive politics epitomized by Awolowo. This, in my view, explained why Chief Tony Enahoro got involved in NADECO.

Viewed from this perspective, therefore, NADECO was a consortium of anti-military and pro-democracy activists. Chief Enahoro’s decision to establish the Movement for National Reform (MNR) was a product of the internal ideological contradictions in NADECO.”

READ ALSO: Nembe Oil Spill: Let’s End This Affliction Now

These are pleasant words on NADECO that any investigator or researcher on the movement will or may find intelligently and persuasively instructive. They are theoretically and critically honey words – “sweet to the taste” and good for the well-being of all who want this country to always be blessed with the odour of all genuine activists and patriots like wine that sparkles.

Professor Igho Natufe’s words as quoted at length above are those of one under-ground NADECO patriot and good weigher of the movement’s weighable divinable morning and midnight dreams. And be it known that Professor Igho Natufe is a first-rate Political Scientist and a staunch Awoist. He has been under-ground in exile for centuries. Pardon my hyperbole. We share the same outlook about your country my country our country. But I have always insisted that I will never go on exile.

The words of another NADECO exile are particularly intriguing.

To be continued.

 Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

 

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Opinion

Nembe Oil Spill: Let’s End This Affliction Now

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Nembe Oil Spill: Let’s End This Affliction Now

BY

‘TIMI ALAIBE

Nembe, an otherwise quiet, beautiful kingdom in Bayelsa State, populated by a peaceful, enterprising people, has been in the news these past weeks, for the wrong reason. Dozens of already neglected communities and the people are soaked in crude oil—the same oil that has made such communities in Europe and America economic hotspots and development centres of the world. It begs the question: why do bad things happen to good people?

Suddenly, the oil that is supposed to help develop the communities and decorate them with skyscrapers, has become the reason for generational afflictions. Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, captured it unquestionably well last week, when she was quoted as describing the oil spill on the communities as massive and an equivalent of the atomic bomb that wasted Hiroshima—the Japanese city, during the Second World War.

No description could have been more appropriate than when she said: “What I saw in terms of pollution… The devastation of the Niger Delta is massive. As we are cleaning up, what we are cleaning up is minute compared to the devastation going on.”

Other official reports revealed that as at Tuesday last week, over 5, 000 barrels of emulsified crude oil had been recovered from the waters and held in a recovery barge. That figure must have more than doubled by now. The people of Nembe do not deserve this avoidable environmental affliction. The question is: when will this leakage be put under control?

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There is no doubt that this oil spill has the capacity to result in health hazards that would eventually lead to loss of lives. Let me repeat that the good people of Bayelsa State, the oil-bearing centre of Nigeria, do not in any way deserve this catastrophe.

Irrespective of numerous reasons cited by industry experts for the spill, the affected communities are dead economically and socially. The land has turned infertile. Nothing can grow there any longer. The rivers are polluted forever. Our fishermen are out of work. Our hard-working farmers have been rendered jobless. In the absence of clean, pipe-borne water for the people, a commodity that is taken for granted in other climes, today, with this oil spill, not even the river water is worth any domestic use any longer.

In other words, the peoples’ sources of livelihood have been completely destroyed; even their lives are in danger. This is no exaggeration. We have seen it happen repeatedly all over the Niger Delta. For the oil exploring and exploiting companies, it’s business as usual. Soon, the noise will end. Attention would be diverted to other pressing state matters. The people would be left to suffer and die in silence.

The director general and chief executive officer of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa, has confirmed that “Government is aware that the rivers and streams where oil is flowing into will likely affect the lives of the living creatures in the rivers and streams, including the trees, and the rivers are sources of livelihood for the community.”

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Now that these rivers and streams have been polluted, the big question is: where and what would the people turn to? Again, the trees and farmlands have been destroyed and nothing can grow again eternally, so, what happens to our people? Are they going to be relocated? With certain health hazards unconsciously unleashed on these people, what are the options before them? These questions need answers, now!

However, the difference this time is that for the first time, a government minister, Ikeazor, has spoken strongly in support of the need to protect the oil-bearing communities. In her words, this goes beyond oil companies giving palliatives to the communities. It requires putting measures in place to prevent such accidents from happening at all. She has called for stiffer penalties for those responsible for these acts of sabotage.

To my fellow citizens of Nembe, words are not enough to describe your agony and hopelessness. Be assured that you are not alone. My appeal to you is that in spite of this, please stay calm as we join hands with the appropriate authorities to seek the way out of this mess.

No blame game can reverse what has happened. No act of violence can bring back what we have lost. We all share in your pain. This is no time for dirty political grandstanding. This situation needs a practical solution. The people in charge of policy must rise and act now. God bless Bayelsa people.

 

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