Let the kite perch, let the eagle perch too, if one says no let the wings break.
When I first read the catching axiom of “Kite” and “Eagle” in Things Fall Apart, a masterpiece of one of the greatest storytellers in history, Chinua Achebe, I didn’t quite give the proverb any metaphorical interpretation beyond the context of the novel until reactions started trailing the recent call for the renaming of a chunk of Warri city, occupied by Urhobo, as ‘Wado city’. When Achebe deploys the Kite and Eagle motif he alludes to the predatory nature of human preponderance to take advantage of one another; therefore advocates the need for tolerance, peaceful coexistence, negotiated coexistence and management of pluralism through the concept of “perch”.
In other words, Achebe dramatizes the interplay between pluralism, humanism and a finite space using predatory birds which, despite their killer instincts, must coexist based on unity, dignity, equity and fairness in space that none can sustain or legitimise its claim as natural owner beyond just saying so. So by yoking predatory birds’ of different kinds of ferocity, strength, and species together and not birds to other animals, with a proviso that all must be allowed to thrive or break wings, Achebe is suggesting that categories like ‘politics’, wealth, gender, ethnicity, strength, population and religion should not be determinants of peaceful coexistence in a shared space. Rather, peaceful coexistence should be determined by the triad of fairness, justice, and equity. Where this triad is disequilibrated, there is bound to be conflict; where there is conflict there is bound to be a resolution; where the resolution smacks of sentiment there is bound to be a perennial quarrel; and where political will is lacking to solve the conflict, the conflict will eventually resolve itself through other means. The last is a natural given. This is the dilemma confronting the ethnicities and ethnic claims to Warri metropolis or city. And this is why the Achebean axiom of allowing the Eagle and Kite to perch in peace without polarising the air and land spaces becomes a critical reference point.
So when an Urhobo group mooted, proposed and circulated the idea of Wado City as a panacea to the primordial land quarrel between the ethnic nationalities in Warri, I expected public commentators to ask critical questions about the validity or otherwise of such proposition, investigate the motivations behind such proposition or better still, keep quiet and watch how planks of events unfold; quiet, because even a fool is thought to be wise if he holds his peace. So while I was still enjoying the euphoria settling on this uncommon proposal for resolving a historical disquiet about the ownership of the contentious space called Warri City, naysayers and cynics went to town drumming war drums and fanning the embers of discord for a harmless proposition that should ordinarily provoke interesting conversation about the demarcations between peace, justice, fairness and prosperity of the conurbation called Warri.
Like a league of night-soil-men trying to clean up a trailing cloud of putrefaction in colonial Nigeria, these groups went to press with what has the appearance of an obsolete sense of history and idealism which has no place in logical thinking. With all due respect, leading this pack is Dr Reuben Abati. I have preceded the mention of Dr Rueben Abati with the phrase “due respect” because I consider the man a demigod in the realm of journalism who got away with so many things. However, when a god descends from the exclusive realm of the pantheons, to take dwelling among mortals, he loses his mysticism. By the same token, when a god becomes too vindictive, we often remind it of the tree from which it was carved. Such is the dilemma Dr Ruben Abati and the rest must have to face for going to press with half-truth, falsehood and sentiments capable of misleading captive audiences. After reading Abati’s recent publication titled “The Brewing Crisis in Warri” I knew almost immediately that in his haste to go to press, for reasons best known to him, Abati relied on a history book titled A History of Warri, published in 1988 by a certain JOS Ayomike, a Civil Commissioner in Midwest State in the 1970s.
Also, I realised that Dr Abati did not read the seminal research edited by Prof Peter Ekeh, a world-renowned scholar on the same subject titled: Warri City and British Rule in Western Niger Delta; nor did he bother to goggle its review by F.M.A Ukoli titled “I Can See Clearly Now…” which dented, very badly, whatever claims the Itsekiri have left of Warri City. And this explains why an essay from such an astute social commentator is replete with such disinformation. While I would rather leave the subject of the ownership of Warri for other fora, I would leave our respected Dr Abati and other proxies with a few questions that may help them in presenting a more informed essay the next time they go to press. Who invented the name Warri? What were the areas of present Delta State referred to as Warri Province in colonial Nigeria? Why and when was Warri Province converted to Delta Province? Why and when was Olu of Itsekiri changed to Olu of Warri? Was there any place called Warri before colonialism? Why are there three recognised kings in the Warri kingdom? Why did Olu lose his litigation claiming overlordship of Okere Urhobo land to Okumagba? Why is the Olu’s palace built on leased land from Okumagba? Where is the place of overlordship in the Nigerian constitution on the Land Use Act? These begging questions will go on and on, but your truth lurks therein.
Anyone willing to interrogate these questions with an open mind is likely to discover that, while trying to use their socio-political advantage to outsmart the other ethnic groups sharing the Warri space with them, the Itsekiri establishment ended up shooting itself in the foot by making unwholesome demands calculated to make them owners of Warri City, when in reality the Urhobo people occupy the larger part of the city; a scary reality that has become the ‘Joker’.
Also, successive governments of that era compounded the problem by accepting these unwholesome demands that have now returned to hunt everyone. But what is now playing out with the conversations around Wado City is just one of the many ways conflicts try to resolve themselves. It is a call on the government to solve the problem it helped to create in the first place. It is like a people saying we want you to call us by our rightful name; especially when it is obvious that Warri was a colonial arrangement designed to conceal the doctrine of divide and rule and to distract the people from perceiving colonial exploitation and exploration going on in the province. So I ask Dr Abati, if the Urhobo people of Uvwie Kingdom or Local Government, for example, suddenly decide that they want the Warri Refinery and Petrochemical in Ekpan, of Uvwie LGA, changed to Ekpan Refinery and Petrochemical on account that they are not under Warri South Local Government, will they be said to be brewing crisis? The real question to ask is, what will Ijaw or the Itsekiri lose if the Urhobo enclaves and other adjoining Urhobo towns come to be addressed as Wado City? While we are waiting for the answers to the last two questions, let the warmongers hold their peace and let the conversation continue; or better still, let the Eagle perch, and let the Kite perch too.
Uwa wrote from the Department of English, University of Lagos.
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Abiodun Seeks US Partnership In Developing Critical Sectors
The Ogun State government has solicited for partnership with the United States of America in developing the critical sectors of the State’s economy.
The State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun who stated this when he received the American Consul General to Nigeria, Mr. Will Stevens, who led a 5-man delegation on a courtesy call in his office at Oke-Mosan Abeokuta on Wednesday, noted that the State considers the United States as a progressive partner in the areas of economy, good governance, security, climate change and human capital development around the world.
Governor Abiodun posited that the State apart from the sophistication of its people and their cognitive political culture, is unanimously and popularly adjudged as the New Jersey of Nigeria and the leading industrial hub in the West Africa Sub-region, hence the need to tap from the American experience to further its developmental stride.
The governor said his administration at inception in 2019, assembled a team made up of highly resourceful technocrats and cerebral policy architects and conceptualized a transformational philosophy coined ISEYA, which is an acronym for Infrastructural Development, Social Welfare and Well-being, Education and Human Capital Development, Youth Empowerment and lastly, Agriculture and Food Security.
He said: “Through this concept, we have strategically transformed the state with modern infrastructure, deliberate policy steps to attract businesses and moving the economy from being federal allocation-focused to becoming the state with the third largest Internally Generated Revenue in the country.
“The State’s strategic location as the primary gateway to Lagos State – the largest market with the busiest ports in Nigeria has contributed to its status as the Industrial Hub of Nigeria.
“Our State is home to one of the largest industrial zones in Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes the 8,000 hectares OPIC-owned Agbara Industrial Estate, which accommodates the Federal Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone (OGFTZ), with forty-four (44) operational companies, factory tenants from across the world, with over 6,000 Nigerian employees and an estimated 100,000 metric tons of freight moving in and out daily.”
Prince Abiodun noted that in its quest to make Ogun State the first destination for investors in Nigeria, his administration is currently constructing an Agro Cargo International Airport at Iperu-Ilishan road in Ikenne Local Government Area of the State, adding that the project is strategically designed to create the needed infrastructure to boost the exportation of agricultural and non-agricultural goods.
“By its structure and business plan, the Cargo Airport remains a game-changer in our import and export promotion efforts, as it was specifically constructed to be an aerotropolis (Airport City) equipped with components such as a special agro-processing zone to process raw agricultural materials for exports, an international testing centre to certify that agro-produce complies with international standards before it is exported, and facility for passenger operations as well as facilities to receive parcels coming into Nigeria that are to be redistributed to other parts of the country.
“In addition to that, it is an important component of Ogun State’s transportation master plan expected not only to connect rail, road and water transportation but also to decongest the Lagos Airport,” the governor added.
Governor Abiodun appreciated the American government for her firm stance on democratic governance, specifically on the sanctity of the electoral process as well as supporting different reforms in the electoral process and taking an uncompromising position on electoral offenders.
In an interview after a closed-door meeting with the governor, the Consul General said their discussions centred on security and health.
He noted that health remains the number one investment in Nigeria as the US government is in the health sector to help Nigeria to reach the 95 95 95 goals of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country.
“It is my job to promote US trade and investment here in certain parts of Nigeria. I had a great conversation with the governor about the incredible investment the US companies are already making in the state as well as opportunities for more increased US trade and investment.
“We also talked about the tax sector, I think there are incredible opportunities right now to find jobs and opportunities for Nigerian youths to participate in the tax sector.
“We’ve seen the explosion of growth and investment in that sector throughout Nigeria, particularly in the South West,” the Consul General added.
Toyin Falola And The October Harvest
By Ezekiel Oladele Adeoti
In the annals of academic and societal change, few luminaries shine as brightly as Professor Toyin Falola. As autumn leaves drifted in October, the literary world was astir from the changing seasons and the relentless enthusiasm of a septuagenarian scholar making waves across lecture halls and public platforms. In many cultures and traditions, October is a month of harvest – a time to reap the fruits of labour sown in prior months. Fittingly, for Professor Falola, this October truly lived up to that essence, bearing witness to an intellectual harvest that few could parallel.
Prof. Toyin Falola at the second Distinguished Lecture Series of the Department of History & International Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria on August 10, 2022. Photo by “Gbile Oshadipe (2022) ©
In many ways, the achievements of this month were a microcosm of Falola’s broader career: a testament to the confluence of hard work, passion, and a deep-seated commitment to societal advancement.
Within 31 days, Falola graced the podium for 3 public lectures, imparted wisdom in 2 university lectures, and was the beacon of 3 convocation lectures. Each of these engagements wasn’t just about sharing knowledge; they were conduits for sparking change, challenging established norms, and inspiring the next generation. However, to truly grasp the magnitude of Falola’s October endeavours, one must delve deeper into the essence of the man himself. At an age when many of his peers are retreating into the tranquillity of retirement, Falola’s spirit remains undiminished, if not encouraged. It’s not just the number of lectures or the honorary doctorates he received – which, in and of itself, is a remarkable feat – but the zeal with which he approaches each endeavour. His lectures, for instance, are not mere recitations of historical facts or academic theories. They are vibrant tapestries woven with threads of history, contemporary societal issues, and a vision for a brighter future. They challenge, they provoke, and most importantly, they inspire. But what drives a man of over 70 years to such relentless pursuit? To find the answer, one need not look further than his past works and the themes that permeate them. For Falola, academia isn’t a secluded ivory tower but a platform to engage with the real world. His research, extensive and varied as it is, always circles back to the core of societal problems. From the intricacies of Yoruba history to the broader strokes of African colonial and post-colonial narratives, Falola’s work sheds light on the issues that matter. These are issues that, in many ways, continue to shape societies today.
In this context, October wasn’t just another month in the calendar but a manifestation of Falola’s lifelong commitment to societal change. A promise that has seen him transcend the traditional confines of academia to engage with the broader public. His public lectures resonate with many audiences, often interspersed with anecdotes, real-life examples, and a touch of humour. From the eager university student to the curious layman, Falola’s words strike a chord, reminding everyone of the transformative power of knowledge and its role in sculpting a better future. In delving deeper into the man behind the October Harvest, one quickly realizes that Professor Falola’s achievements are not a product of overnight success but the culmination of decades of unwavering dedication. It’s a journey that’s seen him navigate the tumultuous waters of academia, societal challenges, and personal hurdles, emerging each time with a renewed sense of purpose. More than anything, this tenacity has been the cornerstone of his October endeavours and his broader career. One might wonder, what is the essence of these lectures and engagements? Why do they matter? The answer lies in the content and context of each meeting. Take, for instance, one of his public lectures from October. While the topic might have revolved around historical narratives, Falola deftly intertwined it with contemporary issues, drawing parallels and highlighting lessons. His ability to bridge the past with the present, to draw lessons from history and apply them to current challenges, is what sets him apart. In doing so, he educates and empowers his audience to view issues through a multifaceted lens, promoting critical thinking and proactive engagement.
Moreover, the venues of these lectures—from universities to public platforms—underscore his commitment to inclusive education. Universities, the traditional bastions of knowledge, are just one part of the equation for Falola. By stepping out and engaging with the broader public, he’s democratizing knowledge, making it accessible to all, irrespective of their academic or socio-economic backgrounds. It’s a move that challenges the status quo, emphasizing that learning shouldn’t be confined to ivory towers but should permeate every stratum of society. However, it’s not just the lectures that stood out in October. The two honorary doctorates he received are symbolic of his contributions to academia and society at large. Such accolades, while celebratory, are also reflective. They compel us to examine the body of work that merits such recognition. For Falola, it’s a vast tapestry of research, publications, mentorship, and public engagement. Each strand, be it a book, an article, or a lecture, is imbued with a purpose: to enlighten, challenge, and change. Yet, amidst all the accolades and achievements, what’s truly remarkable is Falola’s humility. Interact with him, and you’re not met with the airs of a celebrated academician but the warmth of a mentor, the curiosity of a lifelong learner, and the passion of a societal changemaker. This unique blend of excellence and humility makes his October Harvest not just an academic feat but a life lesson for many. It serves as a poignant reminder that success isn’t just about personal milestones but about the impact one leaves on society and the legacy one creates for future generations.
Reflecting on the October Harvest and the man at its epicentre, we must contextualize Professor Falola’s achievements within a broader societal framework. At a time when the world grapples with myriad challenges – from socio-political upheavals to environmental crises – the role of intellectuals and academicians becomes ever more crucial. And Falola, with his October engagements and lifelong commitment, epitomizes the potential of scholarly intervention in driving societal change. But why is this important? In an era dominated by bite-sized information and fleeting trends, the depth and breadth of academic research provide a counterbalance. Falola’s lectures, rich in historical context and analytical depth, offer a respite from the cacophony of superficial narratives. They remind us of the importance of understanding the past to navigate the present and shape the future. Every lecture and engagement is a clarion call for introspection, urging society to delve deeper, question more, and strive for a holistic understanding. This is not to say that academia is the sole bastion of truth or the only path to societal change. But scholars like Falola, who bridge the gap between the academic and public spheres, play a pivotal role in grounding discussions in research, evidence, and historical context. They serve as beacons, illuminating the path forward with the torch of knowledge.
Furthermore, Falola’s October engagements underscore the timeless essence of commitment and passion. His journey is a testament to perseverance, dedication, and lifelong learning in a world that often prioritizes instant gratification. It’s a narrative that resonates beyond the confines of academia, inspiring professionals, creatives, and changemakers across various fields. The underlying message? Age is but a number; passion and commitment are timeless. As we draw the curtains on the October Harvest, carrying forward the lessons it offers is essential. It’s a month that celebrates Professor Falola’s achievements, the ethos of scholarly engagement, and its potential impact on society. It’s a call to action for scholars, students, and the general public to engage, question, learn, and drive change.
In conclusion, Professor Toyin Falola’s October Harvest is more than a chronicle of a month’s achievements. It’s a celebration of a lifetime of dedication, a tribute to the transformative power of knowledge, and a reminder of the potential each one of us holds. As the leaves of October give way to the chill of November, the echoes of Falola’s lectures, the wisdom of his words, and the passion of his commitment continue to inspire, urging us all to sow the seeds of change, knowledge, and progress. For in every seed lies the promise of a harvest, and in every effort, the potential for impact.
Prof. Adeoti wrote from the Department of History & International Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria.
Keep Witchcraft Accusations Out Of Politics In Sychelles
By Leo Igwe
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches urges the government of Sychelles to keep charges linked to witchcraft beliefs out of politics in the country because they make no legal and political sense. This call became necessary following a report that the country’s main opposition leader, Peter Herminie has been charged with witchcraft. Charged with witchcraft in this 21st century? He was accused along with seven other persons including a Tanzanian. According to the report, Herminie and other persons have been charged with “possessing items intended for use in witchcraft, conspiracy to perform witchcraft and procuring services related to witchcraft”. It was stated that the name of this key politician was allegedly mentioned in a whatsapp message between a local and the person from Tanzania, who was arrested at the main international airport on September 21, 2023. The report says that “Items related to witchcraft, including stones, black wooden artefacts, small bottles of brownish liquid, a collection of powders, and documents with strange language and “demonic and satanic” symbols” were found in the possession of this Tanzanian.
State prosecutors are of the notion that the documents might be some vandalised materials from the local churches. Mr. Herminie has denied the charges, and dismissed the allegation that items linked to witchcraft including bones, body parts, and objects associated with Christianity” were found in his office or in his possession.
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches is asking the government of Sychelles to drop these charges, because they are absurd and constitute a show of shame and embarrassment. The prosecution of Herminie and other co-accused is witch hunting in both literal and political sense. And witch hunting should has no place in 21st century politics in Sychelles.
Otherwise, how does the government define witchcraft or witchcraft items? How does the government distinguish witchcraft items, whatever that means, from traditional religious objects? How did the prosecutors know that the said items were intended for use in witchcraft? Are stones, black wooden artefacts, and small bottles of brownish liquid witchcraft materials? I mean how will state prosecutors establish that some symbols are demonic and satanic?
Has the government the facility or expertise to prove beyond reasonable doubt what is witchcraft and what is not witchcraft, what is demonic or satanic and what is not? How will the government prosecute this case without flagrantly violating the right of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief? At a time of growing cases of witch persecution in many parts of Africa, the government of Sychelles should discontinue this unfortunate and unwarranted instance of witch hunting.
Dr.Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.
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