Ali A. Mazrui, Abdulrazak Gurnah And The Swahili Moment
October 12 has been declared “Ali A. Mazrui Memorial Day” by his friends, colleagues, and well-wishers. This year’s observance is very unique as it coincides with Zanzibar-born Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah winning the prestigious 2021 Nobel Literature Prize. Indeed, I will use this opportunity to eulogize, once more, Professor Mazrui of blessed memory while lauding Professor Gurnah, both of whom are Swahili-speaking intellectuals of great repute. I most certainly, enjoyed the opportunity of being interviewed as part of the 2021 memorial celebration for Mwalimu Mazrui as part of enlarging the Mazrui Archives. In continuing to maintain an excellent archival website and creating a documentary on Mazrui, we owe an unlimited debt of gratitude to Professor Ndirangu Wachanga of the University of Wisconsin, whose documentary— “Ali Mazrui: A Walking Triple Heritage”— won the 2015 New York African Studies Book Award. Thank you, Ndirangu! I am Ndugu!!
It is a possibility that some younger people may not know Mwalimu Mazrui either in person or by name. However, for many of us, as scholars, whenever we hear his name, what comes to mind instantly is the representation of one of the most iconic as well as influential African intellectual figures of the 20th and 21st centuries. Mazrui, considered by many of us as the father of African liberalism, was our own US-based prolific African author as well as a political scientist, social commentator and theorist, who contributed immensely to our understanding of Africa through his vast intellectual-cum– scholarly inputs and public debates, coupled with his demand for social justice across the globe.
Mwalimu Mazrui’s inputs and contributions to the African discourse as well as an awakening of our intellectual consciousness towards understanding, demystifying and dissecting the African condition, indeed, cannot for any reason be considered minute. Through such sterling contributions of his, we sorely miss him today, and they can be classified into five topical themes: thus, the intellectual legacy; public intellectual debates; the infrastructure of the English language; epistemology grounded in Pan-Africanist-cum-anti-colonial, and transnational perspectives; and rising East African scholarship.
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It is always a hard nut to crack in trying to appraise the legacies of the late Public Intellectual, and it is simply because he meant different things to different people cross-continentally and trans-nationally. Today—October 12th—marks seven years since his glorious exit from Franz Fanon’s wretched earth; otherwise, Mwalimu Mazrui would have clocked 88 years old on February 24, this year. In his honor, many tributes have been written and, as recently as 2017, a book of eulogies was published posthumously, thanks to Co-Editors Kimani Njogu and Seifudein Adem.
In his foreword to the festschrift, eminent historian and literary critic Paul Tiyambe Zeleza identifies Mwalimu Mazrui as “one of Africa’s greatest intellectuals of the 20th century and a prominent architect of postcolonial scholarship, an indefatigable voice for Africa’s intellectual rebirth and empowerment.” Professor Zeleza is correct, but I would further point to other areas of Mazruiana greatness in everyday life. Yes, the Mwalimu was a towering intellectual figure by all means, and that is what he was most renowned for. We need to add everything up in an effort to honor him appropriately.
For example, the first enduring legacy of Mwalimu Mazrui is public intellectual accolade. This can be viewed from his widely known career as an academic. Therefore, his early intellectual grounding began in his native Mombasa, Kenya, where he learned to speak and write in English, Swahili, and Arabic. He won a Kenyan Government Scholarship to further his studies at the initial baccalaureate level at University of Manchester in the United Kingdom (the proverbial Queendom) and then his M.A. degree at Columbia University in the U.S., returning to the United Kingdom for his doctorate (D. Phil.) at Oxford; he began his academic career at the University of Makerere, Uganda as a sharp and upcoming Political Scientist. During the turbulent Idi Amin era in Uganda, Mwalimu Mazrui subsequently accepted an appointment at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and, some years later, he moved to the State University of New York at Binghamton (or University of Binghamton). He was also honored with distinguished professorships at some of the most prestigious tertiary institutions in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and in the Caribbean.
Being unusually prolific, Mwalimu Mazrui published many books as well as edited several journals and mentored generations of younger scholars. He provided the context for virtually all of his views on pressing issues of the day. However, his primary concern was on Africa, with research interests that included African politics, international political culture, political Islam, and North-South relations. The foregoing research interests were very much central to virtually all of the views or theories he elegantly propounded. Unabashedly, he coined the concept of “African Triple Heritage” to demonstrate the three influences that modern Africa was made up of. These include the pre-colonial legacy, the influence of Islam, and the active colonial legacy. This concept was appropriately expressed in his well-known documentary series titled: The Africans: A Triple Heritage, which was published as a 1986 book with the same title.
True to the Mazruiana concept of Africa’s Triple Heritage, the indigenous African influence, which was strongest before the colonial era, is still reflective of African people’s actions, beliefs, and norms. Even, during intellectual discourses, there are clamors for preserving African cultures, traditions and norms, and a revisit to the African values that held sway in the pre-colonial era. The second, the capitalist heritage of Europe, was brought upon Africa and Africans by the colonialists. Africans are not naturally individualistic capitalists but, instead, they are communalistic liberalists — this brings to mind the age-grade system, indeed the owe among the Yoruba, Ubuntu, Ujamaa, and other African concepts that show communalistic liberalism. A concept that allows the individual certain moral freedoms, while also binding such individual by some communal moral boundaries.
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However, the advent of the Europeans and forceful acculturation of Africans—for economic and social gains — has made many African nations capitalist, patterned after European countries and states. Mazrui believed that the practice of capitalism and the proposition of socialism, Marxism, and other European political and economic concepts to Africa is a forceful way of tailoring African states after American and European countries, although Africa is largely very different culturally from those two continents.
Lastly, it is the multi-dimensional influence of Islam. After all, the Islamic influence is not only spiritual but cultural, political, and economic. Mazrui also theorized that the effects of these triple heritage are not one-dimensional but a two-way thing. Africa is not the only continent that has received significant changes in different aspects due to European and American influence. Europe and America had also received significant changes in different aspects, bordering on Africa’s influence.
Mazrui also identified some of the contradictions that he claimed could help in understanding Africa. These were successfully articulated in his 1980 book, The African Condition: A Political Diagnosis, in which he also identified the dependency problem in Africa with the belief that doing so was disadvantageous to the continent’s development, dovetailing Walter Rodney’s how Europe underdeveloped Africa’s dynamic. The underdevelopment position had been explored in a different light three years earlier, precisely in 1977, with his book, Africa’s International Relations: The Diplomacy of Dependency and Change. Several other books, articles, lecture notes and interviews from this period up to the late 2000s engaged Mwalimu Mazrui’s mind. He was, of course, influenced by the ideas of Pan-Africanism and “consciencism” that was espoused by Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah. Still, Mwalimu Mazrui was often critical of many other isms that he believed did not conform to the African condition. On this basis, he coined the theory of “African Liberalism”, which he argued was more suited to or acceptable for the continent’s progress.
Mwalimu Mazrui knew very well that he had a powerful influence globally, but he did not brag about it. Instead, he built a vast network of friends and even critics throughout his career, primarily via public debates with other intellectuals. He was a man who loved enormous ideas and worked towards implementing them. Since he was a deep thinker, he was widely courted by state governments as well as the international media, tertiary institutions, public and corporate organizations for alternative positions and political strategies. Earlier in his career, young Mazrui was said to have gone into an epic debate with the late Guyanese historian (Walter Rodney), who reportedly eventually “humbled” him. This penchant for taking anyone on a debate continued for much of Mazrui’s academic career. It included his famous spat with Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and, much later, American literary critic and historian, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.; these are but a few examples of how Mwalimu Mazrui engaged the public ‘order’. It is understood that he made these “troubles” to provoke great minds like him into action. The debates identified above are in the realm of paper debates, sometimes in Transition Magazine. Several others were held both on live television and radio.
Mwalimu Mazrui distinguished himself through the portal of languages. His academic career was constructed on what can be described as the “infrastructure” of the English language in collaboration with the “babel of languages”. He was equally fluent in Arabic and Swahili, which further reinforced his concept of a triple African heritage. Through language use, he communicated his thoughts to the people and was also able to define his personality.
Certainly, Mwalimu Mazrui remains one of the very few influential intellectual giants of the 20th century. He consistently championed, re-engineered, and reasserted African studies for more than four decades, making it more profound in the West. His legacy yet spreads its tentacles to what we can call “Pan-Africanist,” anti-colonial and transnational epistemological perspectives. His writings were not primarily drawn from Western epistemologies but instead adapted from his African philosophical worldview. The arguments in his books were Africa-centered and called for a place for Africa side-by-side with decision-makers in the Global North.
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What I may well regard as Mazruiana’s most significant legacy is how his life and time have positively influenced a rise in East African scholarship. For, by far, he was one of the greatest intellectual exports from East Africa. Close to his towering figure would be a literary icon, Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Indeed, since Mazrui died in 2014, there have been some concerns that “Africa in general and East Africa, in particular, has plunged into intellectual pitch darkness.” This concern is not entirely valid as a handful of intellectual giants worldwide—from sub-Saharan Africa— are making the continent proud. However, the like of Mazrui comes once in a lifetime.
Notwithstanding, Mwalimu Mazrui’s scholarship has influenced a generation of scholars in ways that cannot be expressed. For instance, Zanzibari novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, who recently won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, comes to mind. The Royal Swedish Academy awarded Gurnah the Prize for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”. This statement can quickly help to connect the dots. The ideas in Gurnah’s novels and his scholarship are not dissimilar from Mwalimu Mazrui’s, who surprisingly also published a novel in the 1970s about Nigeria’s Christopher Okigbo (The Trial of Christopher Okigbo, an African Writers’ Series book). Gurnah’s nomination for this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature stands at the intersection of one of Mwalimu Mazrui’s important legacies—telling the story of the African condition.
When reading of Gurnah’s life—from Zanzibar to the United Kingdom, where he settled to a new life of safety—one can find some deep correlation with Mazrui’s who also fled Uganda at the height of Idi Amin’s power, settling in the United States to a life of safety and intellectual flowering. Apart from the fact that Mwalimu Mazrui and Gurnah are both from the East African part of the continent, both men espouse almost the same, if not the same, ideals. They worry about home and want the home to be better. Both of them fled for their lives after they were persecuted and moved to the West to explore a career path defined by troubles at home and troubles with the continent. Their intellectual outputs are about Africa and how the African condition can be mitigated.
Other thoughts and beliefs of Mazruiana, which form an integral part of his legacy, are that Africa is too dependent on the developed world and that Africa will never earn itself the respect it deserves or an equal seat at the table until it ceases to be overly dependent on the developed world. He also believed that Africa’s relationship of dependency with the developed world could never be beneficial to Africa. Lastly, he argued that regardless of Africa’s abundance of natural wealth and resources, the African people are still Africa’s most significant wealth.
There is no denying that Mwalimu Mazrui ranks among the most illustrious sons produced by Africa. His life and legacy have influenced and, indeed, continue to spark intellectual debates around the world. Sadly, Mazrui’s case yet proves the biblical maxim that a prophet is not accepted in his hometown. His name and fame have positively reflected on the international perception of Kenya, yet, his country seems to have forgotten him. Mwalimu Mazrui himself lamented this challenge. I, in fact, think that it has a lot more to do with a complex problem. However, we must understand that not many younger people today in Kenya were born when Mwalimu Mazrui was making waves in the 1970s. I, therefore, seriously think that it is a generational gap problem, whereby today’s population in Africa, which does not preclude Kenya, is mainly made up of youthful people, whose interests are different from that of our own generation. Look at Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the gap between when he and Mazrui were born is 28 years (1933 and 1961, respectively). He was 52 when Mwalimu Mazrui, his compatriot, passed on. Imagine how old he was when Mazrui filmed his famous documentary.
Yet, again, this did not start with President Uhuru, as it is known that even his predecessors, too, showed disdain for this great icon from Mombasa. I must emphasize that as much as Mazrui fought for the African cause, he detested the type of leadership that emerged in post-colonial Africa. We recall that although Kwame Nkrumah’s political thoughts influenced him, he published an article titled “Nkrumah: The Leninist Czar” that was highly critical of the Ghanaian President. Recall also that Idi Amin wanted him to serve as his special adviser, something akin to Henry Kissinger’s role under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He openly criticized Idi Amin and then fled the country and, indeed, the continent for good. A man, who does not suffer fools gladly, is not wont to be loved by African presidents, who more often than not despise criticism. So, there is an understanding of why he was better left alone by his people than being remembered for his good.
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As we mark yet another remembrance of the life and legacy of Mwalimu Mazrui, the Great Intellectual, we must deeply reflect on his concept of African Liberalism, and how we can drive discourses towards bringing it to fruition. Ali Mazrui’s life is an embodiment of pride in Africa and African cultures and languages. He always believed in the African people as Africa’s greatest gift and resource. With us in existence, Africa still hopes to take its place as an equal counterpart of other continents of the world.
We must all emulate Mwalimu Mazrui and, also, show our pride in Africa and the African culture. Beyond that, we must live African, think African, breathe African, as well as influence and shape the world’s perception of Africa positively, just like our dear friend and brother: the indomitable Ali!
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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By Toyin Falola
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” – Galileo Galilei
Religion remains a much-debated issue, especially in Africa. It is one of the determining factors of our identity. It determines who we are, our beliefs, actions and reactions, and even our thought processes. Africans had their own culture and traditional religion until the advent of western civilization, which brought with it the ‘gift’ of Abrahamic religions—,Christianity and Islam—and judged African traditional religious practices as evil, pagan practice and witchcraft. The missionaries did a thorough job of making people believe that their religion was superior and righteous. Africans accepted these imported religions, and their traditional beliefs began to fade. Christianity and Islam are now the new order, and people are extremely devoted to these newly found Gods.
The Toyin Falola Interviews recently played host to music composer and songwriter, Beautiful Nubia. The question of Beautiful Nubia’s stance on religion pops up during the interview. He is known to promote African spirituality but has also defended foreign religions as advantageous. In response, he talks about his ancestral line: his paternal family were Olu Orogbo devotees (the Yoruba god of letters), and his maternal family were Ifa priests and Esu devotees. He said, “religion has always fascinated me like it gets people’s minds.” He opines that spirituality ties into what gets people so much into religion. Although he no longer practices religion, he affirms that these religions have positively influenced people to do good and show kindness to their fellow human beings.
He states, “Any organized religion has a set of dogma or doctrines they use to guide you to put you in there. You are there; it is like a strait jacket to keep you on the straight and narrow. Why I said religion is a good thing is because the purpose of this is to ensure that you stay on the straight and narrow, that you do good things.” We can agree that religion has contributed to the rise of morals to a certain extent, as the fear of God keeps many people from doing evil. It has curbed wickedness and negative traits inherent in humans and made many people see the world in a new light. Religion has spread the message of doing good and becoming a better human being.
The issue, however, is not the practice of these religions but the ability of leaders to sway people easily. Although imported religions have helped to stop the extremities of African religious practices, it has only accentuated people’s gullibility. Beautiful Nubia further states, “What is wrong with religion is that it gives certain people the power to use their followers. It is not the religion itself; it is the human beings who run these religious organizations who use their power to extract money from them and push them in the wrong direction.” Owning a church is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get rich, particularly in Nigeria. All that is needed to succeed in this business is to be a good actor, have nice clothes (suits, particularly), can win people over with words and give yourself an extraordinary title such as Rabbi.
It is common knowledge that the major reason why people attend church and Jumat services religiously are that they seek solutions to their problems. As much bad governance is enough to seek God’s intervention for various human issues ranging from terminal illnesses, protection, promotion, unhappiness, barrenness, unemployment, and marital problems, to poverty, which is an average African’s motivation to seek God’s face, also cause people to become staunch believers. To get swift, miraculous answers to these problems, many people fall prey to the traps of “men of God”, who only look to fill their pockets and bellies. This explains why a “pastor” would shut down his church after winning a 100 million Naira bet.
Pastors and Muslim clerics are considered mini gods who can do no wrong. The Bible verse, “touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm,” is an ever-ready response by Christians in defense of their highly revered pastors who would not think twice before taking advantage of their desperation to get their problems solved. They forget that a “man of God” is first a man. Religion has rendered humans gullible to the extent that they excuse things their religious leaders do that are not even in tune with what is written in the Holy books. How do you explain a pastor who sleeps with a woman looking for the fruit of the womb and says his sperm is the anointing that will cause her to have her child? What do we say to a pastor who instructs his congregation to bring a greater percentage of their salaries to him so that God can answer their prayers? Should the man who claims to be an alfa but has exploited so many people in the name of being a ‘wonder healer’ be left alone? Churches and mosques nowadays see the desperation of people and feed off it. Many people come to church for prosperity and get ripped off the little they have, all in the name of miracles, signs and wonders. You could be in a church service and then suddenly hear the pastor say, “I see seven stars. I need seven people who will give the Lord Seven Hundred Thousand to come out now at the count of seven. One, Two…Seven!” You will be amazed at the number of people who will run to the altar to give the ‘Lord’ that amount of money in this present economy. Unsurprisingly, some borrow money to give to their pastors to receive blessings, then struggle to pay back the borrowed money. Monkey dey work, Baboon dey chop.
These men of God add false doctrines to their fraudulent, shady activities. Beautiful Nubia quotes his mother, a Christian singer, as saying, ” any church where they are a lot of people there, you know there are telling them lies there.” He made an example of a Muslim cleric who tells his followers that every other person is evil, an infidel and a pastor who tells his congregation that their Jesus is not a Jesus of poverty, that He died for them to be wealthy. It is now rare to find churches that preach about the kingdom of God and how to live a life that pleases God. Churches today entice and then mislead people.
Sometimes, people realize all these things are wrong but lack the courage to question these atrocities. According to Beautiful Nubia, “…as a child, you are fully indoctrinated, and as an adult, you are scared to question these beliefs.” Asking a pastor why he preaches only prosperity and how to get rich as a Christian would be considered as seeking the wrath of God because the pastor can call down fire to consume his ‘enemy’. Questioning an Imam on why he sleeps with young girls will only attract curses from the Quran on such a person, followed by “who are you to question God’s prophet? The ways and dealings of God are mysterious”. Really, who dares question these men of God? The fear that has been unconsciously programmed into your mind from a very young age holds your voice and makes you look away from the evils of these religious leaders.
This is not to say that there are no genuine men of God, but there is a plague of greedy religious leaders who, because of their power over their members, influence them to bend to their will while satisfying their greed and lust. “We should not focus too much on religion being our enemy. We need to focus more on ourselves, fix ourselves, and we can use traditional wisdom to do that”, says Nubia. The way we question and demand accountability from the government should be the same way we question our religious leaders. Not every “God says” is true. The Bible in 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved , believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Many religious leaders are gods of their bellies and are only out to exploit people to put food in their fat stomachs and live expensive lifestyles with their poor congregation’s money. Child of God, shine ya eye!
This is Part 1 of the report on the interview with Beautiful on March 19, 2023. The extensive interview, which has received millions of views across different platforms, talks about the role of music in society. For the transcripts, see:
Death At Dawn, Rebirth At Dusk
By Toyin Falola
Twilight-zone, Afterlife, What-Mays, and Whatnots;
Questions that transcend mortal thoughts.
Uncertainties plucked by the hands of certainty
pondering life beyond the galaxy.
Philosophies, religions, and sciences;
Ancient lenses to dissect and ponder.
Beliefs, opinions, and standpoints in their multiplicities;
Scalpels that open the heart of certain death
Blazing free the skins of uncertainty.
Science, a nobility I revere,
But it stammers answering to the afterlife.
For science is knowledge and knowledge from experience
But the dead neither speak, nor take records.
Their journeys, ordeals, triumphs or woes?
No one bears witness.
But as dead, we must all be witnesses;
witnesses that testify not.
So, for now, we survive the knowledge of death.
On my Agbàlàgbà head lies my Ọ́kpụ́ Ágwụ́
With eagle feathers, rare and honorable
Adorning it for three scores, a decade, and some more days.
I had flipped my Kente given by the Gaa
And danced to crescendos from Gàngàn drums
I have been celebrated and celebrating
For the miracles, I have worked with pen, paper, keyboard, and brain
I have taken the tales we tell in my village square beyond the Atlantic
Changed the songs that disdain us into appraisals
I have called my brothers not to point to our fathers’ house with their left hands
I have honed Africa and beyond
To answer the calls of the people’s need
I have reached the thinkable and done the unthinkable
So, I danced and keep dancing.
Suddenly, I felt a touch on my host?
Electrifying my hand, leg, brain, and my whole
Telling me that my jur from the Dinka people awaits me.
That my hourglass tells of crossing the bar.
I thought I knew what it was like,
But my grasping convictions of approaching jur were perceptions
Just surviving the death of the knowledge of death
So, arms wide open ready to abound
What was there to fear?
No catacomb of secrets
No palm oil-drenched white garments
I have taken many to my gourmet
To feast and to see.
What was there not to fear?
With medicine men and women,
Syringes, lights, water, ECG, Oximeters, voices, and touches
Hovering around me like a sacred etutu
Making conversations with me and beyond
I was thrown into a pool of reminiscence
one leg and a part of me were already in the boat
It beckoned but I heard another.
A loud voice like my mother’s.
Who takes a journey without locking his home?
Who takes the jur with unpatched palm fronds on his hut?
While the thunder rages up the sky?
The walls are broken and Balogun journeys?
So, I left the sea to clear the cobwebs and light up the night lamb.
The past few weeks have opened new lights of understanding to me. I now see the world from different hills and have helped to reach new resolutions. I know I have written about “transitioning to nothingness,” but my emphasis was on the “nothingness” with lesser attention on “transitioning.” I think we need to continue to ask questions. Philosophies, religion, sociology, psychology, science, and other ramifications are mere perceptions and we are uncertain. The transitioning occurs when death becomes an angel to hug not a beast to fear. We do not know what it entails but one must always endeavor to go with clean hands.
My recovery from an illness may have offered me a fresh opportunity to shout some more, point to societal needs, and settle unfinished businesses. No, not those caused by my personal undoing, but rather those of the people who would be left unguided, and for matters untold about life, society, and individuals. I can say I have passed through the lessons of tantra transfiguration, to use an elegant phrase that I recently came across, to move from secular to sacred activism. No one survives death because of its finality, but when it seems that you did, it is a renewed quest, offering a new purpose.
Professors On INEC’s Will (3)
By Tony Afejuku
The debate has progressed well so far. Our professors, whose strokes have centred on their fellow professor’s manned INEC have tried as best as they could not to confine their impressions solely to the prism of subjectivity. Even when their impressions seem to be subjective, they still make allowance for contrary views, for opposing views. This obviously gives clarity, objectivity and logic to the subject at hand. Is the will of INEC of a professor minder and mincer of words’ control the will of the people or of the masses? On whose side are the Professors who are as concerned as almost everybody is with what is going – or with what has gone on – primarily about our Presidential 2023 elections? Our Professors who are debating the subject constitute the courageous and prophetic Nigerian voices of our day. Their authentic and responsible thoughts are not restricted to the local or regional. They are also not confined to electoral duties and responsibilities expected of the umpire and the will that belongs elsewhere. The truth about the quality of leadership about our country and elsewhere is also told in the debate of the literati.
Professor (Mrs.) Razinatu Mohamed in her submission, in her salvo-cum-explosion actually, drew attention to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s explosive explosion in the presidency. If Professor Osinbajo had provided the right vice-presidential leadership there would not have been the need for him to explode as he did as per a viral video Professor Razinatu Mohamed referred her fellow debaters to. “What has he been doing in the eight years of their administration? Irritated my foot; he is complicit.” Not done, Professor Razinatu drew attention to the kind of leaders that Nigeria and Africa need: “Leaders that understand the rudiments of modern socio-economic development and systems; Leaders that understand the crux of requirements for economic growth. Leaders that could demonstrate to the rest of the world that just as the world needs Africa, African countries need the world in a symbiotic relationship and partnership context where assistance becomes a dual role…..”
Razinata’s concern is clear. Nothing in Nigeria will climb out of its hollow hole. In fact, the will of the people will remain hollow so long as a hollow mincer and minder is in charge of its electoral affairs.
Professor Da Sylva perhaps responds better to Professor Razinatu Mohamed’s algebraic stroke. “Unfortunately, Nigeria’s democracy is trapped in its primordial self-made ethnic and religious sentiments and so, standards, merit, competence and pedigrees are measured by their curious divides of religion and ethnic inclinations. Until we all come to realize that heavens help those who help themselves, Nigeria ain’t going no-where – meeen!”
But below is Professor Da Sylva’s sledge hammer response to Professor Razinatu Mohamed’s Osinbajo hammer blow:
“Prof Osinbajo’s office demands he does what he did. Besides, it shows maturity and spirit of sportsmanship on his part. Every loser in a game “healthily” contested, is naturally expected to do the same. The only difference which again shows Osinbajo’s magnanimity is that in this context, the contest under reference was neither healthy nor just. The umpire seemed compromised and merely worked to a prepared answer. Yet the gentleman did the needful. I guess, brothers and sisters, that we should put all that behind us, and work for our common good, and the wellbeing of the country, provided the mythical Aso cabal will let the President-elect be, and let the masses be, and as such, they should not create any cause for us to think otherwise, lest they provoke our sense of patriotism to take appropriate action! I guess that those were the reading or feelings of the dirty-minded Aso Villa cabal. People that kill with sword never wish that any folk should pass a sword over their heads, a wise saying goes in Yoruba. The human principalities simply suspected that should they allow PMB to give the VP the intended latitude, they might not be able to control him. I remember on his return from London, he commended the efforts of his VP while he was away. He said he would still continue acting while he would still have some more rest at home. The following day everything changed, PMB decided to take charge as the President. I suspected some back door politics was playing out. My co-debaters, quite naturally, you’ll agree with me that, it is not over-ambition or sheer opportunism as you might insinuate for any deputy in an office to aspire to the next higher office, in a legitimate manner, there is nothing really unusual about it, and it would amount to killing a mosquito with a sledge hammer, should Oshinbajo be crucified for that, if at all. And as for his wishing Buhari’s non-recovery, I think that, again, like my Sister R, is a little unkind and not fair to the gentleman who I know to be a servant of God. He knows as much as I do, by our true Christian orientation and Biblical injunctions that, should he ever wish Buhari’s death or wish him any form of misfortune in those trying periods of the President, God Almighty who we serve would deal mercilessly and ruthlessly with him. That is what Psalm 41:1-13 is all about. So rule that out, because it is not, and could never be in his character. I can vouch for him. Rather, I saw him in those times that he acted for his principal, as someone zealous and appreciative of the trust his principal invested in him, and as such he tried to do his very best to merit the trust and the opportunity! I know and I am also sure that this is what an IBK, or a Razinat, would have done too had they found themselves in a similar situation! It does not amount to wishing one’s principal any evil, not at all. Not everyone can be like Chief Obafemi Awolowo who resigned his position under Gowon when the regime became financially reckless shortly after the civil war. Awolowo also gave very profound argumentation to justify convincingly his actions. He also turned down some other appointments including the “49 Wise Men of the Constitution Drafting Committee.” Oshinbajo couldn’t have resigned, normally, and naturally his principal, PMB should have supported him as a capable successor, but again, the President’s ethnic and religious bigotry took the better part of the President. Besides, PMB’s mind was long poisoned against his VP, a clean job by the Aso Villa cabal. IBK, Lady R, until the faceless cabal is permanently silenced the wheel of Nigeria might continue to go round in a circle, and to nowhere in particular”.
And Professor IBK takes the floor: “Prof. DAO, yours is a powerfully convincing submission, at least in a large measure. Now I am willing to hold a slightly different opinion about Osinbajo. Yet, I cannot fathom why he chose to run against Tinubu, days or weeks after the latter had begun his campaign in the party primaries. There’s much we don’t know about why OSBJ decided to run against BAT. Nothing is wrong with that politically but a little problematic from an Ethical or, at least Moral, point of view. Osinbajo did a poor job of it and came out a distant 4th in the primaries. I think he didn’t read the situation correctly and was probably misled by some cabal of sorts. Either way Osinbajo made a politically fatal error in this regard. Perhaps he must have sensed, or was told, that BAT was not the anointed candidate, or that BAT would be crippled by some ill-health or a medical condition. I remember the party’s screening committee publicly recommending that only younger contestants would be recommended to the NWC or such. Clearly there was an attempt to sideline BAT. Whatever the explanation, Osinbajo make the error in his campaign of promising to be more Buhari than Buhari. A man despised by whole sections of the northern population, a man whose reputation for laziness and incompetence was on the ascendant. Anyway, all is now history and Osinbajo has not given a good account of himself in this particular case. Prof DAO, I think your concept of the Trickster should account for Osinbajo’s situation here. FULL DISCLOSURE: a very close family member of mine was drafted to head Osinbajo’s campaign effort in Kano. We discussed extensively about Osinbajo’s pledge to carry on with Buhari’s policies. There was bewilderment and shock within the members. A week later half of the membership resigned on account of Osinbajo’s increasing identification with Buhari’s policies. Many mistakenly thought that Osinbajo was Buhari’s anointed one! I could go on…”
Interestingly interesting and intriguingly intriguing, dear, dearly dear readers: this debate.
To be terminated by the columnist-terminator and terminator-columnist next week after Professor Olu Obafemi’s summation of the debate he presided over.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
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