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Nigeria At A Crossroads: Moment For Lamentation And Ambivalent Reflection



Nigeria At A Crossroads: Moment For Lamentation And Ambivalent Reflection
Prof. Samuel Zalanga

By Samuel Zalanga
Nigeria is currently facing serious challenges and concerns. While I have not retired yet, and I am not living in the African continent, there is no day that for some minutes I do not reflect on the pain and suffering that millions of people are going through on the continent. Yet in spite of all of this, one often comes across news of especially African youth and middle-aged persons’ accomplishments in spheres that are very spectacular and deserve not only recognition but affirmation. Indeed, spectacular accomplishment is metaphorically speaking like a pedagogy of hope. Without hope, given the challenges confronting many ordinary people in Africa, the people can easily end up in a state of despair. It is in this respect that any serious discussion about nation-building and human development needs to begin by among other things asking these two questions: what does it mean to be human and what do we owe each other for being human? Whatever your religion, ethnicity, or nationality, these are important questions that are foundational to building a just and fair society for all because we know very well that without identifying what constitutes our shared humanity and building our society on that philosophy, we may end up creating what some economists call the “tragedy of the commons.” The tragedy of the commons happens when each of us in pursuing his or her narrow selfish interests and totally ignoring the common good, contributes immensely to creating a social environment that becomes similar to the Hobbesian state of nature where life is nasty, brutish, and short.

I have been prompted to think deeply about Nigeria, my country of birth for several days recently, after I came across a piece of reflection written by Professor Toyin Falola, one of Nigeria’s most renowned scholars and public intellectuals in the diaspora and in Africa. In the piece of reflection that he wrote, he commended some Nigerian youth for their spectacular accomplishment in completing their doctoral studies in reputable universities in the United States and Britain and starting new chapters in their lives as professionals, who will immensely contribute to the betterment of the human condition. As part of the reflection, Professor Falola’s message went beyond congratulating the youth to address some deep issues of concern that he has been ruminating on with some degree of ambivalence and lamentation regarding the state of affairs in Nigeria today. One of his lamentations is that there are many African scholars in the diaspora who would like to retire back in Africa so as to use their golden years to give back to the continent in a special way by mentoring cohorts of the younger generation, but they are unable to pursue that for numerous reasons. For instance, at the current moment, the situation in Nigeria is so complicated and unstable that many in the diaspora find it too risky to retire back home in spite of their sincere desire to do so. This is really a painful situation in the sense that despite living abroad for so many years, there is a way in which “home is home” and it is different. Professor Falola is lamenting the state of affairs in Nigeria where the country produces “brilliant folks who cannot go back and work” in the country.

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Professor Falola’s concern about the need to contribute to nation-building and elevating the lives of those at the bottom of the Nigerian social pyramid was further extended by Bishop Kukah. Bishop Kukah commented on Professor Falola’s reflection and analysis by calling on all of us to ensure that the accomplishments of Nigerian youth “can, should and must effect a change” and that change “must happen in our lifetimes.” He further observed that “we can and must reverse this sad run of events on our continent.” While each African country has its own struggles in the area of nation-building and elevating human development, Bishop Kukah asserted that “Nigeria has become the theatre of all that is wrong with our people.”

The concerns that the two of them expressed touched my heart and soul deeply. When I was an undergraduate, even though I grew up in the social margins and periphery of the Nigerian society, I still had great hope for the progressive transformation of the country, especially when I came across the goals of Nigeria’s Second National Development Plan to build: “a united, strong and self-reliant nation; a great and dynamic economy; a just and egalitarian society; a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens; and a free and democratic society.” The two goals that I find deeply penetrating are building: “a just and egalitarian society; and “a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens.” How things turned out to be where they are today in Nigeria really bothers me deeply given the visionary nature of the goals of the Second National Development Plan. I know that I am a mortal human being, and my time here is limited. So, I am concerned about how others and myself can make the best use of my lives to contribute and make a difference in some way for the benefit of present and future generations in the country.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Democracy And Challenges Of Nation Building

We cannot change the whole of history, because if we try to do that as Nietzsche said, we will be overwhelmed, and chances are that we will end up becoming very cynical because there are too many things that can disappoint us and maybe even feel a sense of despair. But we can do our best by creating a niche and making a difference in that area within our limited time and with our limited resources. The little we do in the chosen niche, can inspire others, and give us a relative sense of satisfaction that we have at least tried to make a difference in touching the lives of some people, especially those on the other side of history. Some economists argue that even if we cannot have a revolutionary change in society, if every day, every one of us will decide to engage in a random act of generosity to another person, the cumulative effect of that will make the world a better place. When one engages in a random act of generosity, it means he or she does not know the beneficiary of the generous act and they are not likely to ever meet again. So, the goal of the generous act is not to win a vote or create a hierarchy of power, but to make a difference in the lives of fellow humans because of our shared humanity.

When I was an undergraduate in the mid-1980s, I read one newspaper commentary in Nigeria where the late Chief Moshood Abiola and Professor Wole Soyinka celebrated their birthdays. The commentator in the newspaper made the point that the two persons come from more or less the same generation, but they interpreted their life history differently as they celebrated their birthdays then. The late Moshood Abiola celebrated the great accomplishments and achievements of his generation, but Professor Wole Soyinka according to the commentator titled his birthday speech then, “Wasted Generation.” The commentator argued that they come from the same generation, but they were using different yardsticks to evaluate their accomplishments and so they consequently arrived at different conclusions.

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Personally, I agree with Professor Soyinka about my own generation, — I completed my undergraduate studies in 1986. I always ask myself what has my generation done to really improve the lives of the “Wretched of the Earth” in Nigeria? Many of the members of my generation in Nigeria today are occupying positions of power and authority broadly speaking and are indeed the ones looting the national treasury and creating conditions that will not allow Professor Falola and many like him to return to teach in Nigeria after retirement. I recalled how while we were undergraduates, my generation criticized the Nigerian elites/ruling classes and we went on strike several times in protest against some policies adopted and implemented by the then Federal Government of Nigeria. I do not know how other people feel, but personally, I feel too much obligation to humanity, particularly the people of Africa and Nigeria. Growing up poor in rural Bauchi State, without subsidized education using public money in Nigeria, I could not have had access to undergraduate education. On a critical note, the public money used to educate me was money that every Nigerian citizen was equally entitled to.

The economic logic that informed how the public money was used then to educate us was that the money invested to educate my generation will train and equip us to become professionals and future leaders, so that we can contribute to nation-building and the promotion of inclusive economic development that would benefit all Nigerians, including those that were denied access to the money used to educate us, even though they needed good roads, rural clinics, healthy drinking water, and good electricity supply, etc. But after being trained with public money, my generation became empowered and used its bureaucratic and institutional power to act in a predatory manner to enrich themselves, their friends, and relatives at the expense of the masses. Some of us out of despair explored ways for leaving the country and we left. The elites and ruling classes from my generation further focused more on promoting differences among ordinary Nigerian citizens instead of focusing on our shared humanity. For millions of ordinary Nigerian citizens, it was double jeopardy. White people treated Africans badly, especially during the colonial period because of their assumption of being a superior racial group, but today, my conclusion is that the problem was not simply being White or European, but something about the moral and ethical cultivation of the human heart and soul. Simply because someone is Black and African (i.e., not White, or European), if he or she has no moral and ethical cultivation, the person can be as oppressive as the Europeans were to Africans, if not worse. The naked fact is that even though I am a Black person who grew up poor, if I have power and privilege over other people, my being Black and growing up poor does not automatically immune me from abusing or oppressing other people and treating them like trash. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, we totally ignore this kind of moral and ethical imperative, which calls for the need for all of us in humility and sincerity to interrogate ourselves.

As a doctoral student in the United States, I came across a book that contained the names of all people from various African countries that received a scholarship through USAID to come and study in the country. They attended prestigious universities. Their names were listed by country. Some of them graduated long before I finished my teacher’s grade three certificate studies in Bauchi State. I remember how overwhelmed I felt after going through the list of those from Nigeria who received their education in prestigious universities in the United States. I wondered then whether there was anything new I would learn and do to make a difference in Nigeria after completing my doctoral education when there was a list of these highly educated people who were back in Nigeria, but the country did not change for the better in spite of their spectacular educational accomplishments.

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From then on, I started thinking about the fact that we need more than just education to transform Nigeria, Africa, and the world. Later, I became interested in the history and evolution of Western civilization from the time of the ancient Greeks, through the Roman republic and empire, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, modernity, postmodernity, globalization, hyper-globalization, etc. There is indeed a huge amount of erudite scholarship and wisdom that has been accumulated in the evolution of Western civilization (as in many other civilizations) during all these historical periods, notwithstanding the effort by some Afrocentric scholars to dismiss everything that is not African in origin. The conundrum is that when one looks around today, in spite of all the reservoirs of erudite scholarship and wisdom in the Western tradition, we are still dealing with a lot of “crap” in terms of human development. If people like Auguste Comte will resurrect today and see that despite all the availability of scientific knowledge and industrial-technological achievements, there are still people who go hungry even in advanced nations, he would be very disappointed and realize that creating a just and fair society requires more than just having scientific knowledge and industrial-technological accomplishments. One just needs to pay attention to the kinds of debates going on among some of the elites in the Western world with regard to how they perceive people who are not of Western ancestry as inferior beings. “De jure” racism is gone, but “de facto” racism is still used to perpetuate injustice and oppression.

All these have made me to experience pessimism of the intellect, although I try to balance that out with optimism of the heart. If knowledge per se will change the world for the better and for all, we should be in a kind of New Jerusalem by now or “Dar es Salaam,” and not be dealing with some of the issues we are dealing with such as in Nigeria where life has become nasty, brutish, and short for many innocent people. Thus, I am now at the point of asking myself, what do we need to add to knowledge (broadly speaking) as such, so as to be sure that it will create a more just and fair society, or a just and egalitarian society and a land of bountiful opportunity for all citizens? Is it wisdom, courage, sacrifice, authenticity, compassion, etc., etc., that we need to add to our knowledge? Surely, the kind of moral and ethical cultivation of a people and society is very important in this respect as they phenomenally shape the kind of social institutions that emerge in a society. Two people or societies with the same kind of excellent knowledge (scientific, religious, and technological) will use it differently depending on the kind of moral and ethical compass that informs their vision for humanity and the common good.

READ ALSO: Rebuilding Nigeria’s Broken Walls: From Emotional Patriotism To Nehemiah Complex

I know and agree that knowledge and technological-industrial resources are necessary for development, but they are obviously not sufficient; neither are they the only things that are needed to create a more just, fair, and egalitarian society for all. Moreover, the more I explore this conundrum and concern, the more I am scared, reflecting even on myself that the modern and postmodern world we are living in is built around a human conception and caricature known as “homo economicus.” In our world today, one is directly and indirectly conditioned to acquire the social orientation and personality of homo economicus as the quasi-character quality necessary for success. This homo economicus is, however, at his or her core, a kind of human being that is so self-absorbed, and even when he or she is in that state, instead of admitting such moral limitation, if not a failure in some cases, in humility and sincerity, he or she uses certain strategies, to come up with a sacred canopy that covers the self-absorption and narcissism. The self-absorption and narcissism now become sacralized through the backdoor. Thus, in many contexts, the desires, and aspirations of homo economicus have gradually gotten a seat at the inner sanctum of many government and religious institutions, where instead of scriptures or ethics interrogating life and disciplining it, crude human desires inspire a reinterpretation of scripture and social ethics to fit the Zeitgeist of homo economicus. This notwithstanding, there is an attempt to cover or hide all this with a sacred canopy as many religious teachings are used to dehumanize others and promote hatred and prejudice. Frankly, I am worried not just about Nigeria but about the fact that humanity has no clear direction or destination as Patrick Deneen says based on his discussion and analysis of liberal democracy in “Why Liberalism Failed.”

While I am committed to doing my best and working with others to make a difference in some way, I still feel terribly overwhelmed that my youthful idealism and hope for Nigeria, Africa, and the world will not be realized in some way up to the time I will die, and this is truly and sincerely painful. The ideals of pursuing and creating a more just, fair, and egalitarian society for all may not be realized, and if this happens, it is not because of a lack of knowledge or scientific and technological resources per se, but because some people have chosen to use their knowledge and power to create private pleasures, which result in public pain or plight. Even if personally, I have accomplished something, and assuming I own the tallest building in Abuja, Nigeria, I feel my generation has failed the country. I pray that the younger generation does not repeat the mistakes of my generation. I will always remember the French philosopher who said, metaphorically speaking, there is no growth without death, just as no seed will germinate, grow, and produce yields that become a great harvest without first dying. The world will not be a better place without us making some sacrifices. But what kind of mindset comes to terms with sacrifice not just for now but for future generations and for the common good? What kind of worldview and culture creates a social atmosphere among not just elites and the ruling classes but ordinary members of society also, to value and honor making sacrifices for the common good and humanity at large? This is my reflection and lamentation at this historical moment where Nigeria is again at a crossroads .

.Zalanga is Professor of Sociology,
Bethel University, Minnesota,


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Toyin Falola: Foremost African Historian Wins Lifetime Achievement Award



Olusola Ogunnubi 

By Olusola Ogunnubi

On Wednesday, May 31st, 2023, US-based Nigerian renowned historian, Professor Toyin Falola, was awarded the distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS) for his contributions to African Studies. The entire hall was full of elevation, and the side talk was that this was one of the best decisions ever made by CAAS.

CAAS is the umbrella body for scholars and practitioners dedicated to promoting the study of Africa in Canada, and according to its website, the Lifetime Achievement Award is indeed the highest honour of the Association awarded to senior scholars who have been actively involved in CAAS and have retired or about to retire. In the words of Prof Nduka Otiono, President of the Association, “this esteemed accolade recognizes your exceptional contributions, unwavering dedication, and profound impact on the field of African Studies in Canada and beyond”. According to the CAAS website, the selection of Falola for this prestigious award was on the merit of three criteria: (1) a lifetime of sound scholarship, (2) accomplishments (research, teaching and mentoring awards, etc.) and (3) involvement in the activities of CAAS. The award was formally presented to him during the CAAS Annual General Meeting and Conference hosted at York University, where coincidentally, Toyin Falola had been a professor between 1990 and 1991. Prof Falola stands in the illustrious company of previous awardees, including Prof Paul Lovejoy. The CAAS Distinguished Lifetime Award was the first awarded to a scholar in over five years.  

Toyin Falola is a professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities. He was also previously The Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor in History, a position he held from 1995 to 2012. His research is focused on African History since the nineteenth century, African Diaspora, Epistemologies, Theories and Methodologies. Professor Toyin Falola’s contributions to the field of African Studies and African History have continued to place Africa on the map of global recognition. Not only is Falola’s scholarship recognized globally, but he is also dedicated to mentoring a new generation of young and emerging scholars in the social sciences, arts and humanities. He also convenes the Annual Africa Conference, a platform for knowledge exchange between scholars from Africa and the diaspora. I had the honour of attending the Africa Conference in 2012, where Falola generously accommodated me in his house after the conference along with other guests from Africa. As a postgraduate student attending the conference from South Africa, this short period of interaction would eventually shape my resolve to aspire to greater heights within the academic space. 

In 1981, Prof Falola finished his doctorate in History from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), where he completed his thesis on “The Political Economy of Ibadan, c.1830-1900.” Remarkably, more than 40 years after his first PhD, professor Falola earned a D.Litt in African Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, in 2020. Professor Falola receives 16 honorary doctorates and over 40-lifetime awards from several universities and countries. A brief list includes Monmouth University (2007), City University of New York (2013), Lincoln University (2015), University of Jos (2015), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (2018), Redeemer’s University, Nigeria (2017) Federal University, Lokoja (2021) among others. Falola has also previously been appointed to several distinguished honours, honorary professorships and visiting fellowships at various universities, including the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Centre for African Studies (2018-2022), Olusegun Obasanjo Centre for African Studies, National Open University, Abuja (2019-2021), Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South, Library of Congress (2016), Pontifícia Universidade Católica De São Paulo, Brazil (2007); Humanities Research Council, Australian National University in 1995. 

Interestingly, Falola helped organize the CAAS conference at York University in 1991, where he started his career in North America. He had also previously delivered a keynote address at the CAAS Conference 1991 and again at the just concluded 2023 CAAS conference. In over 40 years since he left Canada for the US, Falola has continued to make an impact on the Canadian and the North American academic landscape in general through his invaluable contribution to CAAS, serving as external examiner to major Canadian universities, including Queen’s University, York University, Trent University, Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto, helping to shape the academic depth of the African Studies programs in Canada and being a mentor to Canada-based Africanist scholars. Notably, Falola has supervised over 100 Master’s thesis and Doctoral dissertations in History and African Studies and examined countless theses and dissertations. CAAS also acknowledges and recognizes Falola’s invaluable contribution as a reviewer for the Canadian Journal of African Studies and his longstanding role as a member of the editorial board of the Harriet Tubman Series on the African Diaspora at York University. 

Given his excellent and distinguished scholarship and its impact across disciplines, it is not surprising that this is not the first such prestigious lifetime award that Prof Falola has received. Some of his previous awards include the Distinguished Africanist Award in 2011 by the African Studies Association (ASA), which is the largest global Association by scholars of Africa, Nigeria’s highest National Merit Award – Member of Order of the Niger (MON) awarded by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2022, Award of Excellence in recognition of support of tertiary education by Lagos State University in August 2022, Distinguished Award for Intellectual Contributions to Knowledge and Scholarship, University of Abuja, Nigeria (July 2021), Distinguished Award for Scholarship and Mentorship, Babcock University, (June 2021), Distinguished Africana Award, University of North Carolina, Charlotte (April 2011) among many others.

Several celebratory legacies and honours have also been named in recognition of Falola’s exemplary contribution and scholarship to African Studies. One such honour is the Toyin Falola Annual Conference on Africa and the African Diaspora (TOFAC), inaugurated in 2011 by the University of Ibadan Cultural Group (ICSG). TOFAC is a huge annual conference convened in an African university on different themes. Also, the Toyin Falola Book Award is administered by the Association of Global South Studies for the best book on Africa. Lunaris Review also awards the Toyin Falola Literary Prize, named after him for his contributions to advancing African cultures, people, and histories. Falola is also Series Editor for at least a dozen monographs and Encyclopaedias and has served on several Book Prize Committees.

Professor Falola has also led major academic associations, including as President of the African Studies Association (2014-2015) and the Nigerian Studies Association (2005-2007). He has also received several traditional titles, including the Bobagbimo of Ugboland in 2014, the Agbakin of Kusela-Ibadan in 2022 and Nii Kpani Ashaabla 1 of Adabraka Otukpai Palace, Accra, Ghana, among others. 

Receiving the Award at the ceremony held to round off the CAAS conference, Falola expressed his gratitude to the Board and Members of the Association, seeing the recognition as a responsibility to continue to do more to extend the frontiers of African epistemic traditions. Falola lauds the Association for leading the intellectual path for the advancement of African Studies globally through the creation of opportunities for critical debates, research engagements, knowledge exchange and interactive space between academia, government and other non-state actors to drive policies and a commitment to ensuring that the systemic issues that Africa and Africans face are confronted through meaningful scholarship. 

Professor Falola is today honoured because he’s been a solid and unforgettable part of CAAS’s contribution to African Studies. Prof Falola is humble to the core, and there’s a lot that old and new scholars in the field can learn from his humanity, simplicity and sincere concern for the academic well-being of everyone.   

Ogunnubi  writes from the Department of Political Studies, Queen’s University, Canada.


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Ama Ata Aidoo: A Gallant Intellectual



By Toyin Falola

Our encounters were not limited to knowledge sharing. Yes, this is important, as Ama Ata Aidoo and Ngugi wa Thiong’o were among those who read the draft of my first memoir, A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt. It was mutual, as she also gave me a few drafts to read. Then we met in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and the United States. The most memorable was at Smith College, where we spent a semester together, seeing twice a week. A great cook, I took delight in consuming her egusi soup. I felt emotionally sad to be one of the earliest to know of her death and had to announce it on several platforms. It was a privilege to do a short tribute on May 31, 2023, at the recently concluded Canadian Association of African Studies held at York University, Toronto.

Ama and I were on first-person name salutations. She musically pronounced my name, Toyyin, adding “y” and refusing to let go. I reciprocated and called her “Amami, Mamami” to return the musical song. She knew when to provoke me. I was also a master at teasing her by making a patriarchal statement, to which she would immediately respond. I knew the Ghanaian presidents she could not stand, the ministers she detested, and I would say, “Amami, Mamami, you know I miss President Dash!” 

Mamami reminds me that at several points in life, especially during childhood, most humans have lofty dreams and ambitions. For many, those dreams and ambitions will only come to represent “the good old days when life was simple,” never seeing the light of reality — especially if the dreamer is limited by one or several factors like poverty, country of birth, a lack of education, poor nutrition, and a limit in both exposure and cross-cultural experiences. For others, opportunity and preparation help them realize their dreams. This day, you’re stuck with your convictions, committed to your beliefs, and working to support the causes that align with your values. The next day, you have transcended into a realm larger than life — larger than a single lifetime that any human could have.

Since Aidoo shed her robe of the human hood and took on the next adventure in existence, the news headlines that made the rounds about her death seemed to have some common words: Ghana, Ghanaian, literary icon, author, and feminist. However, Aidoo can be qualified by more than those words that made up the news headlines of her death. For one, I chose to describe her as Africa’s gallant intellectual and literary general because although she is proudly Ghanaian, her life, works, and impacts transcend one country — they have been for Africa, from within Africa’s Golden State. It’s understandable that the reporters, especially those of foreign media houses, might have chosen to be specific about her country to avoid backlash on the Western world not doing enough research to report African news contextually. But in the case of this eminent scholar and what she has lived for, she is our collective heroine.

Professor Aidoo knew what it meant to have a purpose, define existence, and stay true to one’s causes, so much so that a legacy is built, intentionally or not. She lived for Africa; she lived for the rights of African women; she dedicated her life to documenting African realities and deconstructing erroneous notions of what Africa is, who Africans are, and what the realities of Africans and their continent are. She lived a wholesome and fulfilled life — an 81-year-old is old enough to join the sacred ancestors in many African cultures and societies. Nevertheless, no matter how old our loved ones are at the time of death, our insatiable human nature and the prospect of their absence, our loss, and our longing will always douse our mood at the reception of the news. 

Nature and nurture come to play in forming the formidable intellectual and literary general that Aidoo was. Grounded in the history and exploits of her people from early on, Aidoo envisioned the life of an author for herself— seeing it as the best way to document histories and put the stories she had heard and was living into the hands of many others to make impacts. She was one of Africa’s generals, not on the battlefield during the world wars but on the intellectual battlegrounds of academic and literary imperialism. While staying vocal through her writings and words, Aidoo fought for Africa and did so proudly. She was instrumental in spotlighting some of the biggest issues African women have faced in decades. In so doing, she drew the admiration of Africans, especially African women, who came to see her as a mother, mentor, and idol. 

Aidoo made great impacts, and they reverberate so much so that death is not finality for her. From her poems to her novels and plays, the literary world will continue to make reference to, discuss, critique, and base other works on the foundation of what Aidoo did during her lifetime. That is her legacy, which has inherently conferred on her the goddess status. She might have left her mortal body, but she lives on and among us through her works.

Although she was better known for her writings, activism, advocacies, and feminism, Aidoo’s life was an excellent demonstration of walking the talk and living one’s words. She will be remembered back home in Ghana as a literary heroine and a patriotic countrywoman with a deep desire to help catalyze her country’s development. Convinced that the Minister of Education role would afford her that opportunity, she accepted her appointment by the government in 1982. However, like several of the recently independent African states then, she soon discovered that the people in power mostly wanted the best hands without wanting those hands to go to work in a way that would benefit the country. Seeing as her lofty visions for the Ghanaian education system would never materialize because of the Council, Aidoo resigned from the position and dedicated herself to excellence in teaching in the Ghanaian tertiary education system, which she served assiduously for decades. 

Aidoo never minced words about her criticism of the Western world and its role in the colonization of Africa, which has metamorphosed into colonialism and is being continuously modified to withstand and survive the agitations of intellectual and well-meaning, patriotic Africans. She is famously known for commenting on how Europe has been tirelessly milking Africa of its human, mineral, natural, artificial, and artistic resources for over 500 years. Aidoo’s vocal nature in decrying the covert and subtle neocolonialist efforts from the West earned her transgenerational reverence among her peers and even the younger generation.

One of the distinguishing traits of her feminism is adapting the African communal and tight-knit nature of pre-colonial communities into the formation and interactions of the women communities on the continent. This manifests in how renowned feminists like Aidoo and Professor Bolanle Awe take several other women under their wings and groom them. As the mother hen readily spreads her feathers to protect her children, Aidoo supported the feminist communities and female writers and authors. This is evident in her many engagements with these communities, as recently as 2021, at the Kwame Nkrumah Festival in Ghana. Aidoo’s life has inspired many of these young women in academia and the literary world. It has helped them understand that they can also dream and aim for their dreams. 

Many of those she assisted, whether they had only met her through her work or had the opportunity to meet her physically, shared a special bond with her, so much so that until her death, she was popularly known as (m)Ama Ata Aidoo — the bracketed “m” signaling a prefix to form “Mama,” the African name for mother. Aidoo lives on through the many people she’s inspired with her work. Many found meaning through her work; they found reasons to be conscious as Africans, appreciate their African identity, deconstruct erroneous notions of colonialism, and recognize the ills of the colonial system and its impacts on Africa. She was a fierce and vocal general in her advocacy against the misrepresentations of African women and African stories, but she was a soft and accommodating mother to many.

Mamami, you earned your position among Africa’s most revered and respected literary icons, and now, you have donned the cloak of immortality through the body of your work. Beyond your existence, you live on. In that instance, death as the finality we have come to know ceases to be the end. A literary icon would then have attained the status of a god. You will be sorely missed. Africa’s academia will feel the void of the inputs you could still have made if you were here. However, our solace lies in the fact that no one can ever do enough and that, taking your exploits and achievements in the context of the impacts they have had and continue to have, you did your best. For that, we are grateful. 

Farewell, Amami Mamami! May your journey in the next phase of life be easier!

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TB Joshua: Remembering Exit Of A World Changer



Pastor TB Joshua

By Dare Adejumo

The month of June is a significant month in the annals of Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN). It is the month of the birth and passing of its founder, Prophet TB Joshua, that great world changer.

Its fifth day makes the second year of his glorious exit from earth and on the twelfth, the great man of God who cherished marking his birthdays would have been 60 years old.

Nations across the world would have been agog for an extraordinary prophet of God whose footprints of wonderful deeds touching the lives of millions across the globe remain in the sand of time. TB Joshua came to revitalize the face of Christianity and made the physiognomy of practical Christian living as given by Jesus Christ already in abeyance real to mankind once again.

There’s no hide and seek in his life. He was love personified. The humbliest human being I have ever come across. Firm and stern, even in his moment of severity, you would still find love encapsulated. You could not offend him. He’s extra sensitive with propulsively radiating wisdom, unfathomable knowledge of life, charming and a paragon of magnetically illuminating character. He was completely acidic to vanity, envy, jealousy, human comparison, imitation, vulgarity and wonton desires. He described them as some of those “foolish things” not to be entertained for a moment in one’s life.

Pastor TB Joshua

TB Joshua was a divinely self-made man. Here was a man with little elementary education. Yet with your degrees, erudition and western exposure, you would be humbled by the self-discovery of your personal hollowness or quasi- emptiness when you sat to discuss or share a view with TB Joshua, a shy village man. TB Joshua was an attestation to God’s omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence and greatness that lay in simplicity.

I personally witnessed several cases of some other so-called men of God who out of ignorance and envy were once persecuting him but after receiving the touch of God in different dimensions including mere touching of EMMANUEL TV while praying came to weep before God for forgiveness. Joshua would only say to them: ” I didn’t fire one single arrow back from all your arrows against me; otherwise you won’t be here today to talk. One thing we should always know is this: I did not choose myself to do God’s work. He in His wisdom just chose me and I know He is with me. God would never give anybody this kind of power He gave me if the person would use it for selfish purposes or against his perceived enemies. No!”

TB Joshua was a puzzle, an enigma. He was the light shining in darkness that many couldn’t comprehend. He looked too simple and ordinary having not been commissioned by the earthly papacy or religious authorities of the day and for him to be performing miracles of diverse kinds like breathing. This was clearly indescribable, incomprehensible, a mystery and shocker to the spiritual ignoramuses and empty flamboyant oratorical, motivational preachers with big congregations.

That great English thinker and philosopher John Locke once said: “New opinions are always suspected and usually opposed without any other reason but because they are not already common”. In God’s adamantine and inscrutable will, TB Joshua came to the scene when the acts of Christianity seen in Jesus Christ and His early desciples and apostles as captured in the Bible were gradually becoming moonlight tales to this generation. Religious leaders had already metamorphosed to careerism and polarised with pervasive unhealthy cacophonous standards. It was obvious that these religious leaders no longer knew what they were doing then even till today in several quarters without any tangible impacts in the lives of atrophied worshippers!

That was the turning point.There was no way TB Joshua could have had it easier. He faced satanic conspiracies and persecution galore, but the man remained focused with unmitigated perseverance, vision and mission of his divine assignments which he tenaciously upheld victoriously till the last.
He took his persecution joyfully and that conspiracy against him at home launched him to the outside world in God’s agenda and design for his mission on earth.

Hear him: “I began discovering the good life when I was only 15 years. My objectives and motives were determined at once. I wanted what God wanted and I wanted it for the reason God wanted it”. That’s prophet TB Joshua for you. Till the end he carried his childhood with him, with malice to no one but love, charity and firmness to all in God’s righteousness. To him love is pure. Take good care of your heart because that is your communicating point with God and must ever remain pure to know and flow with Him. You can never love God if you don’t love your neighbours and your neighbours include your percieved enemies, those not in the same faith with you, the poor and those in need who you must give love unconditionally.

This Godly character often made TB Joshua to be misrepresented by low spiritual human beings whenever they saw him attend to other people who were not Christians just as his Master, Jesus was accused of dining with republicans and sinners which made the religious authorities persecute Him.

The truth of humanity as once put by that foremost existentialist Italian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard is that history would always repeat itself because man would never learn from history. Many never discovered Joshua not until he had departed! What a painful loss.

You could never find TB Joshua criticizing or talking about other men of God. He moved on quietly on his own even though he lamented the pervasive discrimination and disunity in Christendom.

Several people from other churches who received healings and miracles in his church, Synagogue Church Of All Nations SCOAN wanted to come and do thanksgiving in his church but Joshua would not allow them. “Go back to you church and do your thanksgiving and give your offering there. We are the same. God had already answered your prayers there before you came here” for you to see how selfless he was in all his dealings.

TB Joshua was more interested in the quality of your Christian life and character. He would ask you: “Do you hear from God? Do you listen to Him? Does He speak with you? Do you know how much you need Him? Do you have a relationship with Him?” The God’s general believed that your highest achievement on earth was to hear from God.

To TB Joshua, Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with God. If you don’t have that relationship with Him you have missed it and you are worshipping in vain. “How can you be worshipping God you don’t know?” He would jerk up his congregants to move away from spiritual docility, complacency and indolence.

TB Joshua was never an academic preacher. He spoke words of life that transformed lives of ardent and fervent seekers of God and salvation.

I remember a female nurse I once encountered when she came to treat a patient as she stood looking at EMMANUEL TV. On enquiries whether she knew of the television station, she said that she used to attend SCOAN. “I was a nurse and member of the church’s medical team. Then the church was not rich, just managing to survive. It was what happened during the man of God’s birthday that made me stop going and besides I had relocated to a farther distance. We all on our own contributed money to give TB Joshua as a present. When we got there to present it, the man just asked us to put all the money in one sack. He asked us to choose some people among us to take the whole money to the disabled people’s home at Oko Baba. He instructed that one of us should just dip his or her hand in the sack and be distributing the money to them one by one with whatever the hand could gather at once like that to the less privileged living there and nothing should be left in the sack. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked that the man could take everything there like that not minding that the church itself was very poor”. This woman completely missed the beauty of life and essence of humanity the prophet symbolized. TB Joshua believed your giving is only meaningful when you give what you cherish most. He would never give in half measures. He was extraordinarily generous and at home in humility with all categories of people as a friend however commonised other people may look at them. Every human being is unique and important to TB Joshua and must be treated with dignity.

TB Joshua was never a burden to anyone but carried all human burdens that crossed his paths. He was the only man of God holding crusade abroad without asking for any donations or collecting offering from worshippers. He would rather go there with loads of charity works for people and the country. There was a time in Cameroon when the airwave was jammed with announcements that TB Joshua would be coming to hold a crusade in Yaounde, asking for people to donate money. This was a scam because the scammers were capitalizing on Joshua’s popularity and the perceived pressure of the country’s request for his crusade program in Cameroon. TB Joshua in holy anger countered the announcements saying: ” That cannot be my TB Joshua of Synagogue Church Of All Nations SCOAN. I have no plan to go to Cameroon. God has not directed me to go there. Have you ever seen my pictures or envelopes asking for donation of money from anyone or anywhere? Please disregard this announcement. When God gives you an assignment He would also send to you what you would need through His chosen vessels”. This is a symbolic message for you to differentiate the chalk from the cheese in the religiously distorted world. He never allowed himself for a moment to be carried away by anything.

The lofty principles and legacies of TB Joshua remain enduring and a high watershed in Christendom. The joy today is that SCOAN is in the capable hand of a down-to-earth and visionary successor, Pastor Evelyn Joshua, a woman who had gone through the spiritual mills and rigorous discipline of TB Joshua the spiritual mentor extraordinaire who strongly believed that life’s biggest decision is what you do with Jesus.

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