Sunday, December 30, 2012

On Parental Love

Love is one word that many people use for its popularity rather than for the sake of the truth of its meaning. I want to dwell on the love of parents for their children. Like we say, once we become parents, all that we do, we do for our children. I know my mum (my dad no) loved me as was evidenced in the sacrifices she made for my siblings and I. She ensured we got the basics any parent could give to their children – food, shelter, clothing and education (formal and informal). As a parent myself, I have also begun the journey of sacrificial living in order that my children get these basics. Though my parents didn’t leave physical inheritances, the inheritance of character and being which I have the responsibility of honing is more than I could have asked of them.

The reason for this write-up is to examine this virtue in the Nigerian parent and relate it to where we are today. I have been wondering why anyone will steal billions of naira if not to leave some as inheritance for their offspring. Even the holy book says a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children. So, it’s possible many of these parents are only trying to comply with this advice regardless of how it is achieved. They thus amass the commonwealth of other parents and children thereby depriving them of the opportunity to provide even the basics for their own household.
So, can this be said to be borne out of love? Is love a very narrow virtue which doesn’t care about the rest of the world as long as my family and I have the very best? This is what capitalism and religion teaches and that is what we have unofficially subscribed to in this part of the world unfortunately.

A public official who steals the pension of citizens in order for his children to have the best comfort of life and the best education that money can buy in Europe or America or Afrika and to buy properties around the world which he can leave as inheritance for those children will claim he loves his children. They do this with hope that long after they've gone, their children will be well positioned to lord it over 'commoners'. I know many young Nigerians who are praying for such opportunity to grab a piece of the national cake and will not openly condemn these evil perpetrators because they will indirectly be condemning themselves. I have seen children of these officials been given good job placements even though they do not qualify and thereby depriving those who do from giving their knowledge and skills to such a position. Inherently, this reduces the contribution of that position to the organization and to the nation at large.

The problem with our society began when we started ignoring the means and only put value on the end. You’ll hear of parents who arrange for their children to sit for WAEC/GCE in special centres. They pay huge sums of money for this. The students are usually provided answers to questions (it is called ‘expo’) for all the subjects in these centres.  The end (the examination result) is of much value to them and the society than the means – hard work, discipline, sacrifice, character – through which the good result can be obtained.  Sadly, these parents and their children will also join to condemn the corrupt public officials.

What should one expect such a child to do in the higher institution (peradventure he/she secures admission)? The struggle to ‘settle’ lecturers, carry ‘chips’ will continue of course. And then the likelihood that this child will continue this tradition for his/her offspring is very high. But these parents love their children and will do ‘anything’ to ensure their success/happiness. What they however fail to realize is that they do not love such a child. They deny the child the strong footing to start life when they cheat, steal and cut corners for him/her. As the saying goes “children do not listen much to what we say as much as to what we do”. This sets off a generational anomaly – laziness, lack of passion, lack of character, lack of discipline, lack of commitment – and the world will never know how much of these good virtues would have been developed (and mastered) by the children thanks to the ‘love’ of the parents. Only few children get influenced along the way when they see the light and drop this ‘love-nurtured’ way of life.

Perfect love casts out fear is a verse of scripture which I understand to mean that where love is present, fear of failure/success is not, fear of expression is not, fear of rejection is not, fear of living is not and the fear of the outcome of love is not. Our society is failing because we have exalted the love of money and the term “success’’ as it is associated with money above the true meaning. We have allowed our eyes to be weakened by many glittering and fashionable things which are manufactured by other countries and so drive up our desire and greed for these things rather than to be inspired by the creation of such which in turn should drive up desire to create such things closer home and add more value to the society. We ignore the fact that through our aberrant love we have truncated passion, character, discipline and hard work which are involved in the innovative process which birth some of the things our eyes now long for at all cost.

In 2013, I wish you true love for self, offspring, kind and for the whole of humanity.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

History, Culture and Religion - The Relationship

Guest Post

By Temidayo Ahanmisi

When culture dies, humanity dies. When a history is stolen, the future is destroyed. Those who own our stories own our destinies. A human being who does not control his own narratives is a slave. It matters not if he has plenty finery or not. I regret that I can’t deliver this more superfluously. I regret that language fails me, so I can’t tell you what I’m trying to say without sounding condescending. I don’t believe in apologizing for my opinions, but I must do that here because what I am saying concerns even your children – those projections of your most cherished hopes & dreams.

…Well…say it I must...our children are slaves. Do you protest? Good. It means you still have some modicum of the basic dignity that should be yours by mere reason of conscious existence. Now place your Nigerian child beside a Japanese child…Ask your Nigerian child to tell you a parable about honour/duty/community/family/ forgiveness/ charity/ justice/moral rectitude…the things that make for character building…the character that births nations & projects races into the future for world domination…the building blocks that will ensure the replenishment of the earth…

The Japanese child will tell you about Shinto, Confucian philosophy , the Samurai creed & the sword eras…He will tell you about his ancestors & those who contributed to the building of his society as he has it today…the warriors, the poets, the musicians, the community lords & kings… Saikaku, Sei Shônagon, Sanyo, etc. It would matter little whether his parents are Christians or Muslims by association & worship. They are Japanese first. They come from the lineage of the Samurai. Their life philosophy cannot be separated from this unique ancestry. An average Japanese person has a concept of honour & shame that would confound an average Nigerian. Reason?...He knows whose son he is.

…His Nigerian counterpart on the other hand will explain such concepts using parables drawn from the bible or the hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad. The ancestors (spiritual & temporal) of the Nigerian child are Jacob, David, Abraham/Ibraheem, Isaac etc. Now we should have no problem with this. No?...Well, there’s just this little issue…None of them are African. None of them know Nigeria. None of them are black people. They are Jews. But like I said it’s a little problem.

…Oh…not really little as such since one of them was a trickster/’’419’’ right from the womb…but it’s ok really. He was blessed by God and earned a place of honour in the annals of the patriarchs.

And I think one kept a female slave & had sex with her…and then his wife drove the slave out with her young child into the desert to starve & die. It’s okay. She gave birth to the ‘’child of promise’’, and so earned her place of honour among the matriarchs…okay millions do not agree & on this basis millions are still being slaughtered…but like I said, it’s no problem. This is Africa…this is Nigeria…the authentic theatre of the absurd.

…And another one…well he once slaughtered 7 men as human sacrifice to appease the Hebrew god to stop famine in the land…the men were from a rival clan, but it doesn’t matter now. The famine stopped, according to the legends. Indeed so exalted was this patriarch that he was destined to be the ancestor of the long-awaited Messiah of his people, the jews. Okay, millions of jews do not buy into this theory, but who cares? This is Nigeria…the land of the rootless.

…So like I said, it’s nothing serious. I know that ancestors are people with clay feet, and that their stories are necessary for inspiration because they are men/women of ‘’like passions as us’’…& talking about ‘’like passions’’…one of the ancestors of these Jews…well he ordered a lion to kill & eat some kids that were taunting him. The lion did. The Hebrew god supplied the lion. That’s an aside though.

There are a lot of things these ancestors reportedly did that would be judged by us in just about any way today…the words ‘’immoral’’, ‘’vile’’, ‘’despicable’’, ‘’dishonest’’, etc would come in…although some wouldn’t go that far…but somehow they would sneak into the consciousness. That’s the way of humanity & the human conscience. We know wrong. We know right. We know the truth. We know falsehood. We deny. We accept. The truth doesn’t care.

So like I said…it’s no big deal. Well it is. Our ancestors also reportedly killed, lied, cheated & caroused like these Jewish ancestors…but trouble is, our ancestors did not earn a place in the annals of our history for these very reasons. You see…we are clean & holy people. Our ancestors can’t have clay feet. We must appear ‘’spotless’’ & ‘’blameless’’ on the day of judgment fixed by this Jewish God. If we are found to have ever admired our ancestors or invoked their names in anyway, we will be placed in a place of molten sulphur & burning lava, hotter than a volcano. Ancestor worship is evil & we are born again. Well…we can invoke the names of some ancestors when we pray…but they must be Jewish ancestors as mentioned above. It is okay to worship Jewish ancestors.

And also it is okay to pray to idols, but they must not be those ugly African idols with those bulbous noses & bulging eyes…those black disgusting-looking effigies!

…So if all of this is not a problem, why should we bother then?
Anyway we are not bothered. It’s just that the Jews are mocking us…they ignore us. We don’t mind. We are redeemed. We will continue to align with their ancestors, worship their god, defend their interests in their numerous wars & have elaborate ceremonies to give their names to our children. They will come around someday. It’s been thousands of years, but they will come around.

In the meantime, we’ll just pay tithes/zakats, observe their festivals & norms, go to pilgrimage in their disputed lands & give them money from our govt. coffers; While we are at that, we will spend huge amounts on various ceremonies & rituals from myriad other cultures, ostracise our children who chose to decline, kill a few people for not following the religions of our chosen ancestors…some of us will buy jets, steal public funds, kill brother & sister, tear families apart, destroy whole civilizations & cultures, wander aimlessly through lands…destroy some native shrines…just generally act crazy…while we wait to join our adopted ancestors in paradise.
We are just happy that our ancestors whose perfidy caused a strong strain of ancestral curse to pass down to line to us will be in hell where they belong!

…Wait…what were we saying about honour-shame code? What was that again about native spiritual philosophy? What was that that talk about social justice?...okay so I know the Japanese child will share anecdotes about Amaterasu about the kami spirituality, about the Bushido honour code…but you know what? It doesn’t matter. I know the Japanese are stricter about abhorring corruption & laziness...oaky I know their code of preferring death to dishonour, but you know what?..My Nigerian child’s bible says he is more important than his community. His bible says he shall be blessed & have plenty to eat even when famine ravages the land…how you ask? Ask Jacob…they call him the supplanter, but don’t mind his detractors. His name is Israel. The angel renamed him after he fought for his blessings. Yes…that’s why we fight to keep our share of the commonwealth. We will never ‘’let God go until He blesses us!’’ We have good ancestors. They taught us well. Our children will follow in the tradition. Just as ancestral curses can pass from gene to gene so slavery can be passed down. Being a slave is better than being cursed.

By the way…I’ve checked….Chief Bode George was a good slave-son too. Remember that the next time you want to open your mouth to talk about shame & restitution. He had every right to go to church & give his offering & offer thanks publicly. Remember whose you are the next time you want to talk about ‘’putting Nigeria on the path of greatness again’’. Remember that the next time you talk about morality & pull out ‘’your bible’’...the next time you want to judge GEJ & his ministers ask yourself again…whether they have not repented in the course of the night, become born again & given their lives to Christ…in the few hours of the night. Well I just thought to warn you because you could be ‘’judging those Christ has redeemed from the curse of the law’’…and that would be ‘’doing the prophet of the Lord harm’’, you know…just as you do your pastor-prophets harm by judging their rights to private jets.

Abeg make I enter my Mazda dey go. I wonder what is wrong with these silly Japanese people sef! Imagine naming a car brand after a god…isn’t ‘Ahura Mazda’ one of their gods? Let me make sign of the cross before Lucifer will LOL after me. All these idol worshippers manufacturing cars for Christians! Well…God dey. On the day of rapture I shall leave this pagan car behind & ‘’ join the saints triumphant in Heaven.

About Temidayo Ahanmisi
Temidayo Ahanmisi is a young, dynamic and passionate Nigerian. A liberated mind, she is an inspiration to the young generation who clamour for change within the black man's homeland. She lives in Nigeria.

Monday, December 3, 2012

From humble beginnings to oppression

I have observed that many of our 'oppressors' usually have humble beginnings - parents who were small farmers, teachers, taxi drivers, cleaners, hair dressers, food sellers, small scale traders. These people struggled through to get an 'education' - in essence, certificates, in this part of the world. They then begin to look for work. Many are lean and thin due to paucity of food in the home coupled with school stress. They "beg to apply" in several organizations. Some of them who 'know someone' manage to get a placement quicker while others have to struggle with other applicants in aptitude tests, interviews to secure a place in the banks, civil service, oil companies and other private companies. The lucky one soon find an apartment and gradually start to furnish the place - rug, settee, fans, AC, fridge, cooking gas, mattress, bed, generators, flat screen TV, etc. Things are beginning to look good. The unlucky ones will have to settle for business - become entreprenuers by force.

Soon enough the plan for marriage begins. Big wedding expense for cake, food, drinks, hall, wedding gown/suit, shoes, rings, traditional clothes, bride's list, aso-ebi, gift souvenirs, car hire, honeymoon locations, lingeries, etc. After the wedding, the woman gets pregnant and the next thing is planning for the baby - maternity clothes, ante-natal clinic, baby cot, breast pump, breast pad, cloth dryer, prams (even though most streets aren't paved and the prams become indoor equipment), etc.

When the baby comes (the in-thing now is to go deliver the baby in the UK or US), another big party take place (food, drinks, tents, lace for husband and wife). Subsequently, the expense graduates to baby food, creche, clothing, school, food, etc. And more and more it becomes a very narrow view of how to care for "me and my family".

In all of this, there is usually an unspoken agreement in the society of the level of celebration expected and standard of living. Also, there is a certain expectation in the office environment to dress a certain way, drive a certain brand of car and live in certain areas. So, the young man/woman who was from a humble home has begun to compete with those from the elite class (many of whom are children/relatives of corrupt civil servants/politicians/businessmen). They have quickly forgotten what is was like to 'struggle' to eat and pay rents. Some get so preoccupied with making and spending more money they even forget to cater for their poor parents (who are now much older and possibly retired) who helped train them to become independent. Then the greed starts to show through the collection of loans (to fund bigger lifestyles)) and the soliciting for 'runs' jobs - a la government contracts (with main aim of sharing in the national cake). They join themselves to big churches where they are recognized as workers who pay their tithes and offerings regularly and who are usually well dressed. Some of them begin to seriously consider being profiled for pastoral work and so begin to do 'eye service' and become overzealous. The pastors and their family members are usually well cared for by the church and if the church is large enough (with members comprising of very well connected and high-earning groups of people), the pastor may be bestowed with a private jet for his 50th or 60th brithday. You never can tell the size of the gift. The church members don't joke with their pastors. They love them very much and they show it through utter obedience and giving of gifts. And if you are loyal (note this word carefully) enough as a pastor, you may get bestowed with unimaginable gifts of private contracts with multinational companies or government.

And so the young individual has no plan whatsoever to be entangled with the poor anymore. God has delivered him/her from the curse of poverty and that is absolute (never mind that some get retrenched when the companies downsize their work force). No plan to reach out to any poor member of the family or even the street on which they live. They have quickly forgotten their journies. They collaborate with those who move money illicitly just so they can also be 'blessed'.

We can see the path of an ordinary person through life (in Nigeria) and how there was no plan throughout to help bring up others or make sacrifices in order to achieve national purpose. Their actions are reinforced by the words of MOGs who continues to 'bless' them the more they give.

Many of the tastes are simply an emulation of some of the children of corrupt members of our society. Many of whom have been given employment deservedly or not. These ones do not need to work before they can go abroad for vacations, shop or acquire a brand new car. They are merely at a job to pretend at it. This young woman/man would not be 'outdone' by some 'rich' colleague (often younger). The competition is usually stiff - mostly unspoken.


So, this young man/woman begins to 'pray' to be like these 'blessed' ones. Because their tastes have grown large, they will do anything to maintain it. They will lick asses (white or black it doesn't matter), forge documents, engage in fraudulent activities, collaborate with contractors to shortchange the government or the organization. Few years down the line, many rise to the top ranks and become managers and supervisors who help to fuel the corruption within their organizations just so they can maintain their overbloated lifestyles. They really do not care that ordinary people will suffer because of their actions and inactions. Their focus is now in the adornment of designer lables, driving of four wheelers, clubbing, vacationing abroad, etc (the foreign taste syndrome).

I am quickly reminded of our sitting president who 'had no shoes' growing up. Some say the number of shoes (and they don't come cheap) he now has is enough to fill and start a shoe shop. I know also that many senators (at state and federal levels) fall into this category. I do know of managers of local businesses, banks, oil companies and parastatals who also fit this description. Just look around and you won't have to look far.

Many of us fall into this category. We allow our consciences to die and join the bandwagon of 'if you can't beat them, join them'. We simply forgot our origin, our heritage. We simply help to further enslave our own people through our foreign tastes which inadvertently develop the foreign economies. Yet, we complain with others when simple things elude us right here. We just can't see our own role in the whole scheme of things. We forget that we are the ones the country has been waiting for to come of age but sadly we simply went with the flow. We simply forgot about purpose. We simply fell for the illusion of money and continue to chase after it to our own hurt and the hurt of past, present and future generations.