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Cry The Beloved Country

By Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo, Chair English Department University Of North Carolina, Greensboro.

To ruminate over Nigeria, a nation with so much potential to make good in the eyes of the world is to remember the man who first used part of the above title when he captured the wrenching agony of living in apartheid South Africa half a century ago.

Nobody ever knew, that dawn was somewhere in the dimmest horizon. But for many like Dennis Brutus, celebrated South African poet, they thrived and hung on the most tenuous sentiment that stubborn hope would win the day. Hope did win the day in apartheid South Africa.

The grave nagging thing in the spirits of many of us who are able to sit back very seriously and contemplate the entity called Nigeria, cannot but really fear that the sky over apartheid South Africa was a kinder sky. It was a kinder sky because the game of the devil there was very clear.

His face was visible. So were his actions and his voice. In less indirection, you could simply say that the Devil was throbbing and palpable in his menace as he dealt blow after blow on the cringing heads of his victims.

Alas, the fear, when you look at Nigeria, is that a wicked sky drapes over it, a sky where dawn and a morning sun are afraid of the devil’s power. The devil is neither of those words above. He does not throb and he is not palpable. The devil in Nigeria is an ethereal stealth!

His power is aerial and unassailable.The devil is a waif whose ghostly blows strike with the force of steel. Because the blows are soundless, no one knows who to fight or resist because the bludgeon descends before you know it is coming. The devil has no oppositional victim before him, so it is not really a conflictual oppositional situation.

It is more of a bumbling bulbous environment in which the tragedy is in the nuisance and not in any visible heart-rending bloody disaster.If God made us as a nation, well then, would you say that he loves to watch us bulbing around each other groggily, day in and day out, doing slow interminable damage to each other because we would not allow each other to do anything useful for the nation!!!

I have heard some tell me that God made the Nigerian nation and therefore we just have to work with it and continue trying to shape it into something. Of course, knowing that the idea of God in those terms is the black man’s idea, and also his curse and undoing, I could not help wondering whether it was not the same God who blesssed the French,the Bolshevik, the American revolution and so forth.

It was the same God who let Bangladesh alone, the same God who allowed Yugoslavia to disband, and the Soviet Union, despite the great glue of Marxism-Leninism to disband.

The greater truth is that the British made Nigeria to serve their imperial needs and national greed and ego. Now that the demon of imperialism has been chased out of the country and the imperial masters themselves have recently admitted that they planted Nigeria with evil seeded into its earth for periodic blooms to feed their coffers and the great trap with which to keep Africa under their perpetual grip and control.

What are Nigerians doing with that awareness ? Waiting for God or Godot to tell them what to do?

Nigerians should wake up and shake off their sado-masochism and sit down and look at each other in the eyes like some disaffected and disappointed lovers are wont to do and admit that this thing which God made through British imperial machination and racist chicanery called Nigeria is not working.This is the moment Nigerians need the real God and prayers, prayers for courage.

Nigerians need the courage to admit before God that that the problem is greed. Perhaps the Buddhist deity is really who should receive the prayers because that is the deity who understands the great evil called desire.Once the diseases of greed and desire are cured and the demon of senseless acquisition is exorcised, the country’s eyes will open, and believe me when that happens, the following will be our resolutions.

We will leave natural resources to those who own them, those with the resources in their lands ; as indeed Nigeria did in the days of Palm oil and Cocoa, and Groundnut pyramids and tin. We will apologize for duping the Deltans for so many years, and work out an arrangement which will enable a new Nigerian entity to work out a fair pay-as-you-earn system for taxing them instead of the old existing robbery through arbitrary meaningless percentages.

Off shore resources will be explored collectively and shared in fair proportions to be worked out and based according to need. Abuja, the national headquarters of Nigerian greed and desire and agon could be owned and administered collectively.The old regions could re-aggregate based on accepted affiliations and not on the devious and arbitrary fiats which the British colonists inflicted on even the most hostile contiguous ethnicities.

Within the new arrangement, Nigerians can then variously grow at their own respective paces, pray to wood or stone if they so desire, experiment in internal governance to the best of their political wits and mettle.United Provinces of Nigeria…United States of Nigeria…Confederation of Nigeria. What does name matter as long as we could halt the current competition in lying to each other for the seat of a Presidency whose only job is to share oil money as the powers permit.

The present charades and caricatures of national character could be check-mated with greater determination. It should be time to think about the future and our children, our future as a nation, our history as a people, of posterity and the inscrutable mystery of our being invested with intelligence and the will to choose.

What the South East Governors said some days ago was an international embarrassment. The absence of an ailing Head of State has not breached the constitution !!! No suckling on this planet believes that monstrous and callous utterance. But the deep driver of such political postures are clear to everybody but the imbecile.

That declaration mimics all the other games being played all over the country. Suddenly, meetings are being called to re-study the constitution!! If there is a war and the commander-in-chief dies, you start studying the military constitution. If the leader of any formation in society is incapable of leading you start calling meetings to know what to do.

Recently, an American pilot died in mid-air. Somebody was found immediately to assist the auto-piloted plane safely to base without studying any aviation protocols.Nigerians should wake up, and if there is nobody out there to show pity on the country, the country should find the will and courage to feel sorry for the ongoing and protracted self-ridicule. No one knows how else to describe the present state of things in a nation of over one hundred and fifty million…

We can say “cry the beloved country” over and over again as loudly as possible. The Devil enjoys his mischief as he toys with a goofy bulbous bumbling population.

The Devil knows the world is watching and laughing at Nigeria. And of course, the insults heaped at the country from all over the world are coming because the world suspects we will never find the will, like the South Africans did, to fight back for our dignity and the soul of the nation.Perhaps the Devil even knows that we are also among our selves and unto our selves, the devil !!!

Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo, Chair English Department University Of North Carolina, Greensboro.


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