By Tony Momoh
It takes time for the housemates of Big Brother Africa to get used to the fact that about two dozen cameras are trained on them for 24 hours a day. What is beamed to the outside world is not all that is happening, but what the moderators of the 24-hour reality tv want the world to see.
Information at my disposal is that even when they go to pooh or pee, the housemates are under the unclosing eyes of Big Brother’s cameras. So, if anyone of the inmates thinks they can go in there and do something the world outside would not be permitted to see, they err because Big Brother is always watching.
Let us go outside this dimension and say that it is the same thing with the Creation story which, shorn of all dogma and inventions and invectives, has, anchored in it, the watchful eyes of the Creator which manifest in the automatic recording of every thought you harbour, every word you utter and every act you perform. In our search for the truth of life and living, we have reached out and conquered many of the secrets nature has buried in us, as a species, to disembowel.
The whole of Creation is there to be discovered, and in this journey, millions of years are like an eye blink! We learnt to speak, to put our thoughts on record through writing et al. Now, although it takes a split second for what we are sending out to go through predetermined channels, we send messages across distances at speeds unimaginable to the uninitiated.
So, when we send text messages on our handsets, we do not know that all of them are recorded in the post offices of the servers and can be retrieved at ease. The same law operates when we open our mouths and speak, in spite of the fact that we may not be aware that everything is recorded in the bowels of time. Now, we know that through transmitted writings, what happened aeons ago can be recalled, for they are stamped into time for eternity.
Yes, within time, in its bowels are recorded every thought ever harboured, every word ever uttered and every act ever done. We may deny what is being claimed here, but time will open up more of the secrets of Creation and then we shall be overwhelmed with abundant proof.
With the internet, which is no more and no less than the material reproduction of coordinated modes of communication in some neighbouring regions of the material world, we have been pushing to reduce the earth to far less than a global village, to receive with appropriate gadgets, that material which may grow or reduce us!
We are the author of nothing, only discoverers of those things we are privileged to have downloaded to this earth plane. In our unwillingness to adjust to the pace of movement we are ripe for in the eternal journey that takes us to those areas in the cosmos that we need for our growing, we get stuck at stations of life we take as destinations instead of the bus-stops they are supposed to be.
But the cosmic spin continues, unstopping, unstoppable, even if we think, in our horrible smallness, that we can order the Sun not to rise or set! Like they say, time marches on, though the truth is that we do the marching through time and record our presences wherever we step, for good or ill.
How long did it take us to accept the truth about the movements of the heavenly bodies we thought stood still? Did we, in the early years of the 20th century, accept that anything heavier than air, like an aircraft, could be airborne?
The story goes that the newspapers of the time refused to carry the story of the flight of the Wright Brothers because they said it was mass hallucination, that it was impossible for that contraption to have been airborne! Today, we know better because many things we thought were impossible are happening, in spite of our doubts. Many more shocks in proof of our ignorance, await us as we traverse this wonderful creation of God Almighty!
One of those shocks that is just dawning on us is that vistas are opening up for secrets we store away to be public property. The gadgets for storage are being handed down the same time as the means to retrieve them. And, the means of retrieval can never remain the exclusive property of those whose job is to keep secrets secret.
We can say that the first victims of explosive disclosures are documented secrets. Documented secrets are those transactions that are recorded in whatever form of storage that can be retrieved, but whose access is restricted. In other words, they are classified matter and are protected by law, human laws passed in human parliaments.
Unauthorised release of such material, even possession of them, will lead you to jail. With the growing demand of people the world over that they want more open governance, the laws that defended secrecy are crumbling, and WikiLeaks is the current rave in massive disclosures of material in the heavily-guarded secret rooms of governments and organisations.
The fact we must recognise is that with the means to burst into the secret rooms of governments and agencies now available, and will soon be commonplace, there is need to redefine what material can be kept from the people. Is it material you say is secret that may well not be secret or material that may endanger the peace of the governed, more than the government?
Is it anything classified as secret, such that truth of what is revealed is no defence, or only those areas that may truly endanger national security? Is national security what is so designated, which security agencies think is synonymous with their definition of national security or those things that should, in the public interest, be stored from public view? Is it what now constitutes sedition or official secrets or what we have in our laws documented as criminal defamation?
All these considerations are crumbling in the face of what a journalist from Australia has been pioneering. His name is Julian Assange and he runs a website known as WikiLeaks. The website was launched in 2006. It has been publishing documents that are not available in the public domain and are, in fact, locked away in secret places.
But, the documents did not just develop wings and appear in the offices of WikiLeaks. They came from news sources and those who deliberately leaked them!
See that? Which means that there are people in the system who do not believe in keeping so-called secrets secret. Within a year of its appearance, the site had a database that had grown to more than 1.2 million documents. Recent assessments of its operations show that governments the world over have nowhere to hide.
We, in Nigeria, have not been left out. What our President is said to have discussed with the American envoy here has become subject-matter for debate. But, we have seen nothing yet when we analyse the vistas Assange is opening up with his website.
The truth is that an era has come when what you put out through any channel is already in the public domain and the many years we fix for its disclosure to the public means nothing to those who believe that the public is entitled to whatever happens in the name of governance.
Is it not advisable, therefore, for those who make law for us to rush to pass the Freedom of Information Bill? The cameras of Big Brother will soon reveal everything we do, even when we go to pee. And, the media, monitors on behalf of the people will laughoooooo.