By Chimdi Maduagwu
I do not know where this belief germinated from, that the Presidency is playing into my proposals. “Grandiose Delusion!” I am not the only deluded person in my generation but ‘am certainly in the centre of it all because my edition of the general delusion belongs to the highest of all: grandiose … it is elegant, sublime and with a generous splash of gusto.
In fact, it easily tunes me and in response, I oscillate like a pendulum from one spot to another, like the Biblical “double-minded man, captured as “unstable in all his ways” (Book of James). The generation I intended to talk about is actually the generation of “the double-minded, my generation.”
I proudly am of the “baby-boomers” if we have to approach it all from a broader perspective. We always will remain grateful to the builders and the bridgers, our progenitors just as much as we sympathize with the busters who come after us. Actually, we incidentally form the legendary “much-sought-after” group of children, at birth.
We are told, judging from the Western tradition that soon after the world wars, humanity longed for replenishment of the depleted population of the world and this continued until the mid 1960s and early 1970s. There was an unprecedented encouragement to people to procreate. We are the products of this.
Like anything else, this, I suppose, hit its elastic limit (I still remember Hook’s Law of Elasticity) before anyone could notice. It metamorphosed from “bubble” to “burst.” Thereafter, measures were and are still being introduced to control the burst. It is now, all about dealing with the burst.
Being very much aware of this western classification of generations and generational differences, I am now struggling to domesticate this or create another system suitable for our own zone of the world. The English Romantic writer/mystic, William Blake, once said that it is either “create your own system or be enslaved by another’s.”
I have remained enslaved by the system I just recounted (above) for long and it is time for me to create my own system in response to Blake. This will form part of the proposal I am preparing for Mr. President. I would rather you ask, what is the use of what you are doing? How will it contribute to the progress of the country (which I assume people refer to as change)? The two questions appear the same, they are flaming; and thus will be doused with one answer or the same answers.
Let me submit two answers that relate to each other. First, there is a need to know who we are and second, to know if there have been changes … and if so, we also ought to know the dimension and direction of the changes. I am an ardent believer in the Human Condition as a complicated web, in which there are really no changes; however, events turn round the web and while some get stuck somewhere, some fall off somewhere and some keep rolling along the web.
Don’t bother to comprehend, if you have not, because that is how complicated humanity could be, and what actually attracts Humanists like us is an urge to identify the mysteries of humanity, by constructing myths, while those who parade as scientists try to interrogate these mysteries, with a view to proffering answers to questions and solutions to problems.
My duty right now is no longer to talk about my “double-minded” generation, but to construct a generational mythograph. Reader, I beseech you to know that the graph I construct is deliberate but plausible.
I will focus on post-independence era. By the way, a country like America, there I go again, never makes reference to colonial America when serious issues of national interest are theorized in modern times. Sometimes I ask why America isn’t a member of the Commonwealth. After all, she was under the imperial system until the American war of independence.
One day, perhaps, Nigeria will finally tear herself off the imperial hegemony. Nigeria came into being, for me, the day it became a Federal Republic. That, I suppose, is 1963. I thus recognize the generation that midwifed the new nation, the builders. While it would have been difficult to christen this generation of proud and great Nigerians, an event, a historical landmark made itself available to define and give focus to generations. This was the civil war.
For this reason, I recognize the first generation, the Pre-war generation or in our daily common expression: “before-the-war generation.” After them will naturally be the War generation, which in our daily common language will be: “win-the-war generation.” Then those who came after the war, naturally the post-war generation still will remain post-war Nigerians.
However, they are equally captured through another historical landmark of the 1970s, which is the unprecedented wealth the country was literally thrown into as a result of the high yield of crude oil. This is why that generation should also be known as the “oil-boom generation.”
As nature takes its course, it is clear that after the rumbling of the thunder then comes the rain, or we can say soon after the bubble is the burst. Thus, next to the oil-boom generation is the austerity generation. This is as a result of the glut in the international oil arena which drastically reduced the worth of crude oil.
The same generation becomes commonly known as the “oil-doom generation.” Finally, at the turn of the democratic dispensation in 1999, a brand new generation emerged and as Obasanjo tried to capture it, it becomes, in my opinion, the Hope-Generation. As the president of the country, Obasanjo cried “…I SEE HOPE…” with a loud voice.
I am almost done with my graph, but why am I doing this … you may ask. My answer is simple. I am constructing a socio-anthropological graph. It is a myth, and it is capable of performing the canon functions of myths. Amongst several orthodox functions of myths, this particular myth will explain, because myths explain …why we are the way we are; why we do the things we do. Myths embody our belief systems. This therefore will present to us what we should believe.
Myths are literally believed by the people to whom they belong because there are no reasons to disbelieve them; and myths are disbelieved by all other people to whom they do not belong because there are no reasons to believe them. I will not be held responsible for any major flaws in my mythograph, again, because there are no reasons to do so, after all, there are no elements of history. The authorship will not even be traced to me because as soon as I drop my pen, I cease to be the author. I get submerged in the pool of owners of the myth. Authorship of myths is anonymous, or rather, collective.
Now that I have six generations, which converge to reason together and grapple with how to retain, tear down or remold this country, I see an unending conflict. While everybody is concerned about ethnic and religious crises, I am worried about generational clash. I say so because the busters, which in our own case include the oil-doom and hope generations, are not, in general terms, very responsive to ethnic issues.
They have more serious matters to handle. As I drop this pen I call for a conference on this page. I invite The National Orientation Agency, The Human Rights Commission, The Federal Character Commission, Civil Rights groups, and other similar organization to reason with me and let us study the nature of these diverse temperaments, so that we, as Achebe would say, will begin to know where the rain began to beat us.