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Visions of the Alfa Talakawa, from the Proletariat...Nigeria, as I see it

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

SOMETIME IN THE NOT SO DISTANT FUTURE



Gather round, children, take your seats. Please don’t sit too close to the well, apart from the inherent dangers; you know that is the only water supply we have left.


What I am about to share with you sounds more like a myth but they are realities, realities that once existed, but are no more.


Should you survive these turbulent times, you will of course recall you were eye witnesses to the drying up of the last river in this community, the Warri River and you probably have heard of how far the River Niger is from here.


There once was a town called Lagos, it used to be the capital of a Country we once called Nigeria. That was before the mighty Ocean (aaah, I will need to explain to you all what an ocean is, let me just call it very very big river) washed it away. Someone became the leader in that State and people started throwing rubbish everywhere till they blocked the normal path for water to flow. More houses were built close to this water…..now all that is left is the oral tradition of Eko Akete.


That black patch you see over there was called Macadam; some just called it tar. It used to be laid on the road for cars to pass. Now, I see the confusion on your faces; that rusty wreck over there is what is left of the last car that moved in this region. I would describe a car as a man-made iron horse that moves when it is filled with petrol. Sorry, I lost you, petrol was made by heating that black seep you see on what used to be our farmland. We used to heat it ourselves in what we called Refineries but sometime in the 1990s, we started buying from over the ‘big river’.


We bought from white men, no, I am not talking of albinos and I need to state this clearly. Recent prophecies indicate there would be a Third Coming of the white man. You may call it the Fourth anyway. The First time being from the time they came to buy African slaves, the Second, when they came to rule the slaves on their own soil (called Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism).


Twenty Years ago, they all left. It was a massive departure. The first time, they came in big boats called Ships, but this time, they left in Airplanes. (You know those ‘big birds’ that made noise when they passed?). Those birds don’t even fly in this region anymore.


Children, I will teach you to write. We will have to use part of the limestone brought in when I walked down to Nkalagu in Enugu last year. it is getting more expensive to sharpen chicken feather and use as pen.


Aaah! We once had Big Big Schools. Your school got bigger as you got older back then. We had one called the University. Trouble began when the man in charge of those schools felt it was better to spend money on his wedding anniversary than solve the problem. This trend continued for years, till the teachers (Lecturers) started leaving the country to teach elsewhere. Soon, there were no Vacancies, yet these people preferred to wash dead bodies in the Whiteman’s land instead of shouting at deaf ears. Most of the other teachers died of hunger.


I have to start ending my story because it is getting dark. Aaah! There was a time the walls brought out light. It was called electricity. At a point in time, the supply was failing, and some rich men started buying ‘generators’ (a metal that made walls bring out light). Then, something new happened. The whiteman made smaller metals that were cheaper, and more people started buying ‘generators’ this was a good business idea to those in charge of electricity, and because they were buying from the Whiteman and selling, they made sure electricity did not work well, till it did not work at all.


That meant more ‘generators’, more petrol, more activity of the Whiteman on our land. All talks with those that ruled Nigeria failed. Then the youths of our town started fighting back. Then some terrible things happened.

November 1999, Soldiers sacked a whole community called Odi. Not even the goats were spared. That is a sad story for another day.


Almost Ten years later, June 2009, it was Gbaramatu’s turn. At this time, a lot of charlatan militants had risen, most of whom were serving the politicians (just call them rulers so you won’t get confused) and were dumped after ‘Service’.


All this time, the attack was on the Niger Delta. So the people of Lagos could not be bothered. A month after the Gbaramatu incident, they attacked Lagos too. Terrible repercussions followed and in the end, almost all the oil installations had been destroyed. Our community was also on the verge of total extinction.


Years after, the Whiteman found an alternative to petrol and they stopped buying from Nigeria. Unfortunately, Nigeria had nothing more to sell. That was when the North decided to part ways. The Southwest decided to do so too. It is funny that in a war called Civil War I, it was the East and the Niger-Delta that fought to part ways. This time, we fought to stay. If the North spent their entire Groundnut and the West all their Coccoa, and they refused to go in the past, why should we let go, now that the Oil is useless?


I wish it were that easy. It was extremely bloody. The Whiteman made huge sales from the guns both sides used to ‘finish’ each other.


That was how we arrived at today. I say this because the Whiteman once claimed there was no civilization in Africa when they came. Some of them will say it again.


I think it is in order for me to let you know that ‘Whiteman’ does not refer to them all. Talakawas exist among The White race too. My ancestor taught me that. The White Masu Sarauta are the ones that sired their own kind amongst us. The Blackman never learns. There would never have been slavery if we never enslaved our kind. Those who made money from selling huge guns would never have had a flourishing business if we did not make a sport out of killing each other.


The White Masu Sarauta was just doing business. But the Black Masu Sarauta played it too far.

All these type of people may not make meaning to you now, children. But I am telling you so I can prepare you for the Third Coming of the Whiteman.


It is getting very dark now. My dim eyes can no longer see the palm of my hands. Goodnight.


The town-crier begins to ring a bell. It sounded both funny and strange. I looked up and the sky looked so white. The funny bell rings again…it was my alarm! Ouch! I am almost late for work!


Ps: Most of the words in boldfaced italics had become obsolete at the timing of this incident

Monday, July 6, 2009

FAILED AMBITIONS OF A WANNABE SOLDIER


Okay, I am not joking, at a point in my life, I wanted to be a soldier.


Looking back, I can not exactly pin-point if it is the regimented life that appealed to me, or the fact that their kids paid less school fees (I went to a Military Sponsored Secondary (High) School)…but rest assured, it had neither to do with The License to Kill, nor actually serving my Country (back then…lol).


Ironically, as a kid, I fed poorly because I felt it was an ‘African thing’ to eat too much, snubbed a good number of the morsel-based meals that are characteristically African (before you hang my lack of Afrocentricity, just remember most of our Parents were the Colonial era kids who grew up thinking that everything British is superior), and ended up with the Gangly-Slim frame that would haunt me for life. In any case, slim is cool nowadays, and I still flaunt my ‘lack-of-pot-belly’.


Okay, I did not dare the Nigerian Military School, Zaria, nor Airforce Military School (they were too ‘gangsta’), I just settled for Command Secondary School, Jos.


It was also my way of getting back at King’s College, Lagos, where I was told that due to insufficient facilities, I would have to be a day student (I wanted to Board, man!). I was given the option of transfer, but I got the Federal Government College, Okigwe in the deal. So I was done with Federal Government Colleges, period! King’s College meant a lot to us back then, so I would have you all understand why I saw the other offer as an ‘insult’; I was only Ten Years old.


A little bit of explanation for Non-Nigerian readers (audience, I mean; after all, I am ranting). The Nigeria of the 1980s to early 90s witnessed the ‘Golden Age’ of Military Dictatorship and the only way to get ‘good education’ complete with facilities was to read yourself silly so you can pass the entrance examination to ‘Unity Schools’ which were the Federal Government Colleges (High School to Americans)/King’s and Queen’s College, Command Secondary/Day Secondary Schools (CSS, and CDSS), Nigerian Military School, Zaria, and Nigerian Navy, and Air-Force Military Schools.


As students of Command Secondary School Jos, our experiences were intensely harrowing. Once you were in the school, there was no going out without an Exeat which took forever to get, and could still be turned down the way those dudes at immigration stamp their rejection on Nigerian passports with frenzy.


I still wanted to be a Soldier, skinny or not.


The senior students stripped most of us nude at one point and asked us to roll on the ground while they poured water on us and ‘messed our hides with whips’ while we chanted ‘I am a Toad, I have a long tail, cut it for me’ , we were beaten with semi-machetes; I STILL WANTED TO BE A SOLDIER!


Then came the Christmas Eve of 1989; Civil War broke out in Liberia. Since the horrifying tales of the Nigerian Civil War, never before was war this close to us. I began to have my doubts. The final nail in the coffin, rather, the final screw on the casket, was the day the Commandant arranged a viewing of the Documentary: THE MAKING OF AN OFFICER. It sounded like fun, till I heard: ‘In the final year, the cadets will be tested with LIVE ammunition (emphasis mine) and they showed cadets ducking explosions! My toe-nails began to respond to the Harmattan wind, and I ended with cold feet.


But there were those that didn’t. There were those who went through the ordeal of the Nigerian Defence Academy and made it out as Second Lieutenants. There were those who were not that educated and had to start from the rank of Private.


In any case, back to the Liberian saga. The English speaking members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decided to intervene in the Liberian Civil War and a Monitoring Group of Soldiers were sent as troops (ECOMOG). Some have alleged it was all in a bid to save Samuel Kanyon Doe’s sorry butt, (considering the fact that as at 1989, Military Dictatorship was the norm and it was an esprit-de-corps thingie) in any case, the Troops went anyway.


Unfortunately, Samuel Doe died at the hands of Prince Johnson's Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia on 9 September 1990 and since that was not part of the plan, the drama had to continue. Stories were told of organized looting to the extent that the ECOMOG got renamed: "Every Car or Movable Object Gone". There was an incident of the total removal of the Buchanan iron ore processing machinery for onward sale while the Buchanan compound was under ECOMOG control.


The soldiers went to ‘serve the Country’; were they appreciated?


What would have made rebel troops hate Nigeria so much that innocent journalists like Kris Imodibie (The Guardian) and Tayo Awotunsin (The Champion) got killed the way they did? At the end of the day, it was Nigeria that granted asylum to Yormie Johnson before the coast came clear for him to return to his Country and become a Senator, it was Nigeria that did the amnesty-cum-exile-assylum turned betrayal-deal with Charles Taylor! What did our Soldiers die for???


The macabre show had to continue. In 1997, troops were sent to Sierra Leone, to stop the RUF rebellion, and in 1999, to Guinea-Bissau.


Liberia was yet to have its fill of the blood of Nigerian soldiers. Asides from the intense participation till Madam Johnson Sirleaf became President which took a heavy toll on Nigeria, an 850-member 14th Nigerian Battalion drawn from several military formations in the country were sent to participate in the UN mission from September 2007 to April 2008.


For whatever reasons, God knows what had been going down that we may never know based on Military Omerta, 27 soldiers decided to break the code by protesting the non-payment of their allowance; the Proles dared to speak! (Antz; anyone?)


The Masu Sarauta (aristocrats) have a weapon: the Pseudo-Talakawa (refer to TRANCE COP in my June Blog)! I find it particularly annoying that the weapon is in the hands of the Pseudo-Talakawa but the Power remains the exclusive preserve of the Masu Sarauta!


That is why an old man was running the politics of Oyo State in Nigeria and all his hired thugs obeyed his orders like Zombies when it takes only one of them to ruffle the man!


That is why a slob (excuse my manners) of an Inspector General, whose tummy would seriously impede his combat skills would steal a record 103 Million dollars Police fund and be walking free after some brief VIP detention whereas he gave orders for his men to massacre petty thieves! Bernard Madoff must be wishing he were Nigerian!


The sad part of it all is that these 27 soldiers (female inclusive) were arraigned for mutiny and sentenced to Life Imprisonment! Now you all would probably give me that cliché: “A soldier obeys the last order” etc etc and I would just ask: Why on earth is Al Mustapha under trial if all he did was obeying the late General Sanni Abacha? What about the female soldier that got detained for two months and eventually dismissed for not being a sex-slave to her commander during the Sudan ‘Peace-Keeping Mission’? And the mother of all questions: Who is the freaking freak in custody of the freaking funds?


Alas! No one is going to be bothered. The Omerta has been served on us all during the spell of mass hypnosis that is currently gripping the nation. After all, we are not related to those dudes, and we didn’t ask them to enroll in the army.


One day, it will be a crime for the Talakawa to do the dookie (use the Restroom), and someone is going to be hung for protesting….that person would be better off, because he would be delivered from the toxins that has accumulated in his system, while the rest of the Talakawa would have damaged kidneys, one after the other, after all, they had no guts in the first place.


*Sees two soldiers decorating him with an Eagle, a Star and Crossed-Swords, shudders and mutters aloud: GOD FORBID!!!*