I do not have faith in Nigeria, no faith in the next elections, but do not trust me when I rant. Ranting is an expression of freedom, it’s the seldom unintelligible language of the oppressed. It’s similar to the persistent, incoherent noise accepted as Afro-Hip hop in parts of Africa. I rant as an escape, I rant also to dramatise my inability to avenge wrongs, to hit back in defiance at the vultures that peck at my senses. Like those hybrids of noise taken for music, rants serve two purposes – they either provoke the villain or amuse the victim. I did not actually know what ours do to these villainous politicians who are quarantined in a mental institution named Aso Villa until poor Dr. Reuben Abati, in his worst ever disservice his to masters, exposed their secrets. I mean, he told us how much pain our pestles of criticisms have battered into the tranquility our less-than-sane gods enjoy in their despised Villa.
Ranting is about the only survival instinct among the majority of Nigerians, who consider armed struggle the portion of the Arab World. Yet our tolerance is being questioned by a brand of tyranny called Democracy, where a clique of moneyed cronies perform wonders with people’s minds and intellects—in their scramble for votes, in their race to rig. And perhaps the anonymity social networking avails the oppressed, which didn’t exist during the military juntas, has made fears of personal safety less an issue? So, we rant! I was pleased with the displeasure once expressed by the Senate Leader about the social media being turned forum to demonise the ‘honourables’, the ‘distinguisheds’ and the ‘excellencies’, mis-leaders of the country. It exposed our political leaders’ insensibility. But then, let’s just waive that on the excuse that he too, like other Three Arms Zoners, was high.
Here is one thing Senator David Mark failed to see: Without the escapism of social media, Nigeria would have been long ago torn asunder in chaos. It could be over a biased report on Boko Haram insurgencies in the north, which some lazy journalists portrayed as disasters endorsed by every Muslim here. It could be a report that Igbo elements are the prime targets in either a strike by Boko Haram or a crisis in volatile city of Jos. But social media frustrates the obvious conspiracies sold to our newspaper houses, it fosters our harmony as Ibrahim gets to see and understand Chinedu and vice versa, in his humane form; his tweets, updates, likes, broadcasts, pokes, pings—rants. I think the e-fraternity, where differences are figured out through dialogues, is an experiment that highlights the possibility of our peaceful co-existence in the absence of politicians.
But our realities make me sober. These days I feel like character Saleem Sinai, the protagonist of Salman Rushdie’s mytho-historical novel, Midnight’s Children, triggered by the ticktocks of my country’s clocks. It had been over two decades that our teachers lied to us that we were “tomorrow’s leaders”. This, considering the subjugations of our oldest brothers, does not seem attainable soon as the grandfatherly thieves are still not done with the emptied treasury. And our life expectancy rate which is among the lowest in Africa is being eluded by the aged elites who had even become honorary citizens of First World countries through numberless medical trips and vacations abroads. Our life expectancy is the clock that gets me restless, right from our short but effectual fight during the Occupy Nigeria protests. The clock troubles me now that we return to our rehab, the social media, to play and to exhibit the fibre of our unengaged ideas, intellectuality and visions. The clock troubles me now that we wallow in certain cheap escapisms, like our First Lady’s health condition, which, especially with this impractical proposition of a ridiculously high denomination of Naira bill, is diversionary. She is only an issue only when she stands between policies that affect you and I. But making her health condition a source of entertainment is too cheap. Like Yar’adua, she’s human. She owes me nothing, I owe her nothing. All I need as a citizen is something from her husband.
Like Saleem, I’m restless. Whenever ‘2015’ forms in my mind, my thought goes to that village woman surviving on a muddied pond, her farmer-husband waiting for the fertilizers promised by the Governor or council Chairman or Constituency rep during the electioneering campaign to revive his occupation. Promises which we witness unfulfilled because a certain contractor who knows the man who sponsors the Governor misappropriates the funds meant for the subsidised fertilizers project. And here in the city, I see beggars, I see diseased people far gone, I see an angry battalion of uneducated youths, I see unemployed graduates tweeting, pinging and updating their Facebook statuses to kill time – all claim they await 2015, a new government. And I ask, to do what? This expectation, which is actually a way to tell self that all will be well, only awakens a used-to déjà vu; prior to the elections we would agree that suffering has no ethnic, religious and regional identity only to betray our pact to stand together and save Nigeria on being told a story of early beginning without shoes, which should have only been recommended for publication in Macmillan’s children’s literature series.
Finally, as we pretend that the ongoing government can never be redeemed, gathering our ideas for 2015, let’s be conscious of the power of money, which has conquered the integrity of the Judas Iscariots among us and the electoral officers in conspiratorial tune with the politicians. And we must not shout hallelujah yet because our scandalising rants can also be washed away with a bottle of tequila in that mental Villa!
By Gimba Kakanda
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