And at the height of their drunkeness - when it was certain that the alcohol had removed all inhibitions - they would seek a consensus between different points of view.
The following day, after the alcohol had cleared from their minds, they would congregate again and look over the decision(s) that they had made the night before.
And if at this time, no one there could find any flaw with the reasoning that underlay a decision, it would stand.
So it was that last night (Thursday 9th of September 2010), after having downed 15 bottles of large stout, a voice spoke to me from the foaming top of the 16th bottle as soon I opened it....
The voice said, "DRAFT WOLE SOYINKA TO RUN FOR LGA CHAIRMAN!"
However, I woke the following Friday afternoon with the realisation that there was some good sense in what the voice of Odeku had said : By virtue of who he is, Wole Soyinka has some big guns at his disposal. But unfortunately for us all, his present mode of utilising these weapons reduces the beneficial damage that he could wreak upon the dysfuctional network of maladministrative systems in Nigeria.
What I am suggesting - respectfully - is that the better tactic at this time may be to focus these artilleries at one weak spot instead of scattering salvoes across the vast territory that is Nigeria.
The venerable son of Abeokuta should run for office in his hometown and, if he wins (or perhaps I should say when he wins), he can teach, not only by saying, but also by doing.
Nothing would stop a Chairman Soyinka from continuing his critique of the regressive processes that pass for civilization within the Nigeria geographical space and in fact, from the moment he takes office, his comments will carry the weight of one who is not only describing what should be, but of one who, as an executive administrator, is also implementing good policies (and instigating proper ways of service) in a specific area.
An LGA that is put in the charge of one like Wole Soyinka cannot help but be a beacon for progressive forces. So, why not run? Is this not more realistic than (perhaps) running for the presidency of a nation' where certain peculiarities make it certain that the efforts of one such as he will be turned to futility? If a poll is run today, it will most probably confirm that Wole Soyinka is better known and, held in greater regard by members of the community that he hails from (as a son who has done them proud) than he is in Nigeria as a whole. So, why not use his profile where it can be most effective?
There should come a time when our most insightful commentators put talk aside and take up the cutlass and hoe.
This is an especially urgent requirement in an environment like Nigeria's political space - a space where good/disciplined minds working for progressive outcomes are as rare as coltan.
Now, had it been that Nigerian politics had a surplus of minds that are of the calibre of the type of men referred to, then it might make sense for them to stay where they are; stay where they can objectively observe the doings of their contemporaries and, when neccesary, point out possible errors. However, as things are now, it would be hard to point to one person who, on a level of ideas, can be classified as being in the same category as the most prominent Nigerian commentators. It need not be so and, really, it should not be so. The suitability of a person to occupy public office should not be based on the ability to turn out ballot-box stuffers and assasins. Nor should genius be measured by the ability to dribble with no useful purpose.
Therefore, if Wole Soyinka and others of a similar calibre declare themselves today as candidates for LGA Chairs, I (for one) will answer the call that such a declaration represents and, I will do all I can to ensure that such men get in.
These positions are ones with great potential for development purposes and the only reason why in most (if not all cases) they have been occupied by ineffective place-holders is because they have been left to such. Apprehension about the usage of local thugs by the current 'powers' need not be a deterrent. Let the candidate for real growth/change declare him/her self, organise for self-defense (i.e. source the tools and infrastructure to deliver retribution in full measure) and then, talk to the electorate. They are not fools, they know what is what and if all cards are in place, how can some clueless opposition stop you?
Having said all this, I now invite those who have read up to this point to once again look over some other thing that I wrote earlier this year :
[b][u]Mind Vs The Beastmasters.[/u][/b]
Osei Tutu, Amilcar Cabral, Samora Machel, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba and Agostino Neto were African leaders whose purpose was illuminated for their followers by clear and inspirational expressions of structured ideas that were, in the case of each man, the end-result of strivings with the mind.
In other places and at different times in history, we find ones like Julius Caeser, Marcus Aurelius, Thomas Jefferson, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Winston Churchill. All men who clearly possessed the ability to think. Men who were able to examine at fundamental levels, the links between the various interest groups that made up the realm and the resources at hand. And at the end of their intellectual endeavours, these men were able to get their sometimes innovative ideas across to the people whose leadership they sought or, had acquired.
Then, we have men like Babangida, Obasanjo, and the other beast-masters who have run Nigeria at the level of central government since its so-called independence..
I call them beast-masters because, in the absence of dispensations where ideas matter, all that is left is brute force and once we are dealing solely with brute force, we are in the realm of the beasts.
The City of London is the historic and financial centre of London. England's rise to the status of a world power began when merchant houses based in The City gathered the resources to bankroll expeditions into the "unknown" - sojourns whose most important outcome is the shape of the world we all live in today.
In other words, the City of London prepared the ground for the erection of today's dominant socio-economic/political structures by financing the global earthquake that levelled the worlds our ancestors knew .
There is a church in the City of London called St Mary-le-Bow. Founded around 1080AD, it is one of the oldest churches in London and, in its courtyard, one statue stands alone. It dominates the area; head upright and eyes staring straight ahead, one hand on sword and one foot slightly forward as he confidently surveys the world passing before him. This is Captain John Smith, and as the inscription at the foot of his statue tells us, he was the chief among "...the leaders of the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia and his achievement led to the successful dispersion of the English speaking peoples world-wide..." [sic]
This inscription tells us some things about the world-view of the English at the time this statue was commisioned. Of which, the most important is that they ordered the world around themselves. It did not matter that the continent they called America had being there for as long as the continent called Europe had existed; as far as they were concerned, it only started to exist when the Europeans 'discovered' it - hence its description as 'the new continent'. Nor did they even bother to find out what those people who were indigenous to the place called it. They 'discovered' it and since 'discovery' to them was similar to the act of creation, they, like all creators, knew without a doubt that they had the right to name the place.
It should be noted here that this practice of a group of people ordering the world around their collective point-of-view was not unique to the Europeans. Throughout the ages, conquerors have renamed territories they took off defeated peoples. What is remarkable about what latter-day Euro-conquistadores did is that they, like the Romans (those pioneering European conquerors from antiquity), were able to compel the defeated peoples to accept the changes they wrought as the final stage of a historic strand.
This means that even when the English (or French/Portuguese/Spanish/etc.) are no longer present as administrators, the defeated peoples will still strive with all their might to preserve those things that these 'gods of the new creation' had brought into being.
A phenomenon which it must be said, is also visible in societies conquered by the Arabic sword/ideology.
Back to the statue : The other important thing to note about the inscription on its base is that those who commisioned the memorial were ones who fully comprehended the scope of John Smith's achievements. They knew that what he had done was not limited in influence to the settlement of English people in the 'new continent' of America; that he (and others like him) had in fact set in motion "the world-wide dispersal of English-speaking peoples" and, their eventual and ongoing domination of the most vital aspects of human life on the planet today.
I pass the statue of John Smith several times in a week and, several times I have wondered who (from the Africans currently living) will be commemorated 500 years from now with statues in Accra, Banjul, Calabar, Dakar, Enugu, Freetown, Gaberone, Harare, Jos, Kampala, Lagos, Monrovia, Nairobi, Sokoto, Yaounde, etc.
But then I have also wondered if any of these place-names will still exist 500 years from now - if all (or most) will not instead bear names written in Chinese script, Indian lettering or, Arabic....
Life is very basic. It consists of simple patterns that only look complex because because they repeat themselves on different levels to the beat of a drum with varying rhythms.
The first and most important of these patterns is that you act or, you are acted upon.
Of course, when you are acted upon, you may react (if there is still any life left in you).
Now, for as long as we mainly conform to the description of ones whose entire lives consist of nothing else but waiting to react to what others do, then, we will be fooling ourselves (and thus doing ourselves no favour) for as long as we allow ourselves to remain vulnerable to the temptation that compels us to look for different (and more ingenious) ways of telling ourselves that we are also primary actors.
The truth is that we are now secondary actors. We watch primary actors, we comment, and on rare occasions, we react. This means that as far as the pattern that says "act or be acted upon" goes, we remain under the label of those objects that have been (and keep being) acted upon.
This brings me back to a question that teases my mind everytime I pass the statue of John Smith: Where are the Africans living now who are prepared to step into the unknown in order that they may bring forth a world whose order favours our species? Who are the people whose works today will cause them to be worthy of commemoration centuries from now with memorials that speak of their endeavours and, how those efforts uplifted our collective? Do we even have the state of mind that produces such people or, could it be that since we have been reduced to a species of grubby seekers after accomodation with the (seemingly invincible) status quo, such will never issue from amongst us?
I mean, what is the calibre of those that form our trail-blazing elites today? Who are the men whose lives have formed the pathways that our own journeys through life must walk upon? Babangida, Obasanjo, Mobutu, Houphuet-Boigny, and a hundred nameless others.
Aside from what they have done to benefit foreign mineral commodity traders and bankers, what in all that any of these are doing will qualify them to the type of immortality that an ordinary sea-captain like John Smith achieved? In fact, is it not true that the very existence of these men will remain a curse for the generations that descend from those whose lives and potentials were buried under the ash of mediocrity and internecine warfare that remains their most prominent legacies?
But all is not yet lost because, everyday that begins, any from those of us who are yet to stir into action have the opportunity to make a decison that could be even more momentous than the one John Smith took when he resolved to set sail for the 'new world'.
We have information that was obscured to many in the past and, we only need to discard the consensus that would have us believe that one version of history alone has the right to determine the shape of the future. Because, whenever we are told (and repeat) the lie that says we have no other choice than to seek accomodation with the prevailing status quo, we retroactively acquiese to the defeat of our ancestors and, thus ratify the terms that were dicated by the pirates and bandits who defeated them.
When we do this, we handicap ourselves and thus limit the scope of our potential discoveries in the real new world that is the future.