“Academic jazz” is a phrase that startles me. What does it mean? Toady jazz music, jazz dance and jazz poetry are mainstream academic subjects. Libraries of books on jazz theory, performance, improvisation, history, analyses, and personalities abound. Many believe jazz, particularly in its bebop and Avant-Garde forms, are intellectual making it suitable for academic inquiry. If intellectual giants such as Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Cornel West have been steeped in jazz in jazz and its expression, it has to be intellectual. Nevertheless, jazz music was not created in university departments or conservatories of music. It came out of Africa, a continent perceived as backward. Most of the earliest practitioners of jazz in the USA could not read nor write English or music. They learnt and played their musical crafts by ear. That said, we may be confronted with the question, does academic jazz or the jazz of academics’ matter?Continue reading
Ayo Odebisi, also known as Paramole, would have turned sixty-five Wednesday, 28th of April. He was not a man you could forget. The aura he projected on those around him and his immediate environment contributed to the weight of words and ways. I never met anyone as sincere with himself and about the whole palate called life. He stood as an exemplar of the human spirit. I never get carried away by his thought; he was not superhuman, he was human and humane.Continue reading
A truism of economies is they tend to thrive when they have a large stable middle-class. In the mid-2010s, one of the most aggressive facts promoted about the Nigerian economy was that it had created a large and thriving middle-class. Many observers were sceptical but were called naysayers. Today we are all concerned about the future of our economies which has become incalculable due to the uncertain impacts of COVID-19; rising inequality, growing poverty, upward concentration of wealth, and climate change. Nigeria is facing such concerns and has a serious youth immiseration and deprivation problem. And yes, the middle class and the less well-off are the hardest hit. Upward mobility for the youth has become a phantom.Continue reading
In this month of January 2021, I have been overwhelmed by many friends, acquaintances and even strangers with questions about what a couple of words I frequently use in speech and sparingly in writing mean. The words that have generated this unexpected spate of curiosity are “Mufugbenous” and “Mufugbeneity.” Mufugbenous is defined as the… I would have offered the appropriate definitions for the words but the undue accusations that have come with the questions put me off. A word is either right or wrong, I agree, but to say I am wreaking mischief or being obscurantist or intending to discombobulate with my diction is something I thoroughly reject. Mufugbenous and mufugbeneity, certainly have meanings and serve to communicate.
Can a universal cure come out of Africa, especially one that originates from mythology? “Nothing good or great comes out of Africa” is a settled statement of the many. Testing the truth of that statement can be either very difficult or very easy, depending on a person’s education and exposure. A reading of James Baldwin’s Stranger in The Village was my first encounter with this oft-heard statement cum conviction. Baldwin argues that the de facto creators of civilisation are Western and only the current civilisation matters. All previous civilisations are mere contributions. Therefore, any non-Western contribution to the present civilisation is necessarily either insignificant or illegitimate. This argument is valid notwithstanding, even when it involves the prevention of millions of deaths.
[Former] Senator Dino Melaye – SDM – (Twitter handle: @dino_melaye) on the 4th of August 2020 tweeted a cynically edited video clip of members of the Pyrates Confraternity singing his name in elated spirits. The comment that accompanied the clip SDM presented was, “SDM loved everywhere… even Pirates [Pyrates].” Call it narcissism, the tweet appeared to be a subtly devised public relation’s [PR] coup by SDM and perhaps it has worked well. Several Pyrates reacted on social media platforms professing that SDM was a fool to think the Pyrates were praising him because they, in reality, were mocking/condemning him for his bizarre resistance of arrest antics widely televised in 2018. The High Command of the Pyrates Confraternity in the person of the NAS Capoon stepped out to make a press release showing that not only were they not praising Dino Melaye, but they had also for ages used songs creatively to address the ills of the politics and politicians in Nigeria. These reactions looked like the were they responses SDM had hoped for from the Confraternity. He might even suffer Pyrate-envy since he is not a Pyrate.
As we approach the uncertain aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, many developed and developing societies remain shaken, disrupted and precarious. Jobs and austerity are the main tacit or stated socioeconomic fear of most people. The political economy of despair we are witnessing never enters the perception or the historical heritage of a nation, place or people with positive reception. We accept COVID-19 as a global pandemic is a tragedy. Most will survive it, but the death toll remains staggering and the caused disruption colossal in many countries. Our daily transactions, interactions and relations society and the economy rely on had to cease indefinitely, but for how long?
The problem for most citizens around the world is the survival of their regular economic and social expectations. Individuals have had to deal with many trenchant uncertainties at once, unawares. Jobs, businesses, opportunities, property, status, privileges, leisure and rights, many aspire to or worked so hard to attain are now looking like the glimmers of a past era. Yet, in our free-market-oriented world, orthodox economic theory demands everyone without exception must be rational in their actions. Rational cannot prevent winter or make disasters disappear instantly. To ask robust rationality of citizens under conditions of despair or even prosperity is quite a stoic demand. The political economy of despair under the current paradigm is never complete without the contradictions it produces.
The leading University Campus Grown Fraternities (UCGF) have had a long run of durability in their existence. Like many glorified dictatorships, autocracies and predatory cults, their enduring survival is a function of the longevity of the founder or historical leader. There is no retirement- some are late and some are present.
The “cult of personality” of the historical leader prevents the development of consistent and well-enforced institutions, laws or rules within the UCGF. His changing moods, whims and preferences rule the UCGF as he pleases. The challenges to his inconsistencies are few and attract punitive sanctions. The outcome is that the UCGF is always in a state of permanent uncertainty; every member has to wait for the latest deceptions, half-truths, excuses, threats, punishments, exclusions or instructions of the leader to know what will happen next. Keeping members guessing is one of the most ancient tricks of cult leaders. The problem resulting is that the cult leader never lives forever. He will eventually become too ill or senile to lead, or he will pass away someday. That is when the succession battles and disintegration begin; he never thought any successor a good enough replacement. The scramble for power on his departure can be desperate and violent – many will eat and drink poison.
It is the simplest thing in the world to assume Sub-Saharan Africans were illiterate and uncivilised before the coming of the White man. Such is well-embraced by the African – if you are well educated. Empire Day celebrated throughout the Commonwealth colonies reminded Nigerians that the King or Queen of England liberated them from bondage. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, one of the best-loved works of Western literature describes the African as a savage and languageless, communicating with grunts like apes. The Father of Modern Social Anthropology, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, swore that Africans had no institutions until the White man arrived – Africans had no marriages, kingdoms, trade, hierarchies, architecture, alphabet, medicines etc. of their own. All these facts are false but very rarely challenged by African scholars. Literacy and education did exist in South-Eastern Nigeria, for a millennium before colonisation. Let us talk about Nsibidi.
Why should ignorance and illiteracy always take the blame for the failings of the weak democracy in Nigeria? It takes some extremism or disturbing denial to ignore or even use derisory evidence and poor logics to affirm President Muhammadu Buhari’s government since 2015 is either competent or successful. Obstinacy and benefit-seeking are culprits. Under Buhari’s watch, Nigeria finds itself taking a steep dive in the economic, political and social arenas of the country. The economy is in tatters with no recovery in sight. Security and safety are hopeless enough to be the responsibility of God. The tribal rivalries are making the country more unstable than before the civil war and the future of Nigeria uncertain than ever. Buhari’s ascendancy to power was not the outcome of an ignorant or illiterate population. It took the scheming of the best educated and most enlightened Nigerians to achieve that feat.
Igbe is neither my personal nor family religion, but I lived in Urhoboland, where it originated and is still practised, long enough to observe the faith with considerable detachment. I have also seen its practice in the United Kingdom. It is an Urhobo religion but may not be exclusively so. In this brief article, I intend to look at the more gnostic and historical perspective of Igbe than its practices.
Igbe in the Urhobo language means “Dance” or “Joy.” Igbe worship is also an act of gratitude to God for life itself and consists of celebratory devotion. The “Gnosis of the Igbe” is a vocation in which the revelation of the knowledge of the divine occurs to male and female practitioners of the religion provided they have a pure heart and mind. The white attire and headwear of the Igbe followers in worship symbolise stainless purity which is reflected inwardly. The spark of the divine often awakens in the fervent celebration of God; this is why dance and song accompanied by drumming are indispensable. Music has the facility to stir the innermost emotions in people.
Riverine Remedy: Yankius, you self, you cannot even ask after me if I don’t call you. Na so your friendship be?
Yankius: O mi Riverine Remedy, have you not heard of 5G and its cover-up story? If not for that, to call you from time to is not hard now.
Riverine Remedy: (Laughing loud and cynically) So, you still believe in that 5G – COVID-19 junk? You are more than that and you know it.
Yankius: If you do not agree with my beliefs it does not give you the privilege to insult me.
Riverine Remedy: Yankius, have you heard the Acting Managing Director of NIger Delta Development Commission fainted while being interrogated for grand corruption by Representatives in the National Assembly? Nigeria’s Big Thieves are growing in numbers geometrically. Continue reading
Yesterday, as I was making octopus pepper soup, I decided to have a sip of seaweed kinkana, a mild alcoholic spirit. Paramole had given me the recipe to make the still when he returned from the Great Gangway. The Davy Jones Locker rendezvous was quiet, cold and sterile as usual but also inspirational and unencumbering. I must emphasise I love the place; it is my kind of place; it is my home now. I only use my submarine to come onshore these days, which is not often.
My unfailing experience was, an hour before a Forgone Terrors arrives at the Davy Jones Locker rendezvous, the Entrance would turn deep indigo or even purple. It is a signal for me to get ready to Mascot a Forgone Terror to the Great Gangway in any manner I choose. Now, for the first time in my experience, the Entrance turned blood red. It was a signal that an unauthorised person was arriving. I had never seen this happen and wondered who would appear at the Entrance. Was it the Devil himself, Sir Francis Drake, Vasco Da Gama, Black Beard, William Kidd, Calico Jack or the god, Poseidon? I knew it had to be a man by the laws of natures. The pepper soup was ready and scenting fine, and what a meal! No more sips.
After reading Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco a few years back, the unusual happened. I developed a keen yearning to rediscover a dormant space in my mind for the appreciation of illustrated stories and cartoons. I remembered the political cartoons of Josey Ajiboye and Omoba (Dotun Gboyega) and the entertainment illustrations of Morak Oguntade and some others. The illustrations of these men were as political and useful as the illustrations of Joe Sacco, hence the yearnings. Josey Ajiboye was a pioneer and grandmaster in the print media industry. The depth and influence of the work of these illustrators are incalculable as was elaborated in The Role of Editorial Cartoons in the Democratisation Process in Nigeria by Ganiyu Jimoh.
There was a time in the ’60s and ’70s when several jazz musicians of repute had to visit Brazil for a new spark of inspiration. It was almost a “rite of passage” for many jazz musicians. Classics like ‘Song for My Father’ by Horace Silver; ‘Brazilian Love Affair’ by George Duke; ‘Jive Samba’ by Cannonball Adderley Sextet; ‘Sidewinder’ by Lee Morgan; ‘Big Band Bossa Nova’ by Quincy Jones were born of rips and sounds of trips to and sounds of Brazil. These are a few of the Jazz Giants that had made their most successful albums through the Brazilian inspiration. Grover Washington Jr, George Benson, Earl Klugh, Bob James, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz, Kenny Dorham and many others also had big lifts in their music by way of the Brazilian inspiration. The most Yoruba-influenced jazz group is apparently the Art Ensemble of Chicago (see picture above).
Formal education is one of the most overrated things in human development people on the African continent can gain, maybe elsewhere too. Education in the formal sense is an “institutional thing,” i.e. the stuff of institutions. It is not just the stuff of classrooms and ivory towers. Institutions rely on education and education has to be meet institutional and societal requirements through governance for it to serve any useful purpose in society. The symbiosis of institutions and education is both valuable and undeniable. In a nation where institutions are unenforceable, we must expect the education curriculum to be inadequate in many senses. Education is not just the acquisition skills but also the awareness of the requirements of civil participation in a just or improving society.
Ideology can be such a blinding and narrow-minded state of mind, individually or collectively. Accurate history informs us that plagues and pandemics have devastated the world several times and for millennia, long before socialism and capitalism came into existence and the human race is still here. But not because of the excessive passions that drive ideology. My conservative friends of Nigerian origin seem to think otherwise. Continue reading
The magic of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has come from his citizens, but nothing of significance he has done as leader of the nation. Blamocracy (blaming past administrations for the impossibility of addressing present troubles) and claimocracy (claiming credit for the achievements of former governments) now have the regard of significant achievements in themselves. Many citizens claim that while the federal government is clean, competent and thriving, the states and local governments make up the rotten parts of Nigerian for governance. Leadership has become excused of responsibility by so-called voters. We take on the challenge to examine this sticky fallacy.
One of the most interesting but intractable things about development in Nigeria is the pervasive perception of both what it is and should be. What is development? Why are Nigerians always left behind? These are questions best answered indirectly. Continue reading
There is an old African tale in former times used as a universal allegory. There was once a flourishing pond with an environ full of animals and provided enough for all their needs. Strife was minimal. A Monitor Lizard in the pond had a big reputation for perpetrating wickedness, slander and treachery against other animals that inhabited the environs of the pond. The pain of others was his chief daily joy. His stripes, complexion, eyes and movements made him look both alien and wretched – perhaps the source of his deformed personality. Lying by raising reasonable doubt or obfuscating facts was the essential deception he used to harm and ruin others for no good reason at all. He also had gotten many animals severely punished and banished from the pond despite their innocence. Above all, he was a master flatterer who could easily get former victims to support him and his many schemes. Alas, the animals that lived by the pond accepted the Monitor Lizard’s evil ways as inevitable possibly because they dreaded him. Then a day of reckoning emerged.
In the Summer of 2015, I met and briefly befriended an interesting and pretty British-Nigerian lady in London for a couple of months. She was a focused intellectual type and an ardent seeker of knowledge. She was introverted and I extraverted. For some inexplicable reason, there were many popular and unusual topics we debated for hours. Unexpectedly, in September 2015 she announced to me she had gotten a scholarship to study for a PhD in the USA and promised she was going to miss me. I was flattered. That was the last I saw of her and her company. Despite having spent so many hours talking with her about a variety of topics, we never exchanged surnames. It was a sincere Platonic relationship we had.
Oruru ro w’egbedere ko taghra
Oruru ro w’egbedere ko taghra
Obor ri guono ughwume sonobrughwe rovwo na’a
Obor ri guono ughwume sonobrughwe rovwo na’a
Oruru ro w’egbedere ko taghra
Oruru ro w’egbedere ko taghra
Abortu ri guono ughwu r’Okpan Oghene rovwo na’a
Itu ri guono ughwume Oghene rovwo na’a
Windfall: Yankiokwa! Yankiokwa!!! Anytime you are this quiet we know you are up to something. How is you, Boss?
Yankius: Windokwa! The Windfall maker himself! Your potbelly has dwindled seriously. Is everything okay?
Windfall: Leave my stomach alone. I am curious. That bakery where the National Cake is being baked does still exist?
Yankius: The National Cake is crude oil. It still exists only nobody really wants it anymore. At least not for now.
Windfall: How can crude oil be the National Cake? Crude oil is a fossil fuel. Why do you have to be figurative about everything? Can you not just call cake what it is?
Yankius: In that case I will not talk any further about the National Cake. Continue reading
Deadly Cuts: O Pally, I am so scared for Nigeria at the moment. It is more than tragic what is happening.
Yankius: Corona virus is…
Deadly Cuts: Who is talking about Covid-19? It was bound to devastate Africa especially Nigeria one day. I was talking about the potential economic and political collapse of Nigeria now that oyel no longer has any value on the global markets. Hungry go wire Nigerians O!
Yankius: Oyel! Ha ha ha! All the trillions of dollars Nigeria made from oyel openly and solid minerals secretly was never treated as anything other the personal “kpoke”.
Deadly Cuts: What is kpoke?
Yankius: Pocket money. Money for luxury housing, luxury cars, private jets, designer clothing, luxury tourism, maintaining girlfriends and concubines, hosting grand parties, spraying obscene amounts of foreign currency. It was all pocket money, kpoke. It was never invested; all investments were funded by loans. Now Nigeria cannot service the over$100 billion it owes. Continue reading
Saturday the 25th of April 2020 was cold and blank in the Davy Jones Locker. A few sailors had passed through the rendezvous to the other side after becoming victims to Covid-19 and other causes but this Saturday there were no forgone sailors arriving. For the first time in my experience there, a particular case of forgone reversal occurred. The Great Door had open and solemn song could be heard accompanied by restrained okombo [drum] beats. I became very concerned and might have tricked myself I was not scared. The Great Door only opened when a sailor was about to cross the Great Gangway. Why had it opened without a forgone arrival? I began to hear footsteps, they got closer, and a man emerged, Paramole himself. About 7 feet away from me, he stopped. His face was listless. I was frozen all over with amazement, and he did not seem happy to see me where I was.
Corruption is here in the world to stay, and it entrenches itself in our society deeper daily. Such is our most significant contemporary reality in times of peace and not in an emergency. It is even now legal. Corruption has paved the way for unnecessary and preventable wars, unrest, pestilence, systemic failures and emergencies. Many commentators brand such occurrences as unexpected contingencies. “Things happen”, is the persuasion we must believe, as if they occur with little or no calculated intention and help. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed more corruption than is normally available to the average citizen. Backing ideologies, facilitators, and the consequences of corruption have become more visible to all. The media, criminal justice mechanisms, legislation and civil services could never offer the people such an accessible view of corruption in normal circumstances.
When Manu Dibango invented disco music with his phenomenal hit “Soul Makossa“, it was staggering. Besides the breakbeats, jazz and soul influences it was complete with saxophone, trumpet, drum kits, bass and lead guitars, piano/keyboards et al. that made it the big success it was within the New York music scene and later worldwide. Its central sensibility as was developed and perfected came from somewhere. Africa. Subsequently, Fela, Osibisa, Mariam Makeba, Hugh Masekela also working within the breakbeat, soul, funk, and jazz found instant fame and recognition as innovators in the world music scene. And “Afrobeat” credited to Fela soon became an international art form with a strong legitimacy of its own.
No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes. On the contrary, whatever the punishment, once a specific crime has appeared for the First Time, its reappearance is more likely than its initial emergence could ever have been – Hannah Arendt
When punishment becomes too common or an overused resort, it indicates a poorly governed organisation or institution that can do no better than wield a stick to cover up the open corruption of its leadership and its day to day affairs. The more the rotten the organisation, the more the punishment meted out to its members. Punishment thus becomes the best way the organisation or institution secures impunity from its very own corruption and decadence. Some organisation uses Black spots as its primary method of discipline and punishment within while simultaneously claiming to be “defenders of human rights” without.
I had a dream last night that I had died while dreaming. Then nothingness, Okuku [total blankness]. It was all over, no points of return available or imaginable. However, when I woke up this morning and found that I was still alive, fresh and sexy [Gbogborogbo!], I almost fell unconscious with the shock of surprise. The unconsciousness that one recovers from I have experienced endlessly, and it can be pleasant but not the one who felt permanent as in my dream. Sleep, inebriation, general anaesthesia and over-high fevers, I have all woken up from, but it seemed impossible for me to do so in this dream. I have never been knocked out in all my many fights, though I am no longer a youth.
Imagine a baby just a few days or old. He or she has been crying for food endlessly, but nothing is on offer. There is no money for baby food, so the mother has to feed the child with her breast’s milk. How ever, the delay that kept the baby hungry was because she is taking time to inject, swallow or smoke drugs. The baby’s nourishment from the mother’s breast may be laced with varying concentrations of drugs. That is the baby’s meal and survival. We are not even talking about how well-fed the mother is, the child’s immunity, health and treatment if it falls ill, the environment the mother and child lives, hopes of a better life and so forth. One may further ask if the child is the only one, or the second or third or if another one is on the way? Look at the photo above, and you can see a mother simultaneously smoking marijuana and feeding her baby. It is happening in Sapele, Delta State like in many other towns and cities in Nigeria, particularly the slum areas, but the usual denial by many Nigeria is that the photo was taken in South Africa, Gabon or Chad. Drugs are not just destroying a generation of youths; it is already destroying their babies. Continue reading
I saw Fabio Romani the other day, not long ago. He was kind enough to enter my submarine on his long journey, unknown to me then, to the Land of the Forgone. He was indeed a Jolly Sailor who showed me a thing or two about being at sea at our meeting. However, he had never been in a submarine. He inspected my submarine and was impressed with what he saw. He asked me “is this where you launch your mutinous torpedoes and cruise missiles from?” I was too shy or embarrassed to answer. After giving him the grand and informed tour of the ocean’s bed, I finally took him to the Davy Jones Locker’s rendezvous. When we both entered the rendezvous, he was surprised to see a third fellow there, another outstanding sailor who did not want to be disturbed. They coldly exchange brief greetings. The Locker was too cold for liveliness, and people do not elect to reside there; it’s either Adam’s Punishment or Cap’n Blood’s Punishment; Fabio was there for the former, I was there for the latter.
The 2019 elections have come and gone and have produced its victors and losers no matter how illegitimate the ballot was. Many issues that plague Nigeria severely were not even discussed in the campaign season. Dividends of democracy? What was discussed was patrimonial-manias in the shape of the obtuse mantras of “only X can save Nigeria”; good luck to the promoters. The unresolved issue of interest here is the raging drug problem that is ruining an entire generation of Nigerian youths and severely embarrassed the Buhari government through a BBC expose titled “Sweet Sweet Codeine.” As the drug problem has been largely unresolved, the government is going to be embarrassed again shortly. One may ask, where is the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in all of this? One should perhaps, more importantly, ask what roles the presidency and national legislators playing in drug enforcement? Continue reading
Dead Speechless: Yankpuzi! How you is? I thought the British were the most civilised people in the world but see how nefariously they treated Julian Assange. Denial of medical treatment, drag-along arrest in the street and a vindictive jail sentence. It was more than barbarous.
Yankius: Lets not talk about Julian Assange. I do not feel like hiding in an embassy at the moment.
Dead Speechless: You are not Julain Assange and you do not run Wikileaks.
Yankius: All the better not to talk about him. Goon! Continue reading
What has happened, Africa? This is the question a bright youth leader on a private forum asked when he learnt the Chinese have set up the 13th Chinese Police Station in South Africa. The answer is Nothing. Whether we base the question on fact, fiction or exaggeration is immaterial. Chinamen are coming and coming big to Africa. Continental tragedy was visible in African people who should have known better in advance, notably the intellectual/educated class, who were unwitting. “Bright lights” keenly supported the decadent misgovernance many of the post-colonial leaders foisted upon their citizens on the continent up to this day. Africans are now living with the harsher realities of such thoughtlessness and misfortune. The Chinese are now exploiting Africa’s naivete. Who will not?
What is Col Sambo Dasuki doing locked up in detention indefinitely without trial at the behest of President Muhammadu Buhari? What happened to court trials in Nigeria which are sending other politicians guilty of corruption to jail? Supporters of President Buhari [regardless of party affiliation] would naively (the vast majority) or insincerely (very few) have people believe that Col Dasuki’s detention is evidence of a strong anti-corruption ethos under the present government. The truth is that it is one of the most histrionic acts of corruption of the Buhari Presidency courtesy nepotism. Dasuki is in detention for his very own safety at the fawning kindness of the President. If anyone can accurately evaluate the most likely politician that would be assassinated in Nigeria on any given day of the year, it will be Dasuki by a very wide margin and it is unlikely he would survive unprotected. But why? An informant in military intelligence tells us. Continue reading
“Guilt by community association” (GBCA) is back in Nigeria in fresh form in 2018 not by the actions of a foreign colonialist but those of the local Nigerian auto-colonialists courtesy Fulani herdsmen affairs. In the colonial state of Nigeria under British rule, the main means by which the Nigerian staffed police force secured conformity and order from Nigerians was community arrest and faux crime taxation. If a person dropped dead in Ilesha, Oron, Keffi or Ughelli (or some village), the police would arrest all the heads of family in the area (or village) requiring each to bail themselves at a prohibitive cost; GBCA was born. The people quickly learned that a police matter was a money matter. This was the very first habit the Nigerian police force acquired that ensured that they would become hopelessly corrupt in future. Corrupt initial conditions bred both corrupt post-Independence foundations and institutions, a legacy of empire. Today, Nigerian auto-colonialists carry the blame for GBCA.