Origins of an Opintar; Blaming Chinua Achebe

Posted: May 5, 2015 in Corruption, Fraternity, Institutions, Justice, Leadership, Social Relations
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“Bird’s got something to teach us all; About being free, yeah; Be no rain… Be no rain…” – Gil Scott-Heron, from the lyrics, I Think I’ll Call It Morning

I refer to myself an Opintar and many think it is a fun name or of vernacular because they cannot google it; it is not. Being an Opintar is an apt description of my lot in life and how I should or do live it. Opinterity is the closest I will ever know of being liberated and of happiness, yet it is not a great thing to be. I have joined some organisations and fraternities that defiantly preach the ‘liberation of man and society’ but they are cesspools of anti-liberation by means of polite evil, duplicity and racketeering. Are such groups different from families or nations? The unliberated will rush to say yes, and a few will be right. All life is not oppressive or evil but all of life is constrained and needs liberation as a criterion of creation.

The laws of life are for the interests of the mighty mostly, not the weak but only God seems not to complain. As rich and powerful as Bernie Ecclestone is, he publicly and proudly admires Adolf Hitler, who probably admired King David, who in turn admired a real or spook God, because all their money and power did could not free them from ‘the rules that matter’. One of the great rarities of life are emperors, kings, senators, prime ministers going to jail but the rarity is a product of corruption and caution; you mess around, they bring you down. The rules of sleep ensure the mighty, like everyone else, have bad breath on waking up and when they encounter erectile dysfunction putting a hit on a doctor or investing pharmaceutical company will not resolve the problem. As the rules crapiously wounds ordinary folks so it wounds the high and mighty except in my corrupt fraternity.

‘Might is right’ has always been the underlying condition of man. Jail, Sodom and Gomorrah, the death penalty, poverty, displacement, exclusion and all the other Hells caught on here on Earth are all about might at least by contrast. Might has an exceedingly polite and disconnected way of manufacturing people who will inevitably catch Hell. The more Hell caught by the majority the more might for the minority. Success is so rare in life it is over-celebrated; the mighty make us celebrate it. We are now even told by the mighty to make a laugh out of our lives while they squeeze our pennies, freedoms, values, support and even happiness from us till Hell visits us. The Opintar laughs without instruction.

Unfortunately, in the late 1989 at the United Bank for Africa or was it African Continental Bank branch within the University of Nigeria campus at Nsukka, an unusual experience happened. A tall handsome man smartly but casually dressed and possibly in his early 50s stood up from his private conversation with his friend and with congenial loudness recited the first four lines of the famous poem, The Second Coming, by WB Yeats made famous to Nigerians by the opening of Chinua Achebe’s also famous novel Things fall Apart;

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

His speech was one borne of a very good education and privileged worldliness; he was probably an academic at the university. He did not speak for more than two minutes before he sat down in mischievous silence but managed to say what he might have privately been debating with his friend, “Forget your hopes for Biafra, the eschatology of our people is nigh”. He then said something funny in Igbo language mentioning Achebe to which the over 40 customers and staff in the bank laughed. The man neither appeared drunk nor insane and when he left the bank he drove away with his friend not too long after in a cute Mercedes Benz.

An hour later that day I found the meaning of “eschatology” and realised my first reading of Things Fall Apart as an early teenager was too literal. A buddy of mine, Mohammed Oluwa, was with me at the bank and we spoke about the man’s soliloquy in the bank. When we got to his room he gave me a copy of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. It was a revealing coincidence; The Fire Next Time was about another kind of second coming. That was the end of hope for me as a Blackman on planet earth. I was living in my own eschatology, my own end, my calculated obsolescence with only the second coming to look forward to, if it ever would come. That was the day I started calling myself an Opintar.

An Opintar is “a person having discovered his words and actions would never change the underlying conditions of life endeavours to do deeds because his survival and that of others demand it”. If it is self-flattery it is not Opinterity. What achievement or possession would elevate me to the status higher than 3/5ths of a man? When it comes to the condition of the Blackman, the dizzying heights of achievement and honour attained by Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr are in un-hyped and un-glossed terms spectacular failures; sublime condoms that could not prevent pregnancies and divine soaps that could not wash the laundry. By the time you get to the likes of many other great Blackmen it is either pantomime or additions to the worsening of my condition to make their bread.

My Black greats are always slighted as “Uncles” and never venerated as “Fathers” except in their tiny political patches or by their consanguineous relatives but they will tell you there is nothing in a ‘mere name’. They love their prizes and honours though, which many are a literal equivalence – no more. My Black greats do not have small brains, but many have tiny testicles, fortitude-wise. The experience of the bullet wound and the prison cell, and that becomes the equivalence of their greatness. I wonder how many of our Brethren are in jail endlessly and unjustly or have died of a bullet; but the mighty always tells us what to celebrate or value. It is a resounding disgrace that the most honest spokespeople for the Blackman and the despair of his second coming’s realities are White. I share in that disgrace but as an ordinary human being it is not too bad for me; does anyone know my name?

The second coming is imminent but distant. Every good deed pushes it further away and every bad one brings it closer, Snakes and Ladders. Sometimes it seems good deeds can only proliferate and at other times the bad is in unobstructed ascendance. The contradictions of eschatology usually makes a fool out of the wisest men and women. In these neoliberal years of ours, it does look like a second coming will straighten the whole of life’s situation out; I am not waiting. I hope no such hope, not in the second coming, not in the fire next time (well, after the Deluge), not after the election of dokuous political liars into office, not after some billionaire “bequeaths” with his fortune in acts of crayfish charity, not in the Scriptures made into putty on the lips of falsies, not in anything but myself but I often doubt that too.

It is now fashionable to talk of ‘inseparable dualities’; everyone tends to the omniscience of necessary evils, necessary only to accompany their preferred and often unwholesome good. It explains everything and nothing; it is just the rantings of those who are devoid of pain at the moment. Some even muse about Yin and Yang, and many religious and moral philosophies of the Near to Far East. Po’un! Do not tell me about Ying and Yang, tell me about Tao. Go tell someone who has just lost their only kids in one incident about Ying and Yang or try it on a young adult whose heart has been charred by a shocking disappointment set on them by their loved one or to a man who has taken an overdose of a highly efficient aphrodisiac and his uruoruo turns up not. How about the guy who swore by the second coming and Khalil Gibran when he was endlessly poor but later swore by might when he became rich then swore by Christ when good fortune dumped him? Might is all there is to seek, but my Brethren can only seek pittances of it and its most insecure forms.

My Brethren look for a solution every day and in every way but it is always ten steps ahead of them and ever-energetic ever-gloating. Development is the cross of my Brethren; it is a reality for them just as good as a second coming. No, my Brethren are you Opintars? For every good deed leaders and citizens do in society it brings Development closer but it is the opposite case with regards to the second coming. Do my Brethren want development or the second coming? My leaders want both; they want a glass of boiling water filled with ice. Therefore my leaders and my Brethren should stick to the second coming, waiting is easier than enlightened work. It becomes a tragic reality to “wait” on something that does not have a timetable or season when my leaders and Brethren are the most “impatient” human beings on the planet; the “quickie civilisation” can never touch a civilisation based on doggedly long action. Claude Ake did proclaim that my Brethren’s post-colonial ways were rigged not to succeed as a ‘developed people’ with a ‘developed society’. As for Development, the bye-word should be “FORGET IT!” but the Opintar has to continue working like all the others – the bottom of Maslow’s Traingle awaits you, even the mighty.

The Opintar is unspecial and as confused as everyone else; only work gives him or her direction and purpose. Toiling in the mud is cool in a transient changeable world where corruption is the dominant mode of social organisation and you know it. The Opintar is always trying to step in and out of time and consistently succeeds for infinitesimally small periods of time. Seconds become magical but fifty-nine seconds scatters over the passing of an entire day; this is a derisory reality. Do others get one second in a day? Some call it the ‘present moment’ which reminds me of the futility of neoliberal life foisted upon us with the sole fundament of “Achilles and the Tortoise”, a never-ending catch-up game people have to play; I call it ‘time correcting’.

A charming lady once told me my Opintar talk was rubbish. I then explained it to her very sexually and then financially and most convincingly, spiritually. The Opintar lives in sequences of Fibonacci Numbers where and when he or she can. She was captivated and convinced but I declined spending the night at her’s. I did not want to allow myself to be a made into regular night time labourer subjected to an ever-increasing lofty expectation based on the revealed secrets of Opinterity. People always want more of a good thing; it will not happen so casually ever again. The Fibonacci Numbers secrets of the Opintar remain secret except to the initiated. To be an Opintar is a spiritual thing rooted in human action and the full exposure of the soul. The spirit is here and takes care of space. I fly like a bird by Fibonacci Numbers and by Fibonacci Numbers I taste the real potentiality of freedom, correctness and safety.

I believe in my spiritual ancestors most seriously because they allow me to drink by tradition; be merry and live viacanously every day in their honour and memory. If they did not do it I would not be here, yet I only do it recreationally hoping to land on ‘17 Black’, my transmission code number; for most people it is such good odds – it is heads or tails. “In God We Trust”. I only believe in God because of whisky, “the water of God”, (I was named after a Scotsman) and the holiest libation cum tipple known to man is Talisker. Take a three shot shack of Talisker in comfortable surroundings and with a restful mind and tell me if you do not see God! Heineken too sanctifies. Even if you do not praise the Lord have these drinks. Toto water must never be wasted for in it we are conceived and from it we are born. Forget the graphics of our creation, it is binary by nature, the entry of one into zero is sufficient description. The day the binary matrix of the underlying condition of the Opintar is uncovered and I bear witness to full freedom, I shall shout “Land Ahoy! Let the Whisky Flow men! Hallelujah!” till I lose my voice.

When is the second coming going to do it for me? I have been walloped and crippled by a mafia of illnesses, thrash-canned by ever-desirable women and unsure about a second chance, immiserated of my million pounds and more, made at best a mere convenience for friends, fattened by medical prescriptions, squandered my youth; will the second coming do anything for me? My good looks have faded, my strong legs “caned”, my body seconded-handed, my good background broken, my learning mufious, my skills nearing expiry, my good intentions rendered unnecessary, my evils branded interesting, my laughter totally misunderstood;  do I need a second coming? My second comings have been many, mine may be “the eternal second coming”, I have nothing else. Why will I not be an Opintar? Am I alone? I cannot be but neither is my soul connected. There are many Opintars all over but I cannot find them and if I cannot see them they have to be spooky guynes. The second coming may have made me into a spook, no wonder I complain. O Achebe! O! Yeats! why hath thou guynes misled me so?

A schoolmate of mine who I had not been in contact with for 35 years recently reminded me I had translated into the Urhobo language the first four lines of “The Second Coming” and totally buckled my tidy life once again. I recited it;

Ojue rarie Ojue rarie je ojiji bie yara

Apipia gbise nyumi re oro se apiapia;

Ekhwakhwa she guogor ukherevie gbise yore;

Ozighi oboba she re’akpor tiena

The Second Coming and my realisation of it have left me enagobasted and I have no hiding place, I have to be an Opintar where else will I find freedom and safety? My ancestors have to work hard.

Grimot Nane

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