If you have the privilege to visit Warri, the former “oil city” of Nigeria in Delta State coastal Southern partand ask about the organisation that calls itself “Escravos,” it will not take you too long to find out who they are and where they assemble regularly. You will be told a lot of stories but unless you happen by sheer serendipity to meet a member who would either not tell you anything or who will inform you of the astronomical greatness of the group including its “proud” anti-colonial, pro-democracy and freedom fighting exploits, you will not get a real feel of the group.
Escravos is a Portuguese that means “slaves” (a plural word). The name is confusing, though. Would an elite intellectual group call itself “idiots” or a collective of rich kids adopt the name “wretches”, or an ensemble of the spiritually liberated assume the identity “demons”? Two things must have happened here; either those who chose the name did not know what “Escravos” really meant, they just liked the sound of it or they unwitting opted to be identified by a secret “reverse-meaning” name without realising society will one day know it and take it literally.
Groups originate from ideas and concrete lines action attract members and do intended things. Able leaders and able assistants are required in group formation and survival. However, groups that become master-servant entities are necessarily units of exploitation. In this case the anticolonial group became the coloniser of its own. The brutality and humiliation that is constant in master-servant dominates the dialy life, activities and operations life of Escravos and its fellow chapters. From seeking liberty to entrenching sheer auto-colonialism. Pari poripa!
(Originally published on February 12, 2015)