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.
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.
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.
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).
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