Knowing that one is living with oppression is a blessing whenever it decides to come, not knowing is a curse that will forever leave one much worse off. – Guynes
Before attempting to answer a few interesting questions arising from readers of the article Oppression as a Test: A Metaphor for the Nigerian Youth (https://wp.me/p1bOKH-P5), it is important to explain a simple taxonomy of oppression.
Comment: Over the past six years I have written several articles about the wrongs and decadence of University Campus Grown Fraternities (UCGF) (some deleted) with insider knowledge. I more recently even developed two essay series out of them, namely, Fraternities are Viruses in Nigeria and The Leadership of a Bad Brother (both which do not names persons or fraternities) with another series in making that does mention names. A major international media house and a documentary filmmaker have even contacted me for my expertise on the matter. However, over a decade before me, Omoleye Sowore (in 2002) had written one of the most important articles on the source problem of cults (UCGF) in Nigeria and its possible remedies. I am sure many readers will agree.
Sowore writes: “It takes a lot of gut to disagree with someone of Professor Soyinka’s standing in the world. In almost every sense he has used his courage, expertise, connections and skills to intervene on behalf of Nigeria to obtain freedom from terror, democracy and respect for human rights, it is common knowledge that he has done very well and I mean excellently well in his capacity as a literary giant, activist, Nobel laureate and Pan Africanist. Continue reading
When the realm governed by the Bad Brother is hollowed out from the inside by the purposeful preponderance of evil, excesses and abuses to the point everything that held it together is so polluted and its rules irreparably unenforceable, a power vacuum is created. That is the art of negotiating oneself out of power by sloth. Folly. The high and mighty in society that once gave credibility and legitimacy to the realm turn their honourable backs and conveniently depart gradually if they were not expelled earlier. The least among men devoid of rectitude, creativity and intelligence then come into ascendance and potentially power by way of hunter-gather style ambition. The realm then gets hollowed out further till the skin breaks from the inside to the surface. Only the memories remain and the smell.
Boiss dey! Boiss always do right where the Bad Brother has done evil, and they invariably succeed in the end. The tables have now turned for the better, and the seating arrangements have changed for good as they should have a very long time ago. Not until the revolution is complete do guynes believe it.
“We are bigger than U.S. Steel” many members of UCGFs (University Campus Grown Fraternities) in Nigeria will tell you, vaingloriously about their “brotherhood”. Do not take such folly seriously; it is evidence the ‘mask of sanity’ fraternities has fallen off the cliff that once held them so high. However, now they see themselves as large facsimile corporations. Just as on LinkedIn, you will see corporations that have thousands of employees, UCGFs make favourable comparisons with such organisations based on their thousands of members.
To be in a UCGF (University Campus Grown Fraternity) as a member in 2017 under the terms and conditions they currently operate is to voluntarily be a slave unless you are a “Slave Master” or his favoured client. The fight to be a slave master is the goal of many an unwitting ambitious UCGF member or rookie, except where does it get them? (See: Climbing the “Fraternity Ladder”: KIngs of Nothingness http://wp.me/p1bOKH-zC). We must be reminded that slavery in the present happens in many spheres of life but not visible like the times’ people were bound in chains; it is perpetuated today as mental bondage and too many fall for it. Masters of such practices abound in arenas where profit and obedience are the chief goals.
Whether university campus grown fraternities (UCGF) have done either good or evil to the societies in their countries of origin (e.g. the USA) is debatable. In the American-formation, without any idealisation, their “honour codes” are both formidable and strictly adhere. Honour” among brothers is a precious matter for American fraternities. Interestingly, their Nigerian imitators as ‘free-for-all fraternities’ are observably oblivious to the very meaning of honour and devoid of working honour codes. It may be the reason UCGFs in Nigeria are more like “street gangs” than collectives of educated men.
The end of the era of the leaders who are bad brothers need not be obscure, it must never be.
The existence, approaches and attitudes of the UCGF in every day matters as well, and unusual ones are bifurcated in many senses. Probably the worst form of bifurcation most visible in the conduct of the leadership of UCGFs is their attitudes towards freedom of speech, especially criticisms or critiques. In keeping with their “advertised” ideals, tenets and intentions, the leadership of UCGFs find it very easy and desirable to make audacious press releases that brazenly critique or question the failures, incompetence and crimes of the government of the day. But are equally extremely punitive and vindictive towards their members who are brave or naïve enough to point out theirs. What is the place of ‘freedom of speech’ in the traditions and culture of UCGFs?
A climate of fear usually grips most members oppressively when it comes to freedom of speech proffered within the UCGF. Fear gripping proud elites? Sanctions and disapproval are the main instruments by which the fear finds its way into the minds of members. A motto UCGFs should sell to the public is “silence is golden” even when it means “No Freedom of Speech” within; this is another bifurcation. The smallest of criticisms by a complainer can easily suffer the fate of a major infraction by the UCGF leadership. Sycophancy is very much welcome and encouraged within the fraternity by the leaders.
In FAVIN (Fraternities are Viruses in Nigeria) Part 5 (see: http://wp.me/p1bOKH-pT) the issue articulated was the presence of Cheaters, Grudgers and Suckers in the membership constitution of UCGFs (University Campus Grown Fraternities) based on the understanding of Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene. From keener observation, that there is another prevalent category of character within UCGFs that has a more insidious nature and maybe more of a threat to unsuspecting members of the fraternity and society than the dreaded Cheater.
Fraternities in Nigeria are now specialists in accumulating “financial bounties” with their leaders appropriating them; it is tantamount to corporate malfeasance. It may be unfortunate if not tragic that while the founders of University Campus Grown Fraternities (UCGFs) established them, perhaps for noble intentions, they have come to embody the very antics of “corporate malfeasance”. Operating just below the radar or not facing criminal prosecution is not evidence of clean hands. UCGFs depend mainly on the money members contribute and as their sizes have increased so has their kitties. Financial bounty taking by leaders in UCGFs is strictly about misappropriating members’ money and funders’ largesse, perennially. The bounty taking activities of UCGFs did not start one day or overnight. The bounties came in phases and often took years or decades to perfect. The bounties are now known as “returns.”
Everyday people in this everyday world of ours bear witness to everyday evil and wickedness every single day, directly or indirectly. To be consistently and confidently nefarious, one has to have some sort of power and loads of impunity to float it. Spectacular evil in the name of power is something we see on television carried out by large organisations and many rich countries of the world with the thought of empire in question. Or it is exacted by extremists. How about the non-spectacular evils of the power-seeking bullies that affect us insidiously every day? The fourth instalment of The Leadership of a Bad Brother is further emphatic witness;
The third instalment of The Leadership of a Bad Brother has the same context and focus on the first two. The random presentation of thoughts is intended to reflect the haphazard manner by which victims of bad organisations and bad leaders order their thoughts privately. Some respondents have questioned where this diary is heading. The author intends to open a dialogue with readers about direct personal experiences of tyranny/abuses, within any kind of setting they have worked or belonged. Whether it is a voluntary organisation, corporation or government agency. The participation of the reader in this dialogue can make open that which is hidden and potentially held change things. Not many contributions received so far.
The diary titled The Leadership of a Bad Brother (http://wp.me/p1bOKH-Db) is herein given its second rendering. It is the case the bad leadership, especially of the professional kind, is an increasing occurrence as well as having gained broad unwitting acceptance in society and therefore nothing is done about. However, bad leadership mostly is unexpected and obscured thrives. We shall continue to examine the nature and incidence of bad leadership as it affects the lives of people individually and collectively, whether formally or informally, legally or illegally, secretly or openly.
These musings as ordinary as they are have been inspired daily by reflections on the leadership of someone I can best describe as a “Brother”. Put together as a diary, it is an attempt to make sense of the tyranny an individual with the help of a few cronies can exact on people of means but no voice. It also attempts to present an eschatology of the end of tyranny as is observed. Each entry tells part of the story as appropriately as is possible.
The art of making powerful enemies mostly depends on one’s willingness or compulsion [either] not to care or to care so much about what others do in your actions and reactions. When making enemies be prepared. – 30/06/2016
It is almost a rule that as a member of the public you will encounter UCGFs (University Campus Grown Fraternities) and their members vehemently deny that they are cults or cult members, respectively, in any personal or media platform available to them. One would think that such is a practice of mere or strong ‘cult denialism’ because of the negative image it conjures in the minds of members of the public? Wrong.
In everyday Nigerian parlance, the dreaded word “cult” is habitually conflated and interchanged with the word the “occult”. It is where the mistake begins. As such many UCGF members and members of the public have not taken the time to find out what a cult is and are not aware they or those they love may be members of cults by proper definition and implication. Many cults are very secular and do not practice any religious, spiritual, magical or esoteric beliefs. Occultism is not a core characteristic of a cult at all.
University Campus Grown Fraternities (UCGFs) in Nigeria are usually a ‘dead-end’ for the benignly ambitious and serious man but for those gifted with niggardliness, low cunning, meanness with a heavy dose of unrealistic dreaming they are “El Dorado(s)” exemplified in the highest. The main goal the fraternity member who cannot make better than his job pay grade in real life but wants to be a mega-whatever, getting to the top of the fraternity becomes “the” mega-achievement. Please take a look at the former heads of UCGFs and show yourselves the ones whoever became a mega-achiever in any sphere of life. Or even worse, who became a mega-achiever by being the top helmsman all by its self. There is nothing like that, nothing.
University Campus Grown Fraternities (UCGFs) have surprisingly remained respectable in the eyes of many mostly because of their status of being registered as “legal entities” with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) under the unusual classification of legal “non-profit” organisations in Nigeria, even if dubiously. It is in addition to the fact I emphasised in Part 6 (see http://wp.me/p1bOKH-q9) that many government establishments are increasingly being infiltrated and dominated by members of these UCGFs in question and can use their derived power to launder their names impressively. Who is fooling who?
That a UCGF has “legal status” means just that and not an iota more. Legal status means having the institutional recognition of state authority as an association or corporate entity. We as citizens should question how corrupt those state institutions that knowingly give UCGFs the “legal status” are. Registering a UCGF with the CAC is simply a matter of money, the naiveté of civil servants and sometimes the clever manipulation of officials.
If you live in a home with illustrious parents with lots of affluence and you have brothers, there is a reasonable likelihood that you have a member of a UCGF in your household. Fact! The primary insidious practices of the Cheaters that run UCGFs have always been to recruit as many members of high ability (used as Suckers) and those with inherited high social status in their ranks (also Suckers). Members of UCGFs from humble backgrounds make up the numbers and used as cannon fodder.
Even though none of the original members of the older UCGFs were medical students or later medical doctors in their own right, they ensured that the most significant number of their future recruits were medical students. Medical students were ten times more likely to be recruited as a member of a given UCGF than those who were studying something else. At that time, the 1970s and 1980s, medical doctors had the best career prospects of any profession in Nigeria; it was an investment in the future for the UCGF.
If you have read “Fraternities are Viruses in Nigeria” parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 you will not need any introduction to the hypocrisy and psychopathy of UCGFs (University Campus Grown Fraternities). UCGFs are simply organisations that trumpet the ‘mantra of altruism and selflessness’ to society and their unwitting members. In reality, they are driven by creating ‘selfish social genes’ [as Richard Dawkins would describe them]and breeding cadres of Suckers, Cheaters and Grudgers.
The irony is UCGFs were primarily set-up to fight against “Cheaters” the tricks, manipulations and evils in society (by self-appointment) on behalf of the “Suckers” in society by being the “Grudgers” in society! Today Grudgers have the invariable status of ‘persona non grata’ within UCGFs. Not only have UCGFs been monumental failures in their pursuit and attainment of their respective causes, e.g. a fostering a “just society”, but many of their members also deserve to be in the slammer!
Most University Campus Grown Fraternities (UCGFs) started as idealistic brotherhoods with the reverie of changing some aspects of society. Most founding members never really believed it would achieve its aim, become a prominent phenomenon or even become a menace to society (which they have become). Most of the young founders were academics and intellectuals, but none were good organisers; “Frankenstein’s monster” came too early. The plethora of organisational failures that came to plague UCGFs is infectious.
If a member of the public thoroughly wants to understand the thinking that perpetuates the existence of University Campus Grown Fraternities (UCGFs) in Nigeria for their mostly hapless members, the analogy of the “Failed Abusive Father Syndrome” is quite useful.
The failed abusive father is a man with a wife and children but by societal standards is a typical economic and social failure. His position in society is definitively one of a figure of fun. He is the ever-available butt of jokes in the community or a ‘figure of fear’ because of his sometimes senseless extremism in his reactions or his fervent quest for trivial things. He cannot attempt more essential endeavours. Outside his home, the failed abusive father is a constant victim of insults, shout-downs, mockery, humiliation, exclusions, desperation, condemnations, wishes and dreams, sadness, beatings, assaults and rudeness. And there is nothing he could do about it but to accept such as his immutable lot faithfully.
University campus grown fraternities (UCGFs) recently have as a rule and mode of evolution taken their preaching about government “badness” and their prescriptions of the “common good” to ever-dizzying heights. UCGFs have the fullest right to critique any part or aspect of the government it deems worth their while. However, when it comes to the corruption that happens within the realm of the government UCGFs are vocal. The UCGFs have to look at their wreckless yet systematic practices of corruption within the boundaries of their organisations. UCGFs are a sophisticated corruption virus in society.
There are in existence many “university campus grown fraternities” (UCGFs) in Nigeria today, some old and some new, but they all claim to be the “saviours” of the Nigerian society. Their claims for existence and continuity are noble but utterly false. These fraternities now have websites if visited, present the public with their uninspiring PR. It showcases their equivalents of the Ten Commandments; their prescriptions for a just, moral or egalitarian society; their apocryphal histories; their charities and do-gooding; their claims to elitism and their critiques of the government. Non-believers are not convinced.
No names are named, neither of fraternities nor of individuals in public office only because it is unnecessary. If Nigeria is to be one day taken over by UCGFs, we must expect that Nigeria will be worse off in the governance arena than it is today. Still, no leader or administrator or group of concerned Nigerians will do anything about such. Why should they?
Claims and their making, are an essential tool used by UCGFs to justify their existence to themselves and the public. The repetition of their claims about themselves as freedom fighters, reformers of society, membership of their noble organisation, having humanitarian intentions, being utterly honest and disciplined are constant. Such claims are lies and delusions that lack even imaginary evidence, but their repetition makes them constant thoughts in the minds of members.
Another interesting claim of UCGFs is its unique and momentous birthing. The founders of these UCGS were a few young undergraduates or postgraduate students and sometimes academics. The founding members were as a rule immortalised by qualifying their numbers with superlative qualifiers. The Three Musketeers (from a 19th-century adventure story). The Fantastic Four (from an American children’s comic book). The Famous Five (from a British children’s novel);. Six of Best (from Battle, a British war comic). The Magnificent Seven (from a classic Hollywood Western); and the Great Eight (Mao’s team of revolutionaries). Each of these attributes would be backed up by a fictitious yarn designed to instruct the memory of the founders.
Then there are the claims of their ideals. The ideals are supposed to govern their behaviour, conduct or approach to life. In practice, any ardent practitioner of such ideals soon gets into trouble. The unspoken I deal firmly enforced is “do not practise these Ideals too seriously, why die before your time?” The antinomy is so visible. The ideals thus are reduced to being introduced as recruitment /condition tools and for public relations purposes. Rookies have a choice; ignore the ideals and follow the leader or clique or be a purist and suffer constant humiliation. It is not much of a choice—many leave.
UCGFs have derogatory names for non-members which is evidence of their self-ascription of elitism or superiority. Let us say such a name is “ogre”. Abert Einstein, Chinua Achebe, Malcolm X, Steve Jobs and Barack Obama would be and take a belittling as thinking like ogres. Thinking like an ogre is an inferior thought. Chimamanda Adichie, Indira Gandhi, Shoshana Zuboff and Lise Meitner would be ogresses. One can see how simple names can foster groupthink and a sense of superiority among UCGF members. “They versus Us” is a prevalent paralogism of theirs.
If a Murtala Mohammed-like head of state were in power today, he would ban UCGFs, members and other secret society members from holding public office unless perhaps they have renounced by legal procedure their membership. However, Murtala Mohammed got assassinated almost forty years ago. Even President Muhammadu Buhari does not have UCGFs on his radar in his anti-corruption mission.
Many UCGFs brazenly claim they have “brothers” who are governors, senators, ministers, commissioners, professors, vice-chancellors, ambassadors, generals, clergymen, corporate executives and so on in their ranks. The public should ask who heads these fraternities and if they and these public officials they boast about are exemplary or not? Are they not working narrowly for the interests of their bosses and founders? The truth is many of the people they boast are their members dissociated from them decades ago.
A casual scan of these UCGF groomed public officials in office would unmistakably unveil they are no less disposed to corruption or malfeasance and no less greedy or mediocre than the non-fraternity public officials. From local government to the federal level, these guys with few exceptions demonstrate a sheer proclivity for corrupt practices. And collectively they are now part of distributive special interest groups.
Such ‘doublespeak‘ by UCGFs about their mission and the honour list of their members enjoys much tolerance in Nigeria. Even when matched against the realities of their routine practices because it is a society where “nobody cares”. Well, Unless their source of income is interrupted or taken away.
UCGF members actively expect nepotism and favouritism to bring them assistance and opportunity when their “brother” assumes public office. Incorruptible fraternity members who get into office soon experience ostracism by their “brothers”. The arguments tendered to reduce them as being selfish, unhelpful, foolish, overzealous in their job and not being a genuine member. The corrupt fraternity member who splurges on his “brothers” is their favoured and blessed hero, and such heroes abound. Such behaviour nullifies the shoddy self-tributes they have on their websites.
No one can honestly say they did not see the UCFGs coming. Their claims might be more persuasive than many expect. Claims have gotten them this far why can they not update their and achieve their goals. They are already here, but like initial viral infections, they take time to multiply and take over the host. Since when have viruses been the saviours of the hosts they colonise?
Claims, claims, claims! Some are listening. Are you?
In 1953 the Pyrates Confraternity (PC), an all-male campus fraternity, was founded at the University of Ibadan (then a college of the University of London) by seven men with the most famous being Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka. University education in Nigeria was barely half a decade old and was an uncertain colonial experiment; many other universities have since been established.
The motivation for the formation of the PC was the logic of “expected” decadence and corruption in Nigerian society. Expected decadence and corruption could be seen as prescient because it was an expectation of things to come in future Nigeria rather than a description of itself in the early 1950s. Nigeria was under colonial rule at the time and the management of society was the responsibility of Westminster; Nigerians were not yet in power to govern the country.