Chinyere Elvi Ojide, a journalist. columnist and budding author of 2 books simultaneously. Chinyere writes in most African news papers in New York and a few American print press too; a regular columnist of "Sound off". very capitivating column in USIMMIGRATION news. She is a member of the Association of Africam women scholars USA. Sje earned masters degree from University of Nigeria Nsukka and diploma in journalism; she is currently student of Information science in New York. her bit is mainly on family, woman and womanhood, having worked briefly as assistan woman editor in Nigeria before coming to US. How ever she versatile and up to date with current issues in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.
“Our Deepest fear is not that we are inadequateOur Deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure….we ask ourselves…who am I to be so brilliantSo talented, so gorgeous, so fabulous….who are you not to be?”. Humanist, philosopher..Marianne William
Is the above quotation not an apt depiction of feminine heroism par excellence and the fear and humility that usually accompany woman achievement anywhere in the world? Suppressed by religion, culture, and tradition for centuries, women tend to feel afraid at the edge of success. They seem to wonder if the success would attract disdain from sexists’ world. So they are disposed to be humbled by the achievement. For great achievement or talent many women have paid so dear.
In my previous article on “Nigeria @ 51”, I did accord Nigeria women all over the world the well deserved recognition for actually being the firsts in all Africa. They are indeed the first in all areas of female empowerment in Africa. Just at the close of 20th century, young and beautiful Nigerian women fabulously stepped on world stage to re-write the history of Africa as well as the state of the art. Many outside Africa watch how powerful, how articulate and brave women of African descent could be.
They massively stepped up to the continental challenge as well as the national call for re-branding Nigeria. Just at the nick of time when the international community were branding Nigeria most notorious country of scam artists, these energetic young women ( and young men) rose to the national challenge without too much words. Sure “If you want things done call women; if you want things said, call men”, said an American congress woman
One could see the quick and consistent rising of most of these Nollywood girls (That is what I call them on screen) from being stage shy at the beginning to some bold, determined and forward looking world class actresses. Now each of them could walk into Hollywood and ask for a script. Genevieve was nicely appreciated by the talk show guru, Oprah Winfrey and she does not deserve any less. Her acting career takes almost the Western pattern of starting early in life. For a surprise she never got distracted by cultural limitations and gets cuter with each production till this day. Others in her shoes exist too.
Each Nollywoodian deserves a special documentary for the uniqueness and refreshment they all ushered into the unhappy world. It is amazing how Nollywood movies became a house hold entertainment world over at a time families all over need to deal with global economic crisis. When most residents of America seem to have gotten tired of the corrupted depiction of humanity on wild imagination. (Yes humans fly over seas and moving vehicles; gun shots leave dead bodies carelessly on stage and wild romance defies all imaginations); Nollywood came in to bind the spirit of pan-Africanism amongst Caribbean and other Africans in Diaspora. Nature was brought on stage and people see the way we lived, the way we are living and the way we will live to live in future.
In virtually every business place in New York City and homes, people marvel at the movie stars ingenuity and their environment. In a beauty shop for instance, a customer screamed at the beautiful and exotic furnishings.”You mean this is Africa?” When some of the stars started coming over seas, they got wild and thrilled fans. I know that was a great motivation to fire on! Their success made us all proud.
At this juncture, I am directing this anniversary piece as an open letter of congratulations to all Nollywood great ladies. We are all in the media business together. What happens to them concerns us all.
“To each of you Nollywood ‘gals’ ,from Genevieve to all you later stage diamonds of Africa, I say; hold on strong to your trophy which is the first in the continental story of war, hunger, decease, culture, and crude politics torn Africa. For a decade or more you gals stole the world with your art and by so doing retold a story of a so called dark continent of Africa. You re wrote that history without constitutional conferences, and are on the verge of wiping the euro- lies; the lie that the African woman is only sex toy for gratification of cultural male sexists. You gals have told the world without a memo to the international court that this is the century of African woman. You have detoxified all the Eurocentric fallacies or exaggerations based on the low performance of most African men in leadership.
The consistent failures of African leaders with resultant bloody wars that leave women and children in perpetual penury as underdog of the world have put us so down that other races associate Africans next to animals that hardly deserve good life. Apparent inability of most of our leaders to provide basic economic needs of Africans for centuries has made Africa a charity center from well and ill intended nations. The pitiful story of Africa tends to leave an African child with unspeakable inferiority complex overseas because of exaggerated depiction of Africa on the media.
In college classrooms in New York, my classmates were shocked when I scored an A that was the prerogative of white American classmates, barely few months I arrived in US. They never believe we have places as sophisticated as New York City or large tastefully decorated homes like in America. As far as their hypocritic ignorance could stretch, we slept on tree tops and still struggle for food with wild animals. The African Americans and other black Diasporan Africans of America were misled to see their root as a despicable place to return or miss.
This page would run off if I have to tell you a bunch of ‘BS’ purported against us and our heritage. Right here in New York, now if you sometimes see an African child born in the US, he or she would immediately correct his perceived identify if you call him a Nigerian, Ghanaian etc, by saying; “Oh I am American …but my parents are from Nigeria” These children are struggling with self esteem, to distance themselves from their root because of the image of their root. But guess what! In a matter of a decade you wonderful damsels alongside some classy distinguished African men of art, re defined our heritage, our people, our values. You gals have printed a legacy of change, education, class, poise and dynamism for the African women in Diaspora. You sprang unto the stage and the world starts having a second look at Africa, and African woman in particular. She is no more perceived as a mere baby boomer or helpless victim of polygamy or forced marriage or so called genital mutilation or lesser human beings in the homosepian’s hierarchy. You have re-channeled the destiny of black woman world over. I tease my African American friends that they live in America and can hardly speak correct English while my gals in Africa toy and manipulate the possibilities of the language. What makes Nollywood different is that you gals are educated actresses.
Unlike in overseas, where one needs not go to college to be in Hollywood. You are educated African gals with class. So the future is already too ripe for unlimited possibilities. You are still writing the history but your firsts steps are in the best direction. To stamp out the entire BS about Africa, that is why nothing should stand on your way! Not even a failed love or marriage probably with an inferiority complex ridden semi ignorant lover or ex whatever should come between you and Africa. You are setting new agenda for Africa, telling and showing that Africans do not condone any form of abuse, be it political and social. Like I always tell my friends that even the voodoo scenes are followed by instructive ending. The police or the law always come in to arrest the ultimate criminals, an indication that we do not depends on the “gods” to strike the evil doer. We have come to appreciate some good sense of legal consequences. At the end of the movie titled “Executive Mess” for instance many viewers here were happy that the dirty politicians who were spending fortune on women are arrested at the end of the movie. They were not left in the hand of the gods.
The theme Nollywood explores goes beyond Africa into humanity: Evils of women to women: evils of modernity to womanhood: abuse of powers; and the surpassing theme of culture conflicts. What else can one expect from a practical teacher? Yes “Drama is imitation of life” said Aristotle.
I have read your perils too from Ekerete Udoh’s Diasporan star. Some of you have had it rough with men in your private life. The media sometimes tells the story the wrong way and got you agitated but ignore that and if you can just present your side of the story. I am of the media and so my advice is to ignore some stories and see it as part of the fame. Only the famous attracts the media. The last Headline...”As Mercy Johnson weds…why female celebrities are draw to wrong men...And the pain they endure... made me to pick up this pen in your defense.
Names of those who have dealt with such agony included; Stella Damasus, Monalisa Chinda, Stephanie Okereke, Nadia Buari, Eucharia Anunobi, and others not mentioned. The circumstances were related and the publisher did a good job of a bad experience. He is certainly at your sympathy unlike the western equivalent here that trails celebrities to their grave. . You towers above the gossip that follows your love failures; you are just humans and have to feel it, whether you spoke to the press about it or conceal your tears or get uneven representation of the story, it is all part of the greatness. For only the great gets such heat! Only God knows how many times poor Harley Berry or Linzy Lohan faced the press for the men that broke their hearts. When the report say, so and so have been abandoned. It is just the media craze of attracting more readers, otherwise, who should abandon who.....realistically? If you ask me I would tell you in the words of Attorney John Cochran that their heads did not fit so they were acquitted! Or their psychological status did not fit into the class you ladies have cut naturally, so they quit possibly after struggling to pour the old wine into the new wine skin. Their situation seems pathetic. Just pity them do not get angry at them.
The guy who played false to call off true love is simply a romantic felon that should be forgotten as fast as he leaves the stage...Oh give me a break! What humanity or pride is left in a man who abandoned a disabled child for instance? When average American Caucasian father fails, he cries on the TV for forgiveness. When a rustic African father fails, he runs into oppressive culture to hide to look for non realistic reasons.”Oh this is African culture” says who? So our culture is to go anti clock wise right African men? To do that which humanity abhors? To keep traditions that stamp Africans as monkeys that dump children like shit and run away, waiting for magically grown adults to come for paternity reference in 21st century?
Know you gals that your aura of humanity transcends decamped lover‘s mean thoughts or actions. Great men do great things… not cheap, dingy and sneaky stuff. Edmund Burk wrote: ‘There never was a bad man that has ability for a good service”. The best service to a lover is to be true to her or him at all times, even in the face of challenges like having a disabled child.
Failed love life and relationships should not define who you are my sisters. It has happened to virtually every grown woman everywhere in the world. Be your own hero and ours too. When these African men with culturally induced gender complex tries to toy with your emotions in any way, try and brush them off and move on... Forget your heart broker because, wimps and bigots are never vectors of change anywhere in the world. American guys on the Wall Street would brag.
.”America is the home of brave men those that are not afraid to invest millions in a second knowing he may lose it or gain twice. In a case where the court asks divorce seeking wife what she want first from cheating husband, and she asks her lawyer to write off two third of his money and assets. Some bad wives of cheating celebrates ask for almost all the money at divorce. The court grants her that and the guy picks his brief case and walks out of ten million mansion in LA or Manhattan saying: “Let it go for the sake of my child …I want her and the children to be comfortable...I did her wrong” Contrast it with Nigerian men who killed their wives in America because of mortgaged homes they are likely to quit for children and mother. When such news comes up many Americans hardly believe that these psycho African guys are not crazy to kill wives for homes located at hinter places in the US. Most African men still struggle with their past and psychologists believe it takes life time to outgrow. Abraham Maslow and Erick Erickson believe in the fact that young adults manifest the psychosocial behaviors of the nurture environment into adulthood. Social status of a woman may not make any difference to the way such men would treat a woman.
Great African women are better appreciated by outside world. So as stage pioneers, know that pioneers bear the first bullets. The bullets get tender and softer and finally go to norm. You would not even feel any obstacle soon as the world cheers you up. New York Times once reported that “Women seem to be the only hope for Africa”. When Liberia got the first woman president in Africa, now Nobel Prize president like President Obama. This statement was in relation to politics but it seems right as you gals are stage women of guts and it takes supper-guts to insist on a change in our culture, most pioneers are often branded enemies even by those they are fighting for.
I am sure even some women would not say well of you ladies as some of us here have experienced too. African women are not always great supporters of each other in empowerment issues. Most of the time whenever an African woman gets abused in America, it is always by another African woman or husband. If there is a street protest, you hardly see African women coming out to lend support. They are still scared of the culture and general opinion against them. They are always the first to give the unkindest cut sometimes too. I remember when women would describe the female politicians in Nigeria as prostitutes. That is how not so educated women fronted themselves and started misrepresenting women. Thank God that is changing now as more PHDs gets involved in Nigeria administration. But that is ok for now. So pioneers bears the double wound sometimes.
Know you girls that you are our heroes and those of you who have mourned lost love are mere victims of psychologically defective men …SOME GUYS ON socio-cultural CROSS road. Look time is coming when Nollywood marries Nollywood and parents would not mind or the guys would go to the Registry first before telling their mothers. This will draw the class lines as it has done in America. Here Hollywood marries Hollywood and even Billionaires would not have the chance of getting attention from a Hollywood s super star.
I can see the daring ego in the younger men in the Nollywood. Pioneers suffer the first fall out of any adventure. Some of us here seem to be on that roll and have been treated so badly even by fellow Nigerian women who should support us. It is part of the adventure which sharpens perseverance. An American woman is more disposed to supporting women on the lead than African women. Some American women would still not support their fellows. Some woman told Senator Hillary Clinton to go home and bake cookies when she came out for presidential campaign. Then her female power house sent out press release shutting her down and said the world would be dark place for women if not for the likes of Hillary.
So would it be for African women if all the women “make just babies and bake cookies”.
My little advice is to always be the great ambassador of change as you try to carry all along even the ‘other woman’. If your husband inherited children treat them well and keep open communication with ex wives. Never let any man make you hate another woman. You do not know what lies she was forced to believe like you. Reach out to her and make her feel appreciated. That is the challenge of great education. No human being is worth life time enmity with another woman. Our ordeals as gender group remain same all over the world. When I was leaving for US, the last interview at the event of “International Day of Women” was with Chief Mrs. Adanma Okpara, wife of former premier of Eastern Nigeria, Dr. M.I Okpara. After relating her political experience, she told me to always use my privilege to help African women. I still remember her hugging me goodbye with: ‘Please you have intelligent pen and use it to enhance the privilege of under privileged. ..Hold the hand of those who could write their name to teach them how to write their names: write letters for those who do not know how to write; read letters for those who cannot. That may be happiest moment of their struggled life…Use your privilege to enhance another woman, and do not hurt any woman because of any man...be your sister’s keeper and forgive their ignorance.” Same duties I extent to you all this day.
Those who are married please be the actress on stage and real respectful woman at home. I believe in Alice Walker concept of feminism, which is womanism. Be the real woman who can cook and do other culinary activities for there also lies the joy of womanhood. It does not make any woman a slave. Please be the hero of your situation and be our heroes too. We all love you. “Take God whereever you go and where you cannot take him do not go” Be brave and be assured you have our support and all those of great Nollywood Strong Towers, those gurus of theatre behind the stage, behind you ( Pete Edochie, Olu Jacob, Enebeli Enebeuwa, Ken Okonkwo, Kanayo-Kanayo,etc) . You all are the reason for the only genuine laugh Nigerians have ever had since 1960.
Accept 51 glorious cheers from all progressive Nigerian women In New York city!!!
Once again comes that time of the year for national evaluation of the most popular and populous country in Africa that gained her political independence from Great Britain in 1960, and a civil war 6 years after: then oil boom in early seventies; followed by world Bank instigated Structural Adjustment program; the crumbling of industries and institutions of Higher learning; the spiral inflation and irreversible drop on standard of living; the struggle for survival with attendant moral and economic failures; the unrestrained migration into Europe, and even other smaller African countries; the so called era of brain drain and the ultimate collapse of cherished traditional moral values.
The rat race for survival sent professors short changing academic ethics; politicians looting national, state and council treasuries, young women forced to national and international prostitution to pay college fee and help families, unemployed college graduate and desperate young men took up arms to terrorize already down trodden Nigerians, forcing out last pennies from victims leaving thousands dead for confessing bankruptcy in their homes and on the roads. As computer age emerged, crime took an international dimension in the name of advanced fee fraud. (Aka.419).
International victims ( who are also not so innocent) started to scream against fellow victims of a near failed society and the world took it unjustly from there without comparative study of difference between Nigerians at home and those abroad; between crimes and factors that precipitated such crimes; between Nigeria and the rest of restless countries with similar socio-political problems. Now they are wrongly at the verging of killing someone who is even honest, hardworking and productive even in Europe or any other place in the world just because she or she is a Nigeria. Yet more horrible stuff happens in countries rated above Nigeria crime wise.
Come to think of it, with out forgiving most Nigerian politicians, one can trace the complexity of the national problem to the poor foundation of the so called Independence Euro-grandfathers and mothers. I am not going into that for lack of competence, just call a junior lecturer in any Nigerian university, department of political science and you get shock of your life on the subtle kind of political foundation, ‘gracious colonial masters “ left behind..or did they forget to hand over the right package to a loyal colony or sneaked in some cracked foundation bound to fail? Should they have done the amalgamation in the first place? Could n’t Nigeria be separately colonized , and separately republic? I am not educated enough to go into details. Call the professor oF political science from Africa, not from America or Britain.
Then who sponsors IMF and rigorous loan systems? Who sold guns to enhance the civil war just 6 years after Independence? Who buys the oil with helping with advice on revenue sharing? Who want to buy off gold, oils, diamond..any good thing from the continent? If there are no craving buyers of crude oil from illegal individuals, there would be no advance fee fraud. So the problem Nigeria carries is too heavy that one wonders how she managed to keep together as a nation. So she first deserves some cheers for coming from such a rough beginning and acute middle. She has seen more disloyalty from all angles since inception, not just from her desperate citizens. I am not supporting adopting wrong solution to problem solving but a balance evaluation at a nation going through so much from inception.
Yes it is time for a resounding 51 happy cheers for this geographic mother and home of great men and women of some Africans resident in almost any part of the world, working very hard to support world economy! Show me a virgin in a maternity ward and I would show you the country in the world where there is no honest struggling Nigerian! Nigeria is the home of winners not quitters; Home of the most educated Africans and daring business men that ever existed. Where is that college or university in America and indeed anywhere in the world that does not host class “A” professors, authors and students of Nigeria origin?
She is also home of most respectful and smart children that can compete at the same academic pedestal any where in the world. Aged Nigerian women come into America communicating very well in English because of the dynamism of the society they were coming from. They need not interpreters at American hospitals and always could read signs hence they never get lost and wait for media to show case confused faces for identification. Nigeria speak impeccable English with traditional accent and there is no apologies for that. People reflect their background through language even in America. The Southerners speaks so deep that I could hardly understand them.
Nigeria is the home of marriageable women. I mean women who meet the 21 st century family survival requirement. From North to south, of Niger are most pretty and adoring women, who combines perfect culinary skills with fashion sophistication and brilliance that tops all in Africa and beyond! Nigeria women attractively stand out in any crowd in America, yet they are likely the most educated African women, the only from that continent that want to do it better than the white European women , if she is challenged. She is nicely arrogant and there is nothing wrong about it..flout it if you've got it! She comes to America and does not get stuck with menial job syndrome, unlike women from other parts of Africa who are mostly ok with the preliminary dollars tied to some unwholesome classless jobs. Nigeria sisters move on and America is home of those who want to move at any time.
I mean marriage failures or widowhood do not provide feminine excuses for the average Nigerian women victim to fail herself , her children or community. Even as a single parent she sets her goal right and achieves them. Her child goes to the best colleges and schools. She rides nice cars and live in her own affordable homes. Project apartments that tend to breed social irresponsibility is never a permanent choice for average Nigerian mothers o matter what peripheral benefits..
America is booming with agile Nigerian nurses who spend as many hours as their hospitals want on their feet, working for America’s health care.
Some of our women have distinguished themselves so much so that they earn outstanding American Awards on rare zones of achievement. Nigerians are American immigrants with benefits!
So how come the world in quote sees only insignificant percentage of Nigerian crooks? How come a group of hard working people are defined by the black sheep of the family? Who qualifies to define a nation negatively or sniff at her citizens based on any form of biasness? Why would even other Africans who benefits from Nigeria in one way or the other join the racial world to deride Nigerians?
By the way, do people of the world who judge Nigeria and Nigerians terribly bad know that Nigeria does not even show up in the first ten most corrupt countries by Transparency International?
I just checked the moral and political statuesque of this sinful world and the countries that hit first top ten most corrupt include:
1; Newzealand; (9.4) 2: Denmark;(9.3) 3. Somalia ( Hardly qualifies as a nation with terrible piracy record and endless war)4: Egypt, India; Indonesia: Morocco: Pakistan, Iran, ( where more than 60% of executive agree they have been solicited for bribes…Most of these countries are resting on ‘opaque financial structures’. Others include: The Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Madagascar, and Niger..these scored lower in 2010. US slopped into 19th position of most corrupt countries even though the congress is blamed for the lowered score last year for political tussle that slows down decision making.
One can see that in the corruption perception index (CPI), many countries that rated high a few years ago come down on the scale of 1-10 due to world financial crises.
Invariably one can rightly see the effect of poverty and deprivation leadership and citizenship of any country. Crime rate rose in countires with low wage incomes as unemployment tripled in the last decade in most places.
For Africa and Africans, poverty and deprivation is like a way of life but does not necessarily raise crime waves as it does in palces that know better life.
A jolly Mexican handy man who works for us always got drunk in a nearby restaurant. So one day the owner refused to sell him liquor after a couple of bottles. He became furious and screamed at the woman; “ Please sell me liquor because I made my money and I finish it…It is no boby’e business…In Mrxico I made $2 per week for entire family and here and here I make over $600 a week and what would I be doing with so much money than to get drunk daily and enjoy my money…I could not afford one bottle a week, except we work for a rich man who offered us a bottle to share…”
“Corruption is hardly a victimless crime” observed Transparency International. Like the above Mexican, who lived in one of the most corrupt countries of South America, poverty to the tune he experienced was daily reality in his community. Now in America, he makes it a way of life to get tipsy every weekend to celebrate upgraded social status and income , courtesy of America. In Philippine and other such places poverty is at all time high with high level of national illiteracy, child prostitution, and domestic violence. They say that philipino men sleep on gambling, evidence of frustration, courtesy of super corrupt government that leaves citizens at zero source of income. Most men in such situation get tripped psychologically beyond repair and they seek solace in gambling, drinking and irresponsible fatherhood.
Down to Africa, official corruption has rubbed off badly too on people as it does on other places, but all the time Africa is focused on by the international media. CBN’s documentary on a Nigerian scam guy has been repeated several times. Oprah Winfrey’ s documentation became the nail on the coffin too. With all these every Nigerian is a scam artist and credit card fraudster in the eyes of these biased beholders.
Not even a place like Columbia gets such sniffing as does Nigeria. I cousin of mine went to visit with his inlaw at Columbia. His wife and her family literarily hid him I the house till he left after two weeks. He cut short his visit because he could no longer hide from expectant kidnappers and robbers. Life in such drug ridden places, life is a nightmare, yet they never get a full fledged documentary on scam and corruption in America’s media.
So one wonders if The overt and covert sniffing at Nigerians abroad is just a normal denunciation of evil or something else. Let me leave it at this for now as Nigeria celebrates 51st Independence, For “he that brings in ant- infested faggot should not complain when the ants pay homage. To say that Over twelve governments that ruled Nigeria since 1960 have done really poorly is an understatement. Nigerians have shown great patient with leadership all these decades.
Nigeria is the home of most patient and painstaking species of human beings. From North to South the average life of a Nigerian that is not related to power points is characterized by avoidable suffering, Most Nigerian men ( leaders) have danced really too long shamefully in the village square causing situation that makes victims of those criticized by the unfair international community, , who does not vilify citizens of other countries with similar governments. No sane person would excuse Nigerian leaders for the humiliation people undergo out side the country.
Sure Nigerians have the potential to wait for the coming of the lord…they can wait for ever for change…and they are not violent to politicians or leadership….all they can do is to curse politicians on line or throw stones at them during election campaigns or take money from them to vote for them or even fight one another to protect their darling candidates. Nigerians always believe “God is in charge so let the politicians be till Christ remove or change them.” That is why they are surveyed to be one of the happiest people in the world. Honestly speaking, it takes just the flashing of long withheld electricity to make the whole street shout for joy or news of water running in the pipe on the adjacent street. I watched these phenomenon at home on my street, when one day the water tap in our compound was running and most of those in the street were not perhaps their pipes needed some clean out but my father used to make extra arrangement for private plumbers to check out our pipes from time to time so we do get some clear water when ever the tap ran. On that day the neighbors from more than 5five streets in front and behind us were lined up I our compound and were blocking traffic. My relatives were not happy and started getting harsh and rude to these water beggars, pushing away buckets and water cans, telling them to go. When I came down from a taxi from work, they knew I work with the press and felt more uncomfortable. I stopped my cousins from chasing them away, and they were so happy when I asked all my cousins to go into the house and never come out they fetched all their cans. Do you know that before I could change my clothe and come out, they women were already dancing and singing with my name, saying God will bless me and I must go to America, Britain, Germany and all the good places in the world because I love to help…
Look we laughed and laughed and the next day in the office I called the water corporation to find out why some places had water and most places did not. The usual answer was ” the pipes were blocked and our workers have been dispatched to correct matters” I never saw any workers from water department on my way to or from work through out that week but perhaps they sent ghost workers with out supervision. In the news room, we always chatt about all these ….how nothing gets supervised until nothing gets done and all the invested money get wasted and the insensitive people dance around any politician who manage to come to church or honor any public invitation. Oh if your politician relative ever come to your daughter’s or son’s wedding, he or she attracts more attention and honor than the celebrants.
Women would kneel down to serve them food; special gone shots are released in their honor; If they ever shake your hands, you want to tell everybody who shake your phalanges or whose daughter is in your class. Even spoilt children of politicians attract same respect from their fellow class or school mates. When I was a graduate assistant at the Enugu campus of the University of Nigeria, teaching GS 101 (The Use of English) to law students. In one of my classes, I had daughter of then state governor, and few children of top Nigerian politicians, including a daughter a minister for mines and industry. Some how they were the movers and shakers of the campus and rode In push cars in relatively middle class environment, intimidating students and even some lecturers. They got all they wanted so they were exerting their ruthless powers on nearly everybody. We offered them free lecture hand outs every Friday. Students used to line up in front of our shared office and receive the hand out. We ensured no body gets two copies. On that eventful Friday, I was distributing the hand out and discovered that all the four daughters of politicians were just chatting in their car out side while some students favorites lined up for them.
I had a list and cross checked the names and never gave any body whose name was not there a copy. In a minute some one informed them and they arrogantly walked in to get their copies. Behold, all the students cleared out of line for them to get their hand out. I looked up and said to the governor’s daughter, “are you part of this excecise…and you ..and you” they nodded their heads and I said “Ok just go to the end of the line cue appropriately”. She screamed “why?”. I said to her. “That is why your father is the governor,, to instill discipline in the society and you should be a worthy ambassador…all of you “ She was shocked that I made reference to her father and wanted to talk back at me. Then I stopped handing out the papers until she submitted an apology the next day. That was a no, no for Nigerians then. All the junior workers who ministered for her came to my office begging me n ot to go that far. I could not believe how brain washed they all had gotten. They volunteered to take the hand out and send to government house for her. They said our department , the GS would get query and so on and that I am young and ignorant of the implication of my action.
I grew up mostly in the university environment and so saw them as irritating as the spoilt girls.
Our Head of Department, a woman, knew the governor’s wife and upheld my action. The next morning the teenager came into my office with her apology and even a second one from her mother, the first lady. I gave her the hand out and got my “thank you “. When ever I entered their class she would be ready and never disturbed. I was the youngest lecturer and they know I was a graduate student ‘who deserve less respect’. So I made sure they cued up, did all my seminars and exams and never let any one come to my office to check grades until it is pasted. No letters from any big man or woman telling me to take care of his child. I usually announced my stand at the beginning of the session. In fact non of them ever got an A because they were not A students but the rumor was that they were getting an A from all the male lecturers in the faculty.. Oh they called me names.
One day I could not get a ride back to main campus at Nsukka and was walking down to bus stop when the governor’s daughter pulled by with her top friends in a Messsdes Benz beckoning to drive me all the way to Nsukka campus. I declined. She offered to pay cab to do same I declined too nicely. On the bus stop ten minutes later, a state car pulled by with her and a note from her mother, urging me to let the driver drop me off. I wrote a thank you back and refused still. The bus was leaving so they could not go on urging me . 2 years later I was out of university, working in the State Newspaper and was posted to cover ministry of women Affairs etc.
In one of the women ceremonies outings, I met many prominent women and was introduced by the chairperson as the journalist covering the event. One of the women came over my seat and gave me a business card, she was that girls’s mother and former first lady and but they were no more in the office. She gave a nice speech. At the end she stressed the need for teachers, office heads and people to treat children of rich or privilege class same way they treat other children and said that she was impressed by “this young woman ‘s action 2 years ago and my daughter never forget that experience”. She narrated the story and people clapped hands in applause.
So fear of the rich and mighty is one thing that Nigerians chronically suffer even such fear was absolutely unnecessary. Our citizens have been so badly beaten by powers that be that even the necessary urging that shakes senses into leaders and arrogant people eludes Nigerian tops and it is not their fault. It is the fault of the culture that celebrates even ill gotten affluence. Otherwise It takes nothing to make Nigerians happy and they are the hardest workers in the world. A London CNN documentary acknowledged this fact. A Nigerian is ready to do any mean job to keep family alive anywhere in the world. We are people’s people. We reach out to generations of our people. We share our honest wealth in original contest. Most Nigerians are great people!
. The problem is the troubled leadership. This is what I read in Alex Kaba’s travelogue series; Ekerete Udoh’s “Nigeria at 51” and lots of stuff in the NET. Everybody is worried about inability of powers that be to restore peace, security and basic amenities to nice suffering masses of a great country. We still keep the hope alive.
I have been reading tons of national and intra national evaluations on Nigeria this time around. It seems to me that it is all about what went wrong or what SHE did and continue to do wrong or how irreparable Nigerian politicians have reached; who and who did what at so time and why there is no hope for her citizens…
Not all politicians are rotten. Some emerging younger politicians seem to be acting differently. Logos state. Akwa Ibom and few others have been nicely reported upon with regard to development and restoration of public trust. Lagos is reportedly clean and people are proud to declare it abroad. There seem to be on throne a president with agenda. He is a PHD president, one that stands out in the political history of that nation. Many Politicians have paraded blurred certificates and perhaps the IQ and education were not just there. No body have bothered to do scientific studies( or they would not like to sponsor that?) to report on IQs of African leaders. Their consistent under functioning as leaders could be explained in this regard if dependable studies prove most of them genetically lack traits that generates guts to operate in that capacities. Some questionable research said Africans have lowest IQ of 70. While we question this finding we also question why our leaders are flip flopping too long with out messiahs in sight..
The over stated research indicates that countries with leaders with High IQ do better than those with low IQs. Vice chancellor Angela Marckel of Germany (a woman believed not to be naturally smart by most traditional men of African and beyound) was rated above 200 IQ alongside President Barack Obama. She is a PHD atomic science holder with chains of degrees in other sciences . She declared herself agnostic. Chinese were rated 115 IQ. Could it be reason for their unprecedented economic advancement? Jews rated 110 and the Americas 100. The story of Jews at holocaust and what they became now in the US is a daily reality of people with high IQ.
Could it be that African scientists need to go into this research area and seek means of improving IQs or draw lines on minimum IQ acceptable for presidential and congressional candidates? This is the age of science..Perhaps that could help. Africans must wake up to the reality of failed leaders syndrome. The world is leaving us far behind. A sarong willed congress can stop all the nonsense that have given Nigeria bad name. Same could a great judiciary, tough police force … . Nigerian child should be pitied, not hated and rejected by the outside world. All these Nigerian youths caught up in international crimes are just victims of failed system. We need some political messiahs to pay the ransom for our great people. We need political heroes to rebrand Nigeria.