On Social & Political Consciousness in Nigeria: Jí, Má Sùn!

DrummersandDancersByYusufGrillo

“Drummers and Dancers” by Yusuf Grillo

I was watching a movie again yesterday, although I had watched it about three or four times already, from the beginning till the end. It is a Christian movie, a Mount Zion movie, no surprise, since I tend to watch movies that fall in those categories once in a while, especially for the sense of familiarity that they offer. I watched a lot of them as a child, and I don’t mind having one play in the background when I’m getting work done on my laptop. As an adult though, I can now see that a lot of critical thinking was/still is not invested in the drafting and production of these movies, and I have addressed that here. I clicked on the tab that the movie was running on and got hooked.

The storyline involves a man, an accountant, who does not get paid for months because he refused to illegally alter the authenticity of certain documents. His boss talks down to him in the office, and worse still, his landlord talks down to him at home since he is unable to pay his rent. Basically, his state of living is terribly toxic. It turns out to be a test; his boss wanted to promote him to a higher position and wanted to assess his credibility and loyalty to the company. Prayer is very good; believing in God’s ability to care for us in our times of challenges and trials, faith, is important too. However, I observed the scenes from a different perspective yesterday and I kept thinking “there is no way this is normal”.

Where was the Human Resources department? Where was the union? Why does a workplace injustice have to be countered with fasting and prayer, and passivity? In a socially-conscious society, a movie about someone not getting paid for months will not be brushed off by a “it was just a prank” attempt to normalize it. There are Christians and non-Christians who do not get paid what was agreed in their contracts in lower-level positions in Nigeria, who do not have the luxury of basic workplace benefits and live from hand to mouth. Many of them even work in none-office settings. Why is the answer to that problem “let’s pray about it”? The whole thing had to be a comedy.

Nigerians tend to not be conscious of the things that they see, hear, and sense, in the general society and in politics, especially in relation to how they affect them as individuals and people. Songs like Codeine Diet, and others that fall into that genre, that praise the use of hard drugs, engagement in online scamming, and the objectification of women, tend to be more popular than the ones that preach critical thinking, the probing of politicians, mutual respect between men and women, and the importance of education.

Fela was a very socially and politically conscious individual, and those who are obsessed with the idea of being the next him do not even understand what that means at its very core. Go and ask anyone who actually lived with him about what was done to thieves after hearings were held and judgements were passed in Kalakuta court. Fela hated theft of any kind with passion. 

Movies in which people, 99.9% of the time, women, are beaten black and blue by their spouses with no repercussions, bosses demand to have sex with their staff in exchange for job security, orphans and poor children roam the streets because there is no national child-care plan for them and their irresponsible/physically-impaired/late parents cannot take care of them, animals are unnecessarily tortured and abused, differently-abled/physically-impaired persons are made fun of, people are sacrificed for money in occult rituals, and so on, are still being made, with little or no attention to the central problems in the movies, or proposals on how to counter them, except that the characters/victims become better at some point or someone gets vindicated.

Ironically, one of the popular slangs in Nigeria now is “jí, má sùn”, a Yorùbá sentence that translates to “wake up, don’t sleep”. As opposed to waking up and being more conscious individuals, a lot of the youth and adults are waking up, but to higher and deeper levels of ignorance, mob mentality, and stupidity. It’s quite irritating, and it’s a crying shame.

Unprogressive: Nigerian Christian Movies

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Family Watching TV – Nick Banks

 

I, just like several other Nigerians my age, grew up watching Christian movies. Critical-thinking and inquiries that may come off as a rebellion towards traditions are not necessarily welcomed in African societies, and more specifically, Nigerian ones, especially the ones that are religious, so I kept many things to myself. I was a very repressed person until a few years ago when I engaged more actively in analyzing several things that have barely been questioned, although they reek of myopia. The rest they say is history. I am now more willing to address issues without a fear of rejection or rebuke, more free-thinking too, and I am grateful to God for that.

Yes, Christian movies are unprogressive. Before I express why I have stated so, let me say this: please note that this is not an attempt to bash any religion or rubbish anybody’s work in any way. I was a drama minister for a short time and I respect the good morals that Nigerian Christian movies teach. Respect for parents, reverence for God, kindness to others (especially when it is to result in “winning” their souls for Christ, humility, and the importance of obedience are taught, but these movies are not perfect, especially the ones that are evangelism and soul-winning driven. The narratives are often narrow-minded, inconsistent with the times, and unfair to people of a certain gender [there should be very little or no confusion as to which is which if you are familiar with these movies], but that is okay because many religions are laced, if not thoroughly soaked, with misogyny, all under the guise of doing “God’s will” and following His or Her or Their plan, as the case may be.

Religion is the opium of the masses after all. Religions give people reasons to live and guide them through how to, and in most cases, even offer the promise of a better world if one does well in this one, and that’s awesome. The not-very-awesome part of a religion is that it can make multitudes close-minded, stupid, unkind to certain people, discriminatory, and point-blank ignorant. 

First of all, think of the way rape is portrayed in the scene that I’m about to narrate. I will not name any movies throughout this piece except I really have to. Then you can be thoroughly certain that I will list several. A young lady in secondary [or high] school, I’ll call her Lady X, sneaks out to a house party. Her mother is not in the city at the time and she does not know about the party. Lady X meets a few guys and she is drugged. She is carried into one of the rooms and is raped, terribly raped even, as we got to know later. It’s a Christian movie; of course, that part was left to the imagination. A few people visit Lady X and tell her that God can forgive her and restore her back to who she was, put pieces of her “shattered life” back together and heal her. That is very nice. Indeed.

“So, what happened to the rapists?”, you might ask, if you have not been too desensitized against this form of sexual violence. In a very brief scene, police officers arrive at the school to take some students who knew about the party as well as the rapists away. “At least they are going to get some punishment,” you would think. What is the problem here?

When are Christian filmmakers (or those who practice any religion at all, or those who are concerned about morality whatsoever) going to start addressing the fact that rape in and of itself is bad, since the mainstream ones are not doing it? Let’s take it that rape is not too much of a consequence for a person who has snuck out of their home, who has disobeyed their parent, for the purpose of the movie, since realistically, it could happen. Females are being raped by people in their own homes, by their own relatives [heck, by their own uncles and fathers] in Nigeria. These include less-than-ten-year-old girls, children, even babies, who grown-up men should not be attracted to at all, let alone heartless enough to rape or sexually assault in the slightest. Christian movies are not portraying that dressing is not the major factor, as far as rape is concerned- dressing, disobedience or anything else. It’s quite unfortunate that I even need another paragraph to explain this further.

“Dressing well” as a means of avoiding/escaping being raped is quite unfair. In Saudi Arabia, for example, where most of the women are so modest in their dressing, as much as it is pushed under the rug and inaccurately reported on, rape is very prevalent. Rape is entirely the fault of the rapist, entirely. Anything else is just a justification for the wicked act. The marital and statutory rape of females are not being addressed yet in these movies, let alone the sexual abuse of young boys and men, which are happening, as ugly as they are. These things are happening on a daily basis and a blind eye is being turned to them. For how long are we going to wait before Nigerian filmmakers at large properly address it?

So, when I say narrow-minded narratives are being published, and the same matters are being excessively re-addressed and recycled, so much so that most of these movies are flat-out boring, in all sincerity, don’t look at my article funny.

The one that is more or less the ‘cancer’ of things is the distrust that is created among people. Many times, when a woman befriends another woman, and the other one is not married, you can be sure that the non-married [single, previously-married, divorced or widowed] one would try to seduce her friend’s husband. It must be in the Christian-movie constitution. She starts by helping her friend with house-chores and whatnot, especially when the married friend is at her lowest or just very busy, and soon enough, as expected, she bewitches her friend’s husband. It’s a very frequent narrative that is not very healthy.

In addition, hardly do you see men in the kitchen in these movies, except they have done something wrong and they are doing housework as a means of apologizing or fostering reconciliation. “Let me help you with the dishes” as a line from the husband is not a very good line. If the housework have been assigned, and although it is the woman’s turn to sweep the floor, he decides to help, that is fine. If that is not the case, how is it “help”? These narratives are not very good, but they are convenient for a few, very convenient, and so there is little or no change. In most of the movies in which women are given strong roles/presence, they usually end up crying and asking God for forgiveness because they have deserted their families or done something wrong. Hardly do you see a Christian movie in which a female character is presented and maintained till the end. If her daughter does not die as a result of neglect, her husband will run mad. How unfair.

Then this one; a man beats his wife till she’s black and blue after coming home drunk. She reports to the pastor of her church or whatever. He tells her to continue to pray for him or change the way she dresses. Then she starts to cook more (or do something else very lame). One thing leads to the other and the man “gives his life to Christ” or something at the end. God “takes control”. He becomes “a new man”. Ha. The lingo is laughable. Is anyone going to address the fact that domestic violence is not right, in detail? If the mainstream ones will not do it, is anyone going to Biblically or “whatever-on-earth-cally” talk about that mess? No? It’s very pathetic. Wife-battery, rape and other assaults are just casually glossed over. The Christian movies are not standing out in any distinct way, as far as all of these are concerned.

I’m not going to make this an “everything that is wrong with Christian movies” article, although there are a lot of things that I will repress for now. There is one last thing that I want to mention, something that I greatly detest, something that hurts me to the very core, something that makes me wonder if a good number of people who are involved are sociopaths.

Little research is done about people and cultures, and a lot of disrespect becomes the result. False “Nollywood facts” are used in the depictions. A man lives in America and sends money to his mother in Nigeria for the Egungun festival. As the Egungun costume is being flogged by the followers in Nigeria, the son who sent the money feels all the pain in America. Ha! E beru Olorun, eyin filmmakers yii, now! I mean, how desperate can you be for soul-winning? Who has that ever happened to? How dirty are you willing to get to rubbish other people’s beliefs and paths? The Egungun festival may not be Christian, quite alright, but it is not evil in and of itself. False narratives have been pushed since the days of old, “old” being “colonization”, and certain sects have suffered a lot of direct and indirect misrepresentation for refusing to accept that Jesus is the lord of their lives. Se won bi sori meja ni? It is interesting how not being a Christian can make one appear like a lesser being in the eyes of one. I will leave it at that.

In another scene, a challenge-like scenario is created between a priest and a Christian, and you can be sure that the Christian “wins”. Such love! A Babalorisa is depicted as being smitten by God, and in that scene, you see that he is sick to the point of death until he receives Jesus as his lord and saviour. As soon as he does, he becomes whole. He is then made to emphasize the powerlessness of deities and the supremacy of Jesus. I’ve never really understood it, to be honest. I’ve never really understood such wickedness, such violence, such sick ego.

The media is a dangerous tool. The narratives that can be created with it can heal, stabilize or very completely destroy. When you give this tool to unreasonable crusaders who rise by wrongly depicting others, as if to make their propositions better, you give them the power to create death itself. All of it is just as laughable as it is sad.

One thing that I appreciate is the fact that child battery is not often depicted or encouraged, because if it was, it would have been quite unfortunate. If there is anything that I have observed, and I greatly love, it is the fact that children are not beaten black and blue the way they usually are, in reality, especially in working-class settings where there is a lot of survival-based tension and frustration. It would, however, be nice to see movies correcting that, encouraging individuals to teach their children in love, instead of fostering fear in them and growing a new generation of parents who do not know how to engage in a decent two-way communication with their children.

What am I saying in a nutshell is this: there is a lot going on asides the “evil” that non-Christians do. Christian filmmakers, pay attention and keep up with the things that are going on around you.

This is it, for now. I will make a video about this in the future, and I will go into more detail. 

No Presidential Elections in 2019?

ElectionThis is what will happen if you do so, Nigerians- if you don’t exercise your democratic voting rights and elect one of the candidates in 2019:

Someone else or a group of elites will seize the power anyway. Someone has to run things and the military will very quickly take over. They would not need to assassinate anyone or seize power from any democratic leader; it’d be the easiest military takeover yet. It would not even be a coup d’état since they won’t be seizing power from any functioning government, or it will, if the state governors’ positions get dissolved/overthrown.

If the military doesn’t, if they decide to grab their popcorn and sippy cup and watch the events go by, it’s going to be a bloody mess, emphasis on the “bloody”.

An Ibibio man is now the new unelected president?

Over my dead body! Who put him there?

Let a Yoruba man be the new president.

You lie! A Hausa man or an Igbo woman would be more efficient.

Yen yen yen blah blah blah.

“People” will graduate from throwing chairs to knives; it’d be a distasteful sight.

Nigeria is a beautiful, sexy woman. If she decides not to choose who to sleep with, and she lies at the middle of the road for all to see, different riffraff would exert force and rape her. Even the US would be there in no time to suck on her oily breasts for free or next to nothing. The US likes rich, “presidentless” countries with large, oily breasts. It’d be a terrible, painful fuck fest, or gang bang, and no, it would not be fun. It sure as hell would not be fun.

So, assess all manifestos properly, do your own research on who the candidates really are, and prepare to vote. 

Religion and Politics

WazoBia

Pastors, imams, and other religious leaders, in Nigeria to be exact, must learn the importance of being non-partisan, to begin with. No pastor/imam should be telling you what their favourite political party is, and the side of the spectrum they tend to lean on, asking you to vote for them or anyone they recommend because God has chosen them, or telling you to use your democratic rights in a certain way.

It’d be interesting to see a thesis on politics in Nigeria and how much power and influence the religious leaders have on politics, although it’s very far from being a theocracy. Nigerians generally don’t take things that they are told in the name of religion with a grain of salt; we tend to not be skeptical when words that begin or end with “the Lord said” are said. 

No pastor should tell you what to invest in, what to do with your time, money and body, who to buy foodstuff from, what kind of perfume to use because it’s the kind that they use, whenever they are on or off the pulpit. People shouldn’t state a piece of the Bible or Quran to manipulate you. What they should advise you to do is pray, or pray on your behalf, asking God to lead you to the right answer, and advising you to tap into your own inner intuition and clairvoyance abilities. You are a person of God too, whether or not you were ordained to lead in the affairs of the church, and God can ‘speak’ to you directly. When they however report that God told them certain things, you must be willing to separate the wheat from the tares and engage in critical thinking.

The mediums of any spirit are not a hundred percent infallible. Don’t be fooled or coaxed or scared into doing anything who wouldn’t very willingly do, left to you, in the name of whatever deity you trust your life with.

Don’t Forget My Children

Little children who can’t pronounce war yet;
children who shouldn’t know what it is.
Running, their bodies plagued with beads of sweat,
with kwashiorkor and tuberculosis.

“Uncle, where is mama? Where is papa?”
Parents’ bodies are lifeless on the farms.
“Mama, why did you leave me here with master?”
Babies are starving, dying in their own arms.

Don’t try to make me shut my mouth
when I get possessed by pain and cry.
  
But if we return to the past, we’re going south.
Can brothers forgive other brothers if they try?

Take flowers to the sea for my children,
who could’ve been all they wanted to be.
At least, admit it was not okay for grown men
to snatch my children away from me.

hunger

Biafran War (6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970)

Religion and Class

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We were talking about intersectionality in my class today, and we looked at social locations (like as race/ethnicity, indigeneity, gender, class, sexuality, geography, age, disability/ability, level of education, occupation, migration status and religion) and how they shape the way a person interacts with the world and the way the world interacts with that person.

The reason why many white people go “what the hell are you talking about?” when you tell them that they have white privilege is that they may be disadvantaged in many other ways at the same time. If an able-bodied, straight dark-skinned African woman with a PhD tells a white, differently-abled, lesbian who only has a high school diploma and is working in a factory that she has “privilege”, she might take offence, like “what privilege?” There’s a good chance that the white woman would not be followed around a store or racially profiled by the police, PhD or not. There’s also a good chance that the black woman would be able to attend certain meetings and functions at the University of Toronto that the white woman may never get invitation letters for. 

11-Faces-3-African-Art-Oil-on-Canvas_Udubrae-Art-Galleries_AfriMod

The fact remains that a person could be privileged and oppressed at the same time- privileged in some areas and disadvantaged in some- based on the several different social locations that they fall into. I didn’t choose to be black and you didn’t choose to be white. It would be very wrong to guilt trip you based on your race, and if I say that H&M is terrible when it comes to hiring, I’d expect you to understand where I’m coming from.

What stood out to me, however, was religion. My mind drifted off and I had to try to bring myself back to the setting because I focused on it intensely- religion.

If you do not practise Christianity or Islam in Nigeria, you could very well be looked down upon in different social settings, and that is a fact. If it is not Christianity or Islam, it is demonic, and it must be cast and bound. One could wear a hijab or wear a necklace with a cross pendant in most parts of Nigeria without any problem, but as soon as they come out with an opele ifa or wear their ide to main settings, there would be a problem.

With the “you and your generation will go to hell” threats and all sorts of harassment and fuckery, you almost have to hide in a way. I see it now, that religion is very related, not just to culture, but to class, hierarchies and discrimination.

Greed-White-Greed

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Green-White-Green.
The ‘green’ dey plenty
but the ‘white’ no reach,
upon say we dey preach.

Daddy is the first “green”,
mummy is the second,
and the “white” is their son- Junior;
all his decisions are made for him.

His birth name is Purity,
but they barely call him that,
and his opinions almost never matter.
“Junior, sit down there.”
“Junior, excuse us;
go out to play with your friends.”
“Junior, the adults are talking;
you ought to walk away.”
“Junior, cover your ears.”

We say “the young shall grow”, abi?
It’s one of our favourite quotes.
Our hope is that one day,
Junior will grow to be a strong man.
A pure-in-heart woman will marry him.
They’ll give birth to a gorgeous daughter;
she’ll be very “green”,
and she’ll grow to be big and strong.
Our new flag will be “white-green-white”.

Green wouldn’t need to cover her ears;
there would be no need to.
We would have a new country;
our leaders would do what they should do.

“White-Green-White.
Na only ‘white’ we dey see,
but the ‘green’ no reach,
sake of say we no rich.”

You can agree that
the above won’t happen,
and you can disagree,
but wetin be the point of the wealth,
if na only few people rich.
Wetin be the point of the wealth
if they no dey share the money-
if they no let the money reach?


If we do am make the money reach everybody, nobody go rich, but you know as e dey go now. Everybody wan rich.

Socialism means- nobody gets rich, and we’re all equal, wealth-wise. This can’t work in reality. Capitalism means- some people get rich, but some people stay poor.

Either way, some people are not going to be rich.

Does nihilism come with socialism? You know you can’t be richer than you are anyway, so what is the point of aspiring to achieve anything if you can’t get the ultimate reward (whether or not it’s gotten at the expense of others)- wealth?

Everything is designed to be fucked up in one way and another.

As Bright as Darkness

HELLYWOOD:
When your lights go off,
or when they don’t shine as brightly,
darkness is turned on in your heart,
and a new evil is birthed in your soul.

You do not like to not be
seen as often you used to,
so you turn more of your rays on.

As soon as another light becomes brighter,
and another surely will,
you turn even more rays on.
You’d do anything and everything
to not be overshadowed by another light.

You more light the others see,
the more of you they see,
and the less you they see,
and the less you, you see,
and the more of them you see
but the less them you see.

Everyone knows what you are,
but no one knows who you are.
You shine so bright, so exceedingly well,
but there’s deep darkness inside.

For everything you do not do,
and for everything you do,
for everything you do not become,
and for everything you become,
there are consequences.

SARS [Special Anti-Robbery Squad]

A group of detectives
that can’t properly detect thieves
because they are detechthieves*.

*detechthieves: the technical thieves