Wednesday, March 8, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Dear Kayode J. Fakinlede , Respect ( like Aretha )

Dear Kayode J. Fakinlede,

Peace, love, and understanding!

And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us.

"they stand aloof in their
nakedness - they limber;
like the gods terrified into silence,
like tall brooding deities looming out of the
..." ( excerpt from "The Four Seasons" a poem by Obi Nwakanma)

Yesterday evening my Better Half went to a concert to listen to a group from Portugal and came back beaming with their latest CD : Walk Tall : Roots on Top . I couldn't be there because I was listening to a lecture by the Rabbi... thinking of Obi's trees as I listen in right now...

There's also Vivaldi's The Four Sesaons.

Not being one of Naipaul's "The Mimic Men", how do I imitate that, in this chime and clime? Maybe only Teju Cole can - can baffle , exactly as Ken Harrow praises him here , so too I was delighted, surprised - moved by those intimations in "Open City".

Other intimations

When I'm in the mood I write a poem, poems, lyrics although it takes more time to polish their interiors

to shape the substance.


So a man, a special man insists that you must call him Dr.

By all means accommodate him, even if he has a dozen doctorates in this and that, "Doctor of Divinity" etc. for which you only hold him in contempt , by all means humour him. It shouldn't have to cost you anything like your peace of mind. Just think if Pope Benedict ( I once called him "Benedictus Erectus") but just think if the Holy Pontiff should take offence at this (Papa Bull)

Sure enough, there is the Ph.D. ( Pull-him down) syndrome to which we can individually plead guilty or not guilty, or even plead that we are neutral and independent observers only and not affiliated to any institutions that make it legally binding for us to recognise them or the degrees that they confer on others.

Inspired by Ogbeni Kadiri to find out more about him, one of my Nigerian heroes is Michael Imoudu

I commiserate with Obi. But as we say in Saro English, "take courage!" Nothing to be annoyed about, he is merely craving your indulgence , not your self respect. Bottom line: netiquette

We are celebrating International Women's Day today, with Sweden being placed at the very top, i.e. that Sweden is the best place for women . Nigeria is placed at position 77 - not bad - Fela in mind, when you think of the various categories ranging from " I be Lady O" - to " Market woman na woman" and I guess that there are the same extensions/ categories and hierarchies when it comes to Nigerian men , ranging from those who insist that they are doktas and not mere ogbenis. Take these two examples:

"His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular."


"His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Abdul-Aziz Awal Jemus Junkung Jammeh Naasiru Deen Babili Mansa".

Like Christians wanting you to call Jesus by the formal title they have given him, "Christos", virgin birth, God's only begotten son etc...

So too, on a minimalist scale some of our Dr. Shakespeares, Dr. Isaac Newtons, Dr Albert Einsteins and our Dr. Wole Soyinkas of Nigeria insist that in the name of respect, they must be addressed by their formal title, at least minimally "doctor", whether you like it you like it not! In the fourth video in this link you can hear the Rabbi saying that Jesus was "illiterate". I'm sure that Jesus wouldn't mind him or any of the Almighty's created beings saying that. The Prophet of Islam ( s.a.w.) was also described as being "ummi" - i.e. illiterate or not formally acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures. He himself boasts about this or is described as such in the Holy Quran . The tragedy is that today, some of his followers believe themselves to be more exalted in learning than he was, even as they write linguistic exegeses of the Holy Quran that was revealed in Excellent Arabic...

In all my life in Sweden, apart from when chatting with my physician (when one is feeling more vulnerable, terminally ill and desperately wanting to hang on, fearing the hereafter a little or fearing the hereafter VERY MUCH, it's especially then that "doctor so and so " is the God-sent means , the medical Messiah or the Almighty's Divine emissary who can help delay one's transition to the eternity, " to join my father in heaven, a place of no return."( Falola) . Or even when feeling not so ill , but in any case still feeling very mortal indeed, otherwise formally or informally, live and direct I've never called anyone else, any professors (I know quite a few) or bosses or any of the Great Ogas, politicians, people of wealth/ men of hard earned cash "Dr.", or any friends, formally as "Count" so and so.

As Dylan sang:

"You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say

You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody " ( Bob Dylan : Gotta Serve Somebody

But titles do go a long way. This was before I went to Nigeria - when in the company of the late, most humble and personable Dr. Mathias Offoboche the then Governor of Cross Rivers State - I had been put in charge of him when he visited Sweden (but hadn't been told that he was a governor ) - so there we were, standing in a queue to enter Alexandra Nightclub at that time one of Stockholm's top night clubs (still a prince, the current King of Sweden sometimes went there) well, when we finally got to the head of the queue, me in my rub-a-dub style, looking like a half ragamuffin, the guards wanted to see his ID before they would let him in - so he showed them his passport and this sort of electrified the guards because suddenly I saw them standing at attention and saluting him, me too and that saluting me had never happened before, so I guess that it must have been written in his passport - "GOVERNOR - CROSS RIVERS STATE , FEDERAL REPUBLIC of NIGERIA " - that - and not so much the "Dr." must have electrified them (Doctors are a dime a dozen in Sweden - we have approximately 400 medical doctors to minister to every 100, 000 citizens and would like to have a lot more) - so the bitches/ witches must have got wind of who he was and that's why they must have been gravitating to our table - that and the Oga's elegant and majestic boogaloo dance-steps (like the guys from Edo) - but further than dancing we did not give them any more attention

" Cornelius, please look me up when you come to Nigeria", he told me. I never did. My friend Akintola Wyse was in Calabar then, and Sylvester Abimbola Young was in Benin, Bendel State, but I had to avoid the inherent dangers of travelling beyond Rivers and Imo state...

Dear Kayode J. Fakinlede, it's cultural really, that's why I'm not at all surprised. Hang them by their titles - or bloodless - just as Corsco said, "Strangled by a tie"

The Igbo man I'm told - and I lived with them for close to four years - the Igbo man is not easily parted with his titles. Forget to address him by his full range of titles in front of and behind his name and in time you find that you have made an enemy by not doing that. Call him "Ogugua and you may be in trouble, but - respect - call him "Lord" Ogugua and everything will be all right - he may even give you his daughter. My grandfather Louis Hamelberg was a bit like that - he was an architect - his nickname was " Cosmos" and he had a string of professional titles after his name- mostly his belonging to this and that architectural association or club, which all in all really shouldn't matter so much right now, wherever he is in the Ha Olam Ha Ba right now...

The Nigerian Constitution probably proposes the equality of all men to which notion I'm sure many of her citizen's subscribe, although the pre-election detractors of President Muhammadu Buhari spent an inordinate amount of time trying to destroy the General's eligibility to contest for the highest office in the land - trying to undermine the basic qualifications and instead hunting for his elementary school leaving certificate , just as some of the Americans were witch-hunting Brother Obama to produce a certificate showing that he had not been born in Kenya!

As the wisest Solomon put it "All is vanity"

and that's why I'm really extra impressed by your concession to the sort of propriety

that Obi Nwakanma alias "Rex Marinus" demands of thee

of his being personally addressed in this our august forum. Apparently Obi

which means whatever it means - ruler - chief more likely not sure if Eze is much higher

rated, coronated or anointed - but give the devil his due, Lucifer too who was made of fire

and burning with pride unlike my guitar, me too

- "I am mostly flesh and bones and he is mostly wood."

Best Regards,


We Sweden

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