Friday, July 7, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - IF YOU LOVE NIGERIA, SAY SO

Dear all
I’ve already expressed my opposition to the nation-state on this list before, but I had still a couple of thoughts to share, some of which are broadly in agreement with moses, some of which oppose the ardent expressions of love for country.
Perhaps it is different to love one’s own country in the ways ayo expressed or baba m expresses for his little piece of england.
I think of love of country as a brainwashing to which we, as children, were subject in ballparks, with the national anthem, and especially schools, where we said the pledge of allegiance, had the u.s. Flag in our classrooms, and sang the national anthem. In our best folk music we sang of loving america from east to west, this land is your land, this land is my land, from california to the new york highlands, etc.
Songs, flags, being american, hot dogs, world war to save the world for democracy, etc.
You can make up the same list of englishness as michael did. You can even vote on it. Vote for brexit; vote for trump; for le pen. All the nationalist jingoists of the world.

You can make up the same list of nigerianness as well, and I can understand, can love, can want to be there, can share the beers and laughter, and sing along with abiola and all the yoruba mates. Why not why not?
If you can’t answer that question, why not, you are lost in the haze of nationalist piety that confounds one need we have for belonging and identity, with values per se that hide their costs, their exclusions, and their histories.
michael’s english waters, so still, so beautiful at night—conrad wrote best about that river that wound from the nighttime thames to the congo. Same river, same powers, same empires, from rome to British. Most of all, most of all—I’ll say this three times—most of all, same idea of us and them. 
“we” got california, its “redwood forests” we sing about, in woody guthrie’s song that pete seeger made “ours", but we had to take them from the mexicans, the spanish, the conquistadores, etc.
There is no “we” without non-“we”—they. no us without them.
So let’s all learn to love each other, and forget that the price of that love is to exclude from our love “them,” since what kind of love would it be if we loved everyone. We couldn’t defend “our” nigeria without contesting those cameroonian claims to “our” oil lands in the southwest. Or you name it. Name the beers, the fruits the songs of love which are ours.
I agree with all those loves, including negritude. I understand why we have to defend ourselves, and love ourselves.
But we can’t do that without first “knowing” who “we” are, and you can’t be “us” and “them” at the same time.
Too bad for them

that’s human, I suppose. It is normal. When michael talks about taking back the english water from europe, I wonder where the ship windrush comes in???
I wonder where the wanderers from africa and the caribbean come in. I wonder where the largest minority in england, now, the polish come in?
And those poles, those poles, who are just dying to keep out the muslims, where do they come in? They love it in england; when I ask, how do you feel about muslim refugees being barred from poland, do you know what they say? Poland is a catholic country, they say. 
Nice for poland to be a catholic country, especially after the poles, along with the germans, wiped out 3 million jews, so as to clean out the non-catholics.

Why do you love nigeria? I know the answer, because I love it too. 
But you can’t love a country without being willing to consider the price of that love, and the inculcation of patriotism in us as children as serving a national interest that cannot be constructed without exclusions of those not in the nation.

Last words on this topic: the free market has destroyed africa’s fishing industry, but not without the collusion of powerful interests. When we can solve that problem, without simply trying to reassert national sovereignty, we will be ready to take on the tasks of love of country and survival in an age of neoliberal globalization. As it is, it won’t do to say “I love nigeria” as if that were an answer.

ken

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/


From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of "meochonu@gmail.com" <meochonu@gmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Thursday, 6 July 2017 at 22:02
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - IF YOU LOVE NIGERIA, SAY SO

I am deeply suspicious any effusive profession of patriotism. It is usually calculated, self-interested, and strategic. It is also episodic. Most of those professing love of country today are from the Southwestern and Northern parts of the country. Only three years ago, Northerners, especially people from the so-called core North, were denouncing the union and openly saying they would be fine with the country dividing. Some of them even threatened to tear the union apart if power did not "return" to the North--and by north they did not mean my kind of north. The sentiment in the Southwest at that time was hardly different although it was expressed in less vehement and militant terms. I need not even go back to the post-June 12 period when separatist sentiment was at an all time high in the Southwest and when the Southwestern political elite and intelligentsia scoffed at any invocation of patriotism. This is a long winded way of saying that patriotism is often directly proportional to how one perceives the union in relation to one's (or one's group's) interest at any particular time. These vulgar assertions of patriotism despite the country descending into centrifugal funk is also strategic. In my opinion, true patriots do not need to make noise about their patriotism. It will show through their actions, especially through the CONSISTENCY of their public advocacy, political ideology, and empathy.

On Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 2:27 PM, Olukayode Soremekun <nikesohe@hotmail.com> wrote:

I DO LOVE MY COUNTRY, NIGERIA.


LONG LIVE NIGERIA!


I DO NOT LISTEN TO THE NAYSAYERS.


Thank you Kayode.


From: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Kayode J. Fakinlede <jfakinlede@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 6, 2017 1:41:03 PM
To: USA Africa Dialogue Series
Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - IF YOU LOVE NIGERIA, SAY SO
 

In recent months, I have witnessed the most organised and coordinated effort to tear down our country that any person or a group of people can muster. Nigeria, our country, has suddenly transmogrified into a country of confused people who cannot put two and two together, its impending doom and imminent collapse being broadcast every minute on the internet and the print media.

Some months before, I was at a gathering in the United States and, as a lone person out, I had tried to defend our country among some of these naysayers only to find out that I was dangerously outmunbered. “What has Nigeria done for you?; why should I speak well about Nigeria, etc, etc?’ These kinds of questions were coming from even new arrivals and from young people who had just received their freshly minted certificates in one university or another in Nigeria and were lucky enough to have been able to secure a visa to America. Of course, I had previously, and several times found myself among groups of Nigerians who would spend the night castigating our country and throwing darts at it. Some even swore never to set eyes on Nigeria for ever.

Ah, Ah!!, I discovered why it is easy for these to put Nigeria down. The light and glare of the country America have blinded them to the reality of where they come from and the sacrifices made by their forebears to get them there. Evidently, much that they see and experience in America magically appeared across the landscape. A little learning, they say is a dangerous thing.

Of course, there is a majority of us, the silent majority, who by reason of our experience know that things do not always go harmonioulsy in God’s own country.  In America, in spite of the daily jostling of each individual to get to the top regardless of whose ass is gored, we see the combined efforts of its citizens, irrespective of and in spite of their differences, to continuously improve - emphasis on improve -  the school system, the legal system, the water system, the health provision system, the electricity supply system, roads and bridges, etc.

‘Towards a more perfect Union,’ Americans often proclaim this as their intention. But when I see the level of acrimony some issues generate within the polity, I often wonder if a perfect union can ever be achieved on earth. But at the end of it all, I realise that the glitter and fluorencence that we foreigners now come to enjoy are the results of years of the acrimonious debates and sacrifices –  emphasis on sacrifices - made by their forebears.

One fact seems to run through the vein of all Americans though, they love their country, warts and all. Every American proclaims this at the roof top every time and before they start the aforementioned acrimonious debates.

Majority of Nigerians are like Americans too. We wake up in the morning, try to take care of our families the best way we can,  get to our individual workplaces to earn a living, send our children to the best schools we can afford, and in general try to earn a living. We also love Nigeria, warts and all. And try our best to work towards a better Nigeria.

But we have let the naysayers hijack the debate. We have allowed them to control the tempo of our discussion. We have given them the megaphone, they are now browbeating us with negative propaganda, and we are cowered by the intensity of their intention.

Let us therefore begin to take to the bulhorn to declare our love for our country Nigeria. Let our positive proclamation drown the organized, cacophony and grandiloquence of the naysayers. They do have a plan and their plan is to tear Nigeria apart. We have a better plan and that better plan is to keep Nigeria one. And we do not have to debate or apologize to anyone for this.

God bless Nigeria

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