Saturday, July 8, 2017

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

Yinka,

The absence of unanimity in Southwestern politics in the post-June 12 period does not vitiate my point. What I was referencing is the elite political consensus of the Southwest, the dominant political consensus of the post-June 12 period. By the way, the Southwest successfully leveraged that separatist  agitation (SNC, OPC, and Oduduwa Republic advocacy)  to ensure that a Yoruba person became president in 1999, with the two major parties both conceding their presidential tickets to Yoruba men--Obasanjo and Falae. 

There is no region of Nigeria that has enjoyed political unanimity in terms of its position on and in the union at any time. There were and still are dissenting voices in the Niger Delta, who never favored the oil militancy. Not everyone in Igboland is in favor of Biafra and some are heavily invested in the Abuja-centered politics of Nigeria. Not everyone in the Middle Belt bought into Joseph Tarka and co's Middle Belt political agenda. Not everyone in the North was a follower of Ahmadu Bello. There was PRP, just as Awoism had its dissenters in the Southwest, etc, etc. But at any point in Nigeria's postcolonial history, you can discern where a particular people or region stand, the prevailing dominant political sentiment, and the consensus of its political elite. There is no question that in the post-June 12 period, patriotic sentiment was in short supply in the Southwest and disillusionment with the Nigerian union was at an all time high there. Today, the story is dramatically different, with you and at least three other Yoruba people gleefully and, in my opinion, smugly performing your patriotism on this thread in response to the original post by Fakinlede. I consider the entire exercise a bit vulgar and disturbing. My scholarly sensibilities condition me to be suspicious of such displays. I speak for myself alone.

Anyway, let's not argue about irrelevant details. My point about the ebbs and flows of patriotic sentiments corresponding to people's relationship to, role in, or marginalization from the federal government at any point in time remains. Even Biafra agitation, while vibrant during the Jonathan period, reached a new crescendo in correspondence to the undisguised contempt with which Buhari (not Osinbajo) has treated the Igbo, their aspirations, and their interests. It is not an accident that all of you engaging in incestuously embarrassing declarations of patriotism on this thread are Yoruba people, whose ethnic unit are on the ascendancy in this government and whose ethnic kin is the acting president. I could give other examples from different parts parts of the country to illustrate my point about patriotism in Nigeria being a relative strategic, self-interested, and Machiavellian enterprise.

Two last things. My overarching point is not even about the ideological and prebendal underpinning of effusive expressions of patriotism. Rather it is about how aggressive patriotism of the type being exhibited here is a dangerous phenomenon because it excludes (thanks Ken) and provides comfort and succor to powerful people who hide behind patriotic rhetoric to perpetrate evil, avoid doing what they should, defend incompetence, ignore problems and legitimate agitations, get away with oppression, and divide people. 

I've been writing against the dangers of hyper-patriotic and pretentious patriotism that papers over the problems and deficits of the union for at least fifteen years. I could refer you to essays I published about fifteen years ago critiquing this woolly notion of patriotism. Besides, it was Wole Soyinka who said a tiger needs not declare its tigritude. I believe that wisdom applies to patriotism.

Finally, how can your response to the proliferation of centrifugal agitations in response to the malignant dysfunction of the union and to legitimate aspirations for structural reforms of the status quo be to simply declare your patriotism? How is that the answer? Is that not escapist?

On Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 5:48 PM, Olayinka Agbetuyi <yagbetuyi@hotmail.com> wrote:
Nigeria has many ills those of us you want to shut up also criticize the ills but also celebrate the efforts of the likes of you.

We analyze why leaders turn the country into a 'zoo' and continuously search for ways to turn it back into a non zoo like it was in the 70s. Giving up cannot be the answer; tearing up the country equally isnt as it prolongs the recovery of the severed parts that will start from the scratch.

America and western nations have their ills too.



Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


-------- Original message --------
From: 'Eligius Ihewulezi' via USA Africa Dialogue Series <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: 07/07/2017 23:26 (GMT+00:00)
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - IF YOU LOVE NIGERIA, SAY SO

Boxbe This message is eligible for Automatic Cleanup! (usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com) Add cleanup rule | More info
My friend shot-up you do not know what you are saying. Nigeria is a zoo and not a country. You guys over in  America do not know what is going on in Nigeria simply because you find yourselves in America where leaders even if corrupt, control their excesses and think better of their subjects. 

 Nigerian leaders visit America and enjoy what other leaders have achieved but when they go back home they become monsters without control of their greed. Why did you come to America in the first place? Is it not because you have no hope in that zoo? Do not blame those who say the truth about Nigeria. If what they are saying will help to bring about the change you are dreaming of, well and good.


On Friday, 7 July 2017, 22:06, Olayinka Agbetuyi <yagbetuyi@hotmail.com> wrote:


Fair enough.



Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


-------- Original message --------
From: Kenneth Harrow <harrow@msu.edu>
Date: 07/07/2017 18:48 (GMT+00:00)
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - IF YOU LOVE NIGERIA, SAY SO

Boxbe This message is eligible for Automatic Cleanup! (harrow@msu.edu) Add cleanup rule | More info
Thanks, olayinka, a lovely answer.
I agree with it, but as a dream that we must struggle to accomplish. The other side of the dream, the fear and hatred side, turns against others, as we have seen since forever. The ghanaians chased out, how many years ago? Was it 40? The ivoirians chasing out the burkinabe, and so many others. The s africans chasing out the nigerians. The americans—ohhh, don't let's start with whom they chased out, and what trump campaigned on. American first, deutschland uber alles, the italia that was roma, and on and on. The japanese chasing out the koreans.
If we could leave to don our hats of love for homeland without turning the cap around into brexit, into get out of my own, I am with you. I will agree this is our goal, to learn how to motivate the group without building on expulsions of the scapegoat. Unfortunately, my jewish heritage has been one of 2000 years of being expelled, so it is very hard to learn the new mantra of loving oneself without mocking the goys
ken
Kenneth Harrow
Dept of English and Film Studies
Michigan State University
619 Red Cedar Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824

From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Olayinka Agbetuyi <yagbetuyi@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Friday, 7 July 2017 at 15:34
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Cc: Olayinka Agbetuyi <yagbetuyi@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - IF YOU LOVE NIGERIA, SAY SO

Ken:

You CAN be "us" and "them" at the same time psychoanalytically as you have correctly argued in the past with respect to the multiple identities that most of us normatively assume in various contexts in which our other identities are willfully suppressed into periods of latency until the moments of their cathection arrive, and the relevant identity is then emphasized for the moment.

What the proponents of 'I love Nigeria' are saying is that psychoanalytically the depressive nature of 'Nothing good in Nigeria' becomes too overwhelming on those who otherwise think Nigeria cant be so bad that it had no redeeming features that even they by herd instinct can lose faith in their own beliefs.

This can be deleterious for nation building as it promotes from the stand point of group psychoanalysis a national lethargy that proves a self fulfilling prophecy (precisely the goal of the naysayers.)

The response of the national affirmers is what I would describe as the incantatory effect of self affirmation which is valid for ALL climes.



.



Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


-------- Original message --------
From: Kenneth Harrow <harrow@msu.edu>
Date: 07/07/2017 13:05 (GMT+00:00)
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - IF YOU LOVE NIGERIA, SAY SO

Boxbe This message is eligible for Automatic Cleanup! (harrow@msu.edu) Add cleanup rule | More info
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

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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