Thursday, July 13, 2017

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

To Kenneth Harrow:



I had previously thought it wise to leave the topic of freedom of speech in America alone since it it is deviating from my initial objective of trying to get people to express their love for our nation, Nigeria, in the face of a seemingly constant and endless barage of negative publicity. However, because it is you, I will try to go over what I said in the face of the 'image'you think I have.

However, before I go on, I would like to inject some humour into our conversation so it does not sound too academic. There was a king in Yorubaland called Elempe the second. What Elempe did to invite his beheading was that he said a gourd is heavier than a cooking pot. Everyone listening quickly covered his ears so as not listen to this blasphemy. Everyone knows that a cooking pot is much heavier than a gourd. For this blasphemy, his neck was relieved of his head.

Later on, it was learnt that what king Elempe the second actually meant was that a gourd filled with palm wine is heavier than an empty pot. In the mean time, his head was already a feast for the birds.

Now, you claim that I have an image of the US as some kind of a perfectly policed universe. I have lived on and off in the US for close to five decades. I had my university education here both as an undergraduate and as a doctoral student. I have had the good fortune of living and working in this country. I also call this place home. Let me say that I love this country. I know that kind of statement may fall into disfavour among some people. But I am very grateful for being here. I do not in any way regard this country as a policed state. I have indeed seen many of the critical letters to which you refer, and have heard people calling the president all kinds of names. I do not expect the government or the FBI to move against these people.

Now my statement. I have said:


'In America, if a person should use a language that is perceived to be threatening and it is believed that he means what he is saying by acting in that direction, the law enforcement agents - particularly the  FBI,  will at least pay the person a visit, and keep him under surveillance'

Three conditions abound and I do not think they can be separated from one another without commiting my unfortunate King Elempe's offence:

1.      One makes the threatening statement

2.      It is believed that he means what he says

3.      He is acting in that direction


Now, if one were to remove one of these premisess from my statement, one can argue endlessly but it would not disqualify my assertion.

Now, if one were to express one's lack of fondness for the president or even outrightly calls him some unprintable name, one has not even begun to scratch the surface in terms of the premises given above.

And I am sure, you do not even have the intention of satistying the three.


On Thursday, July 6, 2017 at 2:43:38 PM UTC+1, Kayode J. Fakinlede wrote:

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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