Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why Obasanjo May Be Heading To Hell

By Biko Agozino

General Olusegun Obasanjo who misruled Nigeria for eleven years recently went to Ibadan to curse corrupt and inept rulers of Nigeria, including himself, when he stated: ‘Maybe we are all going to hell’. He may have intended the ‘we’ to refer to all Nigerians but if I understand him correctly, he was referring to those of them with full responsibility for the misgovernmentality that has bedeviled the country before and after independence. No sane person will include blessed and hard-working Nigerians, high achieving individual Nigerians who excel internationally against all the odds and the victimized impoverished Nigerians who suffer a life of hell on earth due to the wicked misrule or incompetence of General Olusegun Obasanjo and his class allies among those who are condemned to hell fire by his own mouth. And some Nigerians have already said Amen to Obasanjo’s self-curse.

Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria, saw things differently as early as the 1930s when he wrote a ‘Beatitude to the Youth’ of Africa in which he said alliteratively that ‘Blessed Are the Youth’ but in which he also concluded by echoing that ‘Cursed are the Old Africa’ for obstructing the emergence of the Renascent Africa and the new Africa. Then again years before he died, Azikiwe renewed this clear distinction of his by stating that ‘History will vindicate the just’ in a statement that concluded by re-emphasizing that ‘God shall punish the wicked’.

In the curse against himself and people like him, Obasanjo actually revealed the open secret why he suspects that Nigerian misrulers are jinxed. He stated in that rambling self-righteous monologue that he went to visit Mwalimu Julius Nyerere because Nyerere recognized Biafra and Nyerere gave him a simple riddle that he is yet to unravel. According to him, Nyerere told him that his ministers in Tanzania will claim that they were not corrupt and yet their infant children had numerous choice properties in Europe and North America. Why would Nyerere say that to an ethnic war-lord like Obasanjo?
Perhaps Obasanjo was arrogantly campaigning for support for the ongoing genocide against fellow Africans and had the cheek to go and attempt to bribe the revered Nyerere to end his recognition of Biafra. Instead of ending the recognition, Nyerere went ahead and named major streets in Tanzania after Biafra in protest against that monumental injustice of the genocidal killing of more than three million Africans under the command of Obasanjo and his hell-bent misrulers who cruelly declared that ‘all is fair in warfare’. Those iconic street names remain today in Tanzania while Obasanjo and his cursed fellow misgovernors abolished the historic name of the Bight of Biafra as if that will wipe away the evidence of their genocidal crimes against humanity. Today, simply flying the flag of Biafra in commemoration of the innocent dead in Nigeria (as is done in enlightened countries that use the opportunity to create flourishing tourist industries) will invite extra judicial killings that go on unabated.

If you are superstitious, you may point to the Igbo genocide as the cause of the curse that Obasanjo said was upon him and his class of ‘irresponsible’ marauders. The Bible commands that ‘Thou Shall Not Kill’ and I understand that the Koran teaches that ‘If you kill one of God’s children, you kill all of God’s children.’ What part of that commandment do self-accursed misrulers like Obasanjo and his ilk not understand? They did not just kill one or two or three of God’s children which is bad enough – they killed three million plus. And yet more than forty years later, they have not offered any apology and they have not offered any reparations. As Nigerians always say, God is not asleep, and so it is no surprise that Nigerian misrulers are a condemned bunch, from their own horse’s mouth. They are all going to burn in hell for their evil deeds, according to Obasanjo. Why not? Except that God is a loving and forgiving God, quite unlike the unrepentant tyrants who are only paranoid about their deserved place in the afterlife. Repent!

It is not only Nigerian tyrants that appear to be cursed due to what Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe relentlessly condemns as the foundational genocide of post-colonial Africa – the Igbo genocide. All the countries that facilitated that genocide have apparently also been cursed: The Soviet Union has vanished from the world map and its successor, Russia, continues to battle insurgents in some of its regions; the UK is about to be dismembered given the impending vote for independence by oil-rich Scotland which will probably be followed by Wales and by Northern Ireland all of which already have their devolved governments; and Egypt which provided the air force pilots that bombed Igbo women in market places during the war now appears to welcome the chickens back to its own roost as the same officers trained by Mubarak when he was the commander of the air force college during the Biafra war now devour their own people in the thousands. What goes around comes around also in Northern Nigeria where the pogrom against the Igbo started and in the Middle Belt where most the killings took place when train-loads of escapees were waylaid and slaughtered. But the native doctor who concocts diarrhea cannot hide his own buttocks in the sky according to an Igbo proverb because when the rain falls, it won’t fall on one man’s housetop, sang Bob Marley.

General Gowon who presided over that genocide has gone around the country asking people to pray for Nigeria. I wonder what kind of prayers Nigerians pray for their country. It is likely to be the same self-glorious prayer that they say on their televangelist call-ins when they always ask god to destroy their enemies. Rarely do Nigerians admit wrong-doing and ask for forgiveness of their sins. 

When Chinua Achebe tried to heal the sore-ridden conscience of the nation in There Was a Country, the unrepentant blood-thirsty tyrants that were still alive and their phantom ‘intellectual’ lackeys pretended to be offended by the objective truth and went on boasting that the genocide against the Igbo was justifiable. Gowon’s initial ignorant comment was that he ‘did not know if Achebe will be getting a penny from that book’, a baffling response from someone who holds a doctoral degree from a top UK university.

Of course, no genocide is ever justifiable and condemning genocide is not about getting pennies. Thus General Gowon who reacted emotionally to There Was A Country without reading a single page of the damning book, has recently started singing a different tune. Perhaps for the first time, he now admits that lots of innocent fellow Nigerians were killed and their properties destroyed due to the abuse of power during the war and that there is a need for justice to be done to our fellow citizens. Belatedly, Ohaneze Ndigbo has set up a reparations committee to seek the reparations that were demanded in the recommendations of the official Justice Oputa Panel report which President Obasanjo attempted to suppress but was unofficially published online.

It is tempting to agree with the superstition that Nigerians, nay Africans and people of African descent globally are cursed. I have heard highly educated Africans explore this hypothesis that everywhere black people are in power, nothing seems to work because, as a pejorative saying among Diaspora people of African descent puts it, black people can’t run snow. Some of the people who hold this mistaken belief yearn for the re-subjection of black people to the terror of oppressive white rule or direct colonialism as the panacea for the perceived ineptitude or wickedness of black misrulers. But history is not a mystery.

Personally, I do not agree that Nigeria is cursed, for as Ola Rotimi would put it, The Gods Are Not to Blame. There are historical and structural reasons why people of African descent are suffering the incompetent leadership that we are burdened with today.  As Obi Igwe put it in one of his gospel songs, what we need are leaders (Ndi ndu, also literally, forces of life) and not rulers (Ndi ochichi, also literally, forces of darkness). There are some concrete steps we can take to reverse the ineptitude at the leadership level and uplift our people from avoidable penury in the midst of plenty:

First, I call for a National Day of Igbo Mourning to be declared as a public holiday in memory of the millions who were genocidized in Biafra. During that day, every year, let all Nigerians embark on a general fasting and all the money saved on food and drinks should be donated to the Igbo reparations fund while parents will use the opportunity of the national demonstration of penance to teach future generations that what was done to the Igbo must not be allowed to happen again in Africa. This could be done also by using the day of mourning to promote history literacy through the communal reading of the history of the genocide.

Secondly, the Federal Government of Nigeria should allocate 100 billion naira every year for at least 40 years to the Fair Igbo Reparations Mandate (FIRM) as a token recognition of the inhumane crimes committed against our people by our own government. No group of Nigerians would lose anything when the government eventually recognizes that killing three million of our people was completely wrong and pays reparations. The amount suggested here annually is chicken feed compared to what one of these hell-bent misrulers steal with impunity relentlessly.

The Federal Government of Nigeria and Ohaneze Ndigbo should demand for the foreign countries that supported the genocide to contribute to the Fair Igbo Reparations Mandate because when this evil is recognized and forgiveness is requested through the token payment of reparations, the knock-on effects in the national conscience will yield a greater consideration for human life, create massive wealth that the cosmopolitan Igbo will spread across the country and across Africa for the benefit of all, and help to produce conscientious leaders who will help Nigerians and Africans to reach their full potentials.

Finally, Nigerians should follow the example of Nyerere, Nkrumah and Du Bois and recognize that evil against any African anywhere is not an internal affair of any country or state. Rather, we should fast forward the unification of Africa into the People’s Republic of Africa in a way similar to democracies of scale that are more viable because unity is strength. When Africa is finally united in a continental government, no single group of Africans will ever be able to wake up one morning, slap their buttocks, and embark on ethnic cleansing in Africa because the rest of us will rise to put an end to any attempted genocide in Africa by internal or external forces.

Monday, August 12, 2013

My 'Stupid' Hypothesis


By Biko Agozino

Have you heard the news from the BBC that one of the Boston Bombers was influenced by right wing white supremacist literature and that he was heard to have said that ‘Hitler had a point’? When I hypothesized that there appeared to be a link between that act of terror and racism, a white male senior professor of literature called the hypothesis ‘crazy’ on an African internet discussion group and a Nigerian school administrator who fancies himself as an ‘intellectual’ joined him in attacking a straw man on that newsgroup, claiming that he did not see the hypothesized link between x and y or between racism and terrorism. They could be forgiven because in their line of work, they may never have stated or tested a hypothesis according to the logic of social research.

More seriously, the editor of the newsletter of a professional association of black scholars in May called for articles on campus climates following the Boston bombing and I immediately sent a report of the responses (below) to my hypothesis. The report was accepted for publication with the offer by the editor to reproduce my original blog but when the issue of the newsletter appeared in July, my report was not included and no explanation was offered. I wonder what the colleagues will say now about this BBC report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23541341

A senior white male professor also called my office number on 4/29/13 with heavy breathing. He immediately told me that he thought that my blog post about the Boston Bombing was ‘dumb, stupid, a waste of time’, etc. I thanked him for his time and reminded him that it was only a hypothesis.

After he dropped the phone, I decided to send him an email thanking him again for his time and this email chain ensued. I have only deleted his name and field of specialization for anonymity but the rest of the email exchange is left intact so readers can advise me whether I handled this exchange very well. To read the original hypothesis, please go to: http://massliteracy.blogspot.com/2013/04/racist-motive-of-boston-bombers.html

“Dear colleague,

Thanks for taking time off your busy schedule to discuss my blog post in my office today (4/29/13).

Although you strongly disagree with the original hypothesis which you called crazy, insane, dumb and stupid, I appreciate that you found the time to share your feelings about it.

It is only a hypothesis and if the null hypothesis is supported by the evidence or the original is confirmed, there will be no hard feelings on my part because they are just hypotheses.

Your strong emotional response, however, tells me that I am on to something with the hypothesis that there is a relationship between racism and terrorism and so I may investigate it more broadly. Please check the updated blog post for a NYT linked article that appears to support my original hunch.

As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts and especially for telling me that you consider me a serious scholar.”

Senior Colleague responds instantly:

“I agree that there is a big connection between terrorism and racism, but just not the specific link that you posit. The interpretation that you make is implausible on its face, and it is not falsifiable. Pursuing such an argument is, I believe, correctly described, in the vernacular, as I did. However my description of your argument as crazy, insate, dumb, etc., was not a scientific statement. It did however, use epithets that improperly stereotype the mentally ill, and that was unfortunate.

I read the NY Times article, and it does not contain evidence that your position is correct. Neither does the SALON article that you cite.

I have no hard feelings. When someone who I consider a serious scholar makes a bad argument, I cannot help but respond. I have done that my whole career. In addition, I always respond approvingly to good, solid arguments and to real achievements. In this case, I think this hunch is a real waste of time. Responding in person is not, however. Responding publicly would be gratuitously negative, would take too much time, and would lend legitimacy to the argument."


My response to colleague

“Okay …, but you appear to be falsifying what you just called the 'unfalsifiable' hypothesis. It is more of a question at this stage and not a full argument. The investigation may serve to confirm the null hypothesis in the end. But if the link exists generally as you say, it is not a waste if time to investigate if there is such a link in this specific case. The policy implications are huge enough to encourage us to explore the hunch further. You are of course welcome to disagree.”

Colleague’s response:


“I disagree and do not have much more to say about it. If it falsifiable, say how. Otherwise it is not worth our attention. Affirming the racism terrorism link does not legitimate your argument about the bombing. It is just an off the wall argument unless you can provide more than wild speculation. “


My response:

“Thanks …, I will agree to disagree with you without being disagreeable. I have never seen such an emotional response to a hypothesis as you display. You say that your choice of language is 'unscientific' and stereotypical of insanity but I have no idea why. It is just a hypothesis, calm down and let us hope that the evidence will support the null hypothesis: There is no relationship between x and y. I have no dog in that fight, as Vick would say.”



“I am passionate about the seriousness of what we do. And I can't stand nonsence posing as scholarly or reasoned discourse. And I especially do not think that anybody gets a pass just because they have a degree, position, etc. If it is my nextdoor neighbor, I couldn't care less. When I get old, I will not care anymore about this stuff. But as for now, I will be as reactive about the next piece of unreason as about this one.

p.s. the words "crazy" and "insane" used as I did are epithets and have no place in a serious discussion, and that is why I described my use of them as unfortunate. However, they were accurate in the context of everyday speech, which I should have stayed away from. “


My response:

“Thanks … for your courtesy. Nonsense to you does not mean nonsense to me, fortunately for us all. It is only a hypothesis that you are fuming about, get a grip. Just write a serious rejoinder without your 'unfortunate' choice of words and let us explore the variables further. Supported or rejected by empirical evidence, hypotheses do not deserve so much emotion from a serious … scholar like you.”



“You are allowed to diagnose me, but I can tell you that I am really ok, and you should not worry.

Nonsense is nonsense. I do not like it, and I say so. End of story. Your argument is not worth any more of my time, and it would legitimate a nonsensical argument for me to write a rejoinder. There is no benefit in me thinking about it anymore. I have reacted to you privately, and that is all I plan to do. “



“Thanks again …. No diagnosis on my part. I guess that I am the one who is a little crazy and 'if you walk a mile in my shoes, you will be crazy too with nothing to lose' (Tupac's nonsense). Your nonsense is not mine. End of discussion. See how much valuable time we have spent talking about nonsense? It must make sense enough for such investment of valuable time. Have a good day. I am off to write more stuff that will probably make no sense to you. No apologies. I can't say that I understand everything you write but I respect your right to write them and I do not think that they are insane.”

The next day, I received in my mail box from an anonymous person, a copy of Belinda’s ‘Gaia’ and wondered if it was some kind of apology, but it might just be a coincidence. The English translation that accompanied the Spanish verse says in part:

‘There is no progress in my pride,

I stained the air and my conscience,

I thought I was greater than God with

My intelligence,

So many false vanities,

I forgot what was important

And I was never the owner of your

Rightful inheritance’

Dr. Agozino is a Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, Virginia Tech and the Chair of the Social Policy Committee, Association of Black Sociologists. agozino@vt.edu https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif

Friday, August 9, 2013

Chika Ezeanya Review of Today Na Today


'In all, Today na Today without being a hurting read, is a powerful evocation of how much it hurts to be Nigerian. Reading through the collection would have been sheer delight, if only the mind can be shut to the pictures that vividly emerge through the lines. The playful seriousness of the lines provoke an anticipatory mood; ending one poem with a shake of the head, a smile or laughter, the next poem is jumped into, without a break....'

Please follow the above link to read more