An Ancient Mothers Voice on the Nigerian Revolution

 

I hear eloquent orators in the town square, they send the sheep out for peaceful protest with the wolves. What on earth do they think will happen? Because a handful has mastered the white man’s way of government they insist that a 150 million people must follow them into an abyss to protect it. I see through their ruse and their positioning for leadership and power.

What hypocrisy is this? They claim to speak for the poor and yet they do not live like the poor. At least their hastily adopted icon Fela had the sincerity to live with and like the people he claimed to represent. What do they understand of the poor?  They are the few that live in large mansions by questionable means exploiting the many who toil and labor daily.

The poor don’t care for a revolution! We just want to live in peace make a living, raise our children, and build a house. We have no time for a government that has always been alien to us. These are not our leaders they are just ‘government’ a place you go to loot and steal. We know this. We’re not fooled by all this rhetoric, my children read Animal Farm and Things Fall Apart.

We know you are the pigs that took over from the white man and are no better than the white man, come to impose taxes and make laws that have no meaning to us. You are crooks and thieves and it’s only the crooks and thieves amongst us that have joined you and your high stakes games. We know this. You cannot deceive us. We are not deceived.

We have called for our children to come home and leave you to your madness; we won’t let our children die again at the hands of liars and unbelievers! Come home my children come home. I will call and cry till every last one of you comes home. Even that stubborn one that tells me Nigeria is one. Come home daughter you are deceived, they have you under a spell.

The people beyond the hills have said they will kill you and the government of the white man is not interested to protect you. Come home my children.  The white man’s government attacks its own people protesting against them for raising the price of bread. They cannot protect you from the knives and bombs of the people beyond the hills who kill in the name of their gods!

My daughter insists that she will not return! What will I do? What can I say to her? My daughter! Please come home now! See my old breasts, do not break an old woman’s heart.  She is a stubborn one. She calls herself progressive and scientific. She rejects the religion of her fore fathers for being too superstitious and deceptive.  She rejects our male gods for being too fierce and blood thirsty.

She demands what she calls ‘empirical proof’, ‘empathy’ and ‘tolerance’. My daughter these are big words, we are simple folk, and we kill a snake before checking to see if it’s poisonous.  We run from danger before asking what it is.  When the big masquerades come out to fight we watch them from a great distance.

When I say the white man’s government is alien to us, she says the world is changing. She preaches ‘one Nigeria’ but what is this thing called Nigeria? Who is she and who are her gods? My daughter says Nigeria is the daughter of a New World Order, an economic order of wealth, health and prosperity for all, a humanist order of equality, cooperation and interdependence.

The world has grown very big indeed she tells me, bigger than our little village. She tells me there is a whole Universe out there.  She says we need only grow and get strong to be like one with the other nations of the world.  She dares to tell me there can be no equality between a rich master and his poor slave in a community of peers.

What do I know of such things? I am an old village woman and a mother I care only for the lives of my children! I am not like the Lady of the Dark Forest whose children are warriors. She glories to send her sons into battle, each head lost returns 5 to her shrine appeasing her blood lust. Her daughters are eager to have sons and to raise many warriors, for in bloodshed they bestow much honor and glory, enough to make a warrior mother proud.

My children honor me with the fruit of the land, their harvest and their songs.  They told us that Independence meant an end of the white man’s government, a return to our ancient sovereignty but they lied. They turned our farms into stagnant fields running with blood over the black oil the white man covets so much. They display our gods like war spoils in their museums and earn a bounty of boons.

She stills resists me! She still defies me! Daughter! Come home!  Flee to the safety of the woods! She was always the fearless one. Boldly visiting the dark forests, swift rivers, deep lakes and raging oceans her brethren feared and breaking their awe over the people with her playful irreverence.  She played with the dieties as with her peers and playmates, shared their stories and had huge rows.

She spoke to me once of hearing the voices of the long dead ancestors, of asking questions and hearing answers.  She told my children her siblings not to be afraid, she brought light to the darkness of their voodoo hearts, and she brought them empathy, compassion, beauty and love.  She was symbolic proof of the possibilities beyond the boundaries of our world view.

When my children saw the size of the Universe they dispersed to its many corners to discover its secrets. In the city of the white man’s government the many gathered to make the world a better place. They set up new gods and new rules and said to the people worship or perish and the people worshipped and perished, this white man’s government where people go to steal and loot and then fight over their loot and plunder.

We are simple farming folk, what have we ever cared of wars, uprisings and battles?  We banished thieves and killed murderers, named and shamed the scandalous and immoral, punished evil doers and nipped wickedness in the bud. What do we know of the people that now rule a Nigeria that still includes us except that they will come again in 4 years time with more transient gifts and promises?

The names change but they all look alike to us, well fed, well groomed and well spoken. They laugh and make fun of our accent, our beliefs, and our way of life at their many gatherings  to celebrate another triumph of their evil plans of domination and plunder.  They lure our daughters to their beds with their loot, they corrupt our sons with bribes.  They are not one of us. We are not of them.

These strangers cannot protect my children. Come home children! Do not listen to the fearless one, the stubborn one! Come home before they slaughter you!  The white man’s government does not respect protestors against their way of life not even in the land of freedom across the sea where my children were slaves. They even shoot woman that protest, like they did they in Aba 1912 and like they did last year in Jos.  What more will they do to my young handsome sons!

You are in danger come home! They will slaughter you or leave you to be slaughtered by the fanatics and fundamentalists!  Husband, I turn to you, the spirit that guides us, the father of all.  What have you done? Forget this white man’s madness, leave the dead to bury the dead and the zombies to fight with each other.  Call home your children to rebuild our ancient kingdoms and find true Independence.

They do not care for you! To them we are nothing more than peasants and natives and now they call us The Poor.  Still in need of superior enlightenment and the exorcism of evangelism. They care nothing for the ‘poor’.  They don’t know the poor and they sure as hell don’t understand us.  All they will say when you die is how unfortunate. They won’t even remember your name.

Stubborn One will you come home yet?

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