Daily Trust (Abuja)

25 November 2012

Nigeria: If You Dare Call Me Black! (II)

opinion

With the way we are going, the future will see more discrimination against 'black' people from even more quarters. And those children of ours who are attending private schools and shopping at designer shops today, will get the most grief certainly! If their fathers had shown some concern for lifting up our poor vast majority, things could have panned out better. But they don't care. Our leaders show disdain to the poor, and so they, and the rest of us, will be disdained by the world. QED. Our president said in his media chat the other day 'I did not promise to reduce poverty, I promised to create wealth'. How else could he have confirmed that the so called leaders of this country have declared a class war on the poor!!?? So the present administration is all about creating a few billionaires while leaving the vast majority in the pit of despair!

Moving on. It used to be that a black man could hardly get a cab on the streets of Manhattan, New York, or that black cabs in London think twice before picking you up. Now we can include Dubai among such countries where we are treated as trash. But more is coming, since we treat each other like trash, we damage our own reputation ourselves through criminal conduct, and of course NO ONE is advocating positively on our behalf as a people or even educating us properly. I will try if I have the opportunity, but for now, I see none, except on this page where I express myself. And all I am trying to tell the world is, 'we didn't ask to be born where we were born, but we are ready to make the most of our circumstances and contribute positively to humanity'.

Now let's talk about 'BLACK', defined in the English Dictionary as dirty, dodgy, evil, sinister, crooked, guilty, damned, unlucky, unfortunate, as against being 'white', which means to be holy, nice, good, straight-dealing, innocent, lucky, and of course fortunate! Your guess is as good as mine whether every 'black' person you know, including yourself, should be described with the above adjectives, and whether every white man qualifies for all those accolades and best wishes. I believe the greatest injustice ever is that which splits the world into BLACK and WHITE, when we all know that the world is indeed a mixture of several shares of grey, cream, and brown. I actually prefer being called colored - now that is colourful - than being described with such negative connotations that even has bearings for one's future...

I see my work as one of a philosopher. Yes, Karl Marx did say, "Philosophers interpret the world, BUT the point is to change it..." But one of our biggest problems in Africa is that we did not even interpret our world ourselves until others came and did it for us. And till now, we are not attempting to. Say, how can we change what we don't even understand? Can we say we have not had a breathing space, away from the daily hustle for bread and butter, to actually articulate our future and tell ourselves the home truths that will save our children from destruction. Or perhaps we are spending way too much time chasing way too much money, and most of us are way too absorbed in ourselves that we cannot see the dangers ahead, for ourselves, for our children unborn. Because since Martin Luther King Jr and a few others like Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey etc, no one has bothered again. It is as if Africans stopped thinking.

Still on the issue of black vs white (which is a great fraud), how come someone as cream-coloured as Barack Obama is considered 'black'? Anyone who sees someone like Obama and says 'this man is black', must either have a serious problem with his vision or brain, or must return to kindergarten to learn his basic colours. But the world conspired against us and labeled us with such an awful tag and no one is complaining. Employment forms and other such are filled in Europe and the USA, where one is expected to tick such a box which 'boxes one in', literally into some sordid race or the other!

But our leaders are a big let down. Nations where leaders are visionary are already giving back dignity to their vast majority. In the UAE, where the first part of this article refered to, the poorest of the poor ride their public buses and use the bus stops. Because of the seasonal heat, all the bus stops are installed with air conditioning. The leaders there have not treated their people with disdain. Even menial labourers have provisions of hostels that they live - even if many in a room. By contrast in Nigeria, it takes a report to the Public Complaint Commission for the Minister of FCT to go borrowing from the World Bank in order to build pedestrian bridges even while speeding cars kill dozens each month while they try to cross the roads, and of course, the man admitted that some houses were supposed to be built for the poor people but even he does not know when (or whether), they will ever be completed.

'Black' people have done badly over time, and we are still doing badly. We destroy our own environment and majority of us do not understand decorum and disciplined living. Our religious leaders confuse us, many of them are insanely greedy - they buy private jets worth $50million in a country where most can hardly feed! Our people down in the poor suburbs still lynch human beings with glee and happiness. The other day it was four students in Port Harcourt Nigeria, a few days later, a video surfaced from East Africa, of the lynching of four old people, perhaps for witchcraft! The world is totally integrated today, and will not see such things as mere exceptions. There should be a zero-tolerance to such events, but do our governments care?

African leaders must return DIGNITY to the people. Yes the leaders may lack dignity themselves, but they travel abroad and see how leaders of other countries treat their own people. Nigeria comes to mind again. Our glistening FCT, with the most exotic houses the world over, is a massive toilet. You cannot drive five minutes without seeing people peeing and pooing on the streets! It's about a lack of DIGNITY. The Kenyans are slightly ahead, but they too needed the one of Bill Gates' NGOs to help finance public toilets/bathrooms in many parts of Nairobi. The NGO went ahead strictly because it was about human dignity. Alas, it takes the 'white' man to try and point us on the road to dignity!

If Africans were wise, what we should do now is to assist each other with whatever virtues or strengths we have. Those who know the value of enterprise and the independent spirit should quickly and actively assist those who are laid back, those who know the value of humility and structure should actively assist those who are riding their high horses going to nowhere. This is the time, and we must share all we have. africans must realise that life is not worth living if it is only for oneself. life is only worth living when lived for others. We must not hesitate to share the intangibles; knowledge, love, values, systems, for oftentimes, sharing such takes absolutely nothing from us, but adds a whole lot back. We must evolve a new specie of Africans! Just what are we afraid of as a people?

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