Daily Trust (Abuja)

20 January 2013

Nigeria: On Nigeria's Socio-Political Decadence

"Familiar things happen, and mankind does not bother about them. It requires an unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious" Alfred North Whitehead, (English mathematician and philosopher), Science and the Modern World (1925).

The above assertion better captures the artistry and philosophy of Nwachukwu Egbunike in his collection of essays; Dyed Thoughts: A Conversation In and From My Country. Nwachukwu, through his thought-ridden book, provides discernment regarding past and recent economic, political, academic, and social issues in Nigeria.

Dyed Thoughts is also embedded with critical reviews of policies and propositions about ways to improve the sad lot of our beloved country, Nigeria. To put it succinctly, the title Dyed Thoughts: A Conversation in and from My Country mirrors the rather journalistic mould of the book. The personified phrase Dyed Thoughts refers to the author's psyche that had been coloured by his diverse experiences. Its accompanying subtitle, a conversation in and from my country, alludes to the aforesaid tell-tale fact. The title illuminates the weighty diverse opinion articles that constitute the whole book. It also foregrounds the fact that intellectuals who live everyday in the country, who feel the pulse of the country are in a better position to discuss issues pertinent to her, than those who prescribe medicine to a disease, from exile.

The book is divided into subjects to which each of the subjects are assigned sub-topics which expounds it. Dyed Thoughts: A Conversation in and from My Country recounts the numerous affairs that had plagued the country Nigeria for the past eight years of democratic rule. The rather unusual author (a medical laboratory scientist turned journalist) proves with this provocative book that being an 'anti-literati' does not deaden one to the enlightening and humanistic gift of writing. The book is also filled with line drawings that graphically deconstruct the issues embedded in the ensuing articles before them.

The first of the nine-chapter-book, Random Mulling, as the name suggests, is the author's arbitrary reflections about the travails and victory of Nigeria throughout the eight year democratic rule, between 2004 and 2012. The chapter mostly discloses the political decadence of the country. The first sub topic is titled "Weep Mama Anambra" and it recounts the power struggle that ensued between former governor Chris Ngige and his erstwhile benefactors.

Random Mulling contains fifty-one sub essays, such as "Why are We No Longer surprised", "The More Things Change Nothing Changes", "the Rebranding Rumble"; "Ten Years of Civilian Interregnum", "Mr Rule of Law", amongst others. All voices point to the omnious signs of the misnomer known as Nigerian democracy.

Nwachukwu also chews on the present national issues such as the withholding power tendency of the PHCN, the norm termed Valentine's Day, the heart threatening state of the nation and the electioneering rigmarole of the country. Also , issues such as malaria, the degradation that characterize the rural areas of the country, the powers and use of the giant known as Facebook, also featured in the book.

The second phase of the nine-chaptered book is subtitled 'Factual'. It provides factual sketches of the idiosyncrasies that abound on roads, workplaces and all around us. It is made up of six essays, "Leeches on Our Roads"; one of the essays addresses the presence of touts and the depraved nature of bribery on the Nigerian roads. In "Are We All Going Crazy" Nwachukwu Egbunike states that "we may all have gone crazy if we no longer see anything out of place or choose to remain complacent in the face of stupidities". This singular statement characterises the similar reflections of the sleaze in governance and loss of humaneness that serve as motif for other sub titles.

In the Public Square is the third chapter of Dyed Thoughts: A Conversation in and from my Country and consists of 12 essays of diverse socio-political and economic views. The colourful topics ex-rays the educational landscape of the country in "PhDs for Sale". It idolises the efforts of the new class of elite in "Sanusi Lamido Sanusi". Nwachukwu does not also shy away from social issues that are strange inputs on our cultures; the chapter is blunt on issues of pornography, AIDS and same sex marriage. Through chapters such as "I pledge to Nigeria" and "Why African Economics are Tethering"; Nwachukwu also discusses patriotism and economy.

A new dimension is introduced into section four where Egbunike reviews other prominent writers' works. The section he dubbed The Humanities Humanise which is made up of 13 sub-chapters starts from celebrating Chinua Achebe's artistry in "50 Years of Things Fall Apart and a Pathetic Silence at Home" celebrates Nigerian writers and reveals how they are being lowly acknowledged by government amidst their contributions to good governance in the country. The author using his predisposition to review the works of different writers as he places their work in socio-political contexts. One of such books reviewed is Attahiru Jega's 'Democracy, Good Governance and Development in Nigeria', Mark Nwagwu's novel titled 'Forever Chimes', to the conservatively feminist book, Muslims and Christian Women in Dialogue' the Case of Northern Nigeria by Kathleen McGarvey. Nwachukwu Egbunike celebrates the artist as a voice in troubling times, loud enough to bring the oppressor's silence to fear. 'The sacred artist, Suzanne Wenger', is also celebrated in Iya Adunni in "Gliding through Oshogbo Sacred Groove", as Nwachukwu presents both the socio-political, environmental and spiritual roles that the artist should mould his talent and passion.

Moreover, in section five of the book, 'Spoofing Scripts' which is also made up of five essays; "Letter of Gratitude to Senator Mantu". One essay of interest is "Pharaoh, It's Time to Go!" where the author presents the biblical allusion of ruthless pharoah as an equal mould of Nigeria's democratic-dictators. The authors use the brilliance of satire to mock Nigerian leaders. Here, Nwachukwu is immodest, as he calls for change of leadership attitude, before Nigeria becomes plunged into further developmental stagnancy.

The collection of articles and reviews that make up Nwachukwu Egbunike's Dyed Thoughts; a Conversation in and from My Country is apparently written for the ordinary citizens as well as the political leaders of Nigeria. Therefore the authors' style of writing is suitably informal or rather conversational. Some essays take the shape of exposition while others take the literary shade of a narration. The language, since it is meant for everyone, is decidedly simple. He also embellishes his writings with pidgin, an indication that the writer is willing to familiarize himself with both the illiterate and the semi-literate.

A pot-pouri of interviews and reportage about the fall of ethics and brilliance of the nation's educational, cultural and creative systems comprise of the sixth section. The seventh section, Accolades and Farewells, on the other hand, bemoans the loss of the author's mentors and friends. The elegiac chapter takes the reader on a journey of memories and exposes the ill-treatment of the dead, given the non-challant administration of graveyards in the country.

Nwachukwu leaves no stone unturned in his book, Dyed Thoughts, a Conversation in and from My Country, where he asserts the role of education and mass media in the eighth section. In Q and A, he discusses with a teacher about the teacher's triumphs and concerns. Nwachukwu also analyses the omnipresent eye of Sahara Reporters and the global awareness that Facebook introduces to both social and political decimals in the country.

The concluding chapter, Credo, focuses on the two major religions of Nigeria; Christianity and Islam. In this chapter, the author exposes his catholic thick skin in "A Case of Ingratitude", nevertheless he preaches peace and harmony in "Ramadan Greetings". He presents to the reader, an unbiased appreciation of religions.

Here is a work of art of such monumental proportion that artistically illustrates the health status of Nigeria by revisiting the issues in the country. Nwachukwu prods the average Nigerian to remember our democratic journey and to measure the progress or retrogress of eight years (between 2004-2012) of democratic rule. Although some of the stories may have lost their news worthiness to death by the press, Nwachukwu Egbunike revives their freshness in the readers' hearts by recounting them, through his own gift of expression.

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