Blame It On Me

image

I just saw the recent disheartening video footage of Matthew Ajibade, the Nigerian student who died mysteriously in police custody in the United States earlier in the year, being shocked by police officers while handcuffed to a restraining chair and writhing in pain.

Ajibade, who was only 21 years old at the time of his death, was found dead in jail in the US on New Year’s day. He had been arrested the previous day after his girlfriend put a distress call to 911 for an ambulance following an episode of his bipolar disorder which made him strike her. The police showed up instead and arrested Ajibade despite the girlfriend making it clear he needed medical attention.

image

image

image

This has become a norm in the United States where young innocent harmless black men are more likely to be gunned down by the police than they would a white. Their only crime is being black. Black people are generally presumed to be dangerous, a threat and always guilty until proven innocent. According to promoters of the Black Lives Matter movement, a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement every twenty-eight hours.

In light of the recent extrajudicial killings of black people, I reaffirm my stance as an unapologetic Black man and throw my weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement. However, I hate the fact that black people blame everything wrong in their lives on racism.

Black music artistes are often quick to cite/blame racism for their failure to get nominations or win music awards. If American actor Leonardo DiCaprio was black, maybe he’d have taken the same route and blamed his failure to win an Oscar, despite mesmeric performances in a number of movies, on his race. Or the likes of Larry Bird, Jason Kidd, Steven Nash and Dirk Nowitski would have pinned Michael Jordan’s recognition as the greatest basketballer of all time on race.

image

I do not know if blaming everything on racism makes some of my black brothers and sisters feel better about themselves but it is about time we took some of the blame for some of the things happening to us. There’s a saying that “no one can make you inferior without your consent.” Magnifying our self-esteem issues by seeking sympathy from the world for being black will give others the power to use us as pawns.

I do not seek sympathy from anyone for being black. Being black is not a plague/curse. Back in Nigeria, being black is becoming a bad thing too. It requires painstaking effort to discern a Nigerian from the crowd these days. We have adopted foreign accents and sound more American and British than the Americans and British people themselves.

You are automatically proclaimed intelligent once you speak well with a foreign accent. Perhaps that’s why it has become a “taboo” for anyone, especially those going into media or entertainment industry, to have a Nigerian accent. Listen to the radio and TV stations now, and you ask yourself “why the struggle to sound white?”

The same Nigerian accent we deride was recently ranked 6th sexiest accent by CNN, higher than the the American accent and a spot below the Queens English accent. However, have you ever seen whites  “killing” themselves to have a Nigerian accent? The essence of language is to communicate but it is also an integral part of a people’s culture. It is one of the things that sets one apart.

Accents define us and grant others information about our lives – where we are from, our history and identity as a people/ race. Our accents depict the richness of our cultural heritage and diversity. You don’t need need a foreign accent to have a high self-esteem rather forcing a foreign accent enhances your inferiority complex.

You are a representative of the Black Community; stop making our kids feel being Black and having a Nigerian accent is a bad thing. So instead of blurting out “Don’t Blame it on me” like John Newman, take the blame today like George Ezra and be proud of who you are. Be made of black!

Advertisements

Do You Have A Problem With Corruption or Nah?

image

Nigeria, my Nigeria. First and foremost, let me start by wishing my dear nation Nigeria a happy belated 55th birthday. The labour of our heros’ past shall never be in vain.

Following the Independence day celebrations, news emanating from London suggest that former Petroleum minister Dizeani Allison-Madueke, along with four other people, has been arrested in the UK for money laundering after they were found in possession of a huge amount of money.

What surprised me was how the news brought joy to many Nigerians. All shouting, “crucify her, crucify her.” I found this surprising because when the Senate President, Bukola Saraki was summoned to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on grounds of false declaration of wealth, many believed it is/was a ploy by President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to make Saraki abdicate his responsibilities after he went against their wish to assume his position.

The opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have also thrown their weight behind Saraki to help him survive this alleged witchhunt. Ohaneze Ndi Igbo followed suit and marched in protest to the National Assembly this week, baricading the entrance & describing the trial as the trial of an Igbo man (whatever that means).

Both events have made me question whether Nigerians really have a problem with corruption. In fact without mincing words, it seems Nigerians don’t. We seem to have a problem with people involved in corrupt acts. We take sides; everything is personal. Maybe that’s why Ohaneze Ndi Igbo youths who claim to speak for all Igbo youths have taken sides with Saraki.

In the popular classic movie, The Godfather, there is a scene where Michael Corleone told his father’s (The Don) unofficial adopted son and consigliere, Tom Hagen that everything is personal. “Don’t let anybody kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it’s personal as hell.”

Politics in Nigeria is a dirty game, which is all about power and personal (not regional/tribal/religious) interests. When politicians are marked by an obvious personal interest, pro or against lustration, the public approach is deeply influenced by emotions and subsequently, rationality is thrown out of the window.

It is clear to every Nigerian that the level of corruption in the country is high but we only complain about corruption if/when it does not favor us. And attribute benefits of corruption (see link: https://arturozinga.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/corrupt-state-of-nigeria-we-all-have-benefitted-from-it/) to God’s favour, grace and blessings when corruption finally favours us.

Have you ever seen a student who copied his/her friend or sorted a lecturer (whether in cash or kind) to pass complain when s/he comes through with flying colours? Mba nu! Maka why? S/he will babble about his/her academic prowess and advertise the newly attained status on social media, all to the glory of God. S/he only complains when the result isn’t favourable and tries to point accusing fingers at others. Misery loves company after all.

Our partisanship towards corruption stems from the general belief in Nigeria that once one occupies a political position, be it the smallest, s/he has found El dorado. So, people tend to lend support to anti-graft war when charges of corruption are levelled against those in their black book.

People claim they are ready for change but question if Nigeria is ready for change. People only act this way when they can’t say that they are not ready to change the status quo. Even the idea of being ready is ridiculous.

The mission to cleanse Nigeria of corruption and subversives will take time; patience is essential. In words of President Muhammadu Buhari, order is more vital than speed.