SESS: Taking Back the Narrative
Nobody can tell our story better than we, the SESS can ourselves
By Azubike Ekwueme
Any objective observer would see very vividly, the currents and counter-currents of accusations and counter accusations, that has been blowing over a book by the famed Nigerian writer late Chinua Achebe. The title of the book is "There was a country" This book opened up a can of worms formerly hidden, as the victors controlled the message. The late Mazi Achebe is a global phenomenon and his writings, be it the "Things Fall Apart" (first book on indigenous life, by an indigene) or the present one -"There Was A Country" attracts a coterie of admirers and detractors. This book has pitched the Yoruba and Edo nations against the East, mainly the Igbo. Almost all the Yoruba and Edo commentators on the book, were opposed to the intent of the book, while almost all the people of the East, mainly the Igbo were in support.
But one Yoruba man stands out, 20 feet tall, heads and shoulders, above the rest. He is Wole Soyinka, our Nobel Laureate. He came out in full throated support, of Chinua Achebe's book, against his fellow Yoruba kinsmen, as he had done since during the civil war. His book "The Man Died" is a testament of his bravery and truth. Come to think of it, the very best Yoruba I have yet heard of, are all members of the famous Ransome Kuti family who have Christian antecedents. Their patriarch was a pastor, their mother was an effective teacher and advocate for civil rights. Then, you have late Fela Anikulapo, who mesmerized his audience with rambunctious jazz fused with African rhythm, or the late Beko Ransome Kuti, an excellent physician, and our Wole Soyinka, a poet, and dramatist.. These are men of honor, men of substance and men of truth.
I have a question? What use is a man of letters if we simply swoon at his feet, but his message does not percolate into our brains, to resound with us? What use is Wole Soyinka to the Yoruba? Is he simply a wall photograph, to be venerated, admired, but not taken seriously? Shouldn't his stand on issues tell us where we need to stand? Are his words not taken into account? Do his ideas have any resonance with the Yoruba? And while we are it, what is it with this Yoruba insistence on validating the odious Nigeria War Propaganda? For God's sake it is a war propaganda, ginned up to win the war. After the war, intellectuals should have sifted through the confusion, to lay the truth bare. Apparently, that did not happen. So, why are the Yoruba and Edo nations fascinated so completely that they bought the propaganda hook, line and sinker.
It is true that the victor in any war, writes the history. It is going on 42 years since after the war, the Yoruba/Edo/Hausa/Fulani have been telling our own story, because they were the victors in that war. They mandated that nobody from the East will ever challenge their lies, and innuendos. If any attempt was made to challenge these monsters, as Ralph Uwazurike did, he was quickly thrown into jail.
They have no qualms telling us who is the boss, do they? They are the boss. But no longer any more. Whoever controls the day-to-day narrative of events, the story line, the information, he literally controls the minds in the audience. The victors in that war still have a strangle hold on how we think, what we think, what we do and speak about. Going back to the end of the Biafran war, the narrative coming from the defeated Eastern Nigeria, had been controlled, managed and disseminated, by and large, by the Yoruba Press. The northern press do the same thing, albeit very differently. They ferment massacres. From the Daily Times, to the defunct Concord, to the Tribune, this powerful press, has the finances and personnel to paint the East in extreme negative light.
On the internet today, it is the Sahara Reporters that is taken deadly aims at our Ijaw president, our brother president from the East. The publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, is probably a Muslim turned atheist, coming from a people that is fast becoming a majority Muslim region. As a Muslim/atheist, he is brought up NOT notice, the big, deep cultural and religions divide in Nigeria. He pretends that this huge gulf of separation does not exist., We are culturally as well as religiously separate nations. He is attacking the Christian president to take back Nigeria for the Muslims. They are presenting GEA Jonathan in seriously negative, slanted, demeaning putdowns. They try to do it under the cover of attacking the PDP. But nobody is fooled. They are after an Ijaw who became the president. In their minds, that was supposed to happen. It is taking the oil blocks from them. And they are able to do this, because they East had had their hands tied behind their backs, emerging from losing a war of survival.
We are about to start fighting back. We'll begin telling our own story, as we believe it should be told.
Shoeless.., Singlet Boys..
When the bourgeoisie Yoruba are now making fun of the abject poverty in the East, especially in Ijaw land , it is obvious these people are not kidding any more. When the took the spoils of war, the eastern oil reserves. They are using words like "shoeless" and other debasing epithets to talk about a President from the East, an Ijaw man. It had always been the same, because nothing has changed since, the Easterners started migrating to the West in the 50s. Then, they had a similar epithets to describe the Igbo. They called us "singlet boys" practically alluding to the fact that they were poor and bush. It has gone from denigrating the Igbo, to denigrating the Ijaw and our President.
Many Easterners have internet websites that are NOT politically assertive. In fact, they are politically inactive. Like their political class back home in the East, they are afraid to have or share political opinions. They grumble underneath their breaths. They know something is wrong, but dare not say a word. They don't want trouble. But trouble is essentially what you get by keeping quiet. If you lack the nerves to say what you think, other people like Sahara Reporters will say it for you. You may grumble about what they said about you, but don't blame them.
When we become intellectually uncurious, we miss the essence of we are. We should be telling the world your own story, going toe-to-toe with their versions. If we do not have an opinion in a dangerous place like Nigeria, we are asking for it. When Christians are being decimated in Muslim Nigeria, and we remain quiet, we are asking for it. As Boko Haram is forcing Christians from the East from essentially worshipping in churches, or even being in the Sharia states, when they are being bombed out in their own churches, when they can't hold communal meeting to bury their dead, and we keep quiet, we asking for more trouble, not less. Just as Maitatsine morphed into Boko Haram of today, another jihadist al Qaeda-type squad will emerge, and bombings and knifings, decapitation will continue. Mass killings for no cause at all, is an Islamic thing. They relish it.
You may have heard nobody goes to a gun fight with a knife. That is so true. But what I am calling for is to re-orient our people to political action. The kind of political action I am advocating, is first, to take back the narrative, or at least challenge the narrative of others. Our actions, political and otherwise must be essentially NON-VIOLENT. This type of action is something that the Hausa/Fulani would never have an answer, to as the world watches. It worked in India, it worked in the USA. It is going to work in Nigeria Our political marches, our placards, must be accompanied by CNN, Fox News, BBC and the entire world press. We lift our actions straight from MLK's play book.
But cowering in the undergrowth, peeping through the bush like pygmies will not save us. We must step out into the sunshine and take our place in the sun. It bugles the mind that a nation with our vast natural resources - OIL, COAL with ebullient and educated people, would allow other resource-poor nations to be our boss. It is unthinkable. How do a region with the best natural resources God ever gave to a people, allow themselves to be politically stupid.? When are we going to learn that coming together is better than going it alone.
Let us hope that 2013 will usher in the revolutionary change in our political firmament. The persecuted, the neglected and marginalized, under-developed victims of Nigeria has to have own voice. We should not allow people outside the East to define us and tell our story. We must, and will rise up, like the phoenix, from the ashes of war, stay together and re-define ourselves away from Muslim Nigeria. That is the only path to survival. Sahara Reporters' Omoyele Sowore is in my crosshairs.
The first thing we ought to have as an agenda is to take back the narrative from Lagos-Ibadan Press. We must do this, or die trying. I don't know if you're aware that the Lagos-Ibandan Press (the Ngbati Press) has been controlling the narrative since after the war. They have the lawyers and the press men. They also have access to OIL money. So, the control our thinking. Yes, they have been telling our own story to the world. And what a sordid story they tell! The Lagos-Ibadan press have been selling the East short, put in simpler terms. They have defined us, and not allowing us to define ourselves.
Eastern centric media? Yes, you heard right. Just as the Yoruba (west) have their own media looking out for them, and Hausa/Fulani media (north) looking out for the Sharia north, the former Eastern Nigeria, needs its own eastern-centric media to look out for the wellbeing and interest of the Christian East. That will go a long way to rebuild the shattered, broken Eastern leg of the Nigerian Tripod. All internet sites, newspapers, radio and TV stations owned and controlled by Easterners, are invited to form the Eastern Media. They will tell our story, the way we perceive it to be. We're going to tell the world about the other side of the coin. We're due to begin to challenge and puncture the Nigeria war propaganda balloons. Never again should we allow anybody to tell our story, when we can tell it as well as any if not better. We must begin to counter the lies, obfuscations, the propaganda, as being told by Sahara Reporters and ACN.
The Yoruba and Edo nations have gone literally berserk since the presidency was won by the East. They have gone bananas. Yes, they have lost it, just as they are losing the East. They don't even have any pretentions whatsoever anymore, regarding their visceral, the belittling, the brutal hate of anything and anybody East - Igbo, Ijaw, Efik or Ibibio. Isn't it why the Muslim ACN, is seeking political alliance with Hausa/Fulani CPC - the home party of Sharia and Boko Haram? When this alliance is cemented, the monarchical Yoruba/Edo nations and Hausa/Fulani feudalist, will come back to finish the job they left on finished . Let us not give them the pleasure.
Sidebar with the President
Apparently, the "no victor, no vanquished" propaganda isn't enough. Everybody already knows that it is not worth the paper it was printed on. Yet, they're victorious Lagos-Ibadan press is itching to draw more blood. In fact, The Yoruba has the most OIL barons in the Nigerian list of OIL thieves. Apparently that isn't even enough for them either. They still want their pound of flesh. The way the that this press disparages and hates this Ijaw presidency, is approaching hate speech. If the Eastern Governors, Senators, House of Representatives, Oha N'eze Ndigbo, Church people do not get together soon, to have a sidebar with the President, talk about re-developing the East, invite GEA Jonathan to come along, it might be too late. Now, that airplanes and helicopters ferrying Christian politicians have been falling off the sky lately, who knows, it might become a Jonathan's airplane one day. If Boko Haram or some crazed Jihadist politicians decides to take down the President, Namadi Sambo, his VP, a Muslim will become the substantive president. If the East continues to sleep, we might wake up sometime, shackled in by Sharia Islam.
Are the Easterners listening?
Are the Ijaw listening and taking notes? Are the Efik and Ibibio listening and copiously taking notes? Are the Igbo listening? We must stick together to turn this ship around. Since the Yoruba Muslims have joined hands with Hausa/Fulani Muslims to create a Muslim party APC, the winners in the Biaran war will come back again, this time to finish what they started. If we give them another chance they would starve another 3 million Biafran children and kill off the Birom. Do not give the that chance again.
Azubike Ekwueme writes and publishes from Milwaukee Wisconsin