New Chefs

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

 

The big pot on the fire

slowly cooks a rot of a plot,

rotters, revellers and rioters,

sing and rejoice, copiously salivating

the glimmering prize in sight, tantalizing

We must not talk or sulk or balk

 

 

The dropping romps of the cooks and crooks

too obvious to even non-looking eyes,

the fevered stirring of this sticky broth

a mish-mash pot-pourri cobbled by a medley

of assorted chefs of drooping and dangling mores,

tired and tiring broth

to be served for our famished jaws

We must not talk or sulk or balk

 

 

Doom beckons coyly in this season of declining bloom

nimble fingers play with our minds chords,

clever tongues sing swans to dull us

the ever hungry lion

spins his wealth on our common loom

glows and swims in an ocean of wealth

whilst all around us

lame lambs drown in pool of poverty

in a season of plenty

We must not talk or sulk or balk

 

 

And all this dance of drunken lizards and

dead beat rats racing almost dazed,

looking for who to bait and bite.

We must not talk or sulk or balk

We must like Isaiah go the slaughter

with laughter, “shuffering & Shmiling”

but with no salvation in sight

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Lamentations

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

We are the broken ones

ones about to be broken

about to break again

soft wood stuck

between hammer and anvil

Debris like cloud dust

from fleeing time now

float in our semi-circular

canals, our tympanic membranes

tampered, in shreds and tatters

Swirling dusts of rage,

coloured by clan and clime

by breed and creed

cloud our vision

we see hazy in the enveloping mist

where truth lies supine

and lies triumph

Wise counsel struggles for hearing

but is ignored, the midwife of truth

has been sacked, a vicious grip

holds the throat of the sooth saying parrot

and trampled truth struggles still to rise

Let Him and Her that hath even one ear

listen and hear

let even the blind

see and read these prophecies

scripted hazily on these patchy papyrus

with ink drawn from the veins of the dying

Let Her, let Him

even the clumsy with a broken tongue,

a struggling stammer

sign sing these messages

to a deaf world

For in hearing,

and heeding

in reading, decoding and recoding

in listening and speaking

lies escape, recovery and renewal

and new beginnings

May the bond

of the heart bound in hatred

be broken, shattered

scattered in the dust

let scattered hopes regroup

to oppose doom and destitution

and broken hearts begin to mend,

rebuild, re-bond and rebound,

binding all bile and bitterness

casting them to funeral pyres

of unending infernos

***Feeeling blue on a Friday and worrying about my country!

The Best Rejoinder to FFK

Hahaha! Chei, chai, choi!

sirwebs

Image

“….the domination of Nigeria and Africa by the Igbo is only a matter of time.’’ – Charles D. Onyeama

 

In Chief Femi-Fani Kayode’s (otherwise more popularly known as FFK) asinine and bigoted rant at the Igbos he narrated so many things. As an Igbo, I want to place my rejoinder.

FFK seems to be know a lot of history but he doesn’t know this story, told severally across the River Niger about the confrontation between mammy water and Nnamdi Azikiwe. For the uninformed, Zik of Africa (FFK should note the Africa) and mammy water took out a bet on who will last longest when stuffed in a bottle. Zik took the first turn and went into the bottle. After a little while he signaled to the mermaid that he couldn’t hold his breath again and she opened the bottle. Smiling in anticipation of her impending victory she got ready to…

View original post 469 more words

Achilles unchained

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

 

Achilles rode headlong into

headlong battle,

riding in a cranky chariot of straw and smoke

vision dim and dimming,

still he charged into the fray,

in loosening losing circles

against imagined enemies

 

And in the ever widening void of his mind

he battled them all,

he disgraced them all,

he speared them all

with his blunt sword

soaked in the iron oxide

that dripped from him,

he spared none

He staked all,

the impostors, the stateless,  stake-less stakeholders,

pretenders, false claimants, heritage grabbers,

ingrates and gate crashers,

the uncultured, the crude,

their women, his “claimed wenches”

 

Their battered remains,

he drags in rags round his city walls

a conjecture and structure,

spawns of a fertile but fetid imagination,

where truth is tried, tied down, tortured

and twisted tall tales are told and sold

 

The blue sheen of the filling up moon,

Blending with a seething red and

a sickening dull green,

swirling and swelling within him

fill his mind, dulling and lulling his thoughts

 

The battle words he froths now,

the battle incantations he speaks

are all whisperings from what he hears

the moon speak to his dangling mind

the enemies he sees outside are from within him

sad but gleeful denizens of the forest and bush

he carries in his darkening soul, demons –

a thousand and one of them

who prey on, void in and void his mind

and put his own heel in his mouth

Faux Storms: Niyi Osundare on Achebe, Soyinka, Biafra and fathers

when “Father of” is not a figure of speech, clumsy elephants on the high street!

Pa Ikhide

Please read today’s Kabir Alabi Garba’s interview of Professor Niyi Osundare in the Guardian, (Who Begat Literature, August 9, 2013). Ugh! Just when you think that certain issues have been laid to rest, someone comes along and asks the same questions over and over again. So, Garba asks Osundare about the dust-up regarding Achebe as the Founder of African literature, Achebe’s legacy, and of course, Achebe’s controversial best-seller, There Was A Country, the last book he wrote before he passed away ( Read my thoughts on the book here).

I respect and admire Professor Osundare immensely but the interview does him a great injustice. Our newspapers have invested in mediocrity. There is a reason why the reading culture is dying in Nigeria, these newspapers are not much better than akara wrappers. This interview should have been heavily edited, grammatical challenges make this long rambling interview remarkable…

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Femi Fani Kayode and the bitter truth about a bitter man

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

Mr Femi Fani Kayode’s sequel “The bitter truth about the Igbo” did not disappoint in the least. We must remind ourselves that this article is part of Femi Fani-Kayode’s efforts to prove that Lagos is Yoruba and that any claims to it by any other indigenous group is spurious. Part of Femi’s method was to trivialise the contributions of any other group to the development of Lagos, preferring to ascribe this development largely to the genius of the Yoruba genus. In an earlier response, I had sought to show that Femi’s efforts in that direction were not successful. I showed that his claims and argument were neither grounded in history nor in economics, and that it was indeed so easy to puncture those claims.

The problem with Femi Fani kayode’s concluding article on this issue is that it runs out of ideas and abandons the issue under review after the fourth paragraph and only returns to it in the last four paragraphs of the article. The contents of paragraph 5 (paragraph 5 begins “That single comment, made in that explosive and historic speech…”) up to the end of paragraph 13 are hardly relevant to the issue under discussion. Let us remind us what the main issue is using Mr Femi Fani Kayode’s own words

Permit me to make my second and final contribution to the raging debate about Lagos, who owns it and the seemingly endless tensions that exist between the Igbo and the Yoruba. It is amazing how one or two of the numerous nationalities that make up Nigeria secretly wish that they were Yoruba and consistently lay claim to Lagos as being partly theirs.

How relevant then is the diversion to the political history of the NCNC, the Coup, the Ironsi regime, the pogrom, the civil war to this issue of who owns Lagos and who has contributed to its development write up. How does this advance the debate? How does this elucidate the key issues under discussion? I doubt very much that they do. What they certainly succeed in doing however is to rouse emotions, enflame tempers, to whip up sentiments. Even here, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode’s use of history is suspect, since his historiography is very selective. In the deployment of this elective historiography, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode comes across as an apologist for the killings of the Igbos in the north and as an ethnic driven revanchist historian out to even out scores with an imagined enemy. Revanchist and ethnicity-sodden historiography are poor and demeaning pursuits as the prisms of bitterness, revenge and ethnicity which come with them soon trap the historian, blur his vision, dull his criticality and destroy his objectivity and capacity for detached interpretation. The “history” we are thus presented in paragraphs 5 to13 are replete with instances of these. In succumbing to the appeals of this type of historiography, even if he was doing this as part of his on-going efforts at rehabilitation with a view to regaining entry to his “tribe’s” confidence, Mr Femi Fani Kayode does himself and his country a great disservice.  He does himself a disservice because he ends up with an article where more than 55% of its contents (55% again!) are of doubtful relevance to his declared purpose. And because he fails to identify what is relevant and what is not, he ends up saddling his article with major problems of cohesion and coherence. He does his country a disservice because he presents a history of a difficult part of her history that is deliberately flawed and skewed by his selective use of sources and by his uncritical interpretation of events and casting of persons – Ironsi is a coup plotter, Igbo indiscretion was responsible for the pogrom unleashed against them in the North, the Igbos provoked the civil war – all of which are examples of a flight from intellectual rigor, mono-causal analysis, faulty attribution and one dimensional thinking, and  all very painful, pernicious and debilitating ailments in persons they afflict. It bears repeating that good historiography is about balanced sources. To rely on sources that only support the case one is pushing pushes one away from doing history on to the slippery slopes of ethnic jingoism, “clan hagiography” and propagandising of the cheapest sort. This is what has happened in this article, and it is indeed a tragedy for Mr Femi Fani Kayode.  I believe that this tragedy has arisen less from a fundamental lack of intelligence on his part but more from his allowing himself and his mind to be shackled and blinkered by bitterness. Mr Femi Fani Kayode sets out hoping to write “the bitter truth” about one ethnic group and ends up clumsily splaying the reality and truth of his own bitterness in public for an amused world to behold and laugh at. As he navigates this current discomfort he has created for himself, he once again deserves our compassion and not our condemnation.

Noel

@naitwt

Femi Fani-Kayode as the servant of truth

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

I read Femi Fani-Kayode’s article and I am responding to the claims in the excerpts below. (I prefer to leave responses to other sections in his very revealing write up to persons with about the same skill sets and mindsets as he has).

The igbo had little to do with the extraordinary development of Lagos between 1880 right up until today. That is a fact. Other than Ajegunle, Computer Town, Alaba and buying up numerous market stalls in Isale Eko where is their input”?

“for Chinua Achebe records in his book, and we can roughly confirm that there were not more than a few thousand Igbos in Lagos before the civil war”.

The excerpts are amazing and reveal a lot. One thing they reveal for sure is how much economics and history Mr Femi Fani Kayode actually knows. For one thing, he appears to ignore the fact that contributions to economic development can take several forms – hard and soft. Some soft contributions, in the form ideas and the projection of certain work ethics can and do catalyze development even more than the building of infrastructure. Secondly he does not recognize the facts of multiplier effects. Thirdly the claim that there were not more than a few thousand Igbos in Lagos before the war would be more meaningful if the reader was informed of the population of Lagos and the distribution according to ethnic groups during the same period. Were the other ethnic units in their millions in a geographical space where the total population was in its thousands? (The total population of Lagos was 272, 200 in 1952 and 665,000 in 1963 according to the Federal Office of Statistics). Fourthly, concerning the ethnic supremacist claim that one ethnic group’s efforts were largely responsible for what Lagos is today, were the industries in Lagos established in the industrial estates in Apapa, Mushin and Ikeja the work of one ethnic group alone? What of the Federal Government infrastructure that helped facilitate growth and development in Lagos – The Port, the Airport and the Railway – were these the work of one ethnic group alone? Fifthly and coming to the present, there are quite a number of institutions with Headquarters in Lagos which are either fully owned by persons from the South East or which have strong South East ownership. These include quite a number of successful high street banks and financial institutions. One can easily list a number of insurance, oil marketing and several South East owned SMEs companies operating in Lagos and making invaluable contributions to the development of Lagos State. These institutions pay taxes, provide employment and their presence creates secondary employment and a number of other ripple effects with net positive development impacts on Lagos State. Mr Femi Fani Kayode either failed to take such contributions into consideration when making his dismissive and sweeping statement or he was simply not aware of them.

I could go on and on citing such non-indigent contributions to the development of their host states inspired by the need to present commentators on public issues with information which could help them to push back the frontiers of bias and inaccuracies. Inaccuracies (half-truths and untruths) and bias in articles arise from a number of sources – one of these is the tendency to want to rush to be the first to publish, a tendency which causes quite a number of persons to leap before they look and to talk before they think. Sometimes too, they result from the fact, that over time,  some people have become impervious to facts and truths and become resistant to the time tested methods of searching for them. There might not be any malice in such people. Such people deserve prayers and compassion, not condemnation.

Incidentally, Mr. Femi Fani Kayode is always at pains to inform his readers and listeners that he is a historian. He tells us so in this article as he also did in his comments on late Chinua’s Achebe’s TWAC.  I am sure he also aspires to be a good historian. Good historians are “slaves”, not just servants, of truth and facts. Good historians are never servants or slaves to emotions. True, there is a role for emotions in life, but in contributions to discussions on important and sensitive matters of national importance, emotions should always be reined in and disciplined by facts and truths. To do otherwise would be to court folly.

Noel

@naitwt

“Report Finds Gradual Fall in Female Genital Cutting in Africa” NYT 22/07/2013

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

Sometime ago, following advocacy visits to some parts of Nigeria and to Sierra Leone, I wrote this poem  to describe and condemn the practice of FGC.  I later discovered with great joy that the practice of FGC was being abandoned in a growing number of societies/communities and so I wrote this poem to celebrate that positive development. The hope was that such a positive development would spread to more societies and that such HTP would eventually die and become history.

Just last week, I came across this article in the New York Times.

Progress is being made in the eradication of FGC but the practice still continues, largely because of norms and social pressures.  The excerpt below from the NYT article explains why

“The most common reason women give for continuing genital cutting is to gain social acceptance. United Nations researchers for the first time cross-tabulated data on women’s views and learned that many mothers opposed to the practice reported having had their daughters cut”.

“This shows the gap between attitudes and behavior,” Mrs. Cappa said. “What you think as an individual is not enough to put an end to the practice because of social pressures and obligations.”

My view is that the world can end this practice when mothers, aunties, fathers, uncles and husbands and all of us join hands and forces to resist such social pressures. It is also important that we all come together to provide a network of security and support to all those who resist such pressures. Lend your voice today to stop this practice. Men and women, uncles, aunties, fathers, mothers, husbands and wives, yes, all of us stand to gain from an abandonment of FGC given the limitless health, emotional and relational externalities that would flow from such a humane and human rights based decision and choice,