Posts Tagged 'wisdom'

Dis Na Naija!

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

 

Every age deserves a show. For some the show could come packaged as comedy, full of boom, bloom and blossom. For others, it could come served as tragedy overflowing with gloom and doom. Since we are special in Naija, we often get treated to shows in quick successions – and each one, a blend of comedy and tragedy, leaving the watcher bemused but confused.  We have had some very good shows lately, all blending the comic and the tragic, and all portending the coming of more shows.

 

SLS’s letter and its confutation by the NNPC is a tragi-comedy. How can the governor of the CBN be ignorant of these details if the NNPC’s explanation is indeed true? If the explanation is true, we have a tragedy that arises because arms of government are not talking to one another and a comedy because they choose to come to the public gallery to display such a dysfunction. I simply hope that the NNPC explanation is wrong, since I hold SLS in very high esteem. When technocrats opt to play politics, they should be kind enough to serve the public notice in bold strokes that says “Buyer, beware”.

 

Tambuwal’s recent corruption song is as comic as it is tragic.. It is comic because he was playing to the gallery and knew he was doing precisely that. It is tragic because he too is a product of that same corruption he talks about and that the House he serves as speaker is not corruption free. What has he done to address that corruption in the House? What has he done to sweep his own stables? The sad truth of life is that the beam in the other fellow’s eye is always larger than the one protrudes from our own eyes. The bathos of Dambuwal’s situation is that he comes away from the speech feeling he has barbed the presidency and forgets to notice how much he has bloodied himself in the effort. The tragedy in pyrrhic victories replays ever so often with presumed victors often overlooking how much they may have sullied themselves in their vain efforts to score cheap victories.

 

OBJ’s letter is the tragi-comedy of squandered good will and eroded credibility. I have always argued that credibility becomes a depleting asset once its use has been abused three times – the magic number 3! OBJ could be saying correct things about GEJ but nobody takes him seriously any more. I am even distancing myself from “the kettle call pot black” type of reaction that dominated the media since his missive-missile became public. I prefer to focus on the content of some of his accusations and his seeming inability to understand that assertion is not the same thing as proof. Old folks do not waste soup – agadi adighi agwo ofe – the Igbos say.  Thus when respected old men succumb to the temptation of treating with flippancy and levity that which is serious, when respected elder statesmen start making wild accusations without bothering to substantiate them, then you start to wonder what these same old men expect of our 20 million youths. Snipers under training and 1000 persons under surveillance and this said in the most cavalier of manners. In some other climes, Baba would have been invited to explain but this is Naija, a country where it is sometimes difficult to separate the venerable from the venal! How could Baba, in every seriousness, write thus? Has Baba’s mind been influenced by the propensities of one of his famous “oti mpkus” whose reckless excesses are such as even to make the extremes of lunacy look somber and sober?   Even Baba’s attack on GEJ’s second term ambitions are built essentially on claims he is unable to prove convincingly and conclusively, some even bordering on hearsay and thus bringing his entire intentions and emotional state when he wrote the piece into question.  Some of the content were in particular bad taste, his take on the interanl PDP palaver being a good example! Nigerians needed to be spared the long narration on the internal squabbles in the PDP, and it needs a sense of statesmanship and fine sense of judgment to guide OBJ not to tread that path. Not everything that one sees and knows should be inflicted on the public. Not everything an elder sees and knows is discussed in the market place, the Igbos say! Nzu rules supreme!  Statesmen do not come to the public to wash dirty linen and underwear! Knowing what and when to share is an art. It demands an awareness of the nature and needs of the target audience; It demands good judgment of what is relevant.  It demands sensitivity, tact and Nzu, qualities that statesmen are also assumed to possess in abundance. In failing to apply the right level of selectivity in the choice of what he divulged, OBJ may have betrayed a drop in his level of tact and statesmanship. It is this sad drop that explains why he could have inflicted such a narration on us and why he could also do so with the clumsiness one normally associates with a young elephant. In the democracies we aspire to, it is considered to be in extreme bad faith and taste for an ex-president or ex-prime minister to make such disparaging and destructive remarks on the rule of a sitting president or prime minister. It is considered as bad manners and hardly ever happens. But not in our Naija –  Everything goes.

 

Abati’s response is tragic and comic at the same time. “I am not to reply but yet you reply” – haba, which kine one be dat?  And his reaction was as predictable as his line of attack. Trying to dismiss grave accusations of the type that Baba Iyabo made with emotive language is not always very convincing. When confronted with accusations against my person or against my principal, my attitude has always been to kill my emotions and do a blow by blow clinical response, accepting where I am wrong and using evidence to challenge and refute assertions that derive from either spite, ignorance, greed, ambition, misplaced ideology, immaturity, vacuous knowledge base or an over-inflated ego. I should commend this modus operandi to Reuben Abati, but Dr Abati is a guru and veteran of the media and I, alas, I am nothing but a lay reader.

 

The dress rehearsal for 2015 has commenced in earnest. Generals, who wrongly believe that this country is theirs to manipulate at will, are watching which way the political wind is blowing and are doing their best to adjust their tattered sails to benefit maximally from it. Self-interest is being packaged and sold as commitment to the nation.  The over-riding intention is power grab! Any and every method is allowed. Decency, truth and common sense will be early victims. Hot air will triumph and lunatics will have their field days – unrestrained, and their unrestraint will be our constraint. Loud mouthed Achilles will visit us with their empty and rumbustious swagger and little men will act out their smallness to its fullest. God save us!

Signs of confused activism

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

Activism is now one of the fastest growing buzz and fancy words. It has style and appeal. It has class. Quite a number of persons on social media would immediately lay claims to be engaging in this highly rated practice either as a hobby or as a full time professional pursuit. But like all buzz words, the word activism “contains” a lot of fuzz. The fuzz arises because “activism” is gradually becoming a label that has been hijacked and is now being used to describe the activities of a variety of persons from genuine crusaders for social justice through to paid political party agents to social media demagogues. Confusion clearly abounds and an important step in wading through this confusion is to try to come up with a simple scheme that would enable a citizen to distinguish between genuine activism and fake activism. I call fake activism confused activism just to recognise that not all manifestations of it are intentional since some clearly result from situations where unbridled zeal and exuberance have outrun sense, self-restraint, competence and capacity.    Here are some signs of confused activism I have gleaned from social media.

  1. The display of selective moral outrage
  2. The abandonment of reason
  3. The embrace of illogicality and the descent to inconsistency
  4. The rejoicing over any government misfortune
  5. Refusing to see the very obvious
  6. Denying or rejecting clear evidences of government successes
  7. Trivialising landmark events and changes brought about by government policies
  8. Magnifying government mistakes out of proportion
  9. Maintaining total silence on opposition gaffes
  10. Defending glaring flaws in persons in the opposition
  11. Enforcing total silence on the crimes of members of the opposition
  12. Demonizing the government but beatifying anyone opposed to it.
  13. Blanking out the unsavoury pasts of newly turned “progressives”
  14. Revising and photo-shopping the past to fit the present
  15. Purveying inaccuracies and merchandising distortions
  16. Becoming salespersons and champions of exaggerations
  17. Looking before leaping; tweeting before thinking
  18. Commenting on things without any full understanding of them
  19. Consistently condemning government and commending the opposition
  20. Charging into battle like a Don Quixote & engaging in non-evidence/non-fact based utterances

The incidence of confused activism can be reduced if we all begin today to turn our backs to behaviours such as I have listed above and start to embrace a culture of more balanced, evidence based and socially constructive engagements which are the hallmarks of genuine activism.

Noel

Hush the voice

nothing can
ever hush a voice,
not force
nor noise

nothing can
neither philistine jaws
nor grubby grouchy claws
not even green clammy creepy envy
nor raucous hollering of the loud mouthed

can choke
the delicate dimpled
dance steps of a voice
strumming, sometimes
fluttering, then prancing, now leaping
soft, delicate, yet piercing

rich in energy
strolling with poise
overflowing with force
brimming with sense

like joyful water jets
from a dam
fresh, full, gushing,
flowing, freeing and renewing,

inventing and reinventing
For Obinna and Susan, two talented voices!

Wrestling with one’s chi – a duet

By Noel Ihebuzor and Susan Daniels

my chi is a muse, impish
invisible fellow lurking
behind my ears and my tongue
whispering when I am not ready
sauntering away when I am

mine whispers words in woven gold flights
spiraling from blood to my ears
as my eyes open; dream-writing, I call it
and the words melt in daylight like mist
before I have reached for my pen

quicksilver, erratic
unpredictable, nagging like a stubborn dream
on those days when fresh minty words stream
down my running fingers
and then only to turn off the faucet
when incipient joy in showering in the deluge
of singing is huge

they gift us in fragments, suggestions.
if they gave us the keyed music
of the harp strung underneath particles
always vibrating, could our ears
hold the whole song?

then those days when in mischief
it fills me with words in riot
words that rage at thought
thoughts that resist rhythm
lines that refuse order, grating
words, thoughts in drunken stagger
limping clubfoot, clumsy clod

those words that sound like beginning poetry
that go nowhere, or spiral into nonsense:
pretending I am a tree/transmission shock
jamming the frequency/my head
is a crowded place to peek into.  hum the words
my personal goddess, and I will follow
blindly, my pen scribbling your joke
and this poet the butt of it

the seasons come and go
leaves sprout, bloom and drop
but my chi remains unchanging
driving, firing, inspiring and
sometimes tiring and
despairing me

ridden and driven by laughing children
impossible to catch, and should we try?
no, better to sound the songs
of invisible fingers strumming heartstrings
like mandolins that sometimes fall flat
for their amusement

my chi and I are Siamese twins
linked at the junction of mind, soul and heart
chasing our wants amidst chi’s obdurate wonts

yes, linked and bound, but not by a short thread
she tugs me awake, jumping rope
with the cord that feeds us both, but I cannot
wake her, cannot call her to me–no, I am her dog
leashed by that link,
sometimes running at the snap of a finger
begging for strokes and scraps

chi, your hands will not choke my throat when I proclaim
your wandering and meandering ways
twins are equals, social and spiritual
I resist bullies, and I call you that not
but can the palm no matter how large blot out the rays of the moon
my truths about you stand erect, an iroko for all to see
and despite your sobering entreaties,
these truths I cannot not hide nor suppress

I have no proverbs to suggest urgency
better than these; but yes, let us call out
trickery for what it is, and play each other
without binding, in a dance
instead of a chase, so we both smile in victory;
not a rout but a tie, in a game well-played by both

but though I rage, I fear that in the end
you and I shall meet at the junction of road
where compromise and conciliation habit
productive, just like I wish for us
for you need me and I need you
and the world would be poorer if our voices died
or we choked each other in moments
of well deserved rage and resentment

***This was great FUN!  Our two chis (Susan’s and mine) were at their best today in terms inspiring and sustaining inspiration. That is the only way to explain the fact that this duet took less than 90 minutes from conception to finish. Persons familiar with Igbo cosmology (I am igbo) will recall that one’s chi represents a personal god who is seen as playing a determining role in that individual’s life chances, creativity inclusive. One’s chi can thus then gift an individual with beautiful poetry/songs.  Presented in this way, one can read the chi as a muse!  Sometimes, the chi can also be stubborn and block creativity – here we find an igbo explanation for the western concept of a writer’s block!! As in all our duets, Susan is italicized, I am bolded.***

Monkey come chop banana

Over here, monkeys
like ripe bananas not 
nuts nor hate nutters

first swipe was women
second, children of ex-slaves
third? soon all others?

mouths voice views concealed
by smiles hiding mindsets that
belong to museums

Haiku Heights Prompt: Vital

By Noel Ihebuzor

Haiku on Vital

 

From “life” in one tongue

though often lost sight of when

we clutch wild at winds

 

blinkered by trifles,

we chase blank shadows and let

essentials slip by

 

The true essentials

touch deep, eternal truths shine

bright, stars on dark night

 

Vital, life giving

energy laden, bubbling

healthy and vibrant

 

clear eyes and clean hearts

find you in the complex and

hug your cool calm warmth

New Haiku on Wisdom

By Noel Ihebuzor

Wisdom,  better than

gold and silver, yet harder

to learn and apply

 

deep, broad, growing with

use, blossoming spread frees

minds from green bias


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