“Your works are aggressive always prompting readers to want to rebel, and do you think your readers will ever want to go that road? Why don’t you just entertain the minds of your writers, let them enjoy life and forget the sorrows wrong politics has imposed on them?”
The above was a conversation I overheard between two of my writers colleagues last year at the London Book Fair. I thought I was not going to do anything about it and allow those words drift into oblivion, but I could not, especially going by the wind of change blowing around in the Northern part of Africa, which I strongly believe should enjoy the same thought and distribution in the other part of Africa. And more so when I got this call in the middle of the night the other day from Ijeoma, a friend with the most generous heart there is on earth and when she asked or rather told me, ‘what is the meaning of all this madness? To tell you the truth, Whyte, there are times the uselessness is just too much and I do not see any reason why we should dance in that premises.’
If writers must dance, I asked myself, what kind of music should they dance to and what circumstance should determine their dance-steps and when should they enjoy that privilege of that long awaited dance? And the answer I arrived at is that the writer must never dance if the music is not right and the dance floor is littered with debris where he or she is prevented from exhibiting what he or she knows how to do best. The dance of musical right.
It does not really matter the location of that writer, he or she can only dance when the fulfilment of reflection has been achieved and the reader is prompted in the direction where he/she has to make that very decision that would set the way for his redemption; writers over the years have done this, set the road to national freedom and raise questions in the minds of the people.
Especially so in Africa. There were times when I have had to ask myself if Nigerians and other Africans national have any serious business being in foreign countries when they do not have to be there? A nagging question, really. And have we become so mentally silly, irresponsible and lazy that we have forgotten that the road to the summit has always been steeply and slippery and to get there we have to decide whether we have to create that particular friction that will enable us to get to that very desired summit. Because they must remain in foreign countries and become self-made slaves and nuisances to themselves and everything and everybody, they must decide to walk the path to that fulfilment and become citizens of their own slavish mentality!
I think the political, as well as the economic problems of Nigeria is a mirror of the other countries in the continent and the excuses a majority of these nationals put forward for their everlasting sojourn is as silly as the other’s why they can never go back to their places of birth and contribute to its betterness by battling down the political fences erected by political animals in human forms to see that the continent does not progress beyond the growth they have defined so that their irresponsible grip on power does not slip away.
And Joe is a Nigerian in the United Kingdom. Not just another Nigerian, but an educated one for that matter with his intellect functioning properly. Joe is an Engineer with two degrees, qualifications he got back home in his native country before coming over to the UK in search of that illusive greener pasture.
If the availability of that pasture is everywhere and Joe can never lay his hands on it why not return home? His reasons: there are insecurities at all fronts back home, no subsequent Nigerian governments have been able to put right the energy crisis the country is suffering from, no…Mad excuses and childish too. Joe will not want to understand that the insecurity in his native country is everywhere…Problems are everywhere and no one country is exempt from a share. ‘But probably not pronounced’, he is bound to argue, ‘but it is there’, I have to remind him, and if he is not satisfied with it, he alone should be responsible to do something about it.
As regards the energy crisis subsequent governments have refused to address, Joe’s face was not anywhere musing the other day I ran into him and when I asked him why there were wrinkles on his face at his tender age, he showed me the cause, a white paper with the inscription, ‘Bill’. He has just been billed £450 for three months and he was not happy about this knowing the kind of job he was doing as a graduate Engineer working as a cleaner in one of the beautiful part of London, and the fact that the tax-man was always there waiting to take the lion share off his difficult labour.
With my rubbished mathematical brain, I did a quick calculation. If £450 is converted to Naira, what Joe would have is something close to a hundred and thirty thousand- which of course is based on the destruction of the economy engineered by wrong leadership. The question I put forward to Joe was, would he pay that amount in Nigeria even if he had to spend that on fuel to generate electricity in his private home? Joe was as worried and confused as I continued to wonder if writers should ever dance when the music is not right.
The reason[s] why these Africans do not want to return home and build the continent’s fallen and broken walls are numerous and flimsy and did I stop my exploration? Was Rome built in one day I asked myself and do we not have a drop of our blood, one way or the other, to support the pillars that hold the development and established progress of the so-called developed world?
Why should we not use our present blood, go back home and ask questions and be very desperate to get answers and move ahead to build our fallen and broken walls? Either we are mentally lazy or we have gone grossly irresponsible to know that none but us have the credentials to build our countries and the continent to the joy and pride of the world or simply put, the writer is dancing while the minds are retrogressive and dull!
And I did not dance because I cannot dance…The music is not just right…