"I hate to disappoint you guys, Nnorom, but if this hogwash is the best that this generation of Nigerian writers can offer in the face of a dire national crisis, then, that's a real pity. I am convinced that the Soyinka generation would have gone further. This verbiage, after nearly two months of national disgrace? This is what Achebe would dismiss as deodorized dogshit. No wonder everyone gets taken for granted. Pity, indeed." - Olu OguibeA few days ago, I received a call from Abdul Mahmud and a follow-up text and e-mail asking if I would be happy to append my signature to an Open Letter on the Nigerian situation he and Chuma Nwokolo had drafted. I read through the e-mail on my cellphone on the train journey to Sittingbourne. I agreed with most of what was written, but more, I agreed with the spirit and the purpose of the draft letter. I gave my assent to the letter. Perhaps, Abdul and Nwokolo should have asked for inputs into the letter to make it richer, stronger, and more uncompromising? Perhaps the Nigerian writers who put their names on the letter should have offered inputs? I am personally satisfied that as the first stone we have cast in the new challenge to bring change to Nigeria, this open letter starts us well.
In the past, as most of you know, I never bothered with or cared about these struggles. I tended to mind my own business and to be totally honest, at some point in my life, I wondered why people were throwing away their lives fighting a system that is intrinsically defective with pillars that could not be broken anytime soon, if even in our lifetime. But as I have got older and seen things differently, I have often in my quiet moments wondered if I had lent my voice to the struggle, might it have made a difference? This is why I felt a bit of shame when Gani Fawehinmi died. In a Facebook note on September 6, 2009 I wrote:
"OK, as you can imagine, plenty things by now don begin dey waka for my head. In life I never personally met or interacted with Gani. I was not one of the writers who were thorns in the flesh of the Nigerian government that Gani fought against. But I am one of those who carry a Nigerian passport that Gani Fawehinmi spent his life fighting for. I believe I would not be wrong to say today that if there are some basic liberties that have become tangible in Nigeria, Fawehinmi had a hand in wrestling it from the fangs of Nigeria's leaders. In a somewhat trespassing way, I feel pained that while I lived in Nigeria my life did not find expression in sufficient contrariness to position me in a path of war with various disgraceful elements Nigeria has had as leaders. Perhaps, if it had, my path and Fawehinmi's paths might have crossed.I am satisfied that the spirit of the open letter by Nigerian writers reflects some of the sentiments I expressed back in September. What I find very irritating is Olu Oguibe using extremely unacceptable language to insult the Nigerian writers who have put their names on a letter to begin a process of change in Nigeria. Nobody ever pretended that the Open Letter was a literary or political masterpiece. That Open Letter is a weapon of war, and as a weapon of war it has a right to be ugly if ugliness would achieve its purpose.
It is a strange feeling I have when I read all the tributes being poured out for Chief Fawehinmi. The strange feeling is that I somehow think that all of us who have never pointedly challenged the evils and tyrannies of our country's leaderships have not only betrayed ourselves, but have left people like Fawehinmi out in the storm without appropriate protection. I feel that those of us who do not at one point, even at the risk of making propaganda of our own existences, do something, think something aloud, or say something firm against the evils at the helm of our country's leadership, we do more damage to the country than those so-called leaders."
Oguibe sometimes behaves like a child. For all his well advertised intelligence, it does not occur to him that he would serve his nation more and earn the respect of his peers by respecting them. He could have added his voice of wisdom to salvage his peers from collective imbecility. It has never stopped to amaze me why Olu Oguibe always defaults to insulting people and using the foulest language on people. Just at the end of 2009 Oguibe asked forgiveness from everyone he has wronged. But the man just cannot help himself.
In the past, Olu Oguibe may have been a symbol of protest, but he has since fallen silent and holed up in America collecting weird kettles and lamps while Nigeria degenerates. Whoever told Olu Oguibe that protest is something you do for a while, then abandon it, piss off to a foreign land, and fall deaf and dumb, but when somebody does something about that which he is doing absolutely nothing, he springs out of his slumber to fire a burst of abuses?
At this time I would ask Oguibe to join us and bring his powerful undeodorised Horseshit to replace our lame deodorised dogshit and knock sense into Nigeria. If he is not willing to do this, he may well contrive to keep his mouth well padlocked.