The Old Man, Eight Monkeys, And The Nigerian Dilemma
Ojú kì í ti àgbà lóru........An elderly person does not become embarrassed under cover of darkness;
The narrative of several monkeys is told to showcase human behavior in a controlled observatory research. In the research, eight monkeys are put in a room. In the middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.
Each time a monkey tries to climb the ladder, all the monkeys are sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough, whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed, set upon him and beat him up. Soon, none of the eight monkeys ever attempts to climb the ladder.
One of the original monkeys is then removed, and a new monkey is put in the room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder, he wonders why none of the other monkeys are doing the obvious. But undaunted, he immediately begins to climb the ladder.
All the other monkeys fall upon him and beat him silly. He has no idea why.
However, he no longer attempts to climb the ladder.
A second original monkey is removed and replaced. The newcomer again attempts to climb the ladder, but all the other monkeys hammer the crap out of him.
This includes the previous new monkey, who, grateful that he’s not on the receiving end this time, participates in the beating because all the other monkeys are doing it. However, he has no idea why he’s attacking the new monkey.
One by one, all the original monkeys are replaced. Eight new monkeys are now in the room. None of them have ever been sprayed by ice water. None of them attempt to climb the ladder. All of them will enthusiastically beat up any new monkey who tries, without having any idea why.
So, it is Democracy day in Nigeria, two days before was Children Day, and some few weeks earlier it was Workers' Day, each of these days were marked with a speech, or an address. We are a nation of speeches and addresses, and it’s the center of my admonition this week.
I decided to x-ray our speech culture, in the last few decades, we have had the Shagari speeches with that his traditional cap, as he spoke, the economy was getting worse by the day, and the elite assuredly soldiered on, telling us all will be well till…
Buhari, can alongside Idiagbon, and they went to war, taking on anyone on sight, people were being jailed for more than the years that had to spend on earth. It was also speeches galore, and we soldiered on, till date that regime is perceived with mixed feelings.
Domkat Bali, Abacha, Dongoyaro and co all addressed the nation, and the gap-toothed one with political soccer skills continued, we listened, we were dribbled and we continued to endure, their waists got fatter, and we in turn tightened our belts to a non-existent waist.
Soon, we were listening to the one who sat with half his butt, in a borrowed chair, the UAC man had barely grasped the art and act of talking when he was chased away by the goggled-one, the man whom all caps fitted, talked, spoke, and sparked, he brought all the leprous fingers together, and years after his demise we are still beneficiaries of his magnanimous savings (all for the elite by the elite)
Obasanjo returned, and with democracy he was a delight to listen to, because he was crude, he was traditional, no finesse, but he delivered whenever he had the podium. He came, he saw, and he almost conquered with his third term agenda, but we got tired of his speeches.
Enter Mr. Yar'adua, he said very little, and very few speeches to remember him for, the debate still remains in public space what could have happened but for his frail health, and after all the drama about him signing a budget and congralating the Nigerian cadet soccer team golden eaglets, some-thing-one-thing happened and he went the way of his ancestors.. And in came the Otuekan fisherman, who breathed air into his speeches, whether fresh or stale, the verdict is still in the open.
Speeches, speeches and speeches, either by coup plotters, or by democrats or 'cilimicists' like Obasanjo and Buhari, as a nation we have threaded the same-difference line. When it is not corruption, it is crude oil and allied matters, when they are not promising utopia, they are pulling down their predecessor and decrying a lack of money or cost saving measures in governance, or the near collapsing state of the nation.
We have even been entertained on a few occasions regarding the authorship of some of these speeches or debated on plagiarized contents in the speeches. And for what can be regarded as either magic or voodoo, it is depressing to note that if one picked a speech by Murtala or one by Kaduna Nzogwu, or the one by Mr. Buhari, you will find out difficult to change the timeline.
We still are grappling with the same issues, like the monkeys, we have become stuck in traditions, religions and systems, so much that they are now established and followed. Questions are rarely being asked. Blind followership and following has become the order of the day, so if you are not TAN-ing, then you are a Jonathanian, or you must be #standingwithBuhari..
Our monkey sense is such that I end with another narrative, this time it is a true reflection of us, and our dilemma.
Like the monkeys we are afraid of ice water, so we dare not touch bananas that is there for the taking, we are taking delivery of the imported seeds of grass from Brazil, that would take another one and a half years to be ready for cattle to feed upon.
Grass seeds that mature within a period of eight to 12 weeks depending on the rainfall pattern in each ecological zone, seeds that we have not established where they fit into our various ecological zones. Grass seeds that Brazilians had researched on for 18 years.
All because our research institutes have refused to search, and research, we keep writing speeches, making addresses, while others are moving ahead. We are still listening to speeches of how we import toothpicks, and how we will start manufacturing pencils in the year mungo-park.
We have refused to understand Nigeria, we are still nursing Biafra, midwife-ing herdsmen/pastoralist clashes amidst the funeral rites of Boko Haram, but the narrative just like the monkeys remain same…like opium, we get a high on hope, yet suffer expectation fatigue, as speeches remain what they are; only speeches, for how long will the monkey be afraid of the banana that belongs to him, for how long will the elder be afraid of his nakedness in the dark—only time will tell
Prince Charles Dickson PhD
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