FAGUNWA WAS A UNIQUE INTELLECTUAL SPIRIT: SORRY MA’AM

Many of us do understand the point Ma Fagunwa tried to make at a recent celebration of her husband's philosophical prowess as a writer. According to her, she married a man in flesh and blood and not a spirit people called him. Well ma'am, with all respect, we beg to differ. Fagunwa was a philosopher, writer and innovator of the highest order that can only come in a possessed spiritual form as those into his books enthused.

Unfortunately, we only reserve that spiritual form for those that have contributed into their society immensely; fed to us in African society and swallowed hook and sinker as in religious leaders' miracles without questions. Just as Ma Fagunwa said, these thinkers, economists and scientists are humans to their wives and children but spiritual leaders that were possessed by gods, spirits and even demons to us.

Some of our best writers, notables and recognized in their own rights, have tried to interpret Fagunwa's books. But it was only Fagunwa that knew what possessed him to write to such an indomitable height. Nobody could have translated Things Fall Apart better than Chinua Achebe nor could anyone understand what possessed Wole Soyinka during his time of travail that metamorphosed his writings to so many awards.

Many African books have been translated into complimentary different world languages and some of these have given foreigners only perception into our culture. As much as we are well read and educated in other languages, we have not been able to transform Africa into any of those countries whose languages we know so well. Adaptation is one formula for progress but local transformation into world class can only come within.

Africa like the rest of the world, is gifted with men and women that could and can think clearly like the teaching of Aminu Kano that became a party; Albert Luthuli, Mwalimu Nyerere and of course Kwame Nkrumah. If Africa was a domineering continent ready to explore not by trade which was done but by conquering others with force, religion and philosophies, many more could have appreciated Fagunwa.

Isaac Asimov was only a fictional writer possessed by a thousand demons in the sky and President Reagan probable just a fan. But whatever possessed both, one thought about demons in the sky, the other spent and brought it into reality in Star Wars. Cultured people were so dismayed by the amount of money thrown at universities research and youths thronging to where that money was. They outspent Soviet Union into an accord.

Could Nigeria have brought Thousand Demons in the Forest right here on earth into reality? Africans think differently which may be responsible for our submission to more aggressive cultures. We are put constantly on the defensive and never recover enough to launch an initiative for taking back Africa. Indeed, Nigeria a Country blessed with milk and honey in human and natural resources could have led the way.

Therefore the talent of Fagunwa as a possessed spirit would not have been doubtful if we only add 'holy' to it. So we talk about prophets and messiahs possessed by Holy Spirit to influence the rest of us. But in the case of our philosophers, medicine men or doctors, pharmacists or druggists, and other scientist; we are doubtful when possessed.

When Fagunwa wrote, he took from his African culture, science, philosophy and religion demonstrating that we are not lacking in ideas and re- discoveries. These are African authentic science waiting to be discovered by our laboratories and research youths under the direction of our professors. We remembered how those with colo-mentality wondered who made Prof. Abimbola, a Babalawo, the head of a university.

It is very interesting to read that every African genius as Fagunwa was influence by some Christian or Muslim leaders, just as they claimed Moremi was influenced by Christianity. However, Faguwa only wrote about witchcraft, demons and evil spirits. But they always write about holy spirits, holy ghosts, big foot, aliens and Halloween. Even our popular drink kainkain was illegal until Tai Solarin exposed their hypocrisy of gin and rum.

The difference between Western science and African juju is the interpretation forced on us by those who took their juju into colleges, researched them and produce substantial benefits. Whereas, the African sciences are limited to certain secrete classes of Ifa priests, Ogboni, Maguzawa Sarki and Ogbuefi. Indeed, the popular Nollywood so called sacrilegious movies have educated us more on African juju than our universities.

Those who rose up against the destruction of Okija shrine are not all killers looking for exploits. They actually condemned the atrocious activities there. It is not different from Oshogbo shrine. These are heritage that must be cleaned up, preserved and studied by our leading universities to differentiate fake and abusive marauders from science. They called ours black magic and theirs as science because nobody would explain ours.

Ideas that are generated locally must be grown and nurtured within our means, human power and resources to compete. A good example is space science where Russia with its local talent and materials do it far cheaper than United States. If Russia had to do it with American dollars, they would lose the way they lost Star Wars. It means local initiative is much easier to support, as in going to the space (moon) by Russia's Yuri Gagarin.

However, when Fagunwa wrote about an Oba that had a human head planted in his hand taking every morsel of food while he starved, he never realized he was writing about the future of Nigerian politicians planted in our throat stealing every morsel that could have benefited Nigeria in particular and Africa as a whole.

Fagunwa could have written in English as a well educated man if he wanted. We also realized that words lose their meaning once translated. Those children that are born perfectly bilingual teach us some lessons. Our translations from our African language to the language of country they are born in are surprisingly different. Compare how totally different it is to those African children we teach not to speak or read their own language.

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Articles by Farouk Martins Aresa