Bob Marley, Nigeria And The Hemorrhage Of Hope

By Patrick Iwelunmor

In commemoration of the 41st anniversary of his transition, the relevance of Bob Marley’s existential principles and socio-political ideology has become prodigiously indispensable, especially when juxtaposed with the present Nigerian condition. Struggling his way through the concrete jungles of Trench Town to international stardom, Marley promoted the ideals of justice, equity and universal peace, as opposed to the very terrible experiences that have characterized the Nigerian socio-economic and political landscapes where some of the most despicable happenings occur on daily basis.

Since independence, Nigeria has continued to recycle virtually the same breed of greedy, insensitive and pollution-spreading politicians and their offspring, denying a larger chunk of the nation’s population opportunities to aspire to positions of leadership, power and authority. The beautiful ones are not yet born in our nation’s politics because the ugly ones have refused to give way, as also witnessed in many African countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, DR Congo, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, The Gambia, to name a few .

Some ex-soldiers bereft of nation-building ideas have populated the governmental corridors of Nigeria and have almost steered a once vibrant nation into irreparable destruction with a strange system of leadership that places greater value on cattle in an era when serious-minded nations of the world are thinking out of the box to improve the human conditions in their climes. This is Babylon System.

In Marley’s world-view, such a system does not promote equity and social justice. Rather, it dissipates a plethora of highly dangerous and toxic energies that perforate a government’s claims to justice and equity. It is a system that is full of scorn for truth and fairness; one that encourages the unbridled travesty of social justice. It leads to the hemorrhage of hope and immolates the future of generations unborn. When a particular tribe believes that power is their exclusive reserve, they tend to manufacture systems to support their undemocratic appetites. “These are the big fish who always try to eat down the small fish. They would do anything to materialize their every wish”. So says Marley in his song “Guiltiness”. Power-drunk Nigerian politicians have been known not to have the intellect for leadership and thus the only trick they use is to engage in all forms of electoral malpractice and political manipulation to perpetuate themselves in power. Is it not shameful that in some 21stcentury societies, thugs and motor park touts control the transportation and local government systems? Transporters are made to pay outrageous levies and are beaten blue-black by touts whenever they raise objections. These touts bearing sophisticated arms, have become so powerful that even law enforcement agents avoid them. They are the same characters some politicians use to snatch ballot boxes and intimidate opposition. Such politicians do not mean well for Nigeria. Unfortunately, they are the ones aspiring to the highest office in the country. Once power gets into their hands, they will unleash the Babylon System typified by politicians who “suck the blood of the sufferers” rather than find solution to their teeming problems.

Much of this Babylonian mindset characterized the infamous military era of the 1960s to 1980s when soldiers with questionable characters forcefully seized power and repeatedly bastardized those institutions that pillared nationhood. That was when a strange national reward system began to find firm footing in the country. That was the beginning of the subjugation of our best brains by illiterates and morons in the name of quota system. That was the genesis of the belief by a section of the country that Nigeria belongs to them and so, every other region must play second fiddle.

In the song “We Go Fight”, Marley offers a solution to a situation typical of the Nigerian condition: “Every man got the right to decide his own destiny and in this judgement, there is no partiality.” But the Nigerian situation smacks of the highest yet basest form of partiality. Political appointments are skewed in favour of a particular region with a sense of impunity. The current leadership in Nigeria has demonstrated a very abysmal understanding of the management of national diversity. This has been one of the concerns of Rev. Mathew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto. As a stakeholder in matters bordering on Nigeria’s nationalism, his views should be taken seriously. But alas, the President’s spokespersons have often interpreted his criticisms as personal vendetta against their principal. Everywhere you go in the country, you will see that Nigeria has never been this polarized along ethnic and tribal lines.

Babylon system promotes self-centeredness, oppression, deceit and charlatanism. It is a system in which there is a deliberate attempt at creating inequality. Any society practicing the Babylon system of life relegates its best brains to the gutters and elevates nothingness to Olympian heights. This is the only explanation to the precarious educational system in Nigeria. While the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike for months, politicians, including the Labour Minister and the Minister of State for education are coughing out hundred million naira each to purchase the presidential nomination form. Any government that deliberately kills its educational sector is indirectly promoting unemployment, terrorism, insurgency and a state of eternal hopelessness. It is sad that the Nigerian condition of life depicts the ignoble picture of fathers deceiving their children and giving them stone in the place of bread.

The world is in dire need of socio-political freedom, especially in the developing countries still plagued by pronounced political, economic, social, cultural and educational backwardness. This essentially is the inimitable integrity of Marley’s songs of freedom which have better value now than ever before.

Now that the 2023 elections are at hand, Nigerians must wake up and emancipate themselves from mental slavery. We must stop selling our birthrights for plates of pottage. Any politician whose image has since been razed by the fires of political damnation does not deserve our votes. Let our best brains occupy the highest offices in our land. At least, let us put to test the Platonic concept of the philosopher king, with the belief that someday and in fact, very soon, the Igbo man, the Yoruba man, the Hausa man and the Ijaw man can live, laugh together and say indeed, there is a country!