Umbilical Discord: Africa Falters
Africa is on fire. War, poverty, hunger, corruption, coups, disease, economic instability, more wars, more corruption, looting, and the list goes endlessly on. Just recently, Burkina Faso plunged its hat into the ring that is the ultimate African circus. But on the crisis that was in Burkina Faso, this is not an article chock full of facts and details. There are so many facts, figures, arguments and counter-arguments floating around.
In the midst of this, I would rather be unconcerned; it does not matter how many people die, 10, 50, 100, the effect remains that of helpless frustration and anguish for the people of Africa.
What woman deserves to have so many headaches for children? Fertile as this one is, the term ‘many’ is relatively many. So much for the joys of motherhood… No wonder like Nnu Ego (of Buchi Emecheta’s book named for these particular joys) she has opted for silent death. We must not let her. Her husband is a bunch of committees that offer her no succour. There is nothing worse than the plight of a mother who has to helplessly watch the seemingly slow but steady self-inflicted death and derailment of her children, but to whose ears would this cry go? Surely not to the self-absorbed ears of her wayward children!
Country after country, we bury ourselves deeper into one rot of the other, largely socio-political, leading to the blossoming of some. While more turn their suffering to grumbling, few capitalise on the resulting tension to sow discourse. As much as we would like to blame all the bitterness we reap on the careless selfishness these few sow, we must consider that we ourselves water. Sometimes we plant weeds, but these weeds have deeper roots. It is time these children took to their stools to stoop and think.
In Nigeria’s Yoruba land, a whoring girl child is said to have had her placenta eaten by a dog. The placenta is our source of sustenance and we the whoring children have allowed the dogs nibble and gobble our resources for war and luxury in a show of utter selfishness. No one has told the consequence of whoring to a boy child but I am given to believe that a careless jerk of the umbilical cord would cause bleeding and possibly death for both the male and female child and perhaps their mother!
I look upon Burkina Faso and Nigeria as twin children, born by the circumstance of war- war against the government. Perhaps it is co-incidence that both countries claimed independence in the same year. From where I sit, it looks as if where Burkina Faso has turned his fight against his government, Nigeria chose to turn her battle inwards through internal struggles that motivate bitterness among her citizens and an “unlooking” stance about what affects others whether one is spared or not. Each man in his struggle to join up with a group of ‘thems’ (there is always a “them”) pulls his brother’s umbilical cord from their mother without thought for the trail of blood he leaves behind and what it may mean for the life he holds. Mother weeps.
Perhaps we do not even know that what we are- individual or nation- it is more than us. We are all children of the same mother. Seeking relevance. Although other countries in Africa claim the title of big brother, they fail woefully in laying examples. Who would call who to order? Who would send aid and relief to his mother’s child when they find themselves in a worse way? There is a saying among the Yorubas that “bi omode bayo tan, a ma wa bekun bekun” which may simply be interpreted as ‘want not, waste a lot’. We’d rather revel in the love of strangers and despise our own blood. Why?
A classic Nigerian singer once sang these lyrics in melodious Yoruba: “won npe e ni sisi inu re ndun, o mo ara eko won a so e di apare ajase”. This simply warns against being carried away by sycophancy, for obvious reasons.
Brother, I am afraid for tomorrow- won’t you drop your gun and hug me in reassurance. Do you even have hope yourself despite what you say you fight for? Why don’t I clear the air and hug you in return.
And here is another quote from Drake’s “Worst Behaviour”: the ones who encourage us, passively or otherwise, to kill our generation to obscurity ‘never loved us’. No matter that you seem lost in my muse, recognize the message of love which is wrapped in my words; if not for where you stand, then for greater good. I have neither gun nor power, I am paralyzed with fear. We are like a banana tree that can only hurt itself with every violent hand-raised.
As a child, I was told the story of the broom that conquered as a bunch. My mother emphasized that a single broomstick would do better to be one with several others. How else can a home be swept clean? I would suggest the same method to the African continent, but how can a continent unite when its countries are in themselves divided?
In Nigeria for instance, there is the ever simmering tension of inter-ethnic animosity. In fact, there are tales of segregation among the several varieties that make up homogeneous communities. Is not variety the source of life? Why would we not prefer an exotic cocktail of people? Perhaps when the raging stops, we will see the crumbling state of our homes. Maybe then, we would pick up the charred remains of the broom sticks that are left (many are on fire already) and try to make them one to sweep the ashes of the ones that did not make it and repair the broken down structures. Hopefully, it will not be too late;