Brasilia, 22 July, 2012
Following last week´s piece on “what shall become of the young Nigerian”, I received several comments and reactions from various readers. Except for a few diatribes from some of the tribal warlords that often comment on Sahara Reporters, all of them are encouraging. Luckily, attacks and criticisms are as essential as the commendations. Everyone is entitled to an opinion on anything, including on a piece of commentary by an obscure blogger. I am highly encouraged.
Notably, two commentators drew my attention to important points the write-up may have been silent on, namely the need to create employment and the role of the judiciary in nation building. I promise to address these issues in subsequente write-ups.
Of the numerous readers that contacted me directly, a certain Bello Galadanchi, a Nigerian-US citizen, had the most profound effect. Mr. Galadanchi was born in the U S by Hausa parents, raised in Jos, and Kano, – two cities currently at the center of the ongoing insecurity problems in Nigeria, attended secondary school in Katsina, and graduated last year from Penn State University in the US after completing an engineering degree. For a living, he is primarily a filmmaker, among other things.
As the idea of a Hausa American movie director was settling in my mind, I came to realize that the young man represents one of the now many exceptions of young Nigerians. He is part of the emerging new Nigerians who have thrown the toga of irredentism and of being beneficiaries of quota system, to struggle against all odds and be one of the best.
The gentleman is apparently on his way to even greater heights, but he is angry. He is angry at his country (Nigeria), its leaders, the followers and the mentality of human idolization, ethnic chauvinism and religious intolerance of his fellow countrymen. He generously wrote, about my article, that “I was beginning to lose hope, or think that it would be difficult for anyone to see this big problem from an outsider’s perspective, you stopped that leaking hope. Thank you”.
More than a movie director and entrepreneur, he is also a writer and has shared with me, an outburst he once wrote following a successful essay competition in which he won. With his permission, I share with you this outburst based on his personal experience as an African-American with root in northern Nigeria. The theme of his outburst draws inspiration from a quotation, which is often attributed to the 20th century physicist, Albert Einstein, but was actually written by Rita Mae Brown, an American author in her book, Sudden Death; that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
Below are his words. Be warned. He is a ruthless writer.
Keep doing the same thing
This might be the funniest note you’ve read in a long time, or just plainly in your face and painful. It’s your call. I prefer the latter. I can’t hold this in anymore, and letting more and more of this accumulate inside me, will make me swell up like a pregnant woman’s belly and deflate from any slight touch like a melting balloon in fire. If you are just interested on what I have to say, then you will find this very enlightening and eye-opening. If you are an African-American interested in knowing a little more about Africans and why the beautiful continent is smelly, broke and destroyed like a homeless guy’s wallet, then you clicked on the right note. If you are a first generation African in the United States, a lot of this note applies to you, and I want reading this note to press some hot buttons in your brains and hopefully piss you off because you too have a significant part in this. If you are an African in the U.S who just moved, or is in the U.S specifically for school, then read on because you inspired or irritated me to write this note, and I am not sure if this note will help you learn something about yourself and ask yourself some serious questions, because you have closed that mind of yours like a welded door, and getting into it needs some serious time, cutting, chiseling and probably dynamite. My goal is not to inspire you, advise you, warn you, or lecture you. My goal is to have you come after me upset and furious. If this happens, then I have achieved my first step in figuring out what kind of metal, the door of your mind is made from before I start planning to attack it. Yes offense.
Some of you might recall me winning an essay competition recently discussing 3 things to change in Africa to make things better. If you are curious to see the gibberish I scribbled, let me know and I will send you the essay. I was disappointed to find out that I won. Two nights before the deadline, I read an email about the competition, and thought to myself ‘‘wow, $500 will cover the Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 that I wanted to get.” I took 2 hours to write the essay. As a Hausa who grew up in the deep north of Nigeria, with a very bad English background (my English teachers couldn’t speak good English) and mostly engineering discipline in college, it shocked me to find out that no one amongst the African community on this campus was able to write something better.
I later came to the conclusion of a couple of things; either the African students cannot pinpoint the African problems and talk about them, which I consider very disturbing (Maybe they don’t really care about writing about African problems, which comes from lack of passion, lots of privilege and belief that nothing can be changed), or the African community is just wealthy enough (mostly from the money their parents gave them) to not want $500 just from writing an essay. I don’t believe that I am better than all of them in thinking about African problems and writing about them. You are there saying, “I just didn’t feel like writing a paper, or I just wanted to let others get the chance.” That “I don’t care” or “I always have an excuse” is even worse than me winning that essay competition. The African students that grew up in the U.S or born in the U.S can be excused compared to the pampered ones here specifically for school, with a return ticket home in their closet. Last summer, I was in Kenya for Humanitarian Engineering work with a lot of Penn State students who came from variety of majors ranging from Biology, Pre-Med, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Bioengineering all the way to English. If you don’t know where Kenya is (I am not going to be surprised), it is in East Africa. We helped a village and an orphanage with health diagnosis. Why am I telling you this story? Because I was the ONLY African in the WHOLE team. Are you kidding me? Where are all the Africans I meet here at meetings and clubs who want to be “Doctors”, and surgeons? Where are all those engineering guys that I see in the library studying? Are you doing all these majors because you want to bring change to the world with it, or just because of yourselves and the title behind the professional career? I have an idea, maybe it’s what your parents want you to do, and like a dog on a leash, you are just auto-piloting your life away or the money behind it sounds good. Here is clearly an opportunity to expand your experiences, and help the people of your continent, but like a stone dropped in dark quiet pond, you are quiet and nowhere to be found. While writing my paper, I knew what the biggest problem is and I didn’t even mention it once. Maybe it’s time to talk about it, and I am not writing this to spill my heart out, inspire people or just rant. I’m writing this to piss people off so that they can feel an obligation to find the problems in themselves and start changing if their minds are in the right stage to know what “change” is. After coming across a lot of Africans mostly here at Penn State main campus, I’ve filled my brain´s jotter with so many attributes, characteristics, insanity, ways of thinking, and stupidity from Africans, and what is even more terrifying is that they are the hope of the continent. This is because coming out to the western world gives one a chance to see things from the outside, and be able to think in a different way (outside the box), compared to the people and aspiring leaders stuck in the continent brewed on the bitter leafs of life and struggle. You are the biggest problem africa has.
From some of the things I jotted down, I will share with you a couple of terrifying things I’ve learned from you, which made me lose for the continent.
- You don’t really care about giving someone a chance to be happy.
- You (both the guys and girls/women) gossip about other people. You might be frowning your face saying, “Well I am not a gossiper”. I have some news for you mister/misses stupid face, surrounding yourself with gossips makes you one.
- Because some of you don’t have to pay any tuition (its covered by your rich parents who might have deep roots in the government that stole so much from the African people), you can only see the struggle of others from the outside, and because you refuse to associate yourself with struggling and underprivileged people, you don’t have any idea what it is like to not have the privilege you have.
- You only consider your own way, and never considered compromising anything just to be open to others, consider their views, their feelings, their ways of life, but you anchored yourself to being self-centered, thinking that the world revolves around you.
- You still look at ones tribe to judge or prejudge them, ignoring the fact your actions do not associate with your tribe.
- All the things that you do, e.g. the way you dress, your screen names, or profiles are always influenced by opposite sex.
- You automatically assume others will know and feel how you feel without openly talking about it.
- You don’t really care much about finding a job after school because your parents have connections in Africa, which will set you up and get you on track of achieving your dreams.
- Your dream in 10 years is to have a nice house, fancy cars, good job or business and thinking of ways to help the 90 percent poor African people is not clearly in your mind.
- You are rooting for a politician because of personal benefits you might get from them, knowing clearly that they aren’t the best candidates to help the poor struggling people.
- You can’t independently think for yourself, and make your life decisions and plans.
- You just don’t believe that one of your actions can make a difference to the lives of millions Africans.
- You are running for offices just as a popularity contest, without having any compassion about the organization, or its mission, while inhibiting others who have the passion, and love for the continent to go in, and successfully and positively improve the image and goals of the organization.
- You only associate yourself with the same group of people who you have familiarized yourself with for a long time, without stepping out to know other people, their ways of lives, opinions; however, you think that you will be open-minded.
- You cannot draw a line between personal and professional issues, either at work, clubs, organizations, or school.
- You still can’t pass and oversee religious, cultural or ethnic differences, and either throw your views at people, or you avoid associating with certain people. I once had a friend who needed help with a project, but due to either my cultural, ethnic or religious background; he chose not to work with me. What if that is a chance for me to see how beautiful and great your ethnicity, culture or religion is? What if that is a chance for me to get answers to some questions I always have? What if that is a chance to see similarities that will wipe out so many stereotypes and preconceived notions? But just like most Africans that failed to move the continent forward, you just avoided me, and closed that chance for propagation of knowledge, expanding horizons and breaching differences. If in any way you think that is a good decision then you are still violently infected with the virus that infected many Africans that wish they could see change, but will never see it, because they have closed their minds, and kept doing the same thing that has been failing Africa for decades and will continue for generations.
- You never considered the fact it’s only natural to make mistakes, be wrong and apologize.
If you feel attacked here, that’s exactly how I want you to feel. This shouldn’t cease to upset you until you breakout out of your selfish, ignorant, close-minded, privileged shell, that not only kept you delusional and in the dark, but kept a whole continent that is hungry for acceptance, selflessness, understanding and compassion. All of us have mouths of complaining about African problems and the leaders. While other countries are suffering from natural disasters from time to time, Africa as a whole continent and most specifically some of the countries are suffering from the worst natural disaster in the history of the world for decades that has left millions of people homeless, powerless, hungry, sick, voiceless, hopeless and dead. We are the natural disaster. We produced the leaders that we claim to do everything wrong, forgetting that they were born by African parents, went to African schools and were elected by African people. These people are our products folks, and maybe you aren’t tired, but I am not waiting for the good leaders because they don’t exist. I know you are right there saying ”No, when I get elected to office, I will help the people and change the way things are done to make progress”. Well, if the leaders in Africa right now did not prove you wrong, then take a look at any student group around you controlled by Africans. As long as we all think the same way, judge the same way, act the same way, we will continue to see the same thing over and over and over. Bullshit in, bullshit out. The only answer is you. Only crazy people keep doing the same things that have been failing them over and over, thinking that one day, it will produce a positive result. Unless you change yourself, accept others, understand and feel what the unprivileged feel, have compassion for changing things in the continent, be open-minded and be willing to step out of your comfort zone to learn about others, Africa will still be what it is for the next decade without any big difference.