Update from Qudus' blog

Aug 24, 2008

In the quest of our lost SOULS and HUMANITIES.

Its no more news to proclaim Nigeria to be a rich nation in all angle we look at it, population wise, mineral and resource wise, religious wise, even cultural wise, and any nation cultivated enough should undoubtedly see reasons to feed her soul and humanity, but regrettably, it is the material aspects of our wealth, rather than the philosophical, the moral or the aesthetic ones that seem to dominate our policy orientation and our developmental growth trends. Before I will be hung for generalising, and finally ending up in stereotypes, my analysis is fully based on the malfunctions of the typical Nigerian society, which is largely made up of Nigerians as the case may be, furthermore, I will try to avoid any quote or reference point in this note, so we can understand that it is solely based on my personal frustration and my intuition of my primary society, with which I need no further reading nor research to analyse. 

Nigeria knows quite well that she is not an AK-47 carrying machine nor a money making monster, a nation with series of religious revivals, yet unaware of her spirituality, her constant pursuit for wealth in which she is obviously blessed with, will not make any heed, if her soul and humanity is still under the bondage of her maladies. Tragically, this rat race in the pursuit of material and financial relevance emanates from the Nigerian society, a society in desperate search for its soul, in search for the very raison d’etre, which only the liberal arts can provide. As an individual I have understood that being an artiste is not about making a conventional living, on the contrary, it is about accepting to make an otherwise living that continuously feed your soul and humanity. Faith in the money making sectors, on the other hand, has become almost a secular-religion, as achievements in those fields have become ever more spectacular, not only for Nigeria, but such has been the make believe all Nigerians deal with, so everyday we hear phrases popping out from our televisions, radios and dailies, advertising or celebrating the success of the oil companies, the telecommunication giants, the business tycoons, the banking system that has become a very important strength for Nigeria's economy, and so on. 

But even with all this wealth, success and adverts, slogans and billboards we are bombarded with daily, why is it still a reality that Nigeria is the worst nation in terms of basic amenities for her citizen? why is it that the rich kept getting richer and the poor poorer? why is it that majority still look up for the April showers, while minority uses excess to wash automobiles? why is it that our catalogue of the national maladies, that has crept upon every Nigerian, still include the undesirable manifestations such as greed, dishonesty, impatience, discourtesy, vandalism, indecency, brutality, armed robbery, drunkenness, cultism, tribalism, selfishness, ostentation, indiscipline, corruption, insensitivity to filthy surroundings and many other identifiable ills, why is it that the average Nigerian keeps reciting “May God help us”, when he or she is being confronted with the “misappropriated” billions, stolen everyday by day in Nigeria. If I'm asked, I can't give a better answer than to state it clearly that, any nation or group of people that has come together, with an intention of trade considered only in terms of volume or profitability, I mean when the primary discourse of their coming together is based on “50-50” or other number sharing formula, from that very moment the soul of such encounter is temporarily placed on hold, while something else close to the monster side of a normal human being is in play. 

I for one, have not been one of those who clings religiously to the concept of art for art's sake, but I try to understand at what point we actually need to draw the line, at what point do we say to ourselves “ok guys lets take it easy, cos if we continue at this pace we might hit the wall”, I give priority to the business of art as much as I give to the making of art for art's sake, just as an individual, i will go to Mosque on a Friday afternoon and later proceed to the club at night. What I believe the arts and humanities can do for Nigeria, is to be in continuous search of the soul of this nation, the money making sectors can go on to take care of the material well-being and infrastructures. 

However, the average Nigerians has misplace their priorities and become the passive fellows, in a system where our pacing machine functions better when it malfunctions, fabricating a society where success is only defined by the attainment of popularity or financial profit. In this epoch, where the higher man is raised higher based on his level of consciousness and intellectual hierarchy, which in no way is determined by how much money he makes, and only the arts in a wide range and sciences can produce or feed our soul in attaining the height of such man, but this ranking of the higher man is not synonymous with that of the Nigerian society. In recent times, I have been continuously reminded that in order to counsel a Nigerian youth or convince anybody about the credibility of a particular profession, career or project, you are obliged to talk extensively about the possibilities of making money from it, and die rich afterwards, not minding what else you will do with the money after making it, otherwise your preaching is as good as flaunting naira notes in the air and your job is done, case closed. 

This mentality that celebrates vanity fair in all hierarchies, has become the major factor why an average Nigerian will prefer to sell his or her vote, sell their future in exchange for few Naira notes, while some will prefer to be the modest ones, who prefers to watch and just go their own way, then they all sit back and ones again recite “May God help us”, not insightfully minding the fact that we encounter several millions, I mean a thousand millions before we arrive at just one billion, and look around you today, how many millions can we feel close to us, but everyday we hear series of billions diffusing into the air, and all we can say is “May God help us”. While I was in high school, we were made to understand that God as kind and generous as He is, will never help those who don't help themselves, so passing an exam goes beyond kneeling, closing our eyes and saying "May God help us". This monsters ruling us, don't even know who the God we call everyday is, even if God Himself comes down in any form, this monsters are ready to play politics with Him, it has become a way of life for them, and in that way of life, the normal thing is what they are doing, so we perhaps have a need to remind them that they are suppose to be accountable to us, they are suppose to be a servant to our nation and not the citizens being a servant, to their dictatorship and nonchalant attitude towards our sufferings and plights, so i will however pray to God for strength to be able to move towards emancipation by force, before begging God is His infinite mercy to punish them and their coming generations they claim to steal all these money for.

In assisting Nigeria, as a Nation in the search for her soul, the moral and ethical crisis facing Nigeria has been well enunciated by successive governments. The ethical revolution drive, the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) Campaigns, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) thrust, the Oputa Panel, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). All portend a trend towards the search for Nigeria’s soul. But we all need to be aware of the fact that, all these are initiations of the soul-less wild animals themselves, setting up their circus show, and when they mistakenly place a soulful individual at the head of it, they sooner or later feel threatened, and since they are the fixers of the rules, it becomes so easy for them to break the rule, because they know that at the end of the day, we are going to sit back and say “May God help us”. This soul can only be reached through what i refer to as "Operation CCC", it could be synonymous to celestial church of christ, but its very far from it, this is a Collective Constructive Criticism, backed by activism, philosophy, performing/creative arts, history and culture.

Nigeria's heritage and the Nigerian's inner spirit is embedded in these Liberal art forms, the ability to understand and appreciate our beliefs and values, to apply them humanly in our daily lives, and to explore the human experience in all its richness. In assisting Nigeria, as a Nation in the search for her humanity, Art is value-laden and targeted towards the nurturing and shaping of human virtues and moral values, the human life is empty without these values and virtues. For through the arts we discover how people of talent have continuously veered towards making moral, spiritual, and intellectual sense of a world in which irrationality, despair, loneliness, and death are as conspicuous as birth, friendship, hope and reason. The travails of these talented and creative breeds, has been to reinstating our daily diminishing souls and humanities, stretch our imagination and enrich our experience, which will however increase our distinctive human potential. Through the arts we should learn to play, learn to BE and not always to HAVE, learn to make choices, learn to criticise, to discriminate between the meritorious and the meretricious, between good and evil, through them we determine which endeavors are worthy of our best efforts, and ultimately we learn to know ourselves, our humanity socially, culturally as well as individually.