Sunday, 21 March 2010

Jos keeps talking

(Strictly for the young)
ON Tuesday, March 16, several young men and women travelled to Abuja, and joined those already in Abuja, to say, Enough is Enough.
These young men and women left school and work, took the day off, went to the National Assembly, and demanded to be heard. Enough is Enough they said. We do not have electricity (we would have said stable electricity but really!), water, and more.
And now, when there isn’t some form of violence in Jos, it is State Houses getting blown up. As if that was not enough, nothing is ever said to us. Not about the state of the President’s health, nor what steps are being put in place.
Enough is Enough was not only a peaceful rally in Abuja. It was also a trending topic on twitter, as those who were there kept those who were not there updated, while those, who could not be there physically, showed their support on the social networking site. There were facebook status updates and notes, and blog posts.
The Nigerian young adult was speaking.
And they were demanding to be heard.

DID they get heard?
Not by the people they were trying to talk to. Sources say the speaker of the House left the building, possibly to avoid speaking with the teeming youth at the gate, who were first cordoned off by police, but managed to fight their way through (peacefully, thankfully).
But they were heard!
They were heard by their peers who were either supported or felt it was a waste of time. They were picked up by conventional media, including Channels Television, this paper, and CNN. And they were definitely heard everywhere else!
They will keep talking. But some say talk is cheap.
The other day on my radio show, I asked a simple question. What can the young person in Nigeria do, to be heard, to get change, to move Nigeria forward?
I will s.h.a.r.e with you some of the answers we got!
• Vote. Even when it feels like it does not matter. Vote. We didn’t vote the last time. So can we really talk now?
• Keep talking. Talk is cheap, and so it should be used. Seminars! Symposiums! Every medium open to us! Talk about it
• Stand for election. This is interesting! For we see young people in law, in music, in movies, in fashion... but where are the policy makers? Where are the young people in governance and politics? (or politricks)
• Pray. Seems so simple, and possibly too simple. But it never hurt anyone to get down on their knees, or stand up, or raise their arms up and just offer up a simple sincere prayer.
• Listen. And learn. So how did we get here? Are we asking? Are we learning? Or are we just accepting the status quo and imbibing the very habits we condemn. How many of those at the rally have paid, will pay, or will collect, a bribe? How many have cheated their fellow man? How many young people abuse the positions they are in? How many people cheat during JAMB? How many? How many pay taxes (even though we do not see the corresponding rewards. If I pay, I should be paid!). How many young adults are truly ready to change the status quo? How can we be a voice where words are short?

THINGS seem futile sometimes, and in all honesty, there are days I sit and wonder what will happen, and how I fit in. But I do know that we cannot fit in by burying our heads in the sand, not speaking out, and hoping it will all blow over.
We must sing, speak, stand. Do something.
And as for Jos... It could happen to any state. So with this, we plead-
• Jos’t stop the violence
• Jos’t keep the peace
• Jos’t see the bigger picture

‘Stucked’ and other Nigerian words
(Just Life)
IN one of his songs, the musician, Lagbaja sings ‘English no be your mother tongue ... so ta bon...’ and sometimes, it seems quite clear that some of us take this seriously and proceed to ‘ta bon’ almost gleefully.
Take for instance the time I first heard this new word, ‘stucked’, I was sure the speaker had made a mistake and was soon going to correct himself, but I waited in vain.
I am sure that if we’d been talking about the weather or something equally mundane, he might have been able to notice his error, but alas as we were talking about our very own ‘man in Purdah’ (to quote a newspaper headline), otherwise known as ‘The ‘Sicking’ President’ (as against ‘The Acting President’), his emotions got the better of him.
‘I really feel for the man. He has been ‘stucked’ to machines and being in one place for over three months now,’ he said.
‘Em, oh yes,’ I muttered mainly to myself as I struggled to unravel and ‘re-piece’ (my Nigerian word) together the sentence.
‘And where did they ‘bought’ the billion naira ambulance for him, eh? They have ‘waste’ so much money,’ he continued as he gesticulated furiously.
By this time, he was getting more agitated and I was sure this could only get worse because usually most of us are less able to control ourselves when we get worked up. I didn’t have very long to wait before he continued.
‘Prices of everything have go up because fuel queues is everywhere, people are died in Jos and the man (otherwise known as ‘The ‘Sicking’ President’) have not even ‘spoke’ to us!’
I quickly found something that needed my urgent attention because trying to decipher what he meant whilst also trying to keep a straight face was almost killing me. As soon as I left, I heard someone else say, ‘Yels oh! The whole something is just ‘disturb’ me!’

LATER that day, my little boy, aged three, asked ‘Mummy did you ‘bought’ this for me?’ and I laughed and laughed especially when I remembered the 40-plus year old man I had been speaking with earlier who could very well have made a sentence like this one.
As I corrected my little boy, I couldn’t help thinking that it just goes to show the level of decay in our educational system along with everything else.
Electricity supply is ‘babbas’ (another Nigerian word), we lack good, affordable healthcare for all, we have arguably the worst roads in this hemisphere, etc.
Last week, I was speechless when I saw the horrible photograph which was making the rounds showing a scene from an accident/robbery attack.
This week the photographs from Jos have been indescribable. To think that we could do this to ourselves is mind-boggling, shocking.
We have so very many issues to deal with in this nation and the last thing we need is a ‘Sleeping President’ who perhaps needs a kiss from his ‘Mrs Charming’ to reawaken.

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