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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Being the Best and the Baddest

A word of advice to other Africans. Don't be getting into that odious
"my country is more fucked up than yours" argument with Nigerians. We, Obatala, his wife and his cat know that Nigeria is undoubtedly the
most fucked up country in Africa, perhaps the world. We take some sort of morbid pride in it, exchanging increasingly surreal stories of
dysfunction, oppression, greed, avarice and manic leadership
misconduct that borders on cinematic black comedy.

So this Easter weekend in Accra when our closet eccentric, achingly
talented bag designer friend Nanna began that "oh you people are
lucky, Ghana is getting bad oh, and you cant believe bla bla bla .." l
mentally rolled up my eyes in exasperation. It the classic whinny "oh
l have issues, l need therapy" musing of the sane. Does the insane
recognise his madness? We don't need therapy, we don crase finish!
Imagine, even South Africans dare to compare their post apartheid
issues with Nigeria's problems. Nigeria with her pockets of Darfur,
bits of holocaust and flagrant internal apartheid, l beg go siddon jo!
Usually by the time the Nigerians exchange a few fondly insane
anecdotes from their daily lives, the other Africans usually shrivel
up, tail between their legs in acknowledgement of our never threatened status as the biggest, baddest country in Africa, chikena!

Perhaps it was to let off steam before we get into the pressure cooker
that the next few weeks of "selections" in Nigeria will be or to do a
destination inspection in case of rapid evacuation or how do you
explain the sheer number of Nigerians that descended on Accra for the
Easter break. You did not hear a word of Twi or Ga within a hundred
yards of black humanity. All the hotels were booked and the sleepy,
peaceful city heaved with a suppressed Nigerian soul. The shrimp was
in heaven as she was able to do her favourite things, swim and walk in
a park. She measures the worth of a nation in bright, clean, green
terms and has long declared Lagos ugly. She thinks Accra is beautiful
and at five noticed all the flags and emblems of national pride enough
to say "mummy every thing is Ghana, Ghana, they like Ghana sebi?" She composed a five-sentence song for Ghana ending it with free and happy, astonishing isn't it that even children know that freedom and the pursuit of happiness are cousins. They too must feel the constriction and inhibition to private space, thought and expression, the maddening efforts at homogenizing that we consider as development. The Ghanaians were of course happy to have our unbudgeted tourist dollars but they have always and even more so now as our democracy stands on trial dreaded an invasion by Nigerians. Even the lovely Nanna who loves Nigeria and Nigerians and whose house breathes art, creativity and inspiration declared she couldn't wait to see Nigerians leave. A common sentiment as confirmed by Chief Dele (that is what Ghanaians call BobDee Dele Momodu of Ovation) with whom we shared lunch and thought at Ovation Restaurant in Accra.

I can understand why they hate us, if l where them, l would hate us
and really they needn't bother because we hate us enough to go round. Now if l stop there you will fall into the trap of the passive
observer who watching Nigerians condemn Nigeria soundly concluded that we were self mutilating, suicidal nutcases. Nah men! We love us just as passionately as we hate us and exorcising our Nigerian soul is nigh impossible, even with the most integrated west man dick sucker, it seeps out of the nape of his neck like some mischievous little anjonu
(elf like spirit) gleefully mocking his best efforts at adapting.
Perhaps our love stem from a deep recognition of our potential
universal role and unspoken abilities whilst our hatred is a denial of
the cowardice beneath our inability to achieve those possibilities thus far. That may be why the Nigerian, even the one who has not stepped foot on this soil in the past twenty years is keenly following as we countdown to our "selections". We know they have manipulated the process in such a way at to mostly throw up our most untalented, unwell, uninspiring, unknowledgeable, untrue and closet diabolic. We know they will rig the selections and try to manipulate the results but na we and dem. We are going to stay and smoke them out. We will vote just so that we can continue with our version of democracy knowing that just by being some things will change, as they must in nature. After all, those monstrous anecdotes are usually ended with statements like God is a Nigerian.

Then again, even as l say that, my mischievous little id laughs
maniacally, perhaps the joke is on us and we exist vaingloriously
thumping our king of the jungle chest in a world that left the jungle
centuries ago. The naked dancing king, a measure for other Africans to
look at their problems, sigh and say, counting my blessings men, at
least l am not Nigerian.

16 comments:

Akin Aworan said...

Interesting read.

tp said...

"Nigeria with her pockets of Darfur, bits of holocaust and flagrant internal apartheid..."

i think that's why Nigeria hasn't toppled over into oblivion. all these states of disorder co-exist so amicably that none of them constitutes enough of a threat to require urgent redress. when is dire DIRE?

do we have a breaking point? i think it's comforting that the language of "depression" and "therapy" doesn't crop up loosely in everyday conversation in Nigeria...or the vast majority of us would be certified psychotic madmen.

i'm all shades of depressed as i sit here, eyes firmly glued to www.nigeriaworld.com, waiting -with this sick, unfortunate obsession - to be amongst the first to witness the chaos that is about to fling itself all over Nigeria's landscape.

this makes me beyond sad...and i am now becoming the very people i hate - the ones who have front-row seating for every disaster only to be able to have the satisfaction fo saying, "see, i told you so! isn't it Nigeria?", as if there is nothing they - i - could've done to reverse - or at least try to reverse - the process.

i want to say "God help Nigeria"...but i fear that God might be exasperated from seeing His name and Nigeria's so closely connected in a sentence. i want to say we will recover - and we most likely will - but at what point do stop recovering and seek some sort of permanent solution to a recurring and near-immortal problem?

that's what i want to know.

Unhappy Fan said...

Gosh...i'm really tired or reading abt your frustration with Nigeria. Post after post is all about how bad this country is or something worse. Ranting about it will not make a difference. If it is soo bad, why don't you run for a post in the government and then enact change. It is easy for you to run to london and Ghana to seek solace but some of us have no where to go to.

Pls enough of you ranting, abeg cos even in the mist of the chaos and supposed 'evilness' in Nigeria, there is something good. Look for the good in Nigeria, find it and write about it. At least in that way, you will inspire people to see the good in our country cos believe me it is out there somewhere

tp said...

i meant to leave these words with you earlier but i had to rush off to class. i'm not sure if you've seen them before but they remind me of several of the things you've said:

We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end war;
For we know that You have made the world in a way
That man must find his own path to peace
Within himself and with his neighbor.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end starvation;
For you have already given us the resources
With which to feed the entire world
If we would only use them wisely.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
To root out prejudice,
For You have already given us eyes
With which to see the good in all men
If we would only use them rightly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair,
For You have already given us the power
To clear away slums and to give hope
If we would only use our power justly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease,
For you have already given us great minds with which
To search out cures and healing,
If we would only use them constructively,
Therefore we pray to You instead, O God,
For strength, determination, and willpower,
To do instead of just pray,
To become instead of merely to wish.

- Jack Reiner

i hope the day comes when these words don't haunt me anymore. thank you for being a stellar example. i hold you in the highest regard and i wish you the greatest success in all you do. if everyone would do their bit, our country wouldn't be so bad...

x

Tayo said...

You get me amused everytime I read your posts, even though this is some serious & reflective post. Nigeria is bad no doubt (and I believe that will change very soon)... but Nigeria has it's good sides too and I wouldn't give up my citizenship for anything.
If your "shrimp" is writing songs that end with free and happy at 5 years of age, I can only say she's a chip of the old block.
Great write up as usual, Funmi. Keep it up.
BTW, did you see the "City People" article in which your name was mentioned? It's the April 11 Edition.

twinsmum said...

Funmi,

I *love* your blogs.... Keep them coming girl.
"Unhappy fan" does have a point about a lot of Nigerians having nowhere else to seek solace; however I do think you speak about the good and the bad.

Uche said...

This is for Unhappy Fan....after reading ur comment, all i can say is, if u want to write about the good in Nigeria, create ur own blog, send a link here and we too will read about the good in Nigeria. For now don't knock anyone for speaking their mind. There's a choice in this virtual world of the web, and its the 'X' button on the top left hand corner of ur window, or better yet, arrow back to where u were b4....

Funmi....i like reading your views about Naija, and i agree with TP on the fact that all the states of disorder co-exist so perfectly...Only in Nigeria...but then again, we haven't been to places like India or Brazil to see how the situation is.

As for the Selection process this month....Nigeriaworld and NVS is my window to Nigeria...I log on 50 times a day..waiting, watching, praying (as if i'm alone) and hoping that the outcome will be positive...but isn't that far fetched?? Maybe not. I seriously i'm hoping that God will hear the cries of those in the very dark corners of the Delta and other villages...there is a REAL CRY/NEED for Change.
TP...i love the write up by Jack Reiner....very classic.

bluebaby said...

I'll have to say that for the most part, i love your posts, but i'm tended to lean in the direction of Unhappy Fan right now, not because this one wasn't thought-provoking or hard-hitting- as it should be- but just because once in a while, a little joyful piece might not be amiss. I know this is your blog and blogs are about self-expression. I'm just saying, even for your own health, its sometimes good to look for the good things in life. Even bad old naija has some. Just a thot. Think about it before dismissing it as mindless mass prattle ;-)

BBA said...

Funmi,

Nice read. We pride ourselves on being citizens of the Giant of Africa. ha! Giant indeed! But one day, we'll get there. We can hope now. No?

Nkonye Offor said...

Funmi keep on speaking the truth or should i say the reality.At least you are one of the few people who actually do something about it with your humanitarian work, not everyone should be a politcian.The unhappy fan like Uche said create your own blog and write about the "good".Thanks for keeping it real girl.

Anonymous said...

To Uche and Unhappy Fan,

We must learn to avoid the sin of syncophancy which is what has blinded our leaders to the cries of the masses. Without honest criticism, the big men are lulled into thinking that they've actually accomplished something - rather like that gentleman in charge of poverty eradication.

As a public figure who has the power to shape public opinion, Funmi is accustomed to criticism and I believe that she's also open to all sides of the dialogue. I'm sure this delightful blog site is not simply to dig for compliments.

Yes, Nigeria has some good qualities and who better to show us what they are, however few they may be than the absolutely ' fierce' Funmi?

In order to grow as forward thinking individuals, we must learn to criticize constructively and accept it with grace.

May God give us good leaders this time around.

A patriotice nigerian who's heart bleeds at the state of affairs of a potentially 'rich' nation said...

can i just say that the only solution is the complete and total annihilation of those 'recycled' rubbish in power and still seeking to be in power... their hunger for perpetual power like that of mugabe runs deeper than the deepest rivers. That hunger is insatiable and can only be satisfied by death. Like our redeemer delivered us from the evil dictator abacha, so shall he deliver us from this power hungry imbeciles who's only vision is personal enrichment that hopefully will choke them to death. I know our redeemer liveth!!!

pam said...

Funmi youre the truth. I love the way you distill this experiment called Naija to its essence. Celebrating the wonderful and brooding over the maniacal. If I want candy fluff and tinky winky fwinky rainbows then Ill read something else. I was an observer in todays elections. My areas where peaceful thank God.... but other places... YE GODS! Who watched that poor man in Benin on NTA that had his son shot dead while they where both trying to vote. By the police shooting INTO a crowd to scare off armed thugs. You can DIE because you want to vote! If anyone is reluctant to acknowledege and understand just how far weve gone then bettering this country will be impossible. FUNMI KEEP DOING ALL YOU DO. Strength light and love.

funmi said...

@ all, l earnt something new today talking with a wise friend of mine. He spoke about internal humility in relation to external humility. Internal humility is the ability to be completely honest with one's self in the presence of none else but the maker and in that space to completely subsume one's ego so that one mght see clearer and thus act wiser. That is true humility and the core of true leadership and change. l dont have to prove my love for Nigeria to anyone and my work speak for itself. l am however uninterested in palliatives used by fraudulaent "change agents" to blindside the sedated people whilst they rob them blind.
Besides that article was written with a huge grin on my face, same as l have now.

The Last King Of Scotland said...

deep poignant views on socio-cultural effects in africa. reflective and true to the bone, theres no point hiding from the truth, the very thread that pushes us towards perfection. nigeria will improve, how, when, i do not know but i hope soon

Anonymous said...

Good points, eloquently delivered may be marred by pockets of unguarded expressions and words. I am unimpressed that you would rather choose to use expletives than find alternatives to express the same points.
f**k, d**k s**k*r blah blah
Would you on TV? Why here?

in Love,
Anon