Thursday 14 September 2017

What Drives Eleme Is Beyond Eleme

What Drives Eleme is Beyond Eleme

Depending on the level of one’s "intellectual" achievements, he should know that whatever his religious inclination, if he be steadfast, he ought to transcend from primary level of belief to the advanced level of knowingness. The journey to consciously developing a purity of creative heart calls for the highest ideal in man as it reflects in his daily life. In the elevated state of perception and existence, which only true religion offers, man should be progressively anchoring tolerance, dissolving attachments to material things and replacing love where anger and hatred previously held sway. When these realizations are absent, then such individual is not religious but a blind-aggressive-fanatic in the endless universe.


Besides, the nature of activities or endeavours a people delve into tells more about the expectations of that people. Are Politics, Church, School really businesses? If yes how lucrative are they? This is where so many got it wrong in Eleme. Methinks, one can only dabble into these activities as social services and not profit making ventures. When you expect to make profits from social services like politics, church, and school you end up being frustrated or becoming a celebrated crook. Besides, no one has ever become rich by being a mere salary earner. Although, the system do not favour us, we are responsible for the situation we find ourselves. Establishing a fertilizer plant, petroleum refinery, or any giant manufacturing concerns are capital intensive project, usually beyond the financial strength of a single individual. Can two or more Eleme indigenes come together to finance such a project? Definitely, not. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.


Eleme, Speak Out

Are Eleme People really singing their problems loud and clear enough? Are they actually telling the world their sufferings, deprivations, and other challenges? Speaking out or dramatizing a problem through writings, speeches, acts, etc. is a sure way of bringing same to the forefront. What many term “mere song” has proved to be an effective strategy for dismantling barriers and solving problems.


All over the world organized people have sang their problems into solutions. Repeated song is a powerful weapon. The blacks in former Apartheid South Africa dismantled the bricks of oppression through the instrumentality of “song”. They attracted the attention of the international community by effective songs – music, dance-drama, literature, protest and so on to drag home their demands. They were consistent, focused and determined to be liberated and they attained that lofty goal.


The economic, social, environmental and health situations in Eleme should be of concern to the average Eleme man and woman, boy and girl. The armies of unemployed youths on our streets, lack of infrastructural facilities, the social decay in the land, the environmental challenges, rising health issues, the rapidly decreasing populations are enough to propel us to saturate the mass media (print and electronics), social media and the entire universe with the “Eleme Song” when well-defined and articulated.


People are attracted by what they see and/or hear. Our oppressors want to extinct us by inflicting pains and environmental atrocity on us and hiding our predicaments from the world. Let us expose their evils by speaking out. Help only comes to those who seek it! We cannot fight our oppressors because they have the wherewithal to exterminate us. But, with help of our immediate and remote neighbours and the international community, we can appeal to their conscience and ask for a better deal. Besides, if telling the world our ordeal is song let us sing on. Speaking out is no sin, telling your story is no crime, and narrating your experiences is no hate speech. Fear not, be courageous, and be strong!


In fact, one of the responses to my write up “Facilities of Death” on the wall of Nneka that has attracted my interest and that should be of great concern to the leaders of Eleme is that of Ibim Semenitari who wrote, “Many years ago while in Tell magazine, I did a story on the situation in Eleme and some other impacted communities. The story was borne out of research conducted by my late uncle Prof Difini Datubo Brown. He was a professor of plastic surgery and long before reparative surgeries for cleft upper lips and other congenital malformations became known he had done a lot of these at UPTH and he discovered that most of his patients who came in with congenital malformations were from communities with high levels of pollution. He went ahead and took samples from Eleme, then NAFCON was in full operation and his findings were troubling”.  


Are you aware that most of Eleme people today have one congenital challenge or the other? Are you also aware that while the populations of other ethnic nationalities are increasing ours is declining? Let us all sing the “Eleme Song” until things change for better.  


Semenitari concluded by calling on “Corporations and agencies in the Niger Delta … to look critically at the environment and issues around the health of our people. Truly Eleme has taken a lot of beating”.


 A friend of Eleme singing the “Eleme Song” (if you like) while, Eleme people watch in fear and silence, expecting miracle. It is the repeated song of the Hebrews, cry of the oppressed Israelites, which moved God to raise Moses to lead them out of Egypt, not fear and silence. Moses started fighting for the Hebrews long before God supported him with miracles. Every Eleme person is a child of miracle. Let us take the first step and God will do the rest. Today, the Ibos are singing the Biafra Song, the Yoruba are singing the Oduduwa Song, and the Hausas are singing the Arewa Song. The Ijaws are drumming for Niger Delta Republic? Even the Ogonis are asking for Ogoni Nation. Where is Eleme? What is the Eleme Song? Let us stop being one of the crowds and be what God wants us to be.


The Queen of Great Britain and Ireland Express of India usurped our independence from us on 19th and 20th of April, 1898 with the promise to offer us protection which they never did but rather turned around to fraudulently mortgaged us without our consent to Nigeria that is not only robbing us of our wealth but decimating us. What do we want from Nigeria? Say it, write it, act it! The world is listening to true cries. The universe has ways of responding to true complains.     


There are people outside Eleme who are willing to sing the “Eleme Song” more than we do now because we are suffering from overdose of our problems. These friends and well-wishers of Eleme are only waiting for us to start singing and they will join. What are we waiting for? It is time to speak out! What do Eleme want from Nigeria that British married her illegally to?

Tuesday 5 September 2017

An Open Letter To Thomas Sankara


This open letter to late Captain Thomas Sankara was originally published on page 4 of the Sunday Standard Newspaper, Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria on May 15, 1988 by M. O. Ollorwi. Enjoy the article.


Could you remember offhand the very night I told you to be careful in your selection of enemies? Though I know a man cannot be careful in his choice of enemies, especially on a planet and in a continent where everything is black, bleak and stone dark. I still feel you should try. Now, you are no more. My eyes cannot see you as my Sankara, a young, energetic and brave Africanist whose attempt to galvanize his people and promote African cultures and values attracted more foes than friends. Somehow, I feel that your spirit and blood (your stand on Africa for Africans) like that of late brave African heroes (Patrick Lumumba, Dr. Nkwame Nkrumah, General Murtala Mohammed, Comrade Samora Michel, etc.) is beckoning me and true-Africa sons and daughters just because of the very way we love you.

I was much struck with the simplicity of your life-style and sweetness of your manners both in private and public life. Is this a breeding ground for fatal jealousy and terminal hatred, a bleeding continent? In all, you never knew how much and how hard I missed you because you never recognized how much and how well I love you. Now, I keep buying newspapers and magazines to read about you, and to know how the world feels about your untimely transition. It was only yesterday’s dawn that I saw a man flayed and you can hardly believe how much it altered his appearance for the worse. He assassinated you for materialism; leaving me only watching you on televisions and reading about you in newspapers. Now, I fill all the nooks and crannies of my house with your fascinating and inspiring pictures. I adore you, son and blood of Africa.

I know you have encountered a hard, rough life.  Your country was listed among the ten poorest in the world. You love your people more than your own life, even in death. You expressed your efforts to galvanize them; to awaken in them the spirit of self-reliance. But, that wasn’t appreciated, was it? What do you say? We all have red blood in our vein? But, why do we hate good people?

I know you went into the shoes when you perceived your land enslaving itself. What was wrong with that? You lived a poor and contented life and proved a stubborn kind of a person to your pals. This convinced me offhand that you were at your peak, only soon to descend into oblivion. Something good in a man seated in the mangrove mud must be drown by the ocean of wicked guns booming across the continent of death propel by the venom of “gentle” breeze. Were you then in the ocean swimming your life away trying to Africanize?

I forgot to tell you. But, I thought you know. When the wide currents of European Oceans meet with the deadly waves of Arab marines they became too strong a force for the silent Africa to contain. My Sankara, were you in-between these two wall and the blue sea swimming into extinction, while Africa sleeps on?

Things are going from bad to worse, not only for your country but for the whole of Africa. Even the giant of Africa that should be mature and stand shoulder high is now learning to creep. The ship of Africa is unmanned. All the heads are rotten and smelling. Why did you embark on this endless journeying without a word? How is the other side of life, my Sankara? If the needful are prayers, supplications, libations or sacrifices, offer them on our behalf and stand in the gap for us. Questions are not necessary. Your training and experience on earth guaranteed your capability. Intercede for us, my Sankara. Let the gods forgive our insanity, and let our ancestors pardon our violence and smile on us again. This is not too much a request to make of you, my Sankara.  

Just because you are Thomas Sankara, that is why I love and adore you. You possess the courageous and startling qualities of an African leader. A one in a million! The guns helped to build you up; to make you a super-black-leader, and you have to follow that route according to the scriptures of the gun.

Now, to you Death! Death! Oh, Death! How wicked are you to snatch life out of my Sankara? Why did you snatch him from me at the time I needed him most? Still in my mind, fresh is how you snatched life out of Murtala Mohammed, Patrick Lumumba, Comrade Samora Michel, etc. Oh! What Death! What more can I say, write, or do about you?

Lest I forget, it was just this morning I woke up from bed to see four Burkinabes at the corridor of my house. When I confronted them with questions as to why they were standing there so early, I was made to understand that they had come to negotiate for the purchase of my crude oil. But, Sankara, I was not only afraid to sell my crude oil to your country on credit but was mindful of the fact that my crude oil, the oil of blacks would eventually end up in the hands of our enemy – Botha and his associates.

I hope you would not be embarrassed by mere mention of that? You know if you were still alive and captaining the Ship of the Burkinabes, my response would have been positive. I won’t have had a second thought even though your country has no refinery. This is because I trust you.

A friend of your – because I know you didn’t count him your enemy – arrived Nigeria recently on what is called “State Visit” and you would hardly believe the way and manner with which he was received. Only a handful of Nigerians went out to welcome him with folded arms and closed hearts, knowing quite well that he is a green snake under green grass.

Captain Thomas Sankara, I love you more than ever now. This is true because I took you for granted when you were alive. Your name and popularity will never be erased from the sand of African history. And your blood will ever remain fresh to ask for justice not for yourself but for the “poverty ravaged Burkinabes whose dreams of hope renewal stands truncated”.

But, O God, I miss him bad. I miss my Sankara. What a strange thing is life and man in Africa? Are we ungovernable even with good leaders? Why African lights are always put off at dawn when the people are very hopeful?

Come home, my Sankara, my legs are being uprooted from the ground. My head aches. My heart is burning rapidly. My breasts can no longer support my children. There is hunger in the land. There is suffering everywhere. Infectious diseases and poverty are decimating my people. Where is holy water? Is the anointing oil better, instead? What happen to the precious and delicious breasts of Africa? Or, the fresh palm wine from African swamplands?  Which do I go for now to facilitate our cultural revival and value reorientation and save Africa?  Can any mortal present himself at the door of the world where you now reside? Won’t the doors be shut in the face? The authority to knock down the shutters is only with the ancestors? But, are African ancestors there at all? Are our gods dead or only silent? Who destroyed our shrines and polluted our altars? God! Oh, God!!  

It has happened, death being most inevitable. So let it be with Captain Thomas Sankara, the noble leader.

May your family and all your fans do kindly accept my profound sympathy which is all I can offer now.

It is me, an African, a friend of yours who now is a cool guy.  

M. O. Ollorwi