Saturday, 19 March 2011

Lola Shoneyin’s Night

Shoneyin reading from her book last night. Photo (left) by me


Last night, between 4-7 pm, the Abuja branch of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) held a poetry reading session to mark the World Poetry Day. I attended the event which held at Harmonia Hotel in Garki, Abuja. And I was glad I did; reason: I was opportune to “catch up” with faces on the Nigerian literary scene I had not seen in months (some in years). They included the two guest poets, Lola Shoneyin and Kabura Zakama, both of whom are upcoming young writers who have since been making waves in the circle of Nigerian writing. There was also frontline poet and scholar, Prof. Remi Raji, head of the Department of English, University ofIbadan, who came specifically to canvass support for his candidature for the presidency of ANA. And there were many others: Ahmed Maiwada, Odoh Diego Okenyodo, Jerry Adesewo, etc. It was a great fraternity.

It was nice for me to see Mrs Shoneyin after so many years. The last time we met was in Ilesha, Osun State, in 1998, during the national convention of ANA. That was the year her first book, a collection of poems with the longish title, “So All The Time I Was Sitting On An Egg,” was published. Her name on the book cover then was Titilola Alexandra Shoneyin. I had gone to last night’s event with a copy of the book, which she autographed for me on October 30, 1998, thinking she was going to read from it. But as it turned out, she read from her newest poetry collection, “For the Love of Flight,” published in 2010 by Cassava Republic, Abuja.

Lola Shoneyin read first, followed by Kabura Zakama. The latter presented poems on his lost love as well as on the state of Nigerian democracy. One poem dealt with his inability to express his love to a particular woman, and another was on the farce called civilian rule in this country. Zakama explained that he began to write “anger poetry” during the military rule of Gen. Sani Abacha.

Shoneyin read four poems: “The Head Story,” “Distance,” “For Kiitan,” and “Jolademi,” the last two being the names of her sons. All the poems she read were autobiographical, and the poetess captivated the audience with giving a background to each of the poem, i.e. why it was written. This opened a window into the poem for the listener. But Maiwada, the poet-novelist, disagreed with this style, telling the audience that a poet should not “guide” the reader towards an understanding of the poem but should rather read it straight away, leaving the listener to their imagination. Shoneyin explained that she did this on purpose, with the audience in mind.

I should argue that Shoneyin may be seen to have matured physically in the last 13 years since I saw her; I am not sure she had gotten married at that time. Now she is a mother of four children. Creativity-wise, if I dare say her poetry has improved, I would be insinuating that “Sitting On An Egg” was less imaginative than “For Love of Flight.” For me, the former is as creative as any other work she has produced in between these years. I have read it several times over and marvelled at not only the frankness with which she skewered my gender but also the well of imagination from which she drew her scintillating verse. (NB: I have not seen her second volume of poetry, “Song of a Riverbird” yet). Arguably, Shoneyin is one of the best poetry-writers in Africa (and elsewhere) whose works I have come across since 1998.

I pray that this woman of letters beat the other 19 nominees to win the Orange Prize for Fiction, for which she was nominated last week with her novel, “The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives.” I have not read the book yet, but knowing from which mind it came I have no doubt about its potential for winning a big laurel such as this. (I bought my copy last night during the reading session, together with Shoneyin’s children’s book, “Mayowa and the Masquerades,” which she autographed for my daughter, and which I finished reading as soon as I got back home!).

Both Shoneyin and Prof. Raji will remain in Abuja till tomorrow Monday for the 1st Korea-Nigeria Poetry Feast. Raji is guest poet while Shoneyin, together with Okenyodo and Hajo Isa, will read from their collections. So that’s another opportunity to hear from these wonderful people who labour through their God-given talents to show us the joys and follies of our lives.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Do-Or-Die Obasanjo


General Olusegun Matthew Okikioa Aremu Obasanjo is one of the luckiest Nigerians. Providence has been so kind to him that he has been able to become almost whatever he had wanted to become. He has been so lucky all his life that his first name should have been Goodluck, not Olusegun. But, yes, ‘Olusegun’ carries with it some heavenly quality, too, because it means “The Lord is victorious”. So, the man has been victorious – over his friends and enemies alike, and over the rest of Nigerians. Apart from being stupendously rich, he enjoys good health; you hardly hear him being rushed into emergency ward or flown abroad for a check on some debilitating ailment. He is also the only Nigerian who ruled the country twice. At least one other Nigerian had tried it and failed, i.e. Muhammadu Buhari, who is still trying.

Obasanjo is also very clever, hence his capacity for leading an intellectual charge even against his worst adversaries. You cannot be dumb and still be able to hold this country by the jugular. Or be the author of several books – Nzeogwu; Not My Will; My Command; This Animal Called Man, among others.

Furthermore, he cheated death many times and seemed to have derived some measure of advantage from his misfortunes. Firstly, he survived the Civil War, in which he commanded the Army’s 3 Marine Commando Division. The war’s fallout, especially the corruption and indolence that set in, conferred on him another opportunity; he became the No. 2 man in the military regime of General Murtala Muhammed. Secondly, Obasanjo was said to have been marked for elimination among some other top military officers in the February 13, 1976 coup d’etat organised by Col. Dimka and Co., but Obasanjo, the then Chief of General Staff, escaped unhurt because the coupists mistook another officer’s car for his. He went on to become head of state because Murtala lost his life in the bloody putsch. Thirdly, he survived the Abacha junta’s gruesome plan for him when he was imprisoned for alleged coup-making. His former deputy, Major-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, wasn’t so lucky; he died in prison. Obasanjo not only survived to tell the story, he also benefited from the confusion that followed the whirlwind Abacha years; he became an elected president in 1999.

With these, one expects Obasanjo, arguably a self-made man, to be amply contented. But the man seems to be restless and perennially insatiable for power and riches. His middle name should have been Controversy, not Aremu. If I were him, I would hate the reputation of being the most controversial former head of state, whose every word has the notoriety of leading the headlines the very next day. Indeed, I would not continue to be controversial, mischievous, or unnecessarily courting trouble. Instead, I would be philosophical, staid, statesmanlike. I would be like Gowon or Shagari.

A number of incidents in recent times have shown that the 74-year-old Obasanjo isn’t interested in becoming a statesman in the mould of Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter or John Major. His victory in the 2003 elections through massive rigging was one. The second was his failed third term bid. The third was his tackle against Atiku Abubakar. The fourth was imposition of Umaru Yar’Adua as president in the 2007 polls not minding the possibility that the man might die in office, causing an intractable political crisis. The fifth was his clinging to the ruling PDP’s board of trustees as chairman, becoming alpha and omega whose word is supposed to supersede the president’s; remember the attempt he made to change the party’s constitution in his favour. The sixth was/is his continuous dabbling into governance and refusal to allow President Jonathan to rule the country his own way. Time magazine once quoted a Western diplomat saying, while describing Obasanjo’s role in the current political system, “He intends to sit in the passenger seat giving advice and ready to grab the wheel if Nigeria goes off course.” This means the former president believes that he alone has the monopoly of answers to Nigeria’s problems and must of necessity guide whoever comes to rule the country.

What inspired this rumination was the statement Obasanjo made on Tuesday during the PDP presidential rally in Lagos. Four days ago, The Punch reported that the former president told the crowd at Tafawa Balewa Square that next month’s general election is a do-or-die one. The translation of a song he sang in his native Yoruba that day says: “Obasanjo cannot condone, Obasanjo would resist if we vote and we don’t win.” Simply put, Obasanjo was saying that the present administration was admitting the possibility of its losing the election but would not accept Nigerians giving their mandate to any candidate other than Jonathan.

The newspaper recalled that Obasanjo had made a similar but much clearer threat during the build-up to the 2007 election. On February 10, 2007, during a meeting of PDP stakeholders in Abeokuta, Obasanjo had said that the elections were a do-or-die affair for his party. “This election is a do-or-die affair for me and the PDP. This coming election is a matter of life and death for PDP and Nigeria,” he was quoted as saying. Pray, how cruder could a former leader be? Many analysts were quick to point out, in retrospect, that the massive rigging that characterised that year’s elections had been carefully planned months earlier and brutally executed by Obasanjo and his goons.

Are we seeing a replay of that scenario? The goings-on in Ogun State, where the former president is pitted against the state governor for the control of the party’s machinery, attests to Obasanjo’s do-or-die propensity. Add that to the unguarded statements Chief Tony Anenih and some other PDP apparatchiks are making during the ongoing hustings, and your puzzle is solved. Surprisingly, Jonathan’s song is different. As opposed to his elders’ chest-thumping, the president has been preaching the gospel of peace, promising free and fair polls and his readiness to quit if he loses. But who should we believe – the commander-in-chief or his commanders who hold the nation by the jugular?

---
Published on the back page of LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, last Saturday

Masu kunnen }ashi!

A makon jiya, gidan talabijin na CNN ya tambayi ]aya daga cikin ’ya’yan Shugaba Muammar Gaddafi na }asar Libya, wato Saiful-Islam Gaddafi, abin da mahaifin sa da ’yan gidan su za su yi tunda ga shi ’yan }asar su na zanga-zangar }in amincewa da mulkin su. Shin za su tsere ne kamar yadda shugaban Tunisiya ya yi, ko }a}a? Sai ya amsa da cewa: “Mu na da Dabara ta 1, da Dabara ta 2 da kuma Dabara ta 3. Dabara ta 1 ita ce za mu ci gaba da zama har mu mutu a Libya. Dabara ta 2 ita ce za mu ci gaba da zama har mu mutu a Libya. Dabara ta 3 ita ce za mu ci gaba da zama har mu mutu a Libya.”

Manufar sa dai ita ce ba za su ta~a barin Libya ba, sai dai a mutu!

Akwai mutum hu]u a cikin ’yan kwanakin nan da su ka yi kunnen uwar shegu da bu}atar da ’yan }asashen su su ke da ita ta cewa lallai su sauka daga karagar mulki don a fito da tsarin mulki irin na dimokira]iyya a }asashen nasu. Wa]annan mutane su ne Shugaba Zine El Abidine Ben Ali na }asar Tunisiya, da Hosni Mubarak na Masar, da Laurent Gbagbo na Cote d’Ivoire, da kuma na baya-bayan nan, wato Kanar Gaddafi na Jamhuriyar Larabawa ta Libya. |ata lokaci ne in tsaya ina fa]a maku cewa tun tuni biyun farko cikin su su ka ari takalmin kare, su ka arce, sannan sauran biyu sun kafe, sun ce ba za su yarda su bar mulki ba ko da kuwa za a yi asarar rayuka ne. Gbagbo ya na tirka-tirka da abokin hamayyar sa na siyasa, wato Malam Alassane Ouattara, wanda shi ne ya lashe babban za~en da aka yi a }asar amma an hana shi kar~ar ragamar mulki, sannan duk }asashen duniya sun yi Allah-wadai da }e}asa }asar da shi Gbagbo ]in ya yi. Har yau ]in nan ana fafatawa a wannan }asar da ke yankin Afrika ta Yamma. A ranar Alhamis ta makon jiya, an yi musanyar harsasai tsakanin ~angarorin biyu a babban birnin }asar, wato Yamoussoukro. Hukumar kula da ’yan gudun hijira ta Majalisar [inkin Duniya (UNHCR) ta ruwaito cewa a}alla mutum 20,000 ne su ka tsere daga sassan birnin Abidjan washegari, su ka nemi mafaka a wasu unguwannin.

Babu ruwan wa]annan mutane masu kunnen }ashi da sauraren wani bahasi ko lalama. Da Ben Ali da Mubarak sun sha alwashin cewa ba za su ta~a sauka daga mulki ba har illa masha Allahu, wai gwamma su yi shahada, to yanzu kuma ga Gaddafi ya na fa]in haka shi ma. Babu shakka, na san akwai ire-iren wa]annan shugabannin da dama a nan Afrika da kuma yankin Gabas ta Tsakiya. To amma mutanen su ba za su sake yarda su na yaudarar su da }aryar cewa su ’yan kishin }asa ne ko kuma masu }in jinin Amurka ba ne. Jama’a sun riga sun }yaro su, ba su bu}atar komai sai sauyi daga mulkin danniya zuwa mulkin dimokira]iyya. Tuni jama’ar }asashen Yemen, Bahrain, da Jodan su ka shiga sahun takwarorin su na Tunisiya; dubban mutane sun fito kan tituna su na zanga-zangar bu}atar sauyin siyasa. Mugun martanin da shugabannin su su ke aika masu, sam, bai karya masu lago ba.

A yanzu dai rikicin }asar Libya wanda duk duniya ta fi sa wa ido saboda muhimmancin sa, ya fara hawa hanyar da rikice-rikicen Tunisiya da Masar su ka hau tun daga watan Janairu. Don haka za mu iya cewa ramin }aryar Gaddafi }urarre ne. Duk da irin cika-bakin da ya ke yi, shi da ]an sa Saiful-Islam, akwai alamun cewa mulki ya soma su~uce masa, tunda ga shi ’yan tawaye sun amshe rabin }asar daga hannun sa. Gwamnatin sa, kamar ta Mubarak, ta ginu ne bisa ru~a~~en kadarkon da iyalan sa da ’yan }abilar sa su ka tallabe. To amma tsawon shekaru 40 da aka yi ana mulkin kama-karya ya sa wannan kadarkon bai da sauran }arko a zamanin yau. Tuni duniya ta sauya, amma su wa]annan masu mulkin danniyar da ke Afrika da yankin Gabas ta Tsakiya sun kasa fahimtar hakan. Ba fa zai yiwu ka ci gaba da mulkar jama’a a tsawon lokaci ba tare da ka take ha}}in ]an’adam ba. Mutane ba za su ci gaba da bu}atar ka ba ko da kuwa ka cimma nasarorin gina }asa kamar yadda Gaddafi ya yi. Za su so su samu sauyi, su ]an sarara.

Shure-shure bai hana mutuwa, Gaddafi zai fa]o }asa warwas domin kuwa dukkan dalilan da su ka sa aka cimma nasara a juyin-juya-hali a Tunisiya da Masar akwai su a wannan kacaniyar ta Libya. Na farko, jama’ar Libya su na zanga-zangar bu}atar ya sauka daga mulki a birane da dama. Na biyu, mutane ’yan asalin wasu }asashen su na ta guduwa daga }asar a yayin da wutar rikicin ke }ara ruruwa. Na uku, wasu manyan }usoshin gwamnatin sa su na ta yin murabus. Sun ha]a da ’yan Tawagar Libya a Majalisar [inkin Duniya a birnin Jeniba, wa]anda su ka aje aiki a daidai lokacin da ake taron Cibiyar Kare ’Yancin [an’adam ta Majalisar [inkin Duniya a ran Juma’a ta makon jiya. Sa’annan su ma ’yan tawagar Libya a taron {ungiyar {asashen Larabawa (Arab League) sun aje aiki a birnin Al}ahira ran Juma’ar makon jiya, su ka ce su yanzu wakilan talakawan Libya ne ba na Gaddafi ba. Na hu]u, manyan }asashen duniya, wa]anda duk mai mulkin danniya zai bu}aci tagomashin su, sun juya wa Gaddafi baya. Akwai ha]in gwiwa a tsakanin su kan yadda za a tunku]o da gwamnatin sa, ta hanyar yin amfani da hanyoyin diflomasiyya da na kafafen ya]a labarai. Shi ya sa a kowane lokaci ba labarin da ake yi a manyan tashoshin talabijin na duniya irin su CNN da Aljazeera da BBC World sai na Libya. Hakan ya taimaka wajen harbo gwamnatocin danniya na Tunisiya da Masar. {asar Faransa ta bayyana }a}aba wa Libya takunkumin karya tattalin arziki. Amerika da Birtaniya sun janye goyon bayan su ga Gaddafi.

Majalisar [inkin Duniya, ta hanyar cibiyoyin ta, ta kafa wa Libya }ahon zu}a. Misali, Hukumar Ciyar da {asashe Gaba ta Majalisar [inkin Duniya (UN Development Programme) ta kori ]iyar Gaddafi, wato Aisha al-Gaddafi, daga mu}amin jakadar musamman, ba don komai ba sai saboda ya}ar ’yan zanga-zanga da ake yi a Libya. Shi kan sa sakatare-janar na majalisar, wato Mista Ban Ki-moon, ya fito }arara ya ragargaji Gaddafi saboda yin watsi da ya yi da kiran da ya yi masa na ya daina harbe masu zanga-zanga. Cibiyar Kare Ha}}in [an’adam ta Majalisar [inkin Duniya ta yi taro a birnin Janiba na }asar Siwizalan inda aka fitar da kakkausar suka kan Libya.

Duk a wannan har}allar, munafinci da rashin tsare amana na }asashen Turai da Amurka sun fito fili. Misali, mun san cewa Amurka da Tarayyar Turai sun sha ]aure wa azzaluman shugabanni gindi, musamman a Afrika da Gabas ta Tsakiya, ba don komai ba sai don su na biya masu bu}atun su. Bu}atun sun ha]a da ba su damar sayen man fetur arha, da ba su ha]in kai kan matsalar ’yan ci-rani da ke shigar masu }asa, da tsaro na yankuna, da ya}i da ta’addanci da kuma hana bun}asar addinin Musulunci a fa]in duniya. To amma da zarar sun ci moriyar ganga sai su yada kwauren ta. Da ma Gaddafi ba nasu ba ne, ba kamar Mubarak ba. Da ma su na kallon sa a matsayin ]an taratsi. To sai ga shi kuma ya shiga uku. Don haka kun ga sun samu damar da za su bi duk hanyar da za su bi don su kakka~o shi daga she}ar sa. Saboda haka dai masassarar da ta ci shugaban Tunisiya da na Masar ba za ta bar shi ba; abin da ya ci Doma, ba ya barin Awai. Ko ya so ko ya }i sai mulki ya koma hannun talakawa, wato mulkin dimokira]iyya.

Ka zama aminin ’ya’yan ka!

Duk uba ya na so ya samu kintsattsen ]a, ballantana a ce mai haza}a ne. Ya na so ’ya’yan sa su kasance masu }o}ari a makaranta, masu girmama na gaba da su, masu ]a’a, masu tsare gaskiya, masu tsafta, masu tsoron Allah, masu sauraren ra’ayin da ba su yarda da shi ba, wayayyu, masu jin }ai ga marasa galihu da marasa lafiya ko marasa }arfi, da sauran su. Haka kuma ya na yi masu addu’ar samun nasara a rayuwa, ta hanyar arziki ko samun ci-gaba a wurin aikin su. To, in kuwa haka ne, ya za mu yi mu reni ’ya’yan da za su kasance nagari?

Kwanan nan, ni da wani aboki na mu ka shiga hira kan irin yaran da ake samu a wannan zamanin namu, kai har ma kan yadda mu ke mu’amala da junan mu a cikin al’umma. Na girgiza matu}a kan yadda na ga hul]a ta na }ara }azancewa a }asar mu a yau, musamman ma tsakanin iyaye da ’ya’yan su, maza da matan auren su, malamai da ]aliban su, shugabannin addini da mabiyan su, da kuma ’yan siyasa da nasu mabiyan. Kawai a dalilin }in amincewar da mu ka yi kan abin da ya kamata da wanda bai kamata ba a al’umma, sai ka ga wasu su na ta ya}ar juna. Duk an maye gurbin hanyoyin }warai na sasanci ko gyara koma]ar hul]a da wasu sakarkarun hanyoyin da ba za su ta~a haifa mana da ]a mai ido ba.

A shekarun baya, iyaye da sauran shugabannin al’umma su kan horas da ’ya’yan su ne ta hanyar matsi, su na gudun kada su kauce wa hanya su lalace ta hanyar bin wasu ababen rayuwar zamani. Su na gudun kada ’ya’ya su kangare, su zama marasa ]a’a. Ana yi wa ’ya’ya horo da bulala ko tsabga don kada su lalace.

A hirar da mu ka yi da abokin nan nawa, na fi nuna damuwa ne kan yadda mu ke tarbiyyantar da ’ya’yan mu, tare da kawo hujjoji. Irin tarbiyyar da aka yi mana mu na yara ita ce babban dalilin da ya sa mu ka zama abin da mu ka zama a yau. A wancan zamanin, ana horas da ]a ne ta hanyoyi da dama, wa]anda su ka ha]a da lalama da kuma hukunci mai tsanani. Shi aboki na, wanda mabiyin gargajiya ne in an zo maganar tarbiyyar ’ya’ya, ya yi amanna da cewa rashin matsanta wa ’ya’ya da iyaye ke yi a yau shi ne ya haifar da lalacewar ’ya’ya da yawa.

To amma abin tambaya shi ne: shin duk magidantan da ke da ]a’a da yakana a yau sai da su ka sha kashi daga hannun magabatan su kenan? Shin hanyar tarbiyya ta zamanin da ta fi ta yanzu kuwa? Babu shakka, akwai hikima mai }arfi a hanyoyin da iyayen mu da kakannin mu su ka bi a nasu zamanin, to amma fa tuni abubuwa su ka soma canzawa. Iyaye da malaman makaranta na wannan zamanin sun fara tunanin ko akwai alfanu a cikin duka ko zagin ’ya’ya don a koya masu abin da ya dace da wanda bai dace su yi ko su fa]i ba. Sun fara yarda da cewa zai iya yiwuwa a koyar da ’ya’ya tarbiyya mai kyau ba tare da an ri}a zane su a kai a kai ba. Sirrin abin shi ne kai uba ko uwa ka tabbar da cewa akwai kyakkyawar dangantaka tsakanin ka da ]a ko ’yar ka; ka koyar ta hanyar nagartattar halayya kai kan ka, kuma ka jawo iyalin ka a jika. Ya na da muhimmanci ga iyaye su ri}a magana a kai a kai da ’ya’yan su, su saurari abin da su ke cewa. Rashin }ulla zumunci da ’ya’yan mu ya na gina katangar }arfe a zukata, wadda ita kuma ta kan haifar da abubuwan ~acin rai. Idan ’ya’yan mu sun ~ata mana rai, mu fito mu fa]a masu, mu nuna masu kuskuren su, maimakon mu haukace mu dinga fitina. Mu tabbatar da cewa mu na aiki da a}idar }in yin gaba ko rashin ]asawa da ’ya’yan mu, wato abin da zan kira da “rashin yin gaba a tsakanin mu.” A ta}aice, iyaye, malaman makaranta har ma da ma’aurata za su iya tirjewa ba tare da sun tsauwala ba a kan a}idar su ta rayuwa.

Zan rufe wannan ma}alar da wani labari da wani mutum mai suna Mista Arun Gandhi, wanda jika ne ga babban ]an kishin }asar nan na }asar Indiya, wato marigayi Mahatma Gandhi, ya ta~a bayarwa a wurin wani taro da aka yi a Jami’ar Puerto Rico a ran 9 ga Yuni, 2010. Shi Arun, wanda shi ne shugaban cibiyar fidda sa~ani ta M.K. Gandhi, wato M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-violence, ya yi wannan bayanin ne a wani jawabi da ya gabatar a matsayin misalin zaman lumana a cikin iyali. Ga abin da ya ke cewa:

“Ina ]an shekara 16 da haihuwa kuma ina zaune tare da iyaye na a cibiyar da kaka na ya kafa a wani wuri da ke mil 18 a bayan garin Durban, a }asar Afrika ta Kudu, a cikin gonakin rake. Mu na zaune a gidan gona, inda ba mu da ma}wabta, don haka sai ya kasance ni da ’yan’uwana mata guda biyu mu kan so mu samu damar shiga cikin gari ziyarar abokai ko kuma mu shiga silima.

“Ran nan sai mahaifi na ya bu}ace ni da in tu}a mota in kai shi gari don halartar wani taro na kwana ]aya. Murna ta kama ni. Da yake zan shiga gari, sai mahaifiya ta ta ba ni jerin sunayen wasu kayan lambu da ta ke so in sawo mata, kuma da yake zan wuni a cikin garin, shi ma baba na sai ya ba ni wasu ayyukan da ya ke so in yi masa, ciki har da yi wa motar sabis. Da na aje baba na a wurin taron da safe, sai ya ce mani, ‘Mu ha]u a nan da }arfe 5:00 na yamma, sannan mu wuce zuwa gida.’

“Da sauri, na gama ayyuka na, sai na zarce kai-tsaye zuwa wani gidan silima da ke kusa. Na tsunduma cikin kallon wani fim ]in Amurka na jarumi John Wayne, ban ankara ba har }arfe 5:30 ta yi sannan na tuna. Kafin in je garejin gayan mota in ]auko mota in tafi inda baba na ke jira na, har }arfe 6:00 ta yi. Cikin damuwa, ya tambaye ni, ‘Me ya sa ka makara?’

“Ina jin kunyar in fa]a masa gaskiyar cewa na tsaya kallon fim ]in John Wayne ne, sai na ce, ‘Ba su gama aikin motar da wuri ba, shi ya sa na tsaya,’ ashe ban sani ba har ya buga waya garejin, ya gano komai. Da ya gane cewa }arya na ke, sai ya ce: ‘A gaskiya akwai wani abu wanda ba daidai ba a yadda na tarbiyyantar da kai wanda ya sa ba ka da }arfin halin fa]a mani gaskiya. Saboda haka, don in fahimci ko ina ne na yi kuskure game da kai, zan taka a }asa mil 18 zuwa gida in yi tunanin abin.’ Saboda haka dai, a cikin shigar sa ta kwat da wando da takalma sau ciki, sai ya fara takawa zuwa gida da dare a kan hanya marasa kwalta, kuma a duhu. Ba zan iya tafiya in bar shi ba, don haka sai da mu ka shafe awa biyar da rabi ina bin sa a baya da mota, ina kallon mahaifi na ya na shan ba}ar wahala kawai saboda shirmen }aryar da na shara. Tun a lokacin na sha alwashin cewa ba zan }ara yin }arya ba.

“A ko yaushe, na kan yi tunani kan wannan abin, kuma ina tunanin cewa in da ya hukunta ni ta yadda mu ke hukunta ’ya’yan mu a yau, to da ban koyi darasi ba ko }iris. Ban tsammanin zan iya. Da kawai zan sha wuyar hukuncin da ya yi mani, amma zan ci gaba da aikata kuskuren da na yi. To amma wannan abin guda ]aya da ya yi na nuna rashin fushi ya yi matu}ar tasiri a rayuwa ta, ta yadda ina ganin kamar jiya jiyan nan abin ya faru. Wannan shi ne }arfin }in yin fushi.”

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Men Without Ears


"We have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. Plan A is to live and die in Libya. Plan B is to live and die in Libya. Plan C is to live and die in Libya."

– Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, talking to CNN yesterday on the ruling family’s option in the wake of the deadly protests in the North African country.

Four men have in recent times defied the demands of their countrymen to vacate their presidential palaces so that a system that would lead to the creation of all-inclusive governments in their countries could be instituted. These men are Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire, and, last but not the least, Muammar Ghaddafi of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. It is no longer news that while the first two have kissed the dust and bolted, the others are staying put, insisting on protecting their dubious mandates with the last drop of their blood. Gbagbo is holding out against his rival Alassane Ouattara, who won the country’s presidential election but has been denied his mandate, and the international community which has consistently condemned Gbagbo’s refusal to step down. Violence has continued to rock the West African country. Just two days ago, gunfire was exchanged in the Ivorian capital Yamoussoukro between security forces loyal to Gbagbo and residents in an area loyal to Ouattara. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that at least 20,000 people fled the conflict-torn district of Abidjan yesterday and sought shelter in other parts of the city.

These men seem to have no ears to listen to reason. Both Ben Ali and Mubarak had vowed to fight till the end, offering to attain martyrdom, a message now being echoed by Gaddafi. Yes, there are many more of such men in Africa and in the Middle East. But they can no longer deceive their people with rhetoric of nationalism or anti-Americanism. People want a change from dictatorship to democracy. Yemen, Bahrain, and Jordan are already catching the Tunisian cold as tens of thousands of people took to the streets yesterday to demand political reforms. Their rulers’ savage response does not cow them.

As at now, the Libyan conundrum, which the world is watching more keenly because of the high stakes involved, appears to be going the way of the ones that took place in Tunisia and Egypt since January. Which makes it permissible to say that Gaddafi’s days in power are numbered. In spite of his and his son Saif al-Islam’s braggadocio, the president is gradually losing control of the levers of power, with large chunks of the country being taken over by rebellious protesters. His government, like Mubarak’s, is woven around an outdated power structure built on family and tribal loyalty. But years of dictatorship has made such a structure untenable in the modern age. The world has changed, but these iron-fisted dictators in Africa and the Arab world appear not to know that. However, you cannot rule a people for longer than necessary without committing human rights abuses. The people will not want you to be there longer than normal because no matter your sterling achievements or how paternalistic your regime is, they would want to have some fresh air.

Gaddafi is bound to fall because all the main characteristics of the successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt are present in the unfolding tumult in Libya. One, the Libyan people are amassing in various cities demanding for the president to leave. Two, various nationals are fleeing the country just as the crisis escalates. Three, top members of the regime are withdrawing their services. They included Libya’s Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, who resigned their post as official envoys of Tripoli in the middle of a special session of the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, specially convened to discuss possible sanctions against Libya.

The county’s delegation to the Arab League, also yesterday, in Cairo, renounced links to Gaddafi and said they now represented the will of the people. The delegation changed their name to "the representative of Libyan people to the Arab League." Four, support by the international community, which is key to the survival of any dictator, is being lost by the hour. There is full coordination to fell the regime, using diplomatic and media power. Libya is on a round-the-clock loop on international broadcasters like CNN, Aljazeera and BBC World, which played a significant role in bringing down the authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. France is imposing full sanctions. America and Britain have withdrawn support. The United Nations, through its specialised agencies, are applying the heat. The UN Development Programme dropped Gaddafi’s daughter, Aisha al-Gaddafi, as a goodwill ambassador following the crackdown on anti-government protesters. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon blasted Gaddafi for ignoring his call to stop violence against protesters, which the UN chief stressed to the Libyan leader during a 40-minute conversation this week.

The double-dealing in diplomacy is glaring once again. Both the U.S. and the EU have supported authoritarian regimes in Africa and the Middle East because of their enlightened self-interest. Their interests are in gaining access to oil, immigration issues, regional security, terrorism and checking Islamic resurgence globally. Gaddafi has never been in their good books anyway like, say, Mubarak. He has always been regarded as a pariah. Now, it is easy to justify his ouster. The contagion of the Tunisian catarrh will not spare him – or any similar dictator, for that matter. Power is returning to the hands of the people, finally.

----
Published in LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, last Saturday