Nze Sylva’s Corner: Nigeria and the Standing Fan Analogy
So some weeks ago, I got to trend on twitter. Calm down, before you start shouting, iz a lie, let me clarify. To be very sincere, it was not me as in me that hit the trends map, it was, a random tweet of mine that made it to the top of Nigeria’s hyperactive tweetosphere. The object of my stardom, yes stardom, stop beefing, was a line dropped carelessly by a taxi driver who I had struck a conversation with. He just said it like that as he was giving me gist on how someone he helped one time was now doing him anyhow now that he had been met with some hardship. I suspected the whole gist was to make me add something extra to our agreed fare but given the kind of ear that I have, I knew once I heard it, that it was packed. So I tweeted it sharply. Before we got to the airport, it was already being retweeted like the wisest words since God said “let us make man a helpmate.”
So what did he say? “This world na standing fan. If e blow you small. E go blow another person small.”
The reaction to the tweet was just spontaneous, and the engagement, organic. Okay that’s me trying to sound like all these social media consultants. In simple English, a whole lot of people quite naturally connected to those words and there were all sorts of interesting comments which in themselves were equally packed in their commonsensical wisdom.
One of the comments that caught me was to the effect that in Nigeria unfortunately, the leaders have kuku pinned the head of the standing fan so that it is no longer rotating and is now only blowing them, their family and cronies. Kai! Flesh and blood could not have revealed this fact to the person who posted it. In a way and if you really think deeply about it, you will come to agree that, that is essentially a summary of the trouble with Nigeria.
The Nigerian standing fan is pinned to a spot. E dey blow only some people forever and ever.
And the rest of us are sweating in the heat. Or drenched in the rain… on the other side. Suffering and smiling like Fela sang. In fact, it doesn’t even seem these days like we are also entitled to the air from this fan. Somehow the gods of Nigeria have ensured the natural law of nature as epitomized by the rotating standing fan or as captured by other lines like “everything na turn by turn,” or if you like “chop I chop”, does not find expression in these parts. They have confiscated the fan by themselves and for themselves.
So yes, we have our own adaptation of Animal farm’s “All fingers are equal but some fingers are more equal than others”
In no place on planet earth is inequality and marginalization of a section more evident than in Nigeria. Any place worse than us must be hell fire. Sincerely, I can’t imagine such a place exists. I saw a picture that brought tears to my eyes the other day on twitter. Somebody had placed side by side the picture of a man carrying the lifeless body of his son (killed by a stray bullet during the commando style invasion, sorry demolition of the Owerri main market) and that of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo hugging and smiling to the camera with his son who had apparently just accomplished an academic milestone at some foreign university.
And need I remind us that Universities are currently shut down, the public ones that is. The children of those who pinned the fan to themselves are enjoying summer in the abroad and uploading their Instagram pages with their farts and vomitus, sorry, that is hate speech. I meant, their filtered pictures and vain videos.
Staying on the topic of demolitions, it would appear those who have monopolized the enjoyment of the fan are often irked by the sight of the sweaty bodies of the rest of us on the other side that they want nothing more than to make us disappear. Think Otodo gbame. Think Okobaba. Think. Think again. Sigh. I am tired of thinking.
Let’s not even talk about the pay disparity in this country. Let’s not even go there. Do you know that in this country, some people are collecting salary and allowances as Senators (the retirement home for governors) and also collecting very fat pension which they fixed for themselves, from their states? Meanwhile some others are collapsing and dying on the queues waiting to get trickles after serving this country all through their most productive years, with absolutely nothing to show for it. But like I said, let’s not even go there. Somebody can just get angry for nothing over it.
But wait a minute. It is not only the politicians that have pinned the fan o. Your pastors too have perfected the act after all, it is only them that deserve cushioned sits in the front row in church. Have you seen your pastor’s summer vacation pictures? The Lord is really good. While he is cruising in his limousine and stepping out in those suits whose prize tags run like telephone numbers – all evidence of tithe payers money in action, you are jumping danfo and stitching your old trouser to make it to your umpteenth job interview in a month, harassing God for not locating you. Listen up, it is not that the grace of The Almighty has refused to locate you, it is just that the place you are standing, the standing fan is not reaching that side.
Oh did I just cross the red line? I better be on my way before these children of anger come for me. But seriously, we need to do something to get the Nigerian Standing fan rotating as it ought to, again. The first step is to observe that the fan is actually not rotating and to get angry about it. But it shouldn’t stop there. Anger alone is not productive. Anger must turn into a resolve. Something that translates into “our mumu don do.” And then action. Your voter’s card. Yes. That is the answer if we are ever going to then that fan to turn in our direction.