It is important that I deal with the general reactions, and how it reveals us as a vacuous people, devoid of substance, majoring in the minor.
“Won fi ete si’le: won n’pa lapa-lapa”. They neglect to treat the virulent eprosy, even as they labor to find a treatment for the benign ringworm. We are a people that have been perverted and robbed of purpose, and shorn of purpose, we have become as flotsam, and not unlike jetsam. Yeye Rollers, constantly doing Yeye Rolling. All motion and no movement.
In a country seriously lacking in men and women of conscience, in a place where the daily struggles for a perilous existence has rendered men completely existential in their outlook on life, and in a country that is only effectively symbolized by putrefaction, stultification, and painful regression, those cursed with the capacity to align actions, inactions, cause and effect, consequences: intended and unintended, are doomed to a lifetime of inescapable pains. They are the true victims of societal insanity, and they react or respond in different ways.
At the peak of my frustrations with the Nigerian state, and in the heat of the Sowore Edi, I took a decision not to comb my hair until the release of the comrades. As the critical space has shrank over the years, and as the avenues for the ventilation of civic grievances have been systematically eroded, I have tended to find personal avenues for protesting issues that I have disagreed with, both in my private space, and in the Nigerian state.
When Obasanjo nursed his 3rd term ambition, I wouldn’t shave my head as I was wont to in those days, until he left. When I dithered over the completion of Do Not Die In Their War, I gave up the right to shave my beard. When I resumed the right to do as I pleased in both cases, I ultimately exercised the right to keep first the Afro grown in protest of Obasanjo’s madness, and then the beard grown in protest at my own procrastinations over the book. “Agba Jalingo, the last one has been released” came first, and “when are you combing your hair?” Followed in quick order.
In the immediate aftermath of the news of Agba’s release, I was inundated with the question above. It came in torrent, and whilst I was originally bemused about being asked, my bemusement percolated and was soon replaced by a form of resentment. I was bemused that my hair was important enough for my friends, and then irritated that the real points and the intended messages had been lost, in the fixation on the symbolism of my personal struggle.
In the time when I have sent my combs on exile, the Obasanjo Afro has become natty and there are now actual locks at the end of some strands, my tardiness induced beard, has with time, become locked and tangled as well, I have the beginnings of a Rastafarian look, and it has earned me a few anecdotes to be shared sometime in the future. But in closing this morning’s sermon, it is important that I deal with the general reactions, and how it reveals us as a vacuous people, devoid of substance, majoring in the minor. Abi na minuses.
I went to the Ministry Of Justice in a state in the South Western part of Nigeria a couple of weeks ago, I had an official meeting with the Honourable Attorney-General of the state. The car I drove was waved through several layers of security checks, and I was parked in what would be the reserved parking lot in the ministry parking lot. The car assured the parking attendant that the day’s lunch would be sumptuous. The guy looked doubtful about the wisdom of his calculations once I alighted from the car, what with the wild Afro, and the unkempt beard, but he must have reassured himself, as I appeared dressed for the part. He watched with some degree of consternation as I walked into the main building.
The mobile policemen at the main entrance visibly lunged for their guns when I stepped into the reception, and it took them all of a full minute before they regained their composure. The mad man they saw at my entrance, soon became an eccentric man, Naijaspeak for a rich mad man. The oscillations between the sighting of the mad man, and the eccentric rich man, happened with such amazing frequency, that you would appear to be watching a game of tennis, for the speed of the transition in the comprehension of the people that I would meet in the course of the personal protest I started on the 9th of December 2019.
Yes, Agba Jalingo is finally out on bail. Yes, Yele and Mandate are also out. Equally on bail. I will ask that you ask yourselves, what victories have we won, by their release on bail?
None of these men should have spent a single day in a cell. None of these men should have ever been charged with any crimes. The continuation of their trials should anger and arouse every conscious Nigerian into demanding justice for every Nigerian in our cells nationwide. How many Sowore, Agba, and Mandate, are in our prisons today? How many victims of unconscionable and unaccounting powers are in our cells? How have we come to accept injustice as normal? How does the state explain the suppression of men and women of conscience, when it continues to treat terrorists, rank thieves, and the looters of the commonwealth, as VIPs?
I will comb my hair when I damn well please, or I might decide to continue my private protest and rebuke against the society that continues to major in the minuses. It is my head, and it is my hair. I am not the one that is mad, it is my society that is insane. Comb the Nigerian state and its political class, straighten the crooked and evil governance systems, put the straighteners through the educational system, comb out the crooks sitting in judgment in our courts. Then come and be talking to me about MY HAIR.
Written 22 February, 2020.