The middle class has been conditioned to focus on existential issues, to the exclusion of any other preoccupations
I got your attention with the oxymoronic heading for my essay now, didn’t I? I enjoy showing off. But the thing is even as I clown, I am also being dead serious. A man may be truly knowledgeable but be unbelievably foolish all at the same time. Wisdom after all, is to be found in the application of knowledge, not in its acquisition.
I am not blind to the very real and original sin of the likes of me, who in spite of knowing the truth, and sometimes living truthfully in their private space, assume their false pulpits – religious and secular – rail against the system, but fall short of articulating viable alternatives behind which the people may be united and galvanized.
Guilty as charged.
My current bugbear however, is to be found with the arrogance of foolish knowledge. I plead guilty to this most foul of idiocy myself, and I urge that you hold yourself guilty in advance. It makes the task of repentance that much easier. If you are a member of the asphyxiating Nigerian middle class, raise your hand.
How can these Ekiti people sell their votes? Shut up! Do you know what it means to be hungry? If you once were, do you remember how it felt? Do you remember the stomach-churning pains? The ones that come from the seeming absence of anything for the worms in your stomach, and being hungry they have decided to manage your innards?
Do you remember?
If you have ever felt, or can use your privileged education in some elitist past that had included stints in the boarding schools, and hostels of my youth, be that in Nigeria, or abroad, and which must have acquainted you with transient hunger, imagine a father going to bed hungry, assured that his dear wife, a civil servant, just as himself, and neither of whom have been paid their wages in months!
How can the dancing buffoon become the governor of Osun? The guy’s certificate is looking even faker than Buhari’s, Kemi’s, ati beebee le. Sebi Jagaban gave assurances that their treasury is too lean to be of interest to his busy eyes? Why would they reject the ‘genius’ ‘from Irabiji, the anointed one and favorite of the smiling devil? The very same they’d experienced? The years devoured by the locust.
Rationality ends where hunger begins.
The long-forgotten Nigerians – the really poor and the truly wretched – are increasing in number. Their fathers and mothers are training them. They are here, watching and learning. They are learning how to sell their worthless votes. Votes they’ve learned brings no changes to the abject misery of their daily existence. They are learning about their country in real time, and with hunger as a tool for concentration.
One of them cleaned your windscreen for a token the other day. You exasperatedly shooed one away. And gosh, the snotty-nosed ones pushing themselves against the windows? They’re here, watching, and they’re learning. They’ll be better prepared than your kids and mine to survive in the jungle we’re building for them.
Are the people masochists to behave as they currently have done? I believe not. I believe that we are actually watching in real life, clear evidence of the resounding success of the weaponised poverty that has been the lot of the Nigerian people, even as legitimate opportunities for class migration are sealed off to the poor, and poverty assured.
The middle class has been conditioned to focus on existential issues to the exclusion of any other preoccupations. In the absence of a national vision, vacuous religiosity abounds. As the State failed in healthcare delivery, schools, security, name it, the middle class has struggled to provide alternatives, and the ones that were schooled in government-owned schools cannot now afford to allow their children in a school system that imparts anything but knowledge.
The poor can see. In the absolute simplicity of their knowledge, they have found the wisdom to be bought. I am sure they’ll accept the best price that their impotent votes will fetch in the market. They will do this without the liability of foolish knowledge. They are clear and certain about what they see.
Iru iro, niborun. One is not different from the other; APC, oh, PDP oh, all na one, and all na the same. Six, and half a dozen. Your middle class cocoon insulates you from the painful realities of the failed State. but while you can afford to believe the lies you have helped entrenched; he lives the truth of the lies you are telling.
Here, an invitation to ponder just a thought. Your darling children, or be it for your selfish self, that you pretend to live; how great does it look, when you behold the future that today foretells? All right; just one more; just how well would your precious ones compete in the Nigerian State, the one they will inherit from you?
First published 25 September, 2018.