I am inviting you all to weaponize your brains, to prepare yourselves for the unavoidable struggles for your liberation, and for the very future of our children and generations yet unborn.
By the time I was to start my primary school education, I had just turned five years old, and I was something of a runt. But the storied touches to the opposite earlobe, was not a part of the admission process into elementary schools by the time my generation was being admitted. There had been a deliberate and rapid expansion of primary school capacities, and the only demand for entry, was that the child be of age. Five was the magic number, and having turned five in April, I was moved from the age of jeleosinmi to the primary school. Do not forget: I was the runt of the litter.
Being the runt wouldn’t have mattered a jot, but I was also the one with the jokes. The mealy mouthed one that could be counted on to be in the midst of each and every mischief in the class, and in the playgrounds. I was always quick with my tongue, and my wits were much faster than my mouth. A complete lack of discretion assured that the older and much bigger boys, were sure to be offered genuine reasons to want to tan my hide, and shut my loud mouth for me.
I quickly learnt the limits of my own physical incapacities, and how to avoid getting into physical conflicts, unless it be as a last resort, and in self defense.
Whatever lessons I might have failed to learn at Inalende, were quickly taken onboard once I was transferred to Abadina Primary School in primary four. Abadina Primary School was a potpourri of Nigeria’s many nationalities. The children were tougher, meaner, not the ones that I knew at Inalende, and much less forgiving of runts afflicted by oral diarrhea. Abadina showed me the limits of my physical capacities, and taught me to never be dependent on them. I am a lover, not a fighter.
I was 10 years old when I was admitted into Fiditi Grammar School, I had just finished Primary Five, but the precocious kid that I was, I had been pushed by my mother to write the entrance examinations into the Federal and State Schools, and whilst I was offered admission to both school systems, it was to my mother’s village school, that I was shipped.
I remained the runt I was, in spite of the fact that my brains appeared to have been mismatched with my body, and my tongue remained as unruly as it had ever been, but Fiditi branded the values of the Yoruba cultural demand that “ejo la ko, baba eni’kan ki ko ija” into my consciousness. Dialogue is to be preferred ahead of a resort to fisticuffs. But what choice did I ever really have? I was probably a year younger than anyone else in my class, and I was without any shadow of doubt, the physically weakest, the only one that everyone else could beat.
I compensated for my lack of physicality with an exceptionally acerbic tongue, and an irreverent sense of humor that ensured that the victims were first disarmed by a deliberately self deprecating joke, that would have me as the subject of the assured guffaws, and just whilst the intended victim was in the throes of the mirth birthed at my expense, I would measure the victim for the coup de grace, and make him the subject of the joke I’d always had in mind for him.
It would have been considered churlish to presume to beat the runt for a joke shared by all, and these were the only times that I managed to escape the likes of Demola Erin Lakatabu. Another story for another day. Suffice to say that Fiditi taught me how to speak truth to the oppressive and unconscionably powerful, and how to be passively resistant to oppression and to oppressors.
My embrace of pacifism is rooted in these childhood experiences, and as I have grown up, I have come to the knowledge of the truth of the existential evil that the Nigerian state truly is. I have known of the iniquitous nature of my country Nigeria, from when I was in my teenage years. My first experience with the amorality of the Nigerian state was at the age of sixteen, when a policeman slapped sense into my young skull at OSCAS in Ile-Ife. I have recounted the story elsewhere, and it was the day I received sense about the nature of the Nigerian state, and the delusional nature of any claims to citizenship by a Nigerian.
I have grown up learning to weaponize my brains. If I couldn’t fight my peers physically, a condition forced on me by the twin factors of my relative youth, when compared with my contemporaries in every school until LASU alale, and the fact that I simply wasn’t exactly a physical specimen of masculinity in my youth, I was determined to hold my own in any battle of wits, and this was where I could match, and occasionally surpass the best of them.
I am inviting you all to weaponize your brains, to prepare yourselves for the unavoidable struggles for your liberation, and for the very future of our children and generations yet unborn. Lend me your ears, and open your brains, it is time for us all, to weaponize our brains.
The Nigerian state has determined to stay on its current trajectories, and the unrestrained force with which yesterday’s protest by the Revolution Now Movement was put down, speaks volumes about the readiness of our rulers to maintain the status quo at all cost. That a state that declares itself a democracy, has no room for the peaceful assembly of its citizens, in protest of the government’s actions and or inactions, illustrates the lies about our democracy, but should not discourage the citizens quest for freedom.
It is time to begin to examine the rafts of nonviolent, and contactless protests that might be available to us, as a first step towards building the consciousness of the Nigerian peoples, across all classes and professions, including the police and our armed forces. It is time to deliberately connect the people to the struggles for the liberation of our country, and the situation demands that we redefine the struggles in context, for the Nigerian peoples. It is only after we might have awakened a critical mass to the compelling need for change, that we should move the theater of protest to the streets.
Our struggle is not a pro democracy one, it has for too long been mischaracterized as one, ours is a liberation struggle, and our rulers are our common enslavers. We have lost our citizenship rights, and been rendered serfs and subjects in our newly minted feudalized democracy, whilst our rulers are the pashas and emirs, a superclass above the law. The Nigerian policeman and his colleagues in the armed forces are part and parcel of us, they are also victims of the evil governance systems that they are today upholding and helping to scaffold. It is our sacred duties to educate them, even as we educate ourselves, that we are all victims together, and they strengthen our common chains of enslavement, when they harm unarmed protesters.
Weaponize your brains.