Saturday, June 11, 2005

The new Orishas

The nightly excursions to save the African continent and turn its poverty into history conceived by caring white men and extended through their grace, exalted by the world media and desired on bended needs by aid addicts is enough to make any child of Africa sick. But these new gods are not to blame neither can we ritually sacrifice our rulers in a fit of pique.

Why I wonder is Africa 'poor', the truth is that we are only as poor as we chose to believe never mind that it serves the purpose of the new gods we worship to have us think thus. Poverty is defined in this case largely in material terms and more crudely by the values and standards that has been passed down through the institutions from which we must worship. The United Nations, WTO, World Bank, UNDP et al, they define our sins and provide reports of our paths to righteousness. In all ways we have become a caricature caught between the cruel and whimsical experimentation of our new deities from Structural adjustment, democracy, transparency et al and the crumbling of the ways of our ancestors. It is a poor sight indeed watching the clowns in the AU Head of state picture, dressed in jackets at 90 degrees in the shade and wrap ropes around their necks confirming their roles as aspiring priests to the demi gods of the west.

At the core of where we as Africans find ourselves is a true belief in the superiority and reverence for the ideas of the new orishas. We are convinced we are poor and we act poorly. In my village in moniya everyone earns less than a dollar a day but they eat fresh organic food. They have no cars and there roads are largely untarred but the breath fresh air. Life is not particularly long but for every need and pain there are scores of people waiting to help. Of course there is backbiting but whether you call it 'umbumtu' or ' eniyan ni aso mi' we exist as an extention and continuum between our ancestors, ourselves and posterity. We live the fullness of our passions and express the depth of our pains. We now live for the approval of the new gods, we buy things made by them purely to show progress. Put in direct terms we hate who we are and there are consequences. Nothing wrong with others hating us but with self hatred we started acting poorly. We trade more with Europe especially for colonials than we do the rest of the continent. Intra Africa trade is less than 10 %, we take money out of our countries and put in the economies of the west with more money leaving to Europe that what we remit back. We must go to their schools, dress in their garbs, imitate their laws and start to eat their food. The transaction cost of self hatred is profound.

The are now going to Live8 us, how pleasant. We can watch their musician serenade our pitiful view self. They are also going to write off our debts (at least for some of the well behaved) . They will not stand for corruption either never mind that they knowingly sit on millions of stolen money. They will do all these in full knowledge that so long as we believe in the power they have to fix our problems we will be back. Yes back to buying things we do not need to compensate for the feeling of inadequacy they foster. Back to trying out for respectability and influence maybe even getting a seat before the altar of the security council. Back to fighting each other for space and status, mortgaging our children future to gods who will never be satisfied because the day we stop they will have to confront their insecurity. It might just be possible that outside their illusions the new orishas are fake gods selling cheap protection rackets and promises of a false heaven.


olugbenga said...

Okebadan son of the soil, I salute you and may our Ancestors grant you wisdom.
I share your disillusion and warnings with respect to the virtues and intentions of the new gods.
Whilst I recognise your testament of the state of affairs in Moniya- May i humbly say you are slightly out of touch with the reality of the pain and suffering taking place in our cherished homeland.
No amount of wishful thinking can take away the fact that my brothers and sisters are dying to early and through ailments that curable!
We cannot disguise the fact that a number of our younger brothers and sisters are leaving school or universities without jobs - assuming the had a semblance of good education that you and I were privileged to enjoy.
Whilst I cringe at the good intentions of the new gods. I weep more for the undeserved pain and suffering of my brothers and sisters.
I cry because our leaders present generation included are still more concerned with lining their pockets than helping their people.
Our history as Africans is littered with own people selling us out and I worry less about the new gods. My angst is directed at the high priests who are my own people.
As our ancestors say if the wall does not leave crevices and cracks the lizard will walk in.

Long may you continue to serve us with your wisdom. I cry for Africa but I hold my head high but I pray always that the almighty provides us with Leaders worthy of such a powerful continent

OdoAkete said...

Largely, I agree with some of your comments as having brought to light some of our sorry problems from the perspective of a perception of lost people, long time brainwashed and still lost in the dark. If we, as a people were to completely emancipate oursleves from this mental slavery, where we do we break the cycle? I have heard heavily polarised opinions from two schools, either for or against dominating influences of western civilisation on our lifestyle (by lifestyle, I mean our conscious or unconscious acceptance of superiority of 'the new orishas') I am yet to hear balanced comments that do not only point out the problem but makes practical suggestions in the way of the future. How do we begin to belief in ourselves if we never did before? Count one and two, that's just another generation gone. The lost generation has left a legacy of inferiority to subsequent ones, the incunbent generation accepts this as an unquestionable reality. Who takes the blame then? We must first of all look in-house. We must address what went wrong; where they went wrong; why they did and build from there. As my people would say, 'ohun ta o je ko je ki a gbon' When everyone seeks after personal survival, as a result of the sorry state of the region, who cares who the new 'orishas'are? Coming to conscious reality with ourselves must precede whatever solutions anyone proposes.