Thursday, April 12, 2007

Intellectual Laziness of tradition

Another quick note as I watch the Don Imus Lynching here in USA. The posse is out and their prey is quite deserving of the punishment that is coming his way. However the embarassing thing is that the same script of protest and boycott are being played out through the usual suspects whose civil rights successes make them prisoners of this one trick pony show. There is one thing that is true Imus must face the consequences of his choices part of that might well being losing his show on both MSNBC and CBS. Is Imus a racist and sexist? Mute point he disrespected people who in no way deserved it and stereotyped them in ways that open them to indignities. He is from a racialised society and could not imagine him being immune from that orientation. There is often this mistake that 'Good people' cannot be racist. Take our own Prime Minister Tony Blair an all round good egg who continues to base policy on stereotypes from different communities that are not indegenuously English. He uses the excuse of challenging Political correctness to tar Muslims with terrorist disposition and now we are back to black boys and a culture of gangster mentality. Never mind that when he was on his war against yobs their ethnicity was never mentioned. This is not as a result of being good or bad but intellectual laziness. People label because of traditions of viewing things or solving things a particular way. This leads to constant rendering of positions that are outdated, inappropraite and even downright unjust. When so called African American leaders question Senator Obamas identity as a 'true black' , when British government meets with certain nominees as community leaders, when the New York Times labels the Nigerian elections in a derogatory way and positions the president as another 'African Big man' do these truly address the complexity of the situation? The desire for simplicity and demand for the tried as well as tested are all poor excuse for unsustainable or ineffective positions and choices.

In this vein the real issue is what does it say when the only time African Americans are given so much coverage is when they shout victimhood? Why should anyone persons respect for us be more important that the respect we give ourselves? Is the civil rights approach of protest and boycott not now so predictable that it has no transformative value? If so called leaders are trapped in this cycle of response are there no other alternative approaches? What is the systemic change that can be achieved as a result of sacking Imus? What is the likely effect of this sacking on his main audience of white males especially if they view him as victimized?

In Nigeria people like Wole Soyinka, Gani Fawehimi et al play the same role over and over again with little transformative effect. They are addicted to one response and servants of a particular tradition and indifferent to the many possible solutions that life can provide. It is time to seek fit for purpose solutions rather that perpetuate setiment and be paralysed by addiction to a prefered approach.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Vacancy for Heroes, Saints need not apply.

Stuck in Reno, Nevada in pursuit of subsistence. The past few weeks have been very challenging what with huge tax bills, slowing business and regular diet of cynics. I fantasize about writing one of my long epistles about the many black boys dying in England from acts of gratitous violence. On the other hand issues raised by the vibrant candidacy of Barack Obama, Senator and an Omoluwabi if I ever saw one. There is also exciting stuff from my Sensei, Zeth Moberg about a concept called Fudoshin which emerges from Budo training. Here in the Plains and cold of Nevada the only topic is Don Imus and his now over exposed 'Nappy Head Hoes ' comment about the Rutgers University womens basketball team which is mostly African American. It raises issues of whether being a bad person is a prerequisite for being racist. Never mind there will be hopefully a lot of chances to come back to this.

This week many people I grew up with and know are running for political office in Nigeria. This week someone I dearly love and respect is aiming to become the next Govenor of Ekiti State in the heart of the green rain forest in South West Nigeria. Dr Kayode Fayemi is a man of many parts and in fact a global citizen. A little shy but a Policy wonk, an ideas man. A genuine hero who stands up for the things that matter. A man of immense moral courage and great affection for the Nigerian populace. He is thankfully not a saint, he is flawed in ways that make him quite a special human one who evolves himself in his effort to serve other people. A genuine Nigerian hero. As all Nigerians go to the post they need to ignore the cynical amongst them whose fear paralyse us, who make good the enemy of excellent, who are fixated by how others might not have met the standard. Nigerians need to seek those who flawed as they might be would fight for them and their children with every ounce of their imperfection as well as passion. The time has come to stand for heroes again.

There are isome heroes n this outgoing government who have helped raised GDP per head from $400 dollars in the 1990s to $1000 today , not enough but in the right direction. They have also wiped out all foriegn debt and built a platform for the next group of heros. I applaud them and anticipate the next group.

In the meantime vote your dreams not your fears.