TOLA ADENLE shares her thoughts on the movie, District 9 that maligns Nigeria
LETTERS TO MY NIECE:
What a nice way to force me to write: “Auntie, dearest, have you seen District 9…”? (D9) Above title’s explanation, first. Seeing Oyo PDP’s crass mercantilism as main political goal in ’03, I wrote “Nigerian, Inc.” which I likened to “Murder, Inc” but things have gotten worse. The Ibori/Aondaka’s (Attorney General) mess made “Happy Lagosian”, a Sahara Reporters (SR) blogger ask: “Are they running a nation or a crime syndicate?” I have no intention of seeing the demeaning movie and it has nothing to do with a sudden love for retd. General Obasanjo (rGO) whose governance style made a political writer of me from 2003; I’m still not sure-footed, though! He led Nigeria to the slaughter slab where Alhaji Yar Adua (AYA) may be unwittingly administering the last rites. We are not a nation of criminals but our leaders have brought a once proud people to disrepute. Happy’s exasperation is universal.
I’ve read about D9 and was surprised at Propangadist Akunyili’s approach to cure ringworms (ban the movie) while neglecting leprosy (screening D9 for her Oga and fellow ministers to see their contributions to ‘Nigeria Today’, a new movie title some day). By banning D9, Madam Great Nation took our right to choose from us and thereby added ‘hypocrite’ to her new appellations. She also demanded an apology – which she got – and editing of a derogatory Play Station from Sony. Why not from the movie maker, by the way? Sony is selling multi-billion used – ok, simply overpriced – broadcast equipment for youth world football through her ministry. Akunyili knows nothing about the sale, dear; merely presented proposal at ministerial meeting. As anybody with the slightest knowledge of non-banana republic countries, the original Play Station will circulate while the movie has been given a big boost by censorship. As you pointed out, D9 has made over $160m in the States, and I understand it’s one of England’s tops.
Now, dear, I’ve been one of rGO’s loudest critics since ’03 but describing Nigeria’s former head of state as the thinly-veiled ‘gangster’, ‘Obesandjo’ in D9 is an insult to all Nigerians. Having said that, rGO did champion – no better description – political gangsterism while prowling the land like someone possessed, issuing threats about government’s “prerogative for violence” to any who dared protest his demonic determination to install AYA after the failed elongation project. He promised such people “would live to regret it”, and blood did flow in the streets during and after an election that set the stage for where Nigeria is today: a country ruled by many with criminal pasts and/or potentials. rGO venerated a thug, unleashing him on a state as part of his grand design for self perpetuation; he looked elsewhere while religious fanaticism led to deaths of thousands and the emasculation of an already bastardized Constitution. He preached rule of law while fostering political lawlessness. How many properties, businesses, bank accounts does Mandela have? Worldwide respect like his was rGO’s for the taking but he chose materialism over statesmanship and veneration by a nation that he would finally have stitched together. This is not rGO’s story but his D9 starring role caused the detour.
There are criminals in all societies, dear, but d’you think kids would have discovered cyber crimes in droves if there is good leadership to channel the nation’s immense wealth and human resources towards lifting this country to the level of Asian countries like Malaysia or even Dubai, one of Nigeria’s thieving elites’ new playgrounds? While AYA’s “government is a national shame and embarrassment to the good people of Nigeria all over the world [and] doesn’t represent who we are”, [Fubara, Shed - Alberta, Canada; SR] neither does D9 nor most Nollywood movies represent our moral and cultural values.
I believe Nigerian movies provide enough materials from which to draw those awful scenarios and macabre characters in D9. While I’ve NEVER completely watched any, I’ve seen enough snippets to conclude that Nollywood may make tons of money but the damage it does in misrepresenting our culture and way of life to the world is immeasurable. I mentioned this line of thought in an earlier essay but quickly dismissed myself as a questioner of a winning formula: misleading and degrading genre that sell. The industry is winning; so are the conquered citizens who, in spite of their fetish beliefs a lot of which must derive from home movies, are ready to “shout seven alleluias” even after watching any of the opium-like movies. The rulers win BIG! Most minds are too numbed to realize the “vast slave plantation” that I once described as the masses’ lot.
Happy’s frustrations are understandable. I read the feelings of young people on the web and in newspaper text messages. Some have called for a revolution while others’ angers, in confusion, are directed at persons rather than way forward. ‘Naijacat’[SR]: “Has anybody noticed that Andoka looks like James Ibori” was his response to the infantile ranting of Nigeria’s so-called attorney-general whose Heathrow Hotel’s phone number was so bombarded that he abandoned his ill-fated mission.
Nigerians seem to be taking tentative first steps towards liberation by employing modern tools (communication) to fight an old entrenched order. What’s going on is nothing less than guerrilla tactics, albeit in its infancy. A cabal or “crime syndicate” will not aspire to equity until people’s desperation leads to more ingenious non-violent ways to fight oppression. Item: Aondaka’s forced exit from London. Item: While “respected” Nigerian newspapers with London facilities failed to report proceedings of the trial of Ibori’s purported accomplices, Nigerians are in the court gallery and premises daily, staring down Ibori’s fortune acolytes. Item: rGO’s back-door smuggling-out in London some months back to avoid a Nigerian crowd awaiting his exit; mere first steps but definite pointers. One of Yoruba’s juju maestros sang: a ti gb’omo l’owo ekuro, o, ki ma ns’oju boro, implying, dear, that the screws need to be turned on tighter. One day, thieving leaders may stop attending “thanksgiving” church services to thank Nigeria’s god for their stolen mandates with stolen wealth; stop throwing/attending parties where stolen wealth is flaunted because of what may await them. I once recommended A Tale of Two Cities to LITERATE politicians. Recommendation still stands.
Early this year, dear, N325 billion belonging to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas was reportedly discovered in an unnamed Nigerian’s accounts in the USA. I haven’t picked up news of what became of this stupendous crime. A bank executive in the latest CBN audits not yet released reportedly invested N12 billion investors’ funds in his personal firm AND allocated N85 billion shares to himself – unpaid for, naturally. A system that has a federal legislator earning around N3m (almost $20,000) while a university professor earns N321,589 (about $2,000) monthly from the same source is an unjust and criminal system. A lay-about artisan WASC forger became a councilor and earns four times what a professor who is vilified and abused by same overpaid, thieving politicians for being on strike. Insanity! A Nigerian member of House of Rep. earns more than a U.S. Senator who does not get millions in allowances for snacks, etcetera; neither does he ride around in a 6-car entourage complete with an out-rider, nor does he/she handle multi-million naira so-called constituency projects in a uniquely Nigerian demon-crazy.
Billion-naira looters like Tafa Balogun, one-time Police IG, get to negotiate how much to return why petty thieves get jail or have limbs chopped off in Sharia states. Earlier this year, Kaduna Railway Manager and top staff reportedly shared N184 million, total “funds from Kaduna State government to improve rail infrastructure within the state.” I haven’t caught up with the negotiations of how much the thieving gang will return before they get better government postings.
“A nation or a crime syndicate”? May be “Happy Lagosian” co-wrote D9’s script!
As you’re well, I’m well.
The Nation on Sunday, October 4, ‘09
PS. I’m happy I finally found the blogger – at least, sort of – from whom I borrowed “a crime syndicate masquerading as a nation”. He blogged under the name “Happy Lagosian” in SR. Thanks, Happy. I hope you are still there in blogosphere! Regards,
TOLA, Phoenix Arizona, December 18, 2011.