From my newspaper feature-writing days as a practicing journalist back in the 70s, I never set out to be a political writer. At The Daily Sketch, Ibadan, the most I strayed from writing on daily living and women and children affairs was a self-appointed Business/Consumer Affairs writing. Old habits, though, are supposedly hard to shake off. At Emotan, the editorials – Emotan’s Point of View – almost always written by me, had politics and social commentaries.
And by the time I returned to newspaper-writing more about two decades later, nothing had changed in my aspirations: I still wanted to write about books, music – the arts, generally but it won’t be for too long.
My first essay for The Comet on Sunday [rested but I suddenly found myself writing for a new “masthead” while sending my essays to the same editor and sharing a bright new publication, The Nation on Sunday with the same folks from the Comet – extolled the joy of the rainy season.
The rains are here in July 2002 was up and running in the areas of my love:
The first title that came to mind for this article was “Seasons” but I discarded it for the simple reason that I believed it was influenced by Vivaldi’s “Season” which I had just listened to; too easy a route to go even if acknowledge … How could one appreciate the beauty and bountifulness that accompany this season without a passing reference to the dryness of the air, the dirt carried all around and the general lack of food, especially vegetables for the majority of our population during the dry season.
Then I thought: “The Splendor of Nature” because of the visual splendour that abound now in foliage and flowers but also quickly discarded it, because I would not want to downplay the effort that people have put into getting farms up and going this rainy season, no matter how small the farm may be …
By the last paragraph, a political message, loud and clear, was already there:
On its part, government needs to look into the area of seed improvement to help farmers; I am not talking of corn, beans or cassava. Much work has already been done by the IITA in that regard although the high-yielding seeds for these crops are far from reaching most rural farmers yet. I am talking of what is fast becoming food for only middle and upper classes (do we have any middle class left!): yams … Government needs to device a way of getting the seedlings (or cuttings for cassava) on a massive scale to farmers so that the prices of commodities like gari, which has gone up more than 400% in the last five years can be affordable to all. It should also fund research on good variety yam seedlings. Yams from certain areas need to be phased out while good ones should be propagated …
While general-interest essays and pieces on the arts continue to be used, political ones seem to dominate the Blog’s essays, and that should perhaps explain why the Top Ten list may not be dominated by political essays but of the four (see asterisks) out of ten, the Number One essay is political and its total readers – 637 – far outstrips any of the others.
In fact, of the total 3,179 who have read these top ten postings, the four essays were read by almost as many people that read the six non-political essays, 49 percent.
It is tough to move away from political essays in Nigeria, especially if one truly possesses the journalistic instincts but I’m going to endeavor to keep on touching those things that are truly dear to me although I doubt I will ever be able to close my eyes – and ears – to society’s ills with what seem inherent as much as “journalistic instincts”!
Most who participated in students’ unionism in my college days – and a few of the latter ones, see Sahara Reporters’ Sowore) seem to forever believe in a responsibility to right the wrongs of society. And with antecedents of social activism inherited from my father and a brother who was also heavily into students’ unionism at the University of Ibadan (mine was as Secretary-General at the Ibadan Tech now Poly & Assistant Secretary of ANUNSA – the umbrella union for Nigerian students) in 1967-68, changing the world in my own little way seems a path I will always tread.
Even if I wanted to change, it may be getting too late in the day, anyway, as I’m closer to the three-scores-and-ten landmark than three scores.
I plan to use the essay on The Rains soon, hopefully, this very week or else I may forget till past these rains!
The runaway Number 1 on the Top Ten list is a short essay I wrote with names of those who gained immensely from the so-called “oil subsidy” and the various amounts – all in billions – which was culled from Sahara Reporters whose founder deserves praise and accolades from everybody for being in the vanguard of exposing Nigeria’s dirty huge corrupt practices.