Also, of the various posters, T-shirts, banners outside, none of them carried pictures of Buhari in jalabiya or in a Fulani agbada or Hausa cap. They were all various permutations of Buhari’s slender neck embroidered with a big bow tie: Buhari in smart tuxedos, Buhari slanting and pocketing across the picture in a stylishly elegant pose as if a Versace or an Armani model. The pictures seem to say this is not the General Muhammadu Buhari you used to know. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mr Mo Burry, Nigeria’s hottest supermodel democrat!
As Islamic extremism progressively rises to becoming a global power, it is worth nothing that there is nothing ISIS or the Taliban are doing today that has not been done before in Northern Nigeria even long before Boko Haram emerged as a matter of fact. Only that the world wasn’t paying attention then. When the West was still fighting communism and the USSR, when Ronald Reagan challenged Gobarchev in 1987 to “tear down this wall,” Nigeria has been fighting the ruling Islamic hardliners. Boko Haram is only the latest incarnation of a very long series of a progressive malaise.
RIGHT OF ENQUIRY
Let me rush to say that enquiry into Opus Dei is not only necessary but also legitimate. For if the scholarly Fathers of the Church had ‘minded their business’ some of the core catholic doctrines would not have fully evolved. If the doctors of the church, pertinent here, the angelic doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas had ‘minded his business’ we wouldn’t have had the taste of the classical masterpieces of heavenly realities he brilliantly articulated in his Summas. What is more, even if the Pharisees, the Scribes had ‘minded their business’ they would not have gone to asked Jesus some questions-however deceitful their intentions were – hence we would not have known, for example, that there is no marriage in heaven etc.(cf Mathew 19)
She was first diagnosed of a supposed terminal metastasis breast cancer in 1976, she survived it. She was again diagnosed in 1998 with a rare form of uterine cancer yet she soldiered on. In 2004, it was leukaemia, cancer of the blood. She was a lioness of thought and activism, passionate defender of human rights, ready to speak up on important issues where someone is needed, a ‘zealot of seriousness’. She was Susan Sontag…
Her appeal was the dazzle of her brilliance, her range of knowledge, her promiscuous engagement with anything of the text testified to by her 15,000 books library and her familiarity with those ‘forbidding’ European intellectuals – Artaud, Benjamin, Canetti, Barthes, Baudrillard, Gombrowicz, Walser and the rest – who loomed off on what was for many the far and unapproachable horizon. In fact Sontag introduced Roland Barthes, the French structuralist and Elias Canetti to the American academia….
Another appeal was her commanding presence and fearlessness. She was tall, handsome, glamorous, outspoken, fluent and articulate. Eyes richly brown, voice sultry and consciously assured, her thick, black hair was accented by a bolt of graceful white hairs; her countenance, a severe stare or a wry smile, as if tantalized lately by a joke only she could tell. This trademark image was globally recognized as distinctly Sontag……
Geniuses cannot let the world be as it is…
Geniuses have no time for sanity. They prefer ideas to normality…
Success is very busty; it attracts fans and abusers….
The American playwright Tennessee Williams wrote an essay, The Catastrophe of Success, ten years before Michael was conceived. He said if you are not psychologically, morally or emotionally prepared for success and it just happened, you shall crack….
Follow your energies, the poet and visionary, William Blake declared. Follow. Your. Energies.
When America’s eminent intellectual Susan Sontag was asked why creative people decline with age. She said partly because they don’t do well to refund and revitalise the vast pool of experiences from which their creative faculties usually feed. Hence, they begin a numbing repetitiveness before they peter out.
The link between ingenuity, great sex drive and high vibration levels cannot be overemphasized. Sex energy is one of the oldest resources human beings have available to blow their own minds, journey bravely into the limits of consciousness and bring back the news of what is there as creative outputs.
Think of Marquis de Sade, Sartre, Jean Rousseau, Albert Camus, Einstein, St Augustine, our own Monsignor Pedro Martins, the boy genius, Mozart, Garcia Marquez, Bertolt Brecht, Iris Murdoch, Fidel Castro, Kinsley Amis(Father), Martin Amis(Son), Diana Anthill, Richard Pryor, Picasso, WS (both William Shakespeare and Wole Soyinka), Norman Mailer, Ted Hughes, Fela, James Thurber, Salman Rushdie, the Russian masters of literature and inveterate whoring Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, the spiritual and mystical Rasputin, Saul Bellow, Lord Bryon, Rudolf Nureyev. These are just a few we know of.
One of the beauties of classics like Paulin Hountondji’s African Philosophy: Myth and Reality is that it presented African scholarship as it is. Take it or leave it.
Critique of western ignorance and misperception of African culture and intellectual systems is implicit and incidental to it not fundamental unlike all of Mamdani’s works that explicitly kick off to correct, attack, debunk or redress a western fallacy on Africa or the third world.
There is something of Mamdani works that quietly insists that had there being no dishonest western views of Africa there would be no Mamdani.
If to Prof Niyi Akinnaso the sanctity of tributes derives from its being closed to debate, then nothing should be sacred under the sun. Not only is discourse and counter-discourse the expression of an open society but the turbulent space between them is the indispensable channel for growth and development. Any idea that discounts the necessity of asking questions is an idea heading for collapse when not actually draconian. Critical consciousness is to civilization what blood is to the body.
The biopic musical is a superb production of acting and playwriting. It is not easy to keep interesting a sequence of scenes in which a single character appears in all the scenes. In 2006, Crown Troupe overcame this problem in their own masterful stage adaptation of Okot P’bitek’s poem, Song of Lawino. They repeatedly froze the main actors at one part of the bare Beckettian stage letting a different set of main actors take over the action in another part of the stage in order to creatively defeat the monotony and boredom of allowing the same personalities to carry on the not-action-driving poem for so long.
In the musical, Fela(Sahr Ngaujah) is the narrator of the story of which he is the main actor so he is monotonously bound to be in every scene. To keep his appearance interesting, he takes up multiple charismatic personalities: he is a showman, dancer, saxophonist, spiritual leader, military general, stand-up comedian, husband, civil society activist, prisoner of conscience, torturer, journalist etc. To counterbalance all these manifestation of charisma and gust of energies, the playwrights Jim Lewis and Bill Jones introduce Fela’s mum, first in Fela’s imagination, then in the physical, then in chthonic realm, the Fourth stage. And her presence is marked by awe, calmness, gravity and grace superbly delivered by Melanie Marshall.
Na Bi Fe (I Love You) recalls Debussy’s La Mer; implying women’s hearts have the majesty, depth and might of sea. The beginning is a sensuous duet of string instruments: one’s poignant lyricism is the osinato, the other flirts around notes before teasing out the choral melody.
The backup vocals take this over and sweetened it into a tune of extraordinary delight; flutes shimmer to suggest breezy winds and ambience of sea, Oumou’s vocal does not stop but end up tenderly as luscious echoes over dissonances; cymbals crash steadily to suggest rustling sea waves yet this rich, layered orchestration remains tranquillamente. Oumou became an unprecedented annoyance society must reckon with.
What is it to be a man in the age of Google or the NSA? Who could believe that it is to Art by Offenders, a Koestler Trust exhibition of visual art from inmates of prisons, secured patients of mental institutions and detainees of deportation centres that we must turn for rewarding answers? …
‘Appeal to pity,’ Nietzsche reminds us, ‘is the most agreeable feeling among those who have little pride and no prospects of great conquests.’…
We live in a society infatuated with image supremacy, where the image you project or the one foisted on you decides your possibilities, determines your entitlements, your history, your social worth, your likeability. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is who you are. Still, since image is destiny….
But by using celebrities to promote an image of man as a responsibility of the false, the society is saying man like a Microsoft office document can be deleted, opened, saved, edited to satisfaction, downloaded printed, that is, converted from its digital constituents to its materially fungible form using cosmetic surgeries: breasts implantation and uplift, nose and ear correction, cheek and chin implants, liposuction, botoxing, thigh and arm lift, labia consistency and clitoral recalibration(iClitoris). No one is ugly by nature, only by definition. …
The philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau a foreign immigrant in metropolitan Paris argues in his Discourse on the Origins of Inequality that man is constituted by egotism and mendacity when in amore propre we fill ourselves with the desire to measure our self-worth competitively against others. Hence the urge for hierarchy, social approval and esteem. Hence the dependence on external estimation as the reliable index of prestige and self-validation. Hence the empire state of the mind, that is: the tenacity to create the Other for the sole purpose of idealising and servicing not only our need to be superior but mostly to be seen as superior….
A reason why 12th and 13th centuries were important to history of scholarship was that, it was not only because theology and philosophy, the mother of all subjects, left the exclusivity of monasteries for the universities forever, but that there was an enthusiastic and irrevocable acceptance of Greek rationalism that St Paul was fond of scorning in the New Testament. Popes after popes, councils after councils were busy denouncing the influence of Platonic dialectics and Aristotelian logic, accusing the scholastics of distorting the sacra doctrina and for preferring Abelard’s influential Sic et Non and other sophisticated interpretations to the est est, non non character of the scriptures. But no amount of armies can defeat an idea whose time has come.
I am absolutely pro-Chenu, pro his brilliance, his breath-taking erudition, his ingenious grasp of the facticity of history, pro the reformatio et renovatio character of his ideas, and his courage to put them forth no matter whose ox was gored. It imperative to reclaim the vibes of Chenu’s legacy from the dirt in which Prof Akinwale sunk him when he inserted him in his rejoinder, Knowledge and Awoyokun’s Fury(The Guardian, 9th January 2011).
In 1266 as Thomas Aquinas continued writing his masterpiece, Summa Theologiae, some of the reservations against him were how he could use Aristotelian principles to discern the theological needs of their time; Aristotle being a pagan believed to be unilluminated by God. By 1879, Pope Leo XIII in the bull Aeterni Patris endorsed Aquinas works as the authentic and definite exposition of catholic theology.
My unquenchable interest in how and why Nigeria stopped turning between 1966 and 1970 was ignited when I saw information about classified U.S. files on the Nigerian civil war in my e-box, sent by pointblanknews.com. Then I saw the cover pages of ‘The News’ magazine at the newsstand. They were on the same subject and were in a trilogy (February 25, March 4 and 11 2013 editions). Hooked, I bought, read and kept the second and third issues. With the first part already in my email I have the entire collection. I must be candid: Damola Awoyokun, the author, though a professional engineer, taught many historians, journalists and other researchers their jobs. He sought for the man behind the mask in his bid to uncover aspects of that cloudy phase of Nigeria’s evolution. I commend his efforts.
Besides the military communication units, the army headquarters in Lagos, at times used the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation to transmit information to all the divisional headquarters and brigade commanders. It could be done during radio programmes, news bulletins or radio jingles. They public heard these secret codes but they thought they were part of the show. But on the 20th of September 1967, at 8 o’clock in the morning NBC broadcast the sign the field commanders had been waiting for. “The frogs are swimming; the frogs are swimming.”
The CIA’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS)monitored and recorded key signals, statements and speech about the war from every radio station in Nigeria, Biafra and neighbouring countries. And they shared them with American Diplomatic/Consular units, CICSTRIKE (Commander In Chief STRIKE – Swift Tactical Response In Every Known Environment), ACSI (Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence), CINCMEAFSA(Commander in Chief Middle East/South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara) and DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency).
Early in the morning of 1 July 1967, Nigeria’s young head of state, Colonel Yakubu Gowon, was feeling uneasy in his office at the Supreme Headquarters, Dodan Barracks in Lagos. The unease was a result of his being ceaselessly pressured to authorize a military invasion of the breakaway Republic of Biafra.
Thirty officers had been recalled from courses abroad. Trains and truck convoys, bearing fuel, supplies and men, were still leaving Kano and Kaduna for the south of River Benue. Colonel Mohammed Shuwa of the First Area Command had moved his command headquarters southwards and set it up in Makurdi. The 2nd Battalion was already headquartered in Adikpo. Schools and private homes had been commandeered for the use of Major Sule Apollo and his 4th Battalion in Oturkpo. They were itching for action. The same day, Major B.M. Usman “a member of the intimate northern group around Gowon” told the American defense attaché: “I do not know what in hell he is waiting for; the boys are all ready to go. They are only waiting on his word.”
As part of the exclusive revelations from the 21,000 pages of US documents on the Nigeria-Biafra war, Richard Akinjide the Ibadan lawyer and Nnamdi Azikiwe, the former president of Nigeria told the American consul Mr Strong in Ibadan what that they thought of Ojukwu: Akinjide said: “Ojukwu suffers from Hitler-like megalomania.” He explained that Ojukwu was rejected as a child because he was an offspring of a mistress his father Sir Louis Ojukwu acquired in one of his business trips to the North. The father, a devout catholic, refused to accept the pregnancy that led to Ojukwu was his alone; other mysterious forces may have been at work. So he did not recognise Ojukwu nor took him into his home. Instead he sent the mother and the baby back to the North where the mother made her living as a trader and where the boy was born. Ojukwu like Nnamdi Azikiwe, was born in Zungeru. As the boy grew up, friends of the business mogul prevailed on him to recognise the boy as his own son. He then agreed to do so but the boy was something of an embarrassment so he sent him off to school in England where the boy eventually made it into Oxford University.
The Catholic Priest, the Hollywood Publicist and the Arms Dealer
As part of the revelations contained in the 21,000 pages of confidential and secret American documents on the Nigeria – Biafra War, the Irish missionary priest of the Holy Ghost Fathers, Fr Kevin Doheny Cssp was Ojukwu’s intelligence director. He was also reputed to be in charge of all radio communications in Biafra. According to the American secret documents, Fr Doheny a cousin of Senator Mansfield, had ties to Senator Goodell and Congressman Lowenstein who visited Biafra, and through his older brother, Fr Mike Doheny had ties to Cardinal Cushing, the Archbishop of Boston and member of National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP)and to US Speaker McCormack who passed the landmark 1964 American Civil Rights Legislation.