Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why so sensitive?

So I was a presenter today, part of a seminar focused on the future of Africa and the usual bla bla bla folks in the Diaspora like to engage themselves in. The last time I was there, many people (mostly old men) over 50 were busy blaming colonialism for the misfortunes of Africa. Now, let me state here that I do not downplay the effects colonialism has had on Africa or the terrible scars it has left behind.

However, it is boring to sing the same old song and discuss the same topics week after week after week. I therefore decided to spice up their intellectual brains a bit and made a presentation about what young Africans are discussing about on the internet and other places. Anyway, God help me I mentioned Solomonsydelle's PPP. However, I mostly focused on different ways to get ordinary people active in the society and how we can get people motivated to get active in their society. ( I talked about different examples where we could be more active, collectively)

After discussing some factors (which I will post later on this blog) I finished my presentation in a very positive light...or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when a South African intellectual told me that she could not identify herself with the Africa I had talked about and basically accused my presentation and me of being "racist"!

According to her, some racist social anthropologists had come up about similar factors about Africans (na the passive thing na im irritate am) and according to her, she had been very active in Apartheid South Africa, has always been active etc etc. Now, I had mentioned before, during and after the seminar that my experience was Nigerian and tried as often as I could to mention only examples that had to do with Nigeria. I think she took the whole thing way too personal and she mentioned later on about how she is always having to defend Africa from views like mine in the thirty years she has lived abroad.

Now, I told her the seminar was on different topics being discussed by the younger generation, and like it or not, we have mentioned the fact that we (the people) are not active enough in our society and would like to be more active. Yes, we can do more and we MUST do more if we want a change.

I think she was being too sensitive as the seminar was not about her and what she had done or not done in South Africa. I was not happy at all that instead of discussing the solutions I thought we would, I had to now defend my presentation from being tagged as "racist".

That is why I no dey too like dey do seminar with old old people. Their wahala too much self!

P.S: I heard her lamenting on the way to the train that "why can't we celebrate the hundreds of activists that have..."(didn't hear the remaining part). Honestly, there is no reason why we should not celebrate them, I would want to be celebrated(assuming I become a serious die hard mutherfucker)in the future. But that is not the seminar was about, the seminar was about "how" we can change Africa.


Lost at The End said...

"Honestly, there is no reason why we should not celebrate them."

I agree with you o. Don't mind her. there is nothing strange about your position on the matter. In fact, I am tired of Achebe dem, of Soyinka dem, of that generation. Nigeria is bad as it is. They will soon pass on. We are left with the shit that is Nigeria, so the sooner we start thinking of creative ways of solving our issues the better. Forget the stand-on-the-shoulder-of-giant bullshit. Look at our government. Is it not enough proof to us that oldage is not equal to sense? I beg, don't get me started.

Don't even worry about her jare.

Danny Bagucci said...

Obviously, she was / is from the "old school" and she should have listened to wha you had to say.. Unfortunately, I have to concur that passivity is one of the key reasons Africa is where it is today. Close to that would be the lack of a "collective conciousness" - especially in the Nigerian context. Thus those in power are focused on themselves and their benefactors; those who are the masses mainly just sigh and walk away from it all saying "e go better".

Chukbyke.Okey,C. said...

Well done.
You have a point.
Where did the seminar take place?

geisha.song. said...

i totally get it,
and thats part of the problem of Africa.
people who think a little effort is enough and that they can stop to pat themselves on the back for doing what they SHOULD do as Africans.
people think having a seminar acknowledging their fine thoughts is activism, but it's what happens after that counts. she wants to be celebrated? let her find a workable, practical solution to poverty, and get someone in government to listen, approve the idea, and put it to work. let her follow up, appoint committee heads or whatever, and go to the communities that are being helped to see how far and how well it's going.
Ntchsheew! (hiss)

K said...

I think that is the problem with Africa that the old people still run our countries on rhetoric and aged ideas. Look @ Zimbabwe, Mugabe and his supporters use the fact that they do not want the old colonialists to rule their country by proxy supposedly through the opposition party. Lets celebrate our veterans but realise that what they fought for is no longer our fight. They fought to get the colonialist out. Thankyou. We fight to bring change and development to our countries.

Naapali said...

So how do we go beyond online activism to ground activism? I have been encouraged by the response to the abuse visited on Ms. Okere. It is a good start. However, response to specific outrageous acts is grossly insufficient when one considers the larger outrage that the existence (one can hardly call it life)of the average Nigerian citizen is reduced to.

miz-cynic said...

Gud point u had thr.bv u knw d old sch r set in their ways.ack she has a rgt 2 2 her own opinion.live n let live rememba?

For the love of me said...

Dealing with the older generation is some hard task. Mindest her not. And don't stop presenting seminars. whatever it will take to enact change.


no mind that woman, her head no correct. lol!

Look, people are far too sensitive and that is their issue not yours. The fact is that as a collective group, we have a lot more activism to do to make our lives better.

We are glad that she is an activist, but the reality is that she is in the minority and not that many are lining up to follow in her footsteps, so....

We must gist, my sista. You have to give me more details. I go find you tomorrow...

naijalines said...

Change, change change. change is good o. How you dey?

Soul said...

Quite frankly, I am surprised.

Surprised by the fact that in trying to support you, many of your commenters are quite happy to insult this woman and imply theat because she is of an older generation, they she is of no/dwindling importance or sense.

How could she not take what you have said personally?.
Aren't we always accusing people, particularly elders of not caring?.
Now she shows that she cares by saying her piece and you deem her 'too sensitive'?.

Is she too sensitive or are you just unwilling to unpack your theories/personal experience to see her point?

She and her situation might be from south Africa but she has a point. She fought the best way she knew how, just like the older Nigerians did.
She fought, so that you in turn can have the audacity to be all that you can be.

She like those older guard Nigerians fought with their words, with their bodies and some with their lives, so that you can have the opportunity to work harder to build on the foundations they have laid.

And what do we do?
We say we are tired of them?, we say we are fed up of hearing them, we say that they are too sensitive, that we don't want to hear them, that we are not talking about them.

Imagine being her, after fighting so hard in her youth only to sit there and hear her own progeny,those who came from her own belly denounce her and repeat the same things the colonials did.

You said According to her, some racist social anthropologists had come up about similar factors about Africans

Unfortunately, she is right. It is not just 'according to her'. Every colonialist, and even today... The modern world accuses AFrica (Nigerians included) of inaction and lethargy, whilst it spends cash money in propping up tinfoil dictators and 'democratically elected' puppets that can only serve them by introducing conditions that spell disaster for any uprising. but i digress...

We forget, that these people fought in their youth when ideology is strong and they have the power to truly believe that they are masters of their universe and can change the world. They are much older now and have learnt that there are many different ways to skin a cat. One of them being .. 'you have to sometimes let people sink into a hole of their own making in order for them to want to avoid the hole in future'.

You say you tried to stimulate their intellectual brains with the mentionof 'PPP', well, I read it. sorry, but I just don't agree.
Not even with Wiki's 47 year life expectancy rate. And damnit, the minute anyone points to wikipedia as a resource or basis of research, it just weakens the arguement.

So, everyone keeps talking about Nigerians living in Nigeria as this mass of inactive bodies, addicted to lazyness, hopeless, degenerate and consumption obsessed and the more they talk about it the more they believe it.
From blog to blog.. We have become very good at looking at ourselves through the lens of the Western world.
One bad story becomes the sin of all of us, whilst one success is only one success. never to be shared. We see it as an anomaly no matter how many times it is replecated.

I have seen Nigerian blog after blog raise money for and start foundations for children in need. they have taken it upon themselves to do so and have been successful. But where is the awareness.. where is the praise?

In anycase, I'm afraid I'm at odds with your commenters. I don't think the woman was sensitive at all.

She challenged you, provided some background as to why she did so and was passionate about it. It's a shame that you didn't see it that way, it would have made for a very stimulating convo which might have bridged the gap for/between both of you

Waffarian said...


"She challenged you, provided some background as to why she did so and was passionate about it. It's a shame that you didn't see it that way, it would have made for a very stimulating convo which might have bridged the gap for/between both of you"

Yes, we did have a very stimulating conversation about the way we both saw Africa and I was happy that she mentioned and educated me on many things that I did not know.

I can not speak for my commenters, I personally thought she was sensitive and I did not insult her or her opinions. I just did not think I had to defend my presentation from being "racist". That was my point.

I was actually glad she brought that up cos I had overlooked the fact that it could be seen as that and I thanked her for her input and observations.

Thanks for your comment.

Soul said...

No problem..
Thanks for the insight/
More grease to your elbow :)

maitumbi said...

1. I still don't get people who talk about "Africa". Any discussion that does not name actual countries shows that the discussants are mentally in exile.I have no idea what the "african experience" means.

2. The sooner we start "marking" our performance by result rather by "effort" of "activists", the better.

3. It is almost 50 years since Nigeria got its sovereignty.Any body still pointing fingers at the whiteman man must be joking.