Beasts of No Narrative
This one is strictly for Nigerians
How animal go know-say dem no born me as slave?
How animal go know say slave trade don pass?
— Fela Anikulakpo Kuti
I agonized over the title of this blog post for like 2 minutes then I said “fuck it” I will say it as it is. Some people may stop reading my posts after this. Well…
When Fela sang “Beasts of No Nation” many years ago after he was “punished”, the people laughed.
Nigeria’s problem is not just leaders or leadership, it is Nigerians. Like slaves we have come to love the slavery and in a weird way, we seem to love our chains. Forget all the chants of “change”, a majority of us are more of faddists and do not really know what true “change” means. They have now said that “change begins with us”. Serves us right.
Strangely, I agree with “them”. “Change” is not only change in leadership, true change starts with a change of mentality.
Fela’ called the mentality predominantly prevalent in the Nigeria of his time “Kolo Mentality” or “Colonial Mentality”. We still love our “Masters”, and all we did after “Independence” was replace one slave master with another.
Our brothers and sisters in The East tried to break this mould but were subdued and the spirit of subjugation continues till this day. Mention Biafra and people get agitated. I kept wondering why people were not talking but just annoyed over nothing in particular? Ethnic stereotypes were and are still based on stupidity.
It took a white man “Frederick Forsyth” to give a narrative in his book “The Making of an African Legend — The Biafra Story”. It was the first time I read something that could make me truly understand why a group of people decided that they had it and wanted to leave. I recommend that you read it. Not just to understand Biafra but to truly understand Nigeria and why we still have problems.
We don’t do narratives. We do regurgitation of propaganda. We do gossip. We do stereotypes and anecdotes in the name of “culture”. Nobody wants to question the basis for our “Union” and asking for fairness is seen as “treason”. At least we can free our minds?
Kolo Mentality ensures that we do not accept personal responsibility for anything and so we seek messiahs.
Kolo mentality ensures that we do not ask why the National Assembly consumes more than our VAT collections.
Kolo mentality ensures that we do not ask why unviable states are not merged with more viable ones? Why the Local Government Areas still exist without any real municipal benefit to citizens?
We blame government for everything but do nothing to make government accountable.
The worst form of Kolo Mentality however is manifested when we “accept our fate” and feel we are doomed to it. Like the proverbial slave that loves his chains.
NairaLand brought to my attention recently a “Public” Facebook post by an Indian Businessman who with his friends were having some fun at the expense of Nigeria and Nigerians.
What surprised me most was not the clearly bigoted and racist undertone of the conversation but the acknowledgement by a large number of Nigerians on Social Media that “He was Right” or “He didn’t lie”.
Yes, he was right. He was also very wrong. He was mocking Nigeria to our faces and we just answered “Zaki Zaki” but did nothing afterwards. It didn’t bring out “The Beast in us”, it brought out the inner cowards.
Kolo Mentality ensures that we don’t try to change the game but find someone else to blame.
I never hear dat before- oh
Make Government talk, ee-oh
“My people are us-e-less, My people are sens-i-less, My people lack discipline”
Na Nigerian government, ee-oh
Dem dey talk be dat
Which kind talk be dat- ee-oh?
Na craze talk be dat ee-oh
Na animal talk be dat ee-oh
Na animal talk be dat ee-oh
The game has to be changed. We can’t keep blaming leaders for the past and present. The future is for us and our children. Let’s seize ownership of our minds. Let this be the day of our independence from “Kolo Mentality”
Fela Anikulakpo Kuti was a prophet, a storyteller. The one narrative we must listen to intently. We did not listen well to him before. We should listen again now.