BY AMBROSE EHIRIM
On Easter Monday, as we usually called it back home, I was invited by a good friend over dinner and some drinks, and some talks. While we ate and drank, we talked about a whole lot of stuff including the new arrivals on the book shelves -- Caught Between Hitler & Stalin; From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women; A Constitution of Many Minds: Why the Founding Document Doesn't Mean What It Mean Before; Founders: The People Who Brought You A nation; ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody; The political Worlds Of Slavery And Freedom; Nazi Germany and the Jews; The Black Death; Engaging The Muslim World; Hitler's Pope; Captives and Countrymen: Barbary Slavery and the American Public; The Irony of American History; Adolf Eichman and many other books that just arrived on the shelves, particularly about the Holocaust. He is disgusted with Nd'Igbo and why nobody is writing with regards to the pogrom.
On Nollywood, we talked about how the New York Film Academy's Film and Acting Conservatory now has locations all around the world except for 'Nigeria.' The New York and Acting Conservatory has locations in United Arab Emirates, Italy, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Spain, Dubai, England, France, Belgium, Germany, and so on. My buddy stressed on how a location in Abuja or Lagos could help produce better movies to meet up with the standards of the Academy Awards after going through the institute's workshop in filmmaking, acting, producing, screenwriting, documentary, cinematography, editing, cinema studies, music video, musical theater, photography and other movie producing essentials.
After some long discourse, I let him do all the talking and too many issues popped up since I was the one listening while he did the talking.
First, in his monologue, he started with what our women have done ever since they set their foot on the shores of this land reminding me of the current debate going on at BNW Messageboard which is actually getting nasty. On these women who have destroyed our cultural heritage, he blamed Oprah Winfrey and said that the 50ish feminist needs to get a real husband to feel how it's like, and that there are certain values money can't buy. He wondered "how can you spend your lifetime savings, paying your dues in this great country called America and ending up being screwed-up by a woman you brought here." He cited Texas as the mother of all craziness and failed marriages regarding 'our women' who'd lost every sense of purpose, ala, destroying our family values in its entirety. He was so pissed he blamed the 'boys' for starting something they could not finish.
On the talk show hosts, media elites and still blaming Oprah, he really doesn't give a "fuck" about Sean Hannity, the drug addled Rush Limbaugh, Larry Elder, George Stephanopolous, Dianne Sawyer, Charles Gibson, and that there's nothing there but commerce. "Without commerce," he would continue, "all of them ain't worth shit." He is critical of all the talk show hosts and commentators, including Oprah whom he dislikes with a passion.
On the global economy, he blamed a retarded George W. Bush and a "fucked-up" Dick Cheney for screwing-up everybody by fighting a useless war in Iraq and squandering all the surplus bad boy Bill Clinton left in the nation's coffers. He insisted Bush and Cheney should be tried for mass murder.
On President Barack Obama, he said Obama should be very careful, even though he's going on the right direction, that the stinking conservatives are doing everything within their reach to see that the president who is yet to mark a hundred days in office and a whole lot accomplished doesn't succeed. He listed Obama haters -- Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Denver's Bob Newman, Bill Cunningham, Chris Baker, Michelle Malkin, and the rest bigots -- as, cough, cough, the airheads who have nothing else to say about the president but trash talking.
On the main subject matter, what we have earlier discussed before my stopping by in da hood to see what was cooking and what the gist was all about, and exactly stuff like that. The gist was Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie's new book, The Thing Around Your Neck, a collection of short stories about what historians describe as the "push factor," the economic and social conditions that compelled us to leave our native land for a better life abroad.
Regarding Adichie and her new book, he paused and scratched his head. He did not scratch his head because of Adichie's book. He was worried Adichie, now 32, and no marriage, might end up sooner or later becoming a hardcore feminist, that at a certain age and a woman not married based on our culture, that she will be scary and that alone turns men off. According to him, early marriage for a woman is evidence of good upbringing and an indication of keeping ones cultural heritage viable and intact. That Adichie can tell all the finest stories out there; and without marriage she has no place in Igbo land, that Igbo tradition from long time ago must be preserved like any other people on Earth, citing the unique culture of the Japanese, the Chinese, the Jews and the Indians.
He said Adichie is now bent on writing books being praised on the literary circle but forgot to realize the dual feminine role of women in our society. He concluded a woman's role is that of mother and nurse, that the moment a woman crosses that line, the sign of failure becomes obvious unless the man in question is crippled.
Boy, I was wondering if this guy was Okay. He brought up the Minnesota incident of Mike Iheme who had murdered his wife in the most brutal way and blamed society for pushing the man against the wall. He talked about other killings and men who have strangled their wives in the Igbo community.
I had to cut in and change the subject before he drags me along with him on domestic violence cases I have never been part of. I decided to review Adichie's new book and he began to listen.
I read Adichie's two previous books, Purple Hibiscus (2003) and Half of a Yellow Sun (2007); and both were good books of narrative politics, life events and storytelling. Adichie's The Thing Around Your Neck is told with familiar names and characters. "Cell One," which is the first story was told in the format of Nollywood casts -- gangs and cults in university campus engaging in all kinds of criminal activities "copycating" American hip-hop and pop culture.
Then follows the northern religious riots against the Christian South and a brief encounter between two females during the fracas; one a medical student of Igbo origin, and the other a trader of Hausa extraction in a mutual order with regards to mankind to resist and overcome the predicaments of tribalism which has led to many deaths. Seriously, an engaging episode where the Hausa market woman relatively indulges the Igbo medical student for a way out of the chaos urging the medical student to do something, begging, "my nipple is burning like pepper." She had shown her nipples to the Igbo medical student in that plea, the plea to stop the violence.
In the case of sojourn to the United States, Adichie enumerated in detail the consequences of culture shock and asks if it's even worth it to embark on such a journey -- especially in a situation the "overclass" Nigerians send their wives abroad to have babies but adjusting to Yakee way of life never becomes easy.
There's also the case of arranged marriages with a Yankee. And it falls out. And sexual favors were denied. And there was anger. And there was the threat to leave on the ground that sex was not part of the deal -- the arranged marriage. And, also, there was the case of Chinaza Udenwa, (The Arrangers of Marriage) who had to change her name to Agatha Bell on the recommendation of her true husband.
Quite some thrilling stories as one reads on. Ending up with no place like home, Adichie concludes by recounting the tale of a boy sent to a missionary school by his mother which eventually turned sour. The woman's granddaughter does the opposite sideling expectations of family and cultural heritage. By the time it was all over she has earned a degree, returned back home and changed her Christian name, Grace, to Ahamefule, and found out the idea of leaving one's country in search for a better life did not add up and was not worth it. There is no place like home. And home has always been the best.
After my narratives on Adichie, he cut in and was becoming erratic. He had a frowned face eager to let off all the stuff in his chest. I knew what was about to happen. I gave him his time. He calmed down, murmured and scratched his head. I found out he was ready to release what had been bothering him. He said, clearing his throat, "are you finished?" I shook my head as a gesture of being done. He began his part of the observations as I questioned.
On Nd'Igbo he said they are -- cough, cough -- finished; that it is too late to start thinking otherwise, that it is up to the newer generation, the ones that do not speak Igbo and have no clue about Igbo culture to take over the mantle of leadership and do whatever they want to do with it; and that it might work since they have no one to favor or anyone to influence them for they have nothing to lose.
On the situations in Nigeria, he said "forget it." He paused and took a deep breath on the ground whenever the country is mentioned he feels like throwing up. He loathes the country for many reasons. A country that is 48-years-old with enormous hunman capital and abundant natural resources yet has nothing to show for its existence since its birth. A country corruption is institutionalized and nothing works except by way of illegal activities.
He spoke with anger regarding Nigeria. That the schools left by the missionaries are vanishing from normal operation. That the industries and infrastructures set up by the "founding fathers" have not been maintained to standard and in some cases left abandoned. That the hospitals are messy with no equipments, questioning the medical errand boys who take credit for doing a wonderful job from their medical missions to save the sick. He said the next fifteen years Nigeria will cease to exist from a whole lot of complications, citing the wrong choice of electing a sick man who coughs persistently and smokes like a chimney, having no time to take responsibility in the affairs of state. I mean, this guy kept talking and talking with bitterness to a point blaming the opportunists who had helped adding insult to injury.
And who are the opportunists when I asked. He paused again and took a deep breath with anger all over his face. The opportunists, according to him, are the errand boys who are here in Diaspora, who use their access as conduits for money laundering and looting of public funds by the "elected" officials, who supposedly should be held accountable for raping the treasury of a people. And that it originated from the fabricated red cap chiefs na eri awoof and that these corrupt "chiefs" have deliberately destroyed all that our forebears left behind.
Boy, this guy never stopped talking. He talked about how bad leadership had made the Naira worth nothing and uncompetitive in the global market economy. He talked about the growing cases of pollution while the civilized world is talking progressively about the green movement. That 'Nigeria' cannot claim to be a democracy when bribery and corruption is still widespread, when government officials and politicians who engage in criminal activities are not prosecuted to the limit of the law, when revenue allocation is not proportionally distributed, and when the power holders are not living up to the creed of a concocted constitution as a result of a failed judiciary.
On the educational system, he said it was a "total failure." That what need is the education when college graduates can't find work or have government assisted programs whereby individuals who feel like running their own businesses can do so under supervisory programs by government regulatory agencies. That, until there is a political revolution or somehow, a radical step, that 'Nigeria' will never be better; and that, to do so (effecting change) "will take men with liver."
He went on to say that a country that tends to forget its past has no history, citing the pogrom in which over two million souls perished, and that up until now, no form of apology has come forth.
Again, citing another era of humankind, he used the Jews as an analogy citing how powerful the Jews has become from the lessons of the Holocaust. That books are published every second about the concentration camps, about Adolf Hitler and his atrocities, about cities in Europe where the deaths were carried out, about Treblinka, about Auschwitz, about Adolf Eichman, about Polish confrontations with Soviet power during the Holocaust, about Nazi rule meaning death to all Jews, and about Anne Frank.
He was bitter and wished Igbo could do something. Nothing was funny, at all. He asked how an infallible and confused bunch of Igbo Diaspora have no legal team to defend its own who's been unjustly incarcerated. And we have "high profle lawyers." And we have "millionaires around the block." And we have "visionaries." And with all that, what do they have to show for it?
It is a tragedy and the saga continues!