I woke up this morning with a reflection. My mind went back to 1989, and a discussion involving one of my colleagues on the BCOS Saturday Special Crew that we pioneered and patterned after American Broadcasting Corporation’s ‘’Good Morning America’ that beamed interesting programmes to the world from the popular Times Square in New York City. ‘Saturday Special’ was created by a fiat by Sole Administrator Oluwole Dare and General Manager Adebisi Adesola; and was coordinated by ebullient Ade Adekanmbi. The beautiful programme that tied people down in their homes on Saturdays featured a combination of breaking news, interviews, in-depth investigative reporting and ‘news around the world. It also contained live interviews with key personalities from all over Nigeria who discussed a wide variety of interesting issues and events. Saturday Special as an engaging programme when it commenced about 30 years ago will be revisited another day.
Reference to the programme is warranted by an encounter with one of our very sparkling bosses, Siyan Fatoki, (there can be no dull moment with him) who in his remarks to an observation by Kola Bolomope that prices of loaves of bread were shooting through rooftops queried him thus: ‘’Why did you go for bread? Why not yams? That is how you inconvenience yourselves.’’ Our boss went further: ‘’Instead of Corn Flakes, purchase pap made from corn to drink. Are they not from the same products?’’ We just laughed over the matter but 29 years later, the argument seems very reasonable and logical to me. In the first instance, why do we have to pack aside our local delicacies and go to Chinese and Japanese restaurants in Nigeria? What is wrong with our diets that cannot be corrected by our Dieticians who could tell us the right quantity to eat. To be honest, I don’t know how to use ”chop sticks” and my wife and children refer to me as ”analogue or conservative” which I so much like. But I did, in 2009, see our Chinese guests at the Government House, Osogbo, eat pounded yam and rice together because they didn’t understand the combination at the buffet party and they felt on top of the world.
Still on a lighter note, my business meetings abroad have proved revealing. Someone once took me to the top of Eiffel Towers for seven days in a row while in Paris on Diplomatic assignments to lobby for Nigeria. I told him my paperwork was waiting for me and I never liked the seven course dinner outings on which we spent at least four hours talking while eating. I told him the longest I could stay in my favourite BIOBAK KITCHENS, Abuja, that serves our own local balanced diets would be 30 minutes; and I am free to use my hands to eat. And I have never loved any long meeting but practical action. And consider the fact that decisions reached at those long overnight political meetings could be suddenly changed.
In a related development, a friend in Osogbo, that I fondly address as (”My Able Deputy – we requested someone to sponsor our electioneering campaign expenses right from the stage of obtaining expression of interest forms as governor and deputy until we are elected) once remarked that when he was young, his parents would say that it was covetousness that made people eat two pieces of meat. ‘’You dare not eat two eggs at once and you ate chicken during festive seasons. Now, he is old. Dieticians say he should keep off from red meat and possibly chicken; citing so many medical terminologies. ‘’At the end, he said he has chosen to ‘’chop life’’ and be eating everything ‘’eatable’’ that he missed as a result of poverty while he was young.’’
OUR STYLE & LOCAL PRODUCTS
Rev (Dr) Mike Oye, a Naturopath/Alternative Medicine practitioner has pointed out that it is very possible to live healthy without drugs through good diets, discipline, and adequate appropriation of nature. He asserts that whatever is natural, is always better for human consumption than the synthetic alternatives imported from abroad or made locally. For centuries, we have gained notoriety as a society that imports so many commodities that cannot be named here for lack of space. Even toothpicks! Raw materials are exported abroad and finished products are sent back to the developing world. The situation has degenerated in Nigeria majorly because of our love for class distinction. Some would argue that it is part of our culture to behave in certain ways. But TERRIFIC HEADLINES disagree; because culture is dynamic and could be modified to suit demands of modern times this ever-changing age of technology. I visited Beijing, Peoples Republic of China a few years ago and saw what I called: ‘’The wonder of God’’ with their practice of Alternative Medicine. China and countries of the Far-East shot into prominence through a policy of visioning and long-range planning. Who says such is not possible in Nigeria? Whoever is in doubt should go abroad and see how God is using Nigerians to develop foreign countries.
OUR CULTURE & THE EARLY NATIONALISTS
Worth recalling her is the nationalistic posture of a First Republic politician, Mazi Mbonu Ojike, who was one of the great Nigerians who fought the British colonialists (not in the manner we are fighting ourselves today) for the liberation of Nigeria from colonial rule. Mbonu Ojike (1914 – November 29, 1956) was a great patriot and writer. He advanced from a choirmaster, organist, and teacher in an Anglican school to become a student in America and then a cultural and economic nationalist. Mbonu Ojike earned the sobriquet: ‘’Boycott the Boycottables’’ and mobilized the people of his generation to boycott all vestiges all imperialism. He was the Second Vice President NCNC and Deputy Mayor of Lagos in 1951. Ojike was known as the “boycott king” for his slogan, ‘boycott the boycottables’. In America, he spent 8 years involved in intellectual pursuit and improving outsiders’ knowledge of Africa speaking from an African perspective. Upon his return, he promoted his brand of Africanisation, a persistent consumption of African forms of cloths, food, dress, religion and dances while also believing in the selective benefits of foreign amenities. Instead of the prefix ‘’Mr’’, Ojike chose to be addressed as ‘’Mazi’’. The pattern of dressing of the early nationalists was to abandon foreign materials. You hardly saw them in foreign attires. Check it: Festus Okotie-Eboh, Minister of Finance during the administration of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, of Ijaw extraction; Eyo Ita; and several others.
PATTERN OF DRESSING
Let us examine our style of dressing. People in the tropical region go about in three-piece English suits in spite of the unbearable heat because that was what they inherited from the colonialists and as a result of class distinction. The English suit is a traditional form of men’s formal clothes in the Western world that suffers from freezing temperatures. The Nigerian trousers and tops are certainly more conducive to our climate. Then the food we eat. While our forefathers were lucky to have access to fresh farm produce, we now prefer all sorts of foreign food items, some of them canned with preservatives. While not totally condemning foreign items, it could be safely argued that our own products could be superior to what the western world produce. Indeed, Black is beautiful. If the truth must be told, our women are prettier in our attires; while men look better in our traditional dresses. What about our local soap that cleanses excellently well as opposed to foreign products that bleach the skin? We have local herbs that are more efficacious than imported ones, some of which are killer drugs. We have world class professionals and experts who can build a modern society that could advance beyond the First World, like Nigerian priests are doing all over the world. We have Nigerian dresses that are colourful, African music and dance that are meaningful unlike the rapping sessions that don’t really convey any meaning.
Now let us imagine how many jobs we could create by paying particular attention to products made in Nigeria. How did other nations do it? Focus on places like Iseyin, Aba, Okrika, Abeokuta, Oyo town, Osogbo and other places with some cultural identities. We could package and sell Nigeria diligently to the international community. We can produce and export so many items from Africa instead of being the dumping ground for foreign products. We can create holiday resorts here in Nigeria and make foreigners struggle for entry visas into Nigeria. We need to do a re-think very wisely and apply home grown solutions to our socio-political and economic problems. On our part, we will create the desired awareness by featuring African culture. The strategic position and influence of Nigeria in Africa, over the decades, place great demands, burden and strains on the country as a model for several other African nations. Nigeria is widely regarded as the engine of the economy of West-Africa, a motivator of the African Union, and the catalyst of African renaissance. Such is the importance of Nigeria in global politics that it is believed that whatever happens in Nigeria has the possibility of reverberating to other nations in the African continent. Nelson Mandela has been quoted as saying that: ‘’The world will not respect Africa, until Nigeria earns that respect. ‘’The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence.’’
WHAT TO WATCH & CONTROL
The volume of information fed into the various channels of communication is so enormous that it is producing both functional and dysfunctional effects. The resultant effect is Information explosion that arises from the rapidly increasing amount of published information and the effects of abundance of data. The development has led to the invasion of the airwaves of the developing world by the Western media with the consequent effect of the younger generation imbibing the cultures and values of the West. The situation has assumed frightening dimensions of erosion of cultural values in the Third World. We have very rich diets but prefer to go for delicacies of other nations. Hot pap, for instance could simply substitute imported tea. There are several Nigerian dishes that are far more nutritious than foreign items. Regrettably, it is now commonplace finding the younger elements in Africa dancing to the tunes of foreign musicians; without even understanding the lyrics of the songs. The sounds and contents of Nigerian musicians’ works are certainly more meaningful than ‘’rapping’’ that conveys no meaning; and is full of distortions because no communication really takes place. Young boys now wear ear-rings, hitherto an exclusive practice by the female sex. This is one feature of what information explosion has caused; creating dysfunctional situations that are increasingly becoming difficult for the world to manage. This trend has caused misrepresentations and stereotypes that every so often require corrections. It has also promoted misunderstanding, and shallow knowledge of peoples and occurrences in the developing world. It is widely believed that this development is capable of hindering efforts at promoting global peace and international understanding.
We will get there, if the Lord tarries.
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