Ar­rest­ing the shit­hole syn­drome

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - OPINION -

IF speech pat­terns could help in iden­ti­fy­ing cul­tural iden­ti­ties, one could eas­ily say that Trump is more African Amer­i­can than Obama. Be­fore ever Trump was said to have used that word, two African Amer­i­can ladies at Newark Air­port, prior to the swear­ing-in of Trump in 2017, used it against me for merely ask­ing them my way at the air­port, and even told me that the days of peo­ple like you in USA are num­bered as Trump take over the man­tle of power. In ef­fect, one’s colour or com­plex­ion, as peo­ple from dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents come to USA, does not ex­clu­sively link to cul­tural iden­tity. There are black Lati­nos, there are Caribbean blacks, there are French or Bri­tish blacks and so on. How­ever, it is pos­si­ble that at first sight, an African Amer­i­can could ad­mit “a brother me” or “a sis­ter me” needs a help and em­pa­thy comes in, but as you speak and your speech pat­tern does not in­volve “shit”, “fork”, “bull­shit”, etc, all the em­bar­rass­ing words that de­fine the man or woman op­pressed or ha­rassed, the African Amer­i­can with­draws from be­ing em­pathic. I have wit­nessed that not only in Newark but in some other air­ports and cities of USA. To my great­est sur­prise, the Lati­nos had proved more help­ful than others. In ef­fect, peo­ple could be im­pa­tient with you when they dis­cover that you be­have like “Mumu”, be­ing on a very “fast lane” and refuse to move and the rest of the world seems to be in haste to en­ter the fast lane and African coun­tries are not key­ing-in. The op­tion avail­able is to close the fast lane or kick away any­one on the fast lane not re­spond­ing to the speed ex­pected. Be­yond Trump’s frus­tra­tion, my own fa­ther, about 10 to 15 years older than Trump, had used the shit­hole word on me when I was younger. When­ever my fa­ther was frus­trated out of my ig­no­rance or weak­ness to catch up with a knowl­edge process, he had called me ei­ther ichi,utu,otele­oronuike. In Igbo lan­guage it is shit­hole. Ini­tially I did not know the worth of its va­lence pro­jec­tion till I started phi­los­o­phiz­ing about it and started avoid­ing an­noy­ing him so as not to call me that.

Fur­ther­more, he re­lated it to “ok­poroko” child – stock­fish child; a child born with signs of “not go­ing to add value to hu­man­ity.” He told me that such chil­dren are sur­rep­ti­tiously and coura­geously done away with the way peo­ple treated “Okonkwo” in Chinua Achebe as a wicked fa­ther; or, even Chi­ma­manda treated the African fa­ther im­age in “Pur­ple Hi­bis­cus” as great evil.

Iron­i­cally, some of these fathers are some of the frus­trated two mil­lion African Amer­i­can fathers in Amer­i­can pris­ons as a re­sult of frus­trated ex­pres­sion of fatherhood. Thank God Obama re­duced it from 3 mil­lion to 2 mil­lion. It is true that Africans had suf­fered slav­ery for about 500 years now, and it keeps on evolv­ing from phys­i­cal slav­ery, through spir­i­tual slav­ery to the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic slav­ery. The elite is yet to un­der­stand how to ar­rest the “rain beat­ing” process; and it is only when you iden­tify where and when and how the rain started beat­ing you that you can ar­rest the sit­u­a­tion.

There are op­por­tu­ni­ties in threats. The re-or­der­ing process Trump seems to be ini­ti­at­ing could be op­por­tu­ni­ties for Africans to wake up or seek for the clo­sure of the fast lanes the way the herds­man and Boko Haram seem, unashamedly, ask­ing the South and Mid­dle Belt Nige­ri­ans to do. Whether we like it or not what is hap­pen­ing to us in Nige­ria is part of shit­hole syn­drome; very rich coun­try and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing vol­un­tary slav­ery of its cit­i­zens as no fewer than 300 of them die each year try­ing to cross the Mediter­ranean Sea beg­ging to be en­slaved. In­deed, they could also be peo­ple run­ning away so as not to be in­fected by the shit­hole syn­drome, in­clud­ing be­ing killed by the herds­man.

While Nige­ria is plan­ning to bring back 5000 Nige­ri­ans en­slaved in Libya, I was as­ton­ished, right on my nose in Mon­treal “wow­ing” a Nige­rian lady who, cling­ing two chil­dren, was be­ing wel­come as refugee. A great fit; to es­cape dy­ing in the sea with such chil­dren and mak­ing it to Canada, the lady is worth cel­e­brat­ing!!!

So, who says that Trump’s frus­tra­tion of the weak­ness of the African lead­ers should not be seen as wake-up call. Thank God Musoveni of Uganda had ac­cepted the chal­lenge and Kagame of Rwanda is work­ing hard to re-po­si­tion Africa with his at­ti­tude of “no-visa” for any African with African Union pass­port. Like Kadaria Ahmed said in an in­ter­view with An­thony Bour­dain, Africa needs a na­tion in Africa as a model to lead the rest to­wards to­tal well be­ing of its over 1 bil­lion hu­man be­ings, so as to di­rect the great en­ergy some youths use in the scam game to pos­i­tive pro­duc­tive ven­tures. As she ex­claimed: imag­ine they were lit­er­ate or ed­u­cated enough!!!

African youths are very well dis­posed to act right if the right mod­els are pushed into the so­cial plat­forms for them to em­u­late. This is where I com­mend par­tially the brain drain process and ex­pect it, also, to re­verse to brain gain for Africa if ge­o­graph­i­cal por­tion of Africa could be al­lo­cated to the Africans in the Di­as­pora, as model coun­try, the way Is­rael is to the Jews, for devel­op­ment pur­poses.

Trump is a very good omen to the African world, and it has to be seen as so. His speech pat­tern is al­most African Amer­i­can, and like great African fathers who care to see that their chil­dren progress, they in­ter­mit­tently cheap-in harsh words not curse. My fa­ther had never cursed or beat me; but out of frus­tra­tion he had al­ways shouted “ichi” or “onu otele” and that had al­ways jerked me up to act right. Trump, in­deed, is the fa­ther African lead­ers need now to act right and as his son, Trump Ju­nior, once said that the only colour his fa­ther re­lated with is green – fer­til­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity – and any one with green back­ground is his friend; so let African lead­ers and elite dis­card their evil colours and en­act a green back­ground for the new world re-or­der­ing “en marche” – on the move. •Ari­oleis­pro­fes­so­rof­fren­chand­fran­co­phon­es­tud­ies Univer­si­ty­ofla­gos.

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