Journalism in the service of society

Ripples of democracies and idiocies

I remain proud of my pragmatic conditions of existence in a country that is mine and not mine. I am one breed, one slice, one nomenclature of the generic Naijaricans – Nigerian Americans, Nigerians in America, Nigerians for America, the multiple factions that you can find in the diversity of the country.

I WAS not here when Americans lined the streets of Washington DC, waving the Nigerian flag, and President Kennedy eagerly received with fan-fair, Nigeria’s Premier Abubakar Tafawa Balewa at the White House. That Nigerian promise, courted for our vibrancy and our unimaginable wealth… that promise is gone.  I am here now, some two decades and counting and what my eyes have seen my ears have beheld and my wakeful nights have sorted out, I will recount in this column.

My years have been of the years of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now the moronic narcissist Donald J Trump! Oh, I am an American now and here we can call our president names as much as we want. No fear.

It is not hard to remember my first night in this America. My hosts had sent a limo with a chauffeur to get me from the airport to the hotel. It was night and the lights of DC induced a welcoming excitement. But as we traveled the roads and approached the hotel down the Capitol, I caught sight of my first consternation! There it was, a tall obelisk, rising deep into the skies, overlooking the entire city. There it stood in the distance but drawing closer as we approached. At the top of its cone-head there they were, two blinking eyes, shot red up, up in the sky. I was rendered into an instant curiosity and troubled quietude. America had actually built a monument to the KKK in its capital! Alas, I was wrong. What I had beheld was ‘The Washington Monument’, a pride of the nation dedicated not to the KKK, but to George Washington, one of the founding fathers of this mass land of lush prosperities and flushed bigotry.

But I am proud of my perceptiveness, of being able to see without the glitzy blindfolds of America. I remain proud of my pragmatic conditions of existence in a country that is mine and not mine. I am one breed, one slice, one nomenclature of the generic Naijaricans– Nigerian Americans, Nigerians in America, Nigerians for America, the multiple factions that you can find in the diversity of the country.

I will be writing about these in many pages to come.

LONG before the angst in the protests and rallies of the last three months, we should have observed carefully that both Nigerian and American democracies were already teetering towards the proverbial Trumpian ‘sh..hole’.  For example, at his last stop on the African continent in Abuja Nigeria, Mr. Tillerson the then United States Secretary of State, met with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria. Tillerson was on a diplomatic junket designed to make amends with some middle Eastern and African nations, whom Trump had collectively attacked with first a travel ban, and then the gift of a most uncouth categorization as “Sh..hole Countries.”  I heard that some Nigerians at home even celebrated this nasty sobriquet. Naijaricans were furious, as the rest of the world. After his meeting with Buhari, Tillerson went on to hold a news conference with Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama. Out of their mouths oozed the well-practiced gibberish of international diplomatic cooperation, talking trade and the fight against Boko Haram amongst other interests.

To the consternation of the world, Secretary Tillerson was still at the press conference when he was fired via social media by Donald Trump. Trump was loudly making the statement that he couldn’t give a damn if Nigeria was hurt by his clear assaults on Nigerians in America and at home. He was saying to us to go find some deep lagoon to take a suffocating swim. On hearing the news, the whole of America was stunned and concerned at the irreparable damage to America’s foreign relations.

For some wild creative imagination, my mind would spina scenario of possibilities. What if Mr. Tillerson would ask for asylum in Nigeria as a political refugee, enroute Nigerian citizenship. I bet his request would have been instantly granted. He would have become a ‘Naijarican’ by naturalisation. For a successful businessman that he was before his political appointment, his only dilemma would have been the decision in choosing which one of the two big parties to align with — APC or PDP.  A seasoned businessman who had found fortune in Nigeria’s oil and mastered the art of fleecing through the corridors of power, he would have just fit in nicely with the APC, hoping his allies in Buhari’s government would have helped and provided a safe haven from the arms of the EFCC.  I imagined that in a move to spite Donald Trump, the APC Caliphate in cohort with Bola Tinubu would lobby Buhari on the merits of making Mr. Tillerson, Nigeria’s ‘sh..hole” ambassador to the United Nations. Imagine that! With his deep contacts in American business world and politics, we would have had a shot at payback.

SERIOUSLY, most Americans far and wide, stand with the power of good, the idea of an America that is built on justice and liberty, a more inclusive and diverse country whose success and place in the world is defined by inclusiveness, diversity, innovation and equity. I will be writing about our people – Naijaricans, exploring our lives in America and the ripples of our deeds in this country of our new birth, or sometimes nightmare.  I will examine the biographies of our democracies and idiocies.

Professor Ojewuyi writes from Illinois, USA

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