Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why are people interested in politics?

I read something on the TV in the early hours of today. I was wide awake after tossing on the bed for too long. So I decided to see what was on TV and had the privilege of seeing the intro of SABC International News. They must have a word for that in the Media vocabulary, but I don’t know what it’s called. Anyway, the words were displayed in singles and it asked: “Why are people in Politics? Is it for War, People, and so on like that.


As a former political science student and an averagely political-minded person, that caught my attention.

Of course I had tossed burning questions like that in my head several times, more than I can recall. It’s just a waste of energy because the response is staring me right in the face….Majority of politicians venture into politics for selfish reasons. Simple!

Otherwise, how do you explain the pathetic state of anarchy in some countries? How do you explain the sorry situation of the country where the citizens are lavishing in poverty and the politicians get to stash money away in foreign accounts (am still coming to deal with those foreign receptors)?

What was it Thomas Hobbes said about evil prevailing when the elites keep quiet in a society?

I wish I could go on a campaign that would make my fellow citizens appreciate our country better. It is a onerous task because majority ‘thinks’ that the grass is always greener on the other side. Hello! Reality check please!

I can imagine the first response I will get sounding like, “It is easier said than done”. Now I wouldn’t really blame anyone for saying such because, I’ve been there, done that, know better!

I haven’t travelled halfway round the world, but I don’t need to; to get the picture that, no matter what you become, who you are, your achievements, titles, accolades and what have you, it doesn’t change “who you really are”. It doesn’t change your heritage, your root, where you really come from. I think it would ease our thoughts and challenges once we accept that fact, indisputably.

In case you are wondering why/how I suddenly became an advocate for patriotism, wonder no further. I have this innate thing for justice. I don’t know if that makes sense to you or if am blowing too much grammar. I would like to think am trying, you know, stroking my own ego a little. Afterall, English is not my mother-tongue or my primary language. So, what am trying to say in essence is that, I have a knack for ‘idealism’. I like the idea of doing things right, fighting for and defending the oppressed. Clamouring for justice, aspiring for serenity and humanity. I am a self-confessed “feminist”- if it doesn’t mean absurdity or fanaticism. I do not subscribe to subjugation, degradation, oppression and inhumane activities. Yes, I know and agree that this may sound too “unrealistic” and infeasible. But I will rather nurture the idea of a better world than become thick-skinned, cold and heartless. I would rather be referred to as a weakling, too sensitive, overly emotional and too compliant; than become selfish, self-centred, greedy and power-drunk.

The desperation displayed by our disadvantaged citizens, has brought us humiliation, shame and leaves us with less dignity or non at all. I have witnessed this and was a victim of racism, ethnocentrism, stereotyping, name-calling, labeling, tagging and what not.

I have seen enough, learnt enough and have a sufficient knowledge of what it means to be an “outsider”. A foreigner in another country. A second-class citizen.

I wouldn’t want to delve into these unmemorable encounters in detail. But I will make a few instances from my experience.

While in the UK, England precisely; opening a bank account was almost impossible. Anyway, when we eventually got our way; I didn’t just open a bank account, I opened an account with one of their topmost banks-Barclays. That was a few years back.

My husband’s car was damaged by some of the locals. The neighbourhood teens just decided it was too fancy for a Black, a foreigner and walked right through the windscreen, shattering it beyond repair. Due to their efficient service delivery, the police arrived under two minutes after we made the call. But it didn’t do much help as the boys could not be traced. It was late at night, at about 11 p.m.

Now in South Africa, the moment we opened our mouths to say we were Nigerians, it was as if we just shot ourselves in the foot. They came up with countless excuses and reasons we wouldn’t be able to open a bank account. In the end again, we didn’t just get bank accounts (I’ve got only one by the way), I opened a savings account with one of their stringent ones-NED Bank. It doesn’t really matter whether my account is dormant or inactive; at least I’ve got one in my name.
Now, last year, we attempted to get our son into a privately owned school for a qualitative education, it didn’t happen for similar reasons.

Let me tell you this in case you don’t know- the white people have a way of laughing at you and make you think they’re laughing with you. Have you ever heard of the word-plastic smile’? That says it all. I can almost say I haven’t seen more polite beings walking this earth. They will politely reject or refuse you. They may even politely tell you you’re foolish without uttering the word. Don’t get me wrong, am no racist. Am just telling you what I have encountered and witnessed happen. I must also state that, I have met a handful of foreigners who were nice to me, irrespective of my identity. All am saying is that, they could at least be civil about not liking a foreigner; not throwing it in your face.
I cannot and will not denounce my identity and what I represent because of some people’s ignorance.

I am not supporting any politician, not benefiting from any politician’s loot, do not have a politician in my family as of now (it could happen in the future), and am no friend to one yet. However, I have been privileged to meet, interact and dine with a few. It was an eye opener because; it made me see the side of them that isn’t revealed to the public. They are just ordinary people like you and I. Without their political portfolios, they may be your next house neighbour or the friend of a friend and something like that. It also gave me the privilege to realise that, we shouldn’t throw away the baby with the bath water. We shouldn’t be quick to judge, or make a blanket judgement. My point is,” Most of them may be bad; but it doesn’t mean all of them are bad”. I met a recently retired commissioner who was humble enough to stay in our guest house, instead of a five-star hotel. He is as humane as they come. In his state, he accommodates students to live with him, sharing the same roof with him and his family. Students profess his kindness and generousity such that, Youth Corpers refer themselves to this man for help when they are posted to his state for Youth Service. He helps people he doesn’t know and asks for nothing in return. He just does it because he cares. He is one of the very few Nigerians who by heart and action wish this country to reclaim her lost glory. I met a now retired Permanent Secretary (PS), a governor aspirant, a senior civil servant recently became a PS, I have met in person and chatted with the present Consular General of Nigeria in South Africa; a very humble man with a polite disposition and a wealth of knowledge. The truth is, had I also not been opportuned to meet and relate with these people, I would also be like others thinking everyone in any government position is there to loot, squander and stash away the hard earned money of ordinary civilians.

My advocacy is this, rather than condemning and rebuking our country, our leaders and recounting the countless things that have gone wrong, why don’t we as ordinary people see what we can do to make a difference. If we keep pointing fingers and laying blames, it doesn’t get anything done. Am also abroad but certainly would return to my country home someday, God willing. I hope and plan to contribute to national development in anyway I can. I also would like to give back, praying that I break even in the nearest future. We should not limit giving back to monetary values. It could be in service delivery, like volunteering for instance. Those who are abroad should look at ways they can help make our nation better. Each one of us should start thinking about others and not ourselves alone. Those of us that are educated should be grateful and look at ways to help others. We can give back in terms of knowledge….it’s about time we did something and stopped lamenting. Yes, that’s why we have leaders. Yes, we are poor. Yes, Nigeria’s GDP is ranked 43 amongst the 52 Africans countries. Yes to many so many abnormalities in our society. Yes also to doing the little we can to make a difference. Yes to not being frustrated with the system that has failed us. Yes to not giving up on our nation. Yes to still being patriotic, despite our deficiencies. Yes to nation building. Yes to making a difference. Yes, we can contribute. And yes, it would make a difference…..

That’s all am saying!