Postgraduate students reflect on Nigeria’s democracy

May 29 marks Democracy Day in Nigeria, a national holiday commemorating the return of civilian rule to the nation after 16 years of military rule with the election of former military head of state Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999.  As the previous post notes, D-Day is also set-aside as the swearing-in day for democratically elected officials.  For all the problems plaguing Nigeria’s nascent democracy, the 2011 election proceedings marked a critical step forward in the political evolution of the country.  Indeed, it seems that democracy is here to stay.  

For these reasons, perhaps, political discourse has been enlivened, especially within the nation’s institutions of higher education and among students in particular.  As you may know, student political practices is the focus of my dissertation research, so I’ve paid close attention to political conversations among students during this election season, which finally reached its denouement this past weekend.  At the Tafawa Balewa Postgraduate Hall in the University of Ibadan where I reside, on 30 May, graduate students participated in a lively discussion on Nigeria’s democracy and the challenges facing its development.  

Here’s a brief summary of some of the contributions, which offer some insight into student political discourse and ideas:

  • Cash Rules Everything: Two residents shared stories of how their efforts to contest in local politics were frustrated by “money politics.”  Without big money (or deep-pocketed patrons), aspirants are unlikely to succeed.  Due to the significant investment contesting an election entails, the average politician is only interested in seeing a return on their investment and “chopping money” rather than leading.  And, as long as money reigns supreme, there is little encouragement for politicians to be socially responsible.
  • Women in politics: The noticeable absence of women from political office sparked a debate as to why women are underrepresented, even despite incentives from parties such as the ruling PDP, which was said to offer women a free ticket to contest.  Though some were of the opinion that there were not enough “credible” women candidates, others attributed their absence to both cultural context (politics seen as the terrain of men) and the perception of politics as “dirty”and “bloody,” which deterred women from entering such “do-or-die” affairs.  With time and a more conducive atmosphere, it was suggested that more women would begin to enter and find success in the political sphere.

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Snapshots from the Inauguration of Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi at Liberty Stadium in Ibadan on 29 May 2011.  I followed the University of Ibadan delegation of Student Union leaders to the event, where we narrowly escaped a stampede and the ire of overzealous and baton-wielding security agents.  Ajimobi promised a more transparent government than his predecessor and a return of Oyo State to the glory days of Obafemi Awolowo, when southwestern Nigeria was the national pacesetter.  

Picture 1: An artistic rendering of Ajimobi, Oyo State’s “new beginning.”

Picture 2:  With brooms in hand (the symbol of the ACN political party), the crowd awaits the arrival of the Governor-Elect.

Picture 3: With military escorts, the governor laps the stadium.

Happy Africa Day. Hurray?

Africa Day for African Unity

Today is Africa Day, an annual commemoration of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) in 1963.  I must confess, despite my familiarity with the history of the OAU and the fact that I’ve spent several “Africa Day”s on the African continent, May 25, 2011 marks the first time I’d ever heard of the occasion—and this revelation was only because of an early morning tweet announcing a special Google Doodle in its honor.  

(Let’s forget for a moment how utterly unimaginative today’s google logo is, especially compared with some of its predecessors, which are fairly awesome.  After all, it could have been worse: they could have used kente cloth and safari animals.)  

What interests me is that the theme of today’s celebration is “Africa and the Diaspora.”  If you remember, earlier this year, the United Nations announced that 2011 has been designated the “International Year of People of African Descent” (IYPAD) to coincide with the ten-year anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism in South Africa.  How lovely.  A day and a year in honor of the African Diaspora.  As a student of the Diaspora, the importance of directing our collective attention on its history and contemporary realities is not lost on me.  Still, I wonder now, as I did then, what exactly will a day (or year) of focused attention on people of African descent actually mean for people of African descent, if anything?  

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Malcolm’s been on my mind lately with the publication of late historian Manning Marable’s epic biography.  So, I was pleased to stumble (or tumble?) across this iconic photo of close friends Malcolm X and Maya Angelou taken in Ghana 1964, though what strikes me, now, about this picture is not Malcolm, but Maya.  At times, I forget how centrally located Maya was during that political era.  After a stint teaching at University of Ghana, Angelou returned to the U.S. to help Malcolm start the Organization of Afro-American Unity.  In a matter of days, he was assassinated. Then, in 1968, Angelou was asked to help Martin Luther King, Jr. organize the poor people’s march, only for him to also be assassinated on her birthday (!!). I’ve always been so by intrigued by how her close ties to the two icons of that generation of black radicalism, and their untimely deaths, impacted her activism.  She chronicles these years in her memoir, A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), but you can check out an excellent interview on the book here, as well as an excerpt “The day Malcolm X died” here.     
notnohustle:

Brother Malcolm and Sister Maya

Malcolm’s been on my mind lately with the publication of late historian Manning Marable’s epic biography.  So, I was pleased to stumble (or tumble?) across this iconic photo of close friends Malcolm X and Maya Angelou taken in Ghana 1964, though what strikes me, now, about this picture is not Malcolm, but Maya.  At times, I forget how centrally located Maya was during that political era.  After a stint teaching at University of Ghana, Angelou returned to the U.S. to help Malcolm start the Organization of Afro-American Unity.  In a matter of days, he was assassinated. Then, in 1968, Angelou was asked to help Martin Luther King, Jr. organize the poor people’s march, only for him to also be assassinated on her birthday (!!). I’ve always been so by intrigued by how her close ties to the two icons of that generation of black radicalism, and their untimely deaths, impacted her activism.  She chronicles these years in her memoir, A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), but you can check out an excellent interview on the book here, as well as an excerpt “The day Malcolm X died” here.     

notnohustle:

Brother Malcolm and Sister Maya

(Source: , via black-culture)

Because it’s Sunday.  And Brother Franklin is always on time.

Naija text talk

Nigerian text culture is something else.  Personal favorites: NWO and WBYO. 

thefeeloffree:

khandjakreashunz:

Edon reach time wey we, as original Naija people go stop to dey use oyinbo abreviations like LoL, LMAO, ROTFLMAO etc. when we fit dey use our own exceptional Street lingua.

For example:
LWKM - Laugh wan kill me
MIDG - make i dey go
WGYL - we go yarn later
IGA - I gbadun am
ICS - I can’t shout
DJM - Don’t jealous me
WBDM - Who born d maga
UDC - U de craze
NUS - Na u sabi
WSU - who send u
ITK - I too know
WDH - wetin dey happen
NDH - nutin dey happen
FMJ - free me jo
BBP - bad bele people
HUD - how u dey
WKP - waka pass
NTT - Na true talk
NDM - no dull me
IFSA - I for slap am
IGDO - I go die o
YB - Yess boss
NLT - No long thing
CWJ - carry waka jorh
WBYO - wetin be your own
U2D - U 2 do
U2DV - U 2 dey vex
WSDP - who send dem papa
INS - i no send
INFS - i no fit shout
WWY - who wan yarn
NBST - no be small thing
NWO - na wah oooooo
NMA - no mind am
MIHW - make i hear word
NDY_ nothing do you….

#LWKMD!

(Source: khandjakalabash, via diokpara)

"For I am my mother’s daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart."

Mary McLeod Bethune

Tags: quotable