By Promise Adiele
One of the challenges of teaching African-American Literature is dealing with the emotional trauma of how writers depict the vices of rape, extreme racial abuse, injustice, murder, vicious class dichotomy, bestiality and the debasement of the human body in the recommended texts. To drive home their messages, African-American literature writers always portray soul-wrenching, disembowelling scenes which debilitate the sensibilities. For the lecturer, sometimes, it becomes difficult to stand before the students and explain explicit sexual scenes of rape or the barbaric savagery of torture and murder. Sometimes too, some of the works justify the reasons for the uprising and angst from the black community as a response to white supremacist, overarching attitude towards them. That is why Maya Angelou’s novel I know Why The Caged Birds Sing enables an immediate defence for the protest of the black community towards acts of injustice. Literally, the title of the novel could mean I know why blacks protest. Caged birds sing to protest in captivity, create awareness of their restriction, and graciously demand freedom. The singing of birds in captivity is not melodious. It is filled with discordant rage and anger. It is always a dirge, solemn in composition and delivery different from how the birds sing when they are free.
‘Caged birds’ in Maya Angelou’s novel is an accurate metaphor for a new breed of Nigerians called Obidients drawn from different parts of the country. Their conviction derives from the presidential aspirations of Mr Peter Obi, the Labour Party flag bearer in the 2023 general elections. Obi’s emergence has reconfigured Nigeria’s political equation within four months of indicating interest in the highest office in Nigeria. In him, millions of young people see the potential for a new Nigeria to emerge from the ashes of serial misrule and mindless misgovernance. However, the Obidients demonstrate certain characteristics ranging from anger, bitterness, and a premeditated resistance to their egalitarian views which offend and violate many people. The Obidients’ guiding philosophy is Obicracy understood as a collective rejection of all forms of injustice, corruption, poverty, a comatose educational system, political patronage, and recycling of geriatric, octogenarians in government. The Obidients display positive energy to reclaim their future from political and economic marauders. Expectedly the established political superstructure, rooted in banalized, flawed political engineering with its various regressive orientations is presently suffering discomfiture. The superstructure is shocked at the level of the Obidients’ show of confidence and dare-devil approach to dislodging entrenched vices responsible for crippling the country. Why are Nigeria’s Obidient citizens angry?
If we agree with Obidients that Obicracy is an ideology that rejects bad governance at every level, it means millions of Nigerians are Obidient. Anyone resisting poor administration anywhere, marched on the streets to protest government insensitivity, criticized all forms of frivolous enhancement of government policies is Obidient. Any radical person intolerant of insensitivity at any level is Obidient. Muhammadu Buhari demonstrated Obidient consciousness when he marched on the streets to protest against Goodluck Jonathan’s government. It follows that many Nigerians in their little corners, companies, establishments, marriages, unions and other sundry places are Obidient and subscribe to the ideology of Obicracy. It encapsulates resistance against all forms of negativity. Great men in history have personified different ideologies in the past by which the world knows them. That is why Abraham Lincoln is the proponent of Democracy. Karl Marx is the arrowhead of Marxism. In the future, the intellectual community will canonize Obicracy as an ideology with origin in Nigeria associated with Peter Obi which rose to challenge Nigeria’s unhindered descent to the depths of failure. Presently, Obidients are showing a sense of anger never experienced or witnessed in Nigeria before. The question is, like Maya Angelou’s caged birds – why are Obidients angry?
Obidients are angry because two political parties that have presided over the near-annihilation of the country for twenty-three years are clamouring for the renewal of their invidious mandate towards finally bludgeoning hapless Nigerians to disgraceful damnation. Obidients are berserk because these two political parties have failed to apologize to Nigerians for initiating the country into the clan of peonage and penury but are unfortunately grandstanding to perpetuate an odious legacy in the country. More annoying for millions of Obidients is that a few people are supporting the present hellish establishment whose mandate, it appears, is to cremate the Nigerian entity for their selfish, inordinate purposes. Obidients believe it is a calculated travesty for the two political parties to return or remain in power. For the Obidient citizens, Nigerians cannot afford to luxuriate in their collective approbation of evil while showing an aversion for social renewal. Obidients believe it defies every rational calculation and debate for anyone of good moral standing to support the two behemoth political parties either to return or remain in power.
Obidients are angry because their country has become a synonym for insecurity. Every nook and cranny of the country is bustling with sorrow, tears and blood from untimely deaths, kidnapping, rape and a business angle of it, ransom. Nigeria’s security apparatus is roundly compromised so that bandits, terrorists and various armed groups are having a field day all over the country unchallenged even in broad daylight. Obidients are not happy with these developments. They are angry because their country has acquired the unenviable sobriquet as the poverty capital of the world. The country’s economy continues to nosedive while the local currency is irredeemably losing value daily. As a result of these developments, prices of goods and services have hit the roof and ordinary people can hardly afford a decent living. Having impoverished the citizens, the ruling class makes them vulnerable to accept inducements during elections.
If we agree with Obidients that Obicracy is an ideology that rejects bad governance at every level, it means millions of Nigerians are Obidient. Anyone resisting poor administration anywhere, marched on the streets to protest government insensitivity, criticized all forms of frivolous enhancement of government policies is Obidient. Any radical person intolerant of insensitivity at any level is Obidient.
The Obidients are angry because they daily witness the institutionalization of corruption in their country. Gradually, corruption has become statecraft and those indicted for corrupt enrichment walk free as long as they identify with the subsisting power protocol. While millions of Nigerians die daily through hunger and starvation some privileged few primitively appropriate the wealth of the country and transfer the same abroad. Currently, there are reported cases of crude oil theft in Nigeria. Poor people don’t and can’t steal crude oil. The nefarious criminal activity is carried out by those in government with the wherewithal to perpetrate such heinous economic sabotage. While these big criminals walk free, the various financial crime-fighting agencies are busy pursuing petty thieves who steal for survival. Obidients are not happy because Nigeria continues to borrow money without corresponding efforts to pay back, therefore, the future of the country, tucked inside the pockets of wicked people, is bleak for the youths. Obidients are angry about these things and want to reclaim their country.
Obidients are angry because, in a country of millions of cerebral, eminently qualified people, those with a questionable educational background are controlling the levers of policy machinery, which is why the country is revelling in the abyss of economic woes. It is even more infuriating that while the country barely survives under the present establishment championed by an educationally challenged headship, other persons with mysterious educational background and questionable genealogy are angling seriously to take over the reins of power. Obidients are very angry that after the country spent a fortune on medical tourism to ensure the rehabilitation of the current headship, other persons of equally frail, questionable health status are desperate to take over the mantle of leadership. Obidients reject these developments because a country in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) cannot afford to have sick persons preside over its affairs.
It is one thing to be angry and expound the ideology of Obicracy by millions of Obidient Nigerians but another thing to ensure that the anger reflects on the ballot box in the 2023 general elections. Obidients must realize that making an effort differs from having it translate into results. While the Obidients reciprocate insults from those they call haters of the country, bullying for bullying, hate for hate, and sundry brickbats in equal measure, they must ensure that their anger reflects judiciously when INEC counts the votes next year. While the Obidients are justifiably angry, they should also ensure that the exponent of their movement, Mr Peter Obi is safe and secure in all ramifications because times are dangerous. No politician in living memory has received as many stones as their principal despite his entire practicable, workable prognosis to revive an ailing country. Will the anger of the Obidients lead to the emergence of a new Nigeria? Time will tell.
Promise Adiele PhD
Mountain Top University