Nigeria is a West African country; England is in the Western part of Europe. England, formed by small Celtics and Anglo-Saxons in the early medieval period; Nigeria, a 1960 independence of at least distinct 250 tribes with over 500 languages. Nigeria is the largest part of the African world; England, the largest part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Your Professor lecturer briefs the history of Nigeria at ODLT lecture theatre. He talks about a pretty history. He talks about the Royal Niger Company and the amalgamation, independence and Republicanism, military coups and the civil war, and the civilian rule of the Third Republic. You like how he constructs his sentences; raw, simple and genuine. You want to listen attentively so you close your note. You place your elbows on the desk and cup your palms to rest your chin. You squint your eyes to follow his waving hands. After all Dr. Ogunfolabi had told you keeping an eye on the body gesture of a speaker is a sure way to reflective listening. Note making is useless when you can reflexively listen to how the British, led by Lord Lugard sucked life out from your country, Nigeria.
Obafemi Awolowo University has just restructured her accommodation policy so that you couldn’t get hostel. You live on Road 7, Awotile, off campus. You are on your way home now. You have to trek because no commercial vehicles ply the road except about five always-overloaded shuttles which scurry like bush rat to OAUTH complex. You can also get free ride, but once in a month. You will definitely not forgive OAU for that! So you prod yourself through on Road 7 sidewalk in the light evening rain (You are still in harmattan semester though).
You ruminate on what your history Professor lecturer had said earlier. How Nigeria is a diverse but dynamic country. You begin to wonder what was the cause of this amalgamation of entirely different countless tribes. Now, you think you have to make research and write an essay on it. You will probably publish it on Sahara Reporters. You’re jogging now. You must be happy you finally have something to say about the situation of Nigeria.
You get home wet and weary. The lecturer you’re staying with is not yet at home so you are in a free world. You pick up your second phone, a decrepit Nokia 1280, and turn on its frequency modulator. It’s 6 o’clock world news. The first headline is so sad: Fulani Herdsmen Kill 50. It makes you wonder why people of a country that symbolises unity in diversity kill one another. Interesting. Prof. Salami had told you philosophy involves logical and critical enquiry into the nature of things. So you will try it.
You get to the Hezekiah Oluwasanmi library. You want to check England and Nigeria in Crompton Encyclopedia. You smile as you rummage your bag for the library card. You smile wider. A smile that pastes enthusiasm on your face as if you would interview your president in ten minutes time. You can’t find it! But you’re with your friend’s card with no passport photograph. You have a brainstorm. You pack your book and dash out to the photocopy stand.
You come back in a few minutes. You try to swallow your panting as you join the queue. The security man is talking to a female colleague. He pokes his thumb and fore finger into a scissors-like shape so that you can slot your card into it. Of course he doesn’t check it, he only holds onto it a few seconds.
This is your first time in the library, in the reference room. You’re shocked the place is exactly what Boluwatife described in his A Diary of a Disappointed OAU Freshman. But you’re there on a purpose so you get to work.
You pick a 1970 book on Nigeria colonialism. So old and dusty, you flip through it. You keep jotting some points down.
You pick another book, also old. It’s on precolonial Era. You read about Hausa tribe first. The Muslim Hausa-speaking societies were renowned for international trade, high-quality textile, craft production and ancient centre for Islamic learning. In the 19th century the political system centered on them; the Sokoto Caliphate was probably the most powerful and complex state system in West and Central Africa.
Interesting. The Christian and Muslim Yoruba-speaking societies now. In the past, especially before the 15th century, the Yorubas practiced tradition of metalworking, technical innovation and elaborate city development.
You shake your knees in enchantment. You trace the words with your index finger. The Christian Igbo-speaking societies. They were mostly hardworking farmers and traders.
You go now to the Languages & Literature shelf to get Crompton Encyclopedia. You see a Chinese University Bulletin, 2010. It’s probably one of the latest books in the library.
You nod as you scan through. England, an early middle-age conglomeration of small Celtics and Anglo-Saxons. England speaks in English having a few dialects. You close the book in anger. Red veins stand at the sides of your head all straining away from your ears.
You had read Crompton’s description of Nigeria earlier. Nigeria, an enormous and complex region both culturally and politically. Now you wonder if the English colonial master really knew what Enormous Diversity And Complexity in Culture And Politics meant. If it was proper to merge entirely different regions with distinct languages, culture and history. By that you need a dire conclusion. There must be a genuine reason for that because most people around consider the white man infallible. No. You want to do philosophy so you decide to read more.
You remember you had done ethics in philosophy class yesterday. Now you think the English colonial master’s action must be graded as consequentialist. Of course he might have been looking forward, towards the consequences and effects. You stare hard at the fat book before you, into it, through it and land into the Wonderland of your thoughts.
This is it. He wasn’t interested in the effects of it on himself alone (though philosophically human being is selfish). So he wasn’t egoistic. He was doing it for the interest of his own people then. No. He wasn’t ethically utilitarian. You know it now.
You go back to the Languages and Literature shelf for a big Oxford dictionary. You stand there flipping through the light brown pages. Shit! You can’t find it. You can’t find the word. You return back to your seat disappointed and angry. You don’t know why. Maybe because the big dictionaries that should have the meaning are mostly 3rd edition.
You think you should decide now. You don’t need any English man dictionary to define your term. Yes. The white colonialist was being altruistic. Psuedo-Altruism. You smile. If you’re being asked to define the word, you would smile sharply and say it means taking actions to benefit others over yourself in disguise.
The colonial master merged the regions (Nigeria) together to benefit your country of course. As in, he merged the diverse and complex regions into Nigeria for the sake of peaceful coexistence, unity and civilization.
Language is perhaps the greatest source of unity. A society with less diversity in language is more likely to survive. You applaud your sense of empiricism. No, rationalism. Whatever. You humorously call your self a philosopher.
You smile once again. It’s true England had once comprised distinct regions which differed in economy, religion and dialects (still a single language though). You wonder why Nigeria has to come together. Taraba state, for goodness sake, has more languages than at least 30 countries in the world and mother Nigeria herself constitutes 7% of the world languages. Altruistic colonialist indeed.
It’s getting late and most people are leaving the library. You yawn. You’re tired but can’t leave now. You want to finish your research. You’re charging your phone from a socket outlet, on the Square pillar behind you. And when you try to unplug it you brush your hand against the chair rusty metal armrest which its leather covering is reeled off. It’s 5 o’clock – you still have an hour more.
You’re tired so you close your note and try scrolling some Internet pages. Because you don’t have data subscription you login to Airtel free basics. A captivating headline is glowing in Bembo font as you tap The Punch. God bless Airtel network provider. You take your time to read the news. A Nigerian lawyer files a lawsuit against Oxford University Press over alleged wrongful definition of the words ‘Mortgagee’ and ‘Mortgagor’.
Yes. The altruistic colonialist sometimes is attacked very unconsciously by unconscious Nigerian voices like Wole Soyinka’s Telephone Conversation. He must have wronged the beautiful conscience of Nigeria!
You scroll over to another news. A third-year-governor is being praised for constructing the road that leads to the state government house and names it after the president. This is it again. The altruistic colonialist master had civilized Nigeria with a Psuedo-Altruist mentality. Nigeria praises people especially politicians who in a dramatic way had Psuedo-Altruistically done a single project in 8 years of power. You remember Fela talks about corrupt chief Obafemi Awolowo being exonerated in Fela: This Bitch Of A Life by Carlos Moore. You shake your head as if to say in Fela’s musical Pidgin-English nawa o.
You are in the eponymous University of Chief Obafemi Awolowo so you’d best shut up. Hahaha. The girl beside you streaks her eyeballs out at you scornfully. You don’t care.
You just at this juncture have to conclude. Nigerian societies cannot coexist unless they shave off the Pseudo-Altruistic mentality or simply break up. Yes. You will title your article Dear Mr. Altruistic Colonialist or Nigeria Of A Shattered Foundation. Good.
You’re pressed. You gather your properties quickly and dash to the exit point. The security woman at the entrance tagged OUT doesn’t check your card. Your pack your materials into your bag and you discover you have mistakenly packed Crompton, E. Oh!
You join a queue filing inside. A hot drop of urine kisses your underneath short as you try to show your library card to the security man.
Som O. Adedayo
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