Travelogue: A Nightmare in Daytime (Zaria to Kano)

Of many short distance journeys, Zaria to Kano or Kano to Zaria is perhaps one among popular short distance travels in northern Nigeria. I have travelled along this route one too many times, but this time I thought about penning down my experience. Not because it was my most squalor-ridden, jet lag-inflicting or boredom-beseeching journey- perhaps it was, but particularly because my instincts have never compelled me, in a do or die manner, to do a thing as it keeps pushing me to write about this journey.

The journey shouldn’t be hectic; if you are travelling in a private or spatial car, or long cars like Sienna, Quest, Sharon and the likes. But I am a student in Zaria, who has to travel on every hiatus; holidays, strikes among others, and who is my daddy to think I will get a private ride home? So I take the public fare. Conventionally, cars popularly known as “Golf” are used as cabs along this itinerary. I don’t want to go ahead and assume you know what a small golf car looks like since you all don’t work in a Volkswagen company, so I will describe briefly:

It has two doors like every other conventional two-door car, from outside; it looks long and cozy, but a closer view will reveal that a quarter of it is the boot of the car where passengers’ luggage are stuck to its brim. The driver’s seat is so closely bundled with the front passenger seat; one will wonder if the car was intended to have two drivers. At the back of the car, the seats were closely covering on the front seats and the passengers’ knees tightly locking the rear of the front seat. In this stuffy and comfort-forsaken ambience, the cabmen carry four passengers at the back and two at the front, three including the driver. It is like having four people on a motor bike or better still, create a mental image of African slaves transported to Europe during the erstwhile infamous slave trade and yay! You got the image.

Ideally, the journey should take two hours or less, but you know its Nigeria, with the road hiccups and uneven potholes, one should be in Kano in three hours or less. I planned to convert my weakness to my strength by taking along a novel- TRAM 83- my friend had told me was amazing, to the car, who knows, my journey could just be jaunty! But trust me; it was the worst three hours of my life:

By my right was a fat woman, who consumed half of the entire backseat with her mammoth hips, leaving the other half for myself and two other men, the two men were in their late thirties; when one of them entered the car, he browbeat me with his notorious looking face; “Malan please adjust”, so I was forced to squeeze myself behind the fat woman, tilting and sitting on my right buttocks. My right arm partly squeezed behind my back, trying so hard to avoid touching the woman, while the man to my left was stepping on my feet and compressing my left shoulder almost meeting my erstwhile hidden right shoulder through the back. There I was like a roasted chicken who was begging for his life when he died and so I remained until I got to Kano.

What sustained me perhaps throughout the journey was the drama that was going on at the front seat; a lady in her twenties wanted to pee, but she went all choosy about the toilet to pee. At the filling station where we stopped to get gas, she was shown another toilet, but she refused for fear of germs and too many men around. She said she had been pressed from Abuja, and upon stopping at Zaria, she immediately boarded a cab to Kano like in transit. I found her very un-Nigerian; I mean she didn’t look all polished to be choosy; a typical Nigerian in that pressing situation shouldn’t and wouldn’t get to choose where to pee. But there she was, sturdy in her decision until we got to Kano and she dispersed. I am certain when she gets home, the first thing she will do is pee. And it’s perhaps going to be the longest pee ever.

What I couldn’t sustain about the journey was the fact that it won’t be my last in this helluva situation, and perhaps I don’t have anything to do about it. When I got home I still watched Barcelona’s match against Valencia, after which, I technically died until the next day.

 

 

Nine months of nights

Nine months of nights in this pensive cave;

Waiting for a rainy day; to be safe,

Hither, thither, the ramble in this cave,

I know not whence, I know not whither they take.

 

The night I saw my first light,

The room was full like the sullen moon;

Then I was tossed around in a tempest flight,

My captors revel in their daisy boon.

 

Children and women in ambivalent thrills-

Like plaque, the news spread in the trees

My captor cuddles me as stephanotis,

The night fell upon us as she grills.

 

She kept staring at my closed eyes,

A grown lad joined her banal stare

Astride I was as they dickered my price,

I heard them talk of a name to bear.

 

A week later I will hear that name;

Lap my ears like a hall of fame,

Forever after I will become a game,

For my captors I will always be lame.

 

I should bawl not for my frail;

Awaiting the day of my bail,

I should sail with the current of the sea,

But I only can wait and see.

 

 

 

Stoning To Death

Throwing stones at still waters,

Tumbul! Tumbul! -Cries of the drowning stones.

I ignore the cries, reveling in my throwing spree,

I love the sound as it breaks the silent stride;

And the breeze blowing sands onshore.

 

Throwing stones at bare lands in Mecca,

I love the sounds of devil’s cries

Because I could not hear them with my eyes,

Or see bruises blind the devil’s eyes with my ears.

 

Throwing stones in glass houses,

I love the sound of battering glass in my mind,

I love to watch a crystal empire fall,

And crumble to an irreplaceable phase;

I love to understand proverbs literally.

 

Throwing stones to death,

I love to hear the repentant cries of the adulterer-

The piercing sounds of stones meeting her head;

Children rejoicing as her heart stops to pump,

I love the tales of kids stoning a breathing heart to death,

The old nodding in approval of the stoning streak,

I love the things that happened in the past,

Or in distant lands I consider atavistic;

That way I can tell my kids not to imitate

And love without fear of shame.

 

 

 

 

 

An Empty Room and a Vase

A room full of air is empty and cozy:

The settee, the frames, the TV set, the chandelier,

Are beauty taken too far, and when far, it’s not beautiful anymore;

The curtains too are drawn ajar; the sun loves to steal a glimpse.

The closer the sun to my head, I become the more tempted to touch,

With my dancing stems carrying black and blue branches.

An empty room is a dream come true-

It is true because it’s not a dream or reverie or anything at night,

No sounds and no silence; No light and no darkness,

No devil and no God; No laughs and no cries;

But the short vase that stands tall in the middle,

Carrying accoutrements of flavor;

Some singing the song of love in their hearts,

Others dancing the dervish with their legs,

But none of that impedes its emptiness.

Even God’s inaction are more than his actions,

Perhaps, God is in the emptiness, the quiet and the spatial,

And the vase is the mirror, through which God sees his eyes,

His nose, his mouth and everything in his image.

If the room was full you won’t see the vase,

And if it was half full you will only see half the vase,

But in an empty room, you will only see the vase;

The vase carries love in a mist

It carries incandescent candles,

With which it illumines the empty room.

If the room was full, you won’t see the candle,

Or the leaf I stole from a poplar tree on Friday,

Or the compassion I have added to my hearty dues.

You won’t see the tears dropping from the eyelid of the vase,

Or that the vase is lapped by a tape in its base.

You won’t see that the vase is not made of glass,

Or stainless or ceramic or gold or anything like that.

You won’t look at the vase and see a singing heart,

Of a loving man with accoutrements of flavor.

 

“Age na Number”

As the morning crawls into the night, and the sun furtively escapes the sight of men to usher in the moon. As one day folds like a scroll and submits itself to the savant spectre of a new day, a new dawn, a new sun and a new moon. In the twinkling of an eye, it’s a week, in another twinkle, a month, then a year… and the year-count ekes, from one to ten, to fifteen, then its twenty and beyond.

Man has no inkling, why the stars shimmer on his roof. Why the recess of the soil spills water and even oil, all for his consumption. And the summer rain breathes in life to the trees. The meadows look fresh like catfish. The sky azure; all that beauty, all that artistic prowess, just to guard me, like an umbrella tree, to make me wallow, in the yonder piquancy and the magic fingers of God.

I hear it, when I walk the plains of earth, the morning breeze, yapping my name. The grounds reeling in awe to each sauntering step my sole pounds its bosom. The trees blossoming fresh broods each time my head stoops to its branches, its leaves flying hither thither to catch a speck of my flight. One pink leaf suspended just below my eyes, it rubbed my lips gently before it tobogganed kissing my feet before it finally fell on the ground.

It is said that the most beautiful things are free, I never believed, until last summer; I saw a red rose, in its charming innocence, crying to be let out of the weed that grasped it to its vicious enclave. Next to it was a sunflower, its petals widespread like a virgin’s thighs. Looking straight into the eyes of the sun; it was a microcosm of the sun. I thought, in the absence of the sun, the sunflower could ignite the world.

In short, nature is equal to its task. It is the servant of man. Man actually gives nothing to nature, but just takes and enjoys, all the beauty and all the foods.

What is my place in all this, am I just a beneficiary of the largess of nature like the bazaars harlot, who only knows to collect? The days, the ages, the birthdays; mean nothing to me, until I find that purpose. I can’t be useless as some existentialists suppose. After all, I don’t walk alone; the breeze always creeps beside my earlobe, and specks of dust rummaging my hair and tainting my velvet silk. The hens, goats and lizards skedaddle at every sight of me, while the sturdy amongst them stand akimbo, calling my bluff.

I know many will argue, “I did not create man, except that he worships me,” but the thing with religions is that, they don’t answer our questions wholly or satisfactorily. What is worship? We are made to believe that millions of angels are at God’s disposal to worship him on a daily basis. So, of what benefit is mankind worshiping God to God. Perhaps, worshipping God is the ultimate purpose of existence, perhaps it is the end in itself. Then what are the means to the end? And what befalls people that don’t worship?

Last week, I read an article on saharareporters by one Osage, his argument was that: maugre all the effervescent hooplas about religion, religion in itself has not benefited mankind in what will be considered its most immediate needs. From the basic technological advancements that surround us, and form an integral part of our lives, to the system of governments and laws that guide us on a daily basis. In fact, a microscopic view might consider religions atavistic, looking at it as an instrument of violence, insurgencies and other banes.

On a more specific level, each and everyone has to give peculiar meanings to their lives. A popular saying goes “age na number” and number it is, unless and until, as we count our ages, we can count along some feat in understanding ourselves and our immediate environments, beyond what is popular.

Victor. E. Frankl, whose book on logotheraphy has impacted largely my life, states; “one should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment.” Furthermore, these missions are ever dynamic. For me, for now, I have a dream of a world with cosmopolitan viewpoints. But for my country first, I dream of a country where religious lines are blurred. Where the Muslim does not look at the Christian as a doomed person and the Christian does not look at the Muslim as a savage. Because religion, in itself is not a value; the religion you carry as an emblem, tells me little or nothing about you. A country where our tribes, wealth and sexes, are seen as mere happenstance and not value laden.

There is a silver lining to our dreams, if we broaden our minds towards realizing them. What the mind can conceive, the hands can reach. Surely, Et lux in tenebris lucet- and the light shineth in the darkness.

 

 

What Do You Know?

It will be going a bridge too far, to ask one to investigate, to explore, to  reconnoiter or to sample, then verify, then test an outcome, then develop a theory, then wait for the theory to be disproved- in short to science. That is too much to ask of a person, so don’t science.

How about to pick a book, books because they v got to be plenty, within and without ones field of study, to explore what others have “science-d” then borrow their diverse thought to your reservoir of know-how and at least consider yourself educated. Is it too much to ask, to do? Please tell me.  OK, agreed, it is too much, oh I hate things put on paper, oh, I hate things above a single page or two hundred and fifty words. Okay don’t read

Let’s talk about looking, observing, musing, thinking, are these too demanding a task as well? On your bed, in your daily conversations, in your class, places of worship, during conversations, how hard is it to scrutinize words before they go into your heads, to observe things around you, how they happen, how often, why they happen, when they happen. I thought man was a curious being, who loves to explore, to understand his environment. I mean, this is what we have been sowing, the reaping of men; thoughtful and adventurous, who have set the pace and here we are enjoying their toils on a silver platter.

Homer Hesiod Thales Anaximander Heraclitus Xenophanes  Anaxagoras  Socrates  Plato  Aristotle  Augustine Avicenna Averroes  Thomas Aquinas Spinoza Leibniz Rousseau Kant Descartes and all their toils. Is it too much to emulate them? Okay it is too much; don’t be this people, how about try? that too is much? Okay don’t try.

How many people have seen the minute hand of the clock move, accidentally or deliberately? Are we so impatient and careless? Not to talk of the hour hand of the clock? Have you ever seen it move? Even if it is of the slightest imaginable distance, it only says one thing; that something that goes on around you every day, just above your head, or on your wrist, or on the cell phone that is always on your hand; yet you are totally ignorant of it.

Then what do you know? Brethren, what can you know?

Unless and until, you can/have seen the hour hand of the clock move, from one point to the other, stop talking about patience, you are not patient. Stop talking about knowledge, you are not curious enough!

 

On Ideologies: Sapere Aude

 

The characteristics of a good lie lie in its ‘believability’ and patches of truth. Likewise a good truth, in its bitterness and ‘unbelievability’. Please widen your horizon beyond petty lies and truths. Here we are talking about humongous truths and lies that have passed in history, indented in the hearts of men. Cloaked in one deciduous garment or the other.

Man is quick to acquiesce, and when he doesn’t, quick to dispel, with impetuosity, propositions that contradict his common sense, emotional self or historical shelf. Elsewhere it has been expressed that, only those lacking or lagging in ideas need fear the market place of ideas. On this footing, I will argue that the only blemish of a “world of ideas” is the sort, by chauvinists or extremists, for hegemony, suzerainty or the foisting of a single idea, as functus officio or res judicata of a sort on a polity.

Having in mind the debacles of definitions, from Karl Marx to Louis Althusser, down to contemporary suppositions, the word “ideology” has been evolutionary and even, in some instances, revolutionary. For example, Karl Marx sees it as false consciousness- a sort of bunkum basted on the ruled class by the ruling class. This of course wasn’t the intention of Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1976 when he first coined the word. When a word is accompanied by the suffix (-logy), it implies (the science of), as in ideology- the science of ideas.

The word has also been used in a pejorative sense, for example, by Napoleon Bonaparte, so much so that, if it is said that one has an ideology, it infers that he is a nitwit or claptrap of a sort. Louis Althusser believes that ideas are not subjective but rather  constitutes discourses that produce these believes, the material institutions and rituals that individuals take part in without submitting it to conscious examination and critical thinking are what constitute ideology.

To give this work a face lest it becomes blind, a limb lest it becomes handicap and a wife lest it becomes single, the definitions will be taken as detotalised totalities, that is, inclusion does not rule out exclusion and exclusion does not rule out inclusion.

In his quest for meaning, man has formulated quite a number of ideologies, proposing a certain beliefs or schema. They include doctrines, philosophies, body of beliefs or principles belonging to an individual or groups. Examples include, the countless (–isms) and religions that have and are in existence.

On relativity of ideologies

Elsewhere, Aristotle expressed that there is a truth to every proposition (not his exact words). Likewise, Proudhon had this to say about ideas; “all ideas are false, that is to say, contradicting or irrational, if they are taken in an exclusive or absolute sense. All ideas are true, that is to say, susceptible of being realized and useful, if they are taken in composition with others or in evolution”. When men produce ideas, it is usually borne out of the existing situation, proffering solutions, explanations or theories. Usually to favor them,  or the general community. It is only fitting then, that rain of ideas is encouraged, from nooks and cranies, from all corners and may. As there is no monopoly of ideas or the truth thereof.

Racism, for example, might have helped Europe to develop; realizing the supposed superiority of their race, gave them the leeway to economic, political and social development. Functionally, it seems therefore that this ideology played a significant role at that time. However unethical, cannot be undermined. The idea that a race is superior to another could be true or false, depending on optics, context or reference. This institutional superiority led to the supposed ‘exploitation’ or is it ‘colonization’ of Africa and the Americas and to the appreciation and elevation of Europe as many will argue. Europeans can’t but be grateful to racism, ‘a kinyi ooo, ono mi lowo oo’

Take also, feminism; it has helped women, achieve substantial progress in human rights. Giving them a place on the table. The idea that women should be given equal rights as men, could be tenable or untenable, putting the individual men and women into consideration. You won’t need the examples of the Hillary Clintons, and Theresa Mays to showcase the breakthrough capacity of women, women who have been to where millions or billions of men won’t dare. It’s high time the male chauvinists and sexists revolve or evolve in their arguments. After all it’s an ideological war. That women are equal to men, has done nothing but brought to the polity, care and concern, in dealing with women- related issues, women affairs and women rights. Women therefore, cannot but be grateful to feminism, ‘godiya mukeyi’, more of it please.

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Same can be said of Socialism and Capitalism, Meritocracy and Democracy, Conservatism and Radicalism, Sunnism, Shi’ism and Sufism, Catholicism and Protestantism to mention a few. Many will argue that religions are not ideologies, usually with sentiments. Especially because of their metaphysical characters. But ideologies are not restricted to politics, with the polemics within and without; one cannot but agree that religions are ideologies.

In one definition, ideology was defined as a comprehensive normative vision that is followed by people. In another, as a set of conscious or unconscious ideas that makes up one’s belief, goals, expectations and motivations. This I believe is all encompassing.

Marx and Engels subsequently in their lives admitted that the two pamphlets which contained the essence of their teaching, i.e ‘the communist manifesto’ and ‘the address to the communist league’ were written at a time of illusion and colored by ill founded hopes. These ill founded hopes would turn out to be one of the greatest manuscripts and marks in history. These ideas will turn out to be the source of freedom, nationalism and solace for many. These ill founded hopes would turn out to be one of the most quoted, if not the most quoted references in the academia today.

It is therefore important, that we look deep within us, and bring out those ideas that are submerged in our intellectual distinct faculties. Who knows, those ideas could change the world.