I love Nigeria. Our problems are debilitating to the point of paralysis, but I still love my country because it always manages to bring smiles to my face, despite this unenviable load. And the wide smiles morphed into maniacal howls of laughter when the good fellows behind Twitter decided to give us Twitter, where opinions make it faster to the air than thoughts make the journey to wherever it is that thoughts go to be resolved in the brain. I’ll look like an idiot if I say Nigerians have taken to Twitter like a baby takes to its mother’s teats, because it is bleeding obvious.
Only recently, the nation was engulfed in hoopla over what ordinarily should be (hoop)laughed off. Even the gentlemen of the cloth gave their two cents – a widow’s mite in all ramifications – and in so doing soiled their expensively tailored divine vestments with watery poo. I try to picture what Mary Magdalene looked like and all I see is Monica Belluci, who played Mary Magdalene in Mel Gibson’s Passions of the Christ. I’m not sure how much of coincidence is going on there. Apparently, kasala burst after someone famous on “Nigerian Twitter” accused the PDP of laying its hands on a time machine and going back in time to impress upon Jesus the importance of getting jiggy with Mary Magdalene whom gist had it was very much enamoured with Christ!
When issues (or non-issues in this case) require that we ruminate mentally, I admire our simple-mindedness. Reason suddenly sheds its chains and escapes from where it normally should be tethered. Red becomes a lighter shade of black and white becomes bleached black. A humorous take on the Jesus-Mary Magdalene relationship and its use to lampoon the treachery of the President’s men becomes fodder for a fire of misguided passions. We are probably more Christian than each other but I did not take offence at the tweet that so enraged passions and I am a Christian, who in fairness, possesses a handy sense of humour.
Of course, the PDP and its stooges capitalized on what must be seen as a gaffe by Nasir El-Rufai to start banging in the nails on the coffin of the government critic’s political career. We are a nation divided and I trust the good and enraged Christians of Nigeria will not forgive this slight in a while. If Mallam Nasir secretly nursed any ambitions for the highest political office in the land, he must realize that, apology or not, he has committed political near-harakiri – he has cocked a shotgun and blown his own foot to oblivion by himself. As we are an impatient people too, the headlines, just the sick and click-hungry headlines that sprung forth from the debacle have done the maximum damage, in my opinion. And even those who hoped and still hope to leverage on his clout must now think twice. In villages, towns and cities all across Southern Nigeria, millions of minds have been made up – you mess with Jesus, you mess with metaphorical death. It should not be so.
In Nigeria today, the practice is to shout when discussing matters that affect the polity, because the ability to shout over and above all others is the gold standard. The ones who have made it to the top have become very skilled demagogues, able to inflame passions and incinerate reason and reasonable arguments with several depressions of the button “Tweet”. Demagoguery has now claimed the scalp of one of its more famous practitioners, and it will still claim many more careless people.
What would El Rufai have done were the shoes to be on the other feet; if the Prophet-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Else… were to be employed in creating that joke?
Twitter sucks and I do not say that because it is the clothesline where we dry our stupidity in the sun. Twitter sucks because you cannot dig deep into its annals to fish out tweets that may serve to highlight your points. How did Mallam Nasir react to the Innocence of The-Religion-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named video that caused widespread destruction? I LWKMDed when I saw that video and I LWKMDed when I saw the Jesus tweet. To take umbrage at one and laugh at the other is hypocrisy at Pacific Ocean depths, another one of the amusements Nigerians tickle my belly with. And this inanity of fighting the Lord’s battle – original or merely perceived – is as irrational as it was previously inane. Jesus Christ once went gung-ho with a whip in His father’s house; if he needs to stand up for himself, he knows exactly how to!
ON THE MATTER OF RAPE
I wonder how the men of precolonial Africa would have managed. If the dressing I see in movies about our past is anything to go by, it must have been a hell of a time. Simply put, the indecent dressing angle some of us are so keen to read into rape in absolute hogwash. Our ancestors dressed so indecently that they sometimes forgot to cover anything at all! A few years ago, there was talk of a tribe up North where boobs are bared for all to see! If GEJ’s administration had any sense, it would find that location and make it a tourist attraction. Never would talk of foreign reserves frittered away arise. Never!
So what exactly is indecent dressing? Even if one could somehow manage – and the emphasis is on “manage” here – to define indecent dressing as baring body parts that should otherwise be left to wild imaginations, how would one frame this around the context of rape? Apart from places where Sharia Law has been implemented, in which book of laws is indecent dressing a crime punishable by forceful violation? If every last woman in the world wore boxes for clothes, some men would still rape; what then is the justification for indecent dressing as a cause for rape? It is as much an excuse for rape as “it is the work of the devil” is an excuse for crime. Blame anybody and anything but the perpetrator. Such fatuity.
However, we must also not throw reason to the dogs when reacting. A young man wrote a genuinely sickening op-ed that was granted webtime and webspace on YNaija. The debate rumbled on and moved from the state of the writer’s psyche to the right of the writer to express held opinions to the right-to-publish of YNaija.
This is my submission: We must not discourage people from identifying positions such as his on hotly contested issues. There are many men (and would you believe it, women) who hold this erroneous belief. Expression is the first step in rehabilitation. If we discourage people from expressing their views on issues like half the world has done to this guy, then we have an even bigger problem. Let them name their thoughts and we’ll shame these thoughts.