Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Niger and Mamadou Tandja

Last year, when I became more active on this blog, I started writing articles, reviewing books and posting poems. This blog became an amalgam of posts with no clear direction. The motive behind this was to get as many readers as possible and to provide a wide range of reading materials for my followers. In this way if my reading is affected, as it has been now, then I would resort to other posts to keep the blog running. However, I realised that I needed a direction, one major vision to which all posts would gravitate. So I posted a poll (which by the way is still running) for readers, followers and visitors to express their thoughts and vote for the direction of this blog. As it stands now, only 9% of my readers are interested in articles on politics (the least percentage). Thus, to continue with this post I must apologise to my readers. I am sorry for taking you to politics though it least interest you. However, like Socialism and Capitalism, there is no absoluteness of visions. Mixtures are allowed and deviations natural in life.

So we come to the title 'Niger and Mamadou Tandja'. In my article 'Dynasty-sation of Africa's Democracies and Autocracies', I bemoaned the gradual morphing of democracies in Africa into autocracies. Mamadou Tandja, the immediate past president of Niger has been president since 1999 and in 2009 undertook an unpopular step to extend his stay in office (like many African leaders). The problem is why should he do it since he has been competing for the presidency since 1993? Had his predecessor changed the constitution to allow him to be in office, would he have finally taken the helm of affairs of the country in 1999? Yet, perhaps filled with greed and drunk with power or perhaps selflessly wanting to help his country folks, he chose the path most trodden by many an African leader and there, in less than a year, met his over-timely ousting from office.

I am in no way justifying the coup that took place. It is illegal and uncalled for and can, in no way be justified. But it is said that he who brings the faggot home should not complain of lizards. The people of Niger (even if they are the minority) are seen jubilating on the streets of Niger. If he is such a popular figure as he made it known and upon which the quest for extension was based, why would Nigeriens be jubilating.? What African leaders need to know is that it pays more to listen more to the people at the Market Center than those within the confines of their dwellings for they would only tell them what they want to hear.

In 2009 a group of individuals, and supporters alike, launched Tandja's bid for a third term. He remained quiet to all these re-election campaigns and later called for a referendum that would change the constitution of Niger. Before this, he had gone ahead to state categorically that he would step down (after two terms in office) as demanded by the constitution of Niger. Yet, with the 'pressure' on him to stay in power and continue the 'good' works he has started, Mamadou Tandja bowed to this 'positive' hallelujah-like pressure. And in power he did remain, calling for a referendum to scrape the two-term limits imposed by the constitution. Although the government can call for referendum on any part of the constitution, it is illegal for the president to call for referendum on the two-term limits, according to the Nigerien constitution. Though amendment to constitutions are legal and democratic in itself, the motive for such actions is sometimes immoral (morality and legality?). Such amendments could be done if the democracy has taken deeper roots and not in places where at the least opportunity a government is overthrown. Where the thumb trigger guns and bayonets and not ballot papers.

Let this be a lesson to all the African leaders whose ears hear different beatings of the fontomfrom drums. Let them listen to the ordinary man at the Market Centre and not the extra-ordinary man at the Palace. Let their ears listen to the silent voices and they shall become great leaders. What made Mandela great is not only his resolve to oppose the Apartheid government and his undithering and intransigent stance against discrimination of whatever form, but also his ability to rule for just a term and let go off power, his ability of not allowing himself to be snatched by the trappings of power. For have we not seen many independence fighters morphed into monstrous personalities of illogical proportions? Let the others beware! Don't bring the faggot home, if you don't want to complain of lizards for according to Okonkwo's father in Things Fall Apart (by Chinua Achebe) the sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them. Wouldn't it?

Friday, February 19, 2010


From that quintessential lamb
that multiple cell structure
formed within time’s womb,
our fractured minds

sailed through
blackholes and galaxies
timeframes and timelines

through stalactites
and stalagmites
of icy revolutions

through fractal rays
hidden within
ancestral catacombs

and then we are reborn:

a single-cell structure
with no mitochondria
to power our minds:

(Our inverted ontogeny
becomes the allegory of our being)

the consciousness
of our existence
perceived through
the lubs and dubs
in the heart of the city
and through:

Suicide Bombings
Missile Testing
God Killings.

In this Century
we are wiser by death.


Note: The poll above shows that poems and book review are two activities on this blog that readers would want to see but I think I have received less comments on the poems than on my articles. Please let me know what you think about the poems I post.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mosquito Hymns

Seporowa tunes silenced my ears
as I danced Adowa with ancestral spirits
under that towering Awoonor’s tree
They sang somnolent hymns
and I was lost amongst the cityscape


Was it a puff from my dead daddy
or a two-tone tune from an unknown pack
Let Handel handles his Messiah
and the bees hum Beethoven’s fifth symphony

The seporowa tunes remained silent to my censored senses
as my lagging legs gyrated to some mystical lyrics
that mutilated the tone of our village’s voice



I paused to breath
to seek directions to the door
but here am I alone with some mosquito hymns
buzzing my mind in a relentless discord
of malfunctioning notes

June 24, 2007

*Seporowa is a local musical instrument

Thursday, February 11, 2010

To You Madiba

Today is exactly 20 years since Nelson Mandela was released from prison. This is a piece I wrote in 2005 for one of my heroes

The seal, Patmos
The deal, Robben
Rolls of scrolls unfurl
Things that must shortly come to pass
One to reveal
One to release
One to die
One to lead
And when revealed die
And when released lead.

Through the Red Sea
Through the wilderness
To Canaan
To Soweto
…to freedom.

Abracadabra, Adabraka

Abracadabra, Adabraka
you are in or you are out
you are with us or against us

but if the world is bipolar
and unlike poles attract
and if hell is fire
what would heaven be, ice?
then heaven would attract hell
and the chemico-spiritual reaction
would produce water
which is neither ice nor fire

Abracadabra, Adabraka
people are not mad
in every department
of their brains;
last night I saw
a woman raped
at the city centre
do habits die
with madness?

Abracadabra, Adabraka
there is nothing lingering
on the periphery
of my mind, yet
I did not allow this
nothingness into
my thoughts
what therefore is freewill?

Abracadabra, Adabraka
if there is a freewill
I would will myself
into a coconut
or even a goat
to escape god’s judgement of men

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