By Victor Ikhatalor
We are a country that has continued to debase and relegate our own laudable cultural values, whilst embracing and perpetuating deviant values and cultures. We are a country that has not bothered itself to be rid of ill omened, ill conceived and deliberately ill willed colonial inheritances and legacies, but has purposefully continued to uphold them.
Propelled by the whirlwind of symbolic gestures sweeping through America and Europe (AD George Floyd), the Lagos State House of Assembly, through a motion; – ” urged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to direct the State’s Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture to liaise with the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to look at sites and monuments with a view to removing all vestiges of slave trade and colonialism”.
Whilst, this motion has elicited a diversity of commentaries on its relevance or irrelevance, the significant undertone of commentators, is again; – the never ending indictment on the sincerity and purpose of those in government.
Afterall, we are a country that has been absentminded and deliberately subjugating it’s own history and culture. We are a country that has continued to debase and relegate our own laudable cultural values, whilst embracing and perpetuating deviant values and cultures. We are a country that has not bothered itself to be rid of ill omened, ill conceived and deliberately ill willed colonial inheritances and legacies, but has purposefully continued to uphold them.
Little wonder that in such a country plagued by misleaders; – nothing is seen to be amiss in the continued veneration of our colonial legacies and inheritance. If symbolism is any matter, then we must come face to face with the reality that not only are we hostages to our colonialist past, but are willingly and unwillingly in bondage to a neo colonialist present and future.
With apologies to the Great, “Bob Nesta Marley”, the fundamental struggle is to – “emancipate ourselves from our mental slavery”. It is crystal clear that ” none but ourselves, can free ourselves”.
To turn away from symbolism as a fad and towards a true purpose with meaning, – The Lagos State House Of Assembly should go the whole hog. Advocate for the change of name the State currently carries to the name it had; – “Eko”. The name, Lagos, is a colonial inheritance, it’s derived meaning in Portuguese – “lakes”. Moving on, – the affluent preserve of “Lekki” was named for a most successful trader in the art of human bondage, a Portuguese named Mr Lecqi, a slave trader, who is immortalized and venerated through a most magnificent tomb in the most beautiful beach in Lekki, Lagos.
Simultaneously, and more significantly, the House of Assembly should advocate in action and deed; – good governance, prudence and moderation in the management of the peoples affairs and antipathy towards corruption. This new found symbolism should also move through the country and be embraced by the national and other sub – national government’s.
Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, venerates the name of a known British rapist and paedophile, Lord Lewis Vernon Harcourt . The name of Lord Frederick Lugard, Colonial Governor General of Nigeria and self proclaimed white supremacist and die hard imperialist continues to be venerated through the Kogi State Government seat of power; – “Lugard House”. Unlike the examples of African countries like Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso, – Nigeria, continues to venerate and perpetuate her given name with it’s manifesting colonial endowments; – a name given by the British adventurer, Flora Shaw, who later married Lord Lugard.
To say that indeed Nigeria as it is today, is the contraption of adventurers will not be an over stretch of the imagination. The Lagos Legislature has opened up a vista of our past. We must indeed come to terms with our history if we are to unshackle the chains that inhibits us. It highlights the dereliction of leadership in not grasping the consequence of a people bereft of historical knowledge. Until we propagate our true history, we will forever be susceptible to false and single stories.
Ours is a land replete with heroes who lived and exemplified African values and virtues. Men and women who did not steal their people blind when entrusted with leadership. Men and women tempered through sacrifice to lead in moderation, compassion and discipline. Their stories are legion, in peace time and in war; -” statesmen and warriors”. Our task is to unburden ourselves of rigged history e.g; – that a man called Mungo Park, discovered the River Niger. There were ancestors there before he was born.
The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, while elaborating on the intendment of the motion said; – ” Africans should give backing to blacks fighting for the rights of fellow blacks”. Alas, that is the “kernel” of the matter. We have reached an impasse. Nigerians are fellow blacks too! Until we invoke the same penalty of shame and opprobrium on not only racists and their legacies but on our own thieves and their legacies – as their crimes are similarly ungodly and against humanity; – such symbolic “motions” will be lost in commentaries.
Victor Ikhatalor a Public Affairs Analyst.