IN the times of the late Chairman Mao, China used to be a very impenetrable land. And that was as countries go. Like most dictatorships, China as an entity was cultic, was dark and was enclosed. None of China’s official communications then, seemed believable, at least, to the outside world. Yet despite the sealing off, of what goes in within the sprawling dictatorship, there were insights. And this was in spite of all official ‘bold face’. And it happened, we repeat, that those insights were mostly precise and points on.
Ironically, it was an obscure Jesuit (Christian) body in then British Hong Kong that turned up famous for piercing through the veil of the Red Kingdom. The Jesuit outreach ‘decoded’ China, however it is their ‘officialese’ and news releases sounded. And all the Jesuits worked on were the very opaque and official news releases and literatures, which China’s state propaganda machine meted out.
Perhaps, there is nothing miraculous in this, if one gave attention to it. It is in the very nature of words themselves. It is just that no matter how careful a writer is, words, phrases and language ‘betray’ and out their authors. Thus no man can speak and write and be hidden. Simply, a man can’t be found wanting or lost in his own words. That is, perhaps, why the native criminal easily comes to knowledge, that what you say will not only be held against you, but is an inner portrait of your soul. So, he keeps his cool and even more, his silences.
But we are here to learn from the Jesuits, not the criminals. And the Jesuits have done so much for world education. All these Jesuits did as per Mao’s China, was to use up the tools of language to unlock a hermetically sealed China. To give an example, one fine morning, photo images of Chairman Mao were splashed all over Chinese media. The images were of an old man, who it was claimed swam through swathes of the Yangtze River (whose Nigerian equivalent would be the Lagos lagoon) in a record time. It was such a record time that a practised Olympic swimmer would have found it difficult to equal. And the Jesuits ‘smelled’ danger. And soon followed purges of senior officials from power.
And we can here learn from those Jesuits, just by reading contextually and intra-textually, and interpreting what supporters say, repeat supporters say, supposedly in aid of their retainers.
This is where Dele Momodu, who authors a Saturday column comes in. In his “Why President Buhari Must Succeed’’, ThisDay, 30-01-16, Momodu contends as follows: “I’m an absolute supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari’’. And he goes on to further state as follows: … My interest in President Buhari has become a religion and indeed an article of faith. By fire and by force, he must succeed. For me and my house, failure is not on our plate.’’
And further down in spite of his enthusiasms, he goes on to warn his principal: “The Buhari government must realise that the best way to punish an enemy is by succeeding. The Financial Times, Bloomberg, and the Economists can’t all be wrong at once…. The period of campaigning is gone and we should stop engaging in unnecessary propaganda.’’
Despite being an absolute supporter, whatever that means, he is intra-textually – and by implication – confessing that Buhari especially, and APC vicariously, are yet to learn the very basic lessons of acquiring presidential or ruling powers, despite their adventure or misadventure into things.
And to recall that this was a man that was sold to us as a messiah by the very Momodus of this world, is to begin to have a Jesuit-like insight into the dark and enclosed tragedy at play, that is this APC governance.
This is informed by the simple fact that a messiah is the man who comes to do perfectly that which has defied predecessor commoners. That is, Buhari was hired to “come and perfect’’ that which a Jonathan couldn’t even do. That was the job order we were sold, by the logic of his allegedly being a messiah, some sheriff.
And to be messiah is to be the guy with the good that is new, the good new, or if you liked the plural, the good news. A messiah is not a pupil, he is not anointed to learn, certainly not by the job. But by Momodu’s intimate or political ‘kiss and tell’ confession, Buhari should learn. That is, by implication, Momodu is stating that Buahari is yet to learn or realise things, the most basic things. So, by Momodu’s logic, Buhari has failed as a messiah, and worse even as an ordinary politician. And these are in the very things that are so ordinary even sophomore politicians will fly with. Yes, Momodu admits to this, even if not intending it.
But it is not this that troubles the most. What the real matter is, we confess, is about Momodu’s choice of words, his mystical allusions. He speaks of things political and declares them in terms that are religious and mystical. (His essay is worth reading in full to grasp this desperation for things religious in matters that are as ordianary as the sand). And those familiar with the Bible will easily notice his use and deployment of verbal echoes, as he writes for example: ‘for me and my house’, an Old Testament import.
Even at this, things still look harmless. Perhaps, nothing religious would be antithetical to the good of the peoples. But let us keep our gun powders dry. However, let us seek the insight of another columnist, Dele Sobowale, who writes with the Vanguard newspapers. In an insightful piece, Wanted: A new national political party (3), Vanguard, 24-01-16, Sobowale writes: At the moment, they (APC henchmen, sympathisers, operatives, etc.) risk losing their investments after winning the election the way Buhari is going about running the government – like a religion.
To repeat, the way Buhari is going about running government – like a religion. Perhaps, it will not be any more shocking that Momodu and other believers in and of APC and Buhari, are acting and believing Nigeria is in a huge quasi-religious and mystical tendency under their sheriff. That is, Nigeria is in their minds not properly a country. Rather for them, Nigeria is like a religious congregation, perhaps, like the flock and sheep of Reverend King. That is, there is a lord whose word is the law, whose body language is magic. Nigeria in their minds is a mystical and dervish potpourri. And they are the Mahdis, the sheriffs and the prophets to their herds.
Perhaps, it would all have been harmless. It is only that converting a political nation into a religion comes with tragic errors for those nations. The warped sense that politics is religious and dervish is what makes it in the end devilish. Immediately a politician is made or deemed a prophet, historical records have shown appalling and apocalyptic endings. It is proper to warn the nation at this point, that it was this false and forged sense of the messianic, which drove Mao to be the greatest murderer in recorded history. It was what prodded Hitler on as an industrial killing machine, and led Stalin into the horror of soaking Russia in an ocean of blood. And General Yakubu Gowon, has he been any less guilty?
All religions are about end times, and prophets come to usher in the apocalypse. And this is especially so when these prophets take themselves so seriously that they stray out of mosques, churches, ashrams, to practise their trade, in the new guise of hunt for politics and power. That is by converting their day job which is politics, into religious services, these devotees, toadies, lickspittles and their sheriffs, make the end come so nigh, so tragic. In other words, APC is a sure sign that the end has come so nigh, and this is especially if we don’t rein them in or dismiss them from history.
So, as a people we have the joint and common responsibility to save the president, APC, devotees and all political religionists, from themselves. Additionally we must do all that must be done to retrieve our nation from the perils of citizens voting for politicians on one hand and being handed over to messiahs on the other. We must resist to the last any attempts to pass over political mandate as a religious or quasi-religious franchise.
The modern universal mandate is simple. It is all in ‘a day’s job’. Let whoever wants to be a messiah go and author a new scripture. However, once elected, you must remain a politician and never transmute into a messiah. That is our compact upon you. Otherwise you would have made the end, the apocalypse, come so nigh. APC Ronu. Ahiazuwa.
And to round off this quote from Achebe: To them the issue was simple. Their god had taken sides with them against his headstrong and ambitious priest and thus upheld the wisdom of their ancestors – that no man, however great, was greater than his people; that no one ever won judgement against his clan.