Monday, 2 July 2007

How Genuine is Rotimi Adebari?

The story has been carried by virtually all notable news sources since Friday about one Rotimi Adebari becoming the first Black mayor in Ireland. One is supposed to be wowed about such a great achievement, but there seems to be something wrong somewhere. I do not know Rotimi Adebari from any where (except that his name places him as a Yoruba man from Nigeria) and have nothing against him, but the report that he arrived Ireland from Nigeria as an asylum seeker escaping from religious persecution in Nigeria cannot be true. If indeed he claimed asylum on the basis that he was escaping religious persecution in Nigeria, he must have lied because no form of religious persecution is known to exist in Yoruba land where he obviously hails from. Nigeria was under “democratic rule” so to say, in 2000 with the full co-operation of the western world and the president was a Yoruba Christian, Olusegun Obasanjo. Any prevalence of religious persecution that happened singularly in 2000 to drive Mr Rotimi or anyone out of Nigeria ought to have attracted the attention of the pesident and of course the Nigerian press (as Yorubaland is the most covered part of Nigeria by the media).

It is a bizarre claim because Yoruba land has a unique culture of religious tolerance in Nigeria. Compared to other parts of Nigeria, Yoruba societies are more civilised and liberal to the extent that inter-religious marriage is very common between Christians and moslems. It is perhaps right to say that the average Yoruba person has at last one relative (distant or close) from another religious group.
One's worry here is not that Ireland’s immigration system has been abused (as it is probably not one's business), but that dubiousness is being celebrated as a landmark achievement! This does not help Nigeria and the Black race as it promotes fraud as a way of life. One is not saying that people should not do anything possible to escape from a miserable society like Nigeria, but that rogues should never be celebrated as heroes! It may be acceptable to sneak into organised and successful societies to better one's life, but fabricating ugly lies in the bid to attract sympathy should be condemnable. Even if one must tell terrible lies like Rotimi obviously did from the look of things,to gain residence in a successful society, one should avoid public life.
I am a Nigerian immigrant myself, but I never had to and pray never to be so desperate as to fabricate blatant lies like Rotimi did in order to stay in Britain! The chief reason why Nigerians migrate abroad is “money” either to get it genuinely through hard work or to get it through fraud (or on the other hand, stash or waste stolen public funds in the case of public office holders and their relatives). Even if there are Nigerians that can genuinely claim political asylum, there can hardly be any genuine case of religious persecution for anyone from western Nigeria.
John Iteshi

We Have No Valid Excuse!

I recently read an article titled “Discontent voiced over slavery events” by Amanda Kirton in the BBC website and could not resist the temptation to express my disappointment in Black British leaders. The article which is based on the behaviour of Mr Toyin Agbetu who staged a lone protest by disrupting the recent service in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery by Britain, shouting abuses on the British establishment suggested that most Black people share the sentiments of the protester. In fact it quoted the leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Amos who is herself Black as saying that "Toyin's protest reflected the anger and the pain that still exists,". This comment is most unfortunate and disturbing because it appears to lend support to the lazy notion among some misinformed Black British people, that the activities of British slave traders about 200 years ago coupled with some imaginary acts of racism are responsible for the failure of the Black race. This comment and all similar insinuations including a BBC documentary by a Black journalist which suggested that Britain built much of its wealth on the slavery of Black people must be condemned as grossly misleading. It is most dangerous to provide tacit support in anyway for the already misguided Black louts on the streets of Hackney and Brixton. Even if it is necessary or even reasonable for Britain to be showing remorse for a historical disaster which (even if they were culpable), they had long atoned for in many ways, it cannot be reasonable at all for any educated Black person to tell Britain how to organise it or even worse to complain against anything. It is shameful enough that Black people especially those of us in Britain, with all the opportunities and supports have remained the most backward human group both here and the world over.

Black British leaders like Baroness Amos should be ashamed of themselves for letting the Black race down by not using their positions to organise their people. The fact that with only a handful of educated people, the Black race jointly fought for independences about 50 years ago, but today with millions of educated people the Black race is yet to build any organised and successful society of its own is an indictment of all enlightened Black leaders. We had neither Black Members of Parliament (MPs) in any European or American nation nor did we have any Black university anywhere when we fought as one people and won independences and civil rights/freedoms, but today with many Black individuals in positions of power in Europe and America as well as hundreds of universities across Black Africa, we have still to prove that we (as a people not as individuals) are not inferior. We have not proven that we are not an inferior race because we are the only major race that have not been able to organise themselves at any level. The fact that there is no organised or successful society of Black people anywhere on this planet ought to disturb every educated Black person particularly those at the highest level of decision making like our MPs in UK and USA. Rather than use their privileged or top positions to organise the Black community and possibly the entire Black race, they are busy either trying to re-write history or even change nature.

We cannot reasonably continue to claim we are not inferior when at this stage of human development; the whole Black race still relies on white journalists and glory seekers like Bob Geldoff to tell us our problems, when to cry or even cry for us. The fact that one can hardly find any Black icon or hero today that was not determined by western media means that we have yet to be civilised. One seriously reckons in private that if the majority of the white world had not decide to criticise apartheid in South Africa, that it would have continued and Mandela could have been a terrorist rather than a hero. This may sound strange none thinkers, but the general state of ignorance among Black people about the situation in Sudan today where a minority group rules the Black race like slaves under far worse situation than Black South Africans were ever ruled, should suggest to us the depth of our primitiveness as a people. It took the so-called white racist to enlightening Black states about what is happening to their people. If we cannot understand ourselves in this modern age with all the education and enlightenments available to us, one wonders how we could have fared if Britain and other western nation had not decided on their own volition when it began to prick their consciences, to end slavery ! Our greatest tragedy today appears to be our inability to organise ourselves and determine what we actually want.

There is of course, no gainsaying, that not many Black people would have been moaning about what Britain did and did not do about slave trade if some overzealous white men had not embarked on the anniversary project as well as the unwarranted debate about apologising for slavery. The fact that slavery ended completely about 150years ago and most Black states got their independences 40-50 years ago and we have never really until now moaned about how Britain enslaved our people clearly means that only idiots are moaning and fooling themselves that slavery is responsible for our failure as a people. The fact that the Black race in the 21st century still depend on solely Western and Arab sources for both the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the history of the Black race in general, is a shameful indication of our seeming less than equal status with other human races. It is most disturbing to me that there is no successful society of Black people anywhere on this planet today and enlightened Black people especially those who have escaped poverty in Europe and America are not bothered about it. All that prominent Black British individuals including those who have been given parliamentary positions on the platter of gold to represent Black people do is seek for media attention for their selfish interests. They only talk about Black people whenever some white journalists raise any issue about Africa or as now, slavery. Apparently, these successful Black individuals appear to think that being successful and being privileged to be accepted by Britain means they are no longer as Black as the people of Darfur or Northern Uganda or Haiti. They are more interested in aligning with Asians (as can be seen in a stupid organisation called National Association of Black Police Officers or something like that where an Iranian claimed to be Black) in their primitive aims to carve themselves out as a distinct group separate from the failed Black race. One of them who actually hails from Uganda where a barbaric civil war has been ravaging its northern territory, once engaged in a televised fasting and prayers for Lebanese children(simply for attention seeking purposes) when the whole world knows that the average Lebanese or even Iraqi or Palestinian fares much better than the average Black person. Shame unto educated Black people especially those successfully established in Europe and America for they have the best opportunities to change the fate of the Black race, but have failed to even organise themselves. They do not face the problems of poverty and intimidation by wicked and oppressive governments faced by men of goodwill in Black Africa and as such can easily organise themselves towards forming a global forum for Black enlightenment and civilisation.

We do not need to physically go back to Africa to show direction to the Black race. We can either seek to articulate a sort of global vision for the development of the Black race or even prove we are not inferior by simply organising ourselves well over here. We can point accusing fingers to the western economic interests for our inability to organise our countries back home, but the fact remains that mini-Black societies in places like Britain and USA have not proven to be different from our failed states in Africa and the Caribbean. The fact that Black people are most backward and over represented in the prisons in both UK and USA for instance, despite all the opportunities available for individual development, is not because of racism at all as some race mongers like to think, but simply because of the failure of leadership among Black leaders. Even if racism exists to the extent of dissuading our people from proper education and responsible living, there cannot be any excuse for our failure to organise ourselves in any meaningful way. The fact that Asians dominate the trades of African and Caribbean foodstuffs and even the ridiculous hair attachments worn by our women is a clear indication that the trouble with the Black race is from within and not from what others are doing or have done to us over a hundred years ago. A visit to places like Dalston market and Peckham area in London would convince any reasonable thinker that something is seriously wrong with Black people as slavery or colonialism or the white race cannot be blamed for the domination of predominantly Black communities’ markets in London by Asians. British and African-American leaders can help prove that we are not an inferior race by seeking to build successful Black communities from their respective locations. Purposeful leadership from British and African-American leaders are very crucial to the survival of the Black race because they have the capability of influencing not just the whole Black race, but the entire world on Black issues. We need to have our own BBC or CNN and be able to determine and control global views and opinions on our own affairs. Black leaders in Europe and America ought to be at the forefront of development in Black African and Caribbean states. Bearing in mind the quality of Black individuals in UK and USA for instance, it is disgraceful that there is no genuine move by any group towards influent positive change back home.

Even if we cannot organise at the Black race level, why not on country basis. Why not respectable Nigerians or Zimbabweans or Kenyans for instance in UK or in USA organise themselves (form strong umbrella groups not the fiefdom-like groups exiting among Nigerians for instance) and begin to deliberate on how to take Britain or USA home. Such groups would command respect both from host governments and home governments and could help to fight corruption and bad governance at home. We cannot be serious about change when everyone knows that the greatest aspect of corruption destroying Black African states is the trend to loot public treasury and either buy properties in Europe and America or maintain fat bank accounts. Most of the wars and political instabilities in Black Africa are directly linked to individuals fighting for their own opportunities to loot and stash abroad. The Black communities in Europe and America hold the key to eradicating this trend either by exposing those within the community who help corrupt leaders or by lobbying host governments for legislations that would help check it. Our failure so far to do this is most inexcusable! The Black Race has no valid excuse for failure!!

John Iteshi
London, 4th April, 2007