By Busuyi Mekusi
Developing nations like Nigeria do experience tangles between the rural and urban areas. The rustic cosy rural areas usually contrast with the urban spaces that are sprawling, choking and congested. The city dwellers could enjoy exciting night life, ride on paved roads, but lament joblessness due to concentrated manpower that drifted from the rural areas for a better existence, while the uncultivated spaces in the rural side of the divide would ‘complain’ to God of abandonment if true that nature speaks. Even though paths might have been created to get products from farms to cities, roads are better desired to meet not just the food needs of city dwellers but achieve required raw materials to service industries that would drive the economy of the nation. From consumption to production mantra of Obi must not die with his presidential ambition.
The different sectors in Nigeria are challenged, and they are anxiously waiting for the attention of the next government(s). Apart from the inevitable burden of leadership that some bear, a greater number of citizens have upon their shoulders the weight of supportive and cooperative participation in the task of nation building. It is instructive that Garba Shehu informed Nigerians that they would soon miss PMB just like they did of Goodluck Jonathan, but we must not allow the notion that a past government is always better than the present as we usher in the government of BAT. Even if Nigeria is programmed to fail, as copiously argued by pessimists, we must intentionally redirect her off the damning precipice.
However, as part of the emptiness that humans struggle with, to no end, they have continued to make frantic attempts to reason their existence, rationalise their shortcomings, and ease their frustrations. Beyond this, the socio-cultural orientations that shape their worldviews are both required for stability in the face of turmoil and reasonableness amidst inevitable devastations. Nigerians in southern Nigeria, from pre-western periods, up to the turn of traditionalism to modernism, depended on various devices and tropes to socialise the younger ones.
One of such instruments was irony, which would make the user to say the opposite of what was intended. Contemporary westernised sociology in this postcolony has since disrupted the sequence of these communal interactions so much that explicit blatant engagements clearly evidenced the liberalisation of opinion ownership and voicing. Somebody recently buttressed the misapplication of old interactive irony by a woman who relied on pre-western irony suggesting that her daughter could break a plate, as a form of warning against such, ordinarily, and the decision of the child to heed her mother’s counsel, leading him to breaking the ceramic bowl. No doubt, the old generation of Nigerians and the younger ones are no longer in the same speech community, thereby impairing mutual intelligibility.
Other common instruments of social communication in Yoruba are proverbs. While the Igbo, through the lens of Achebe, hold that proverb is the oil with which words are eaten, the Yoruba opine that proverbs and words depend on each other as horses, and that when words get missing, they are best sought and recovered through proverbs. To justify the richness of proverbs, any interlocutor not well schooled in their usage could lose out in a conversation, thereby creating an esoteric community of a sort. Apart from the fact that proverbs help one to avoid circumlocution in communication, they similarly afford the user the privilege of veiling, masking and coding, when selective intelligibility is imperative. Most younger Yoruba generation are not only bereft of the understanding of the basic meanings of proverbs but have lost touch with their native languages to western indoctrinations.
Aspects of Yoruba witty incantatory proverbial saying that have profoundly shaped socio-cultural engineering are those to the effect that: a tree does not fall in the farm and kill people at home; and the house ceiling does not cave in, and kill someone on the road (igi kì ń dá lóko kó pará ilé; àjà kì ń jìn kó pa èrò ònà). Characteristic of many others, Yoruba philosophical sayings, as variously argued by me, are foregrounded in facts, and etched in consciousness. Sunny Ade, a notable Juju musician, deployed these sayings in the course of having conversation with the people in his song. Despite this, however, the validity of Yoruba proverbs, wise sayings and platitudes was vigorously challenged by the artistic dexterity of Baba Suwe (Babatunde Omidina), a comic Nollywood actor, who achieved distinctiveness by deconstructing proverbs to achieve comic relief, using contemporary experiences in invalidating them.
If the above sayings are open to the unpacking of Baba Suwe, for instance, he could have equated the fallen tree in the farm to a log of wood used for roofing a house, and the likelihood that the log could fall and make a victim of someone in the homestead. Similarly, the possibility could also have been established by him that a collapsed ceiling could be blown off the roof of a house, and dropped on someone on the road side, thereby reversing the potency of the peroration. The interrogation and demystification done to these proverbs implicitly show how a development that is ordinarily remotely placed could affect something else that is distantly linked to it. It is given the above that some contemporary realities, mostly recently, are seen as open to the convertible attributions inherent in the proverbs under consideration.
A monarch and a repentant Boko Haram member were reported not too long ago to have been arrested for trading in cannabis, and one could not but relate this to the idea of a tree falling in the farm, and killing people at home. The monarch, who should be a value-addition to the community, became a liability of a fallen tree, hurting unwary people he had access to with his illicit trade, due to the social status he enjoyed. In the same vein, the repentant Boko Haram member behaved like a collapsed ceiling which symbolically meant leaving the new domestic domain of rehabilitation to turn a terror on the road. The news that 43 Nigerian nurses faced criminal charges for certificate forgery in the United States exemplified how trees in the ‘farm’ of Nigeria could kill people in the cities of US. The annihilating propensity in the above is similar to the 7 legal guns the Nashville Covenant School shooter in the United States used for three shooting.
The ‘tree of suspension’ and court judgement in Benue State that ‘killed’ Ayu, the suspended recalcitrant PDP chairman, that was made to step down eventually, at the city in Abuja did not only introduce a new dimension into the internal contradictions of the main opposition party, but suggestive of how political hatchet-people could, through the use of subterfuge, subvert opposing elements. The irreparable damage that is done to the PDP, both internally and externally, is akin to that done by fake processed goods and denatured agricultural products to people’s health, houses, vehicles, etc. The clandestine alleged plots by some misguided political elements in Nigeria, being an exposé or exposure by the DSS, to push for an interim government, to stall the handing over to a democratic government, is also a farm tree that tends to kill people at home, if not immediately mitigated.
The cause-and-far-reaching-effect praxis is very central to people’s behaviours across the globe, including Nigerian societies, even though such thinking is always blurred by the exigency of rationalisation. Rather than continue to grandstand, there is the need to acknowledge the dangers inherent in the farm trees that continue to make victims of people in homestead, no thanks to insecurity, poor infrastructure, bad economy, greedy ruling elite, etc.
It is disheartening that people poison humanity by their different acts of corruption, nepotism, tokenism, injustice, oppression, redundant ethnic profiling, racial cleansing, etc., mostly for selfish interest, but pretending to be fronting for larger human groupings. To cure such people of their socio-political maladies, and enhance human sanctity and national development, we must be reminded of another witty saying that when one throws a stone into the open market, one may end up hurting one’s relation.
To this end, an evil deed infused into distant portion of life trajectory may come back somehow to plague the actor. Little wonder, it has been argued, in very platitudinous manner, that in life; what goes around comes around! As we mark this year’s April Fool, amidst Christian and Muslim fasts, we must note that fools are not only found in April!