The Multiple Significations of #EndSARS
How should we read the mounting disenchantment which produced the conditions that made #EndSARS an agonizing reality? One possible answer to this is to read the multiple signs left in the wake of the protests and try to decipher the semiotic codes invested in them, and that is after we have already moved beyond the fact that the police apparatus is the most brutal expression of the violence of the postcolonial state in Nigeria. …
While the recent viral #EndSARS in Nigeria may have been successful, the issues it raises impel us to rethink the famous motto of the Nigerian Police, The Police is Your Friend. For those who did not notice, #EndSARS was a citizen-led social media campaign against police brutality and violence in Nigeria which was, at a point, the top-trending topic globally on Twitter during the past week. …
Nigerian Pentecostalism is currently witnessing the surveilling and disciplinary gaze of the netizen. This has not always been the case in a country that has been rightly described as a Pentecostal Republic by the Nigerian sociologist, Ebenezer Obadare. The wide-reaching colonization of everyday life in the country by the forces of Pentecostalism is so pervasive that the ruling class in the country both jostle for the attention of the clerical elite and has itself at various times been constituted by pastors and politicians who publicly affirm a born-again identity. As Obadare makes clear, a Pentecostal understanding of society, culture, politics and historical dynamics in Nigeria, as well as the values and normative commitments that result from that understanding constitute a Pentecostal imaginary that accounts for much of Christian attitudes and explanations of the Nigerian condition. …
The Federal government appears to see that being complacent in the wake of a pandemic can potentially bring tragic consequences. By eventually ordering the closure of all public schools and universities just days after closing its borders to some of the epicentres of the virus, the government did what many had long clamoured for. Unfortunately, despite the public-health benefits of closing schools, we are simultaneously confronted with the foreclosure of knowledge.
For instance, we need to pay attention to the language coming out of the country in regard to the shutting of schools and universities. In terms of the dominant rhetoric in media discussions, the language has focused on the fact that schools have to be “shut down” or that they are to be “closed” indefinitely. …
In Mike Ezuruonye’s Lagos Real Fake Life, we encounter postcolonial urban Lagos as simulacrum, presented with an oxymoronic pastiche of the real and the fake simultaneously enacted as the defining attributes of everyday life in Nigeria’s megacity. As simulacrum, the reality of Lagos is replaced by a false representation organized around images, narratives and codes that signify the city as a performative realm of bogus identities.
Lagos resembles a city of inchoate dreams, excess and ostentation, one in which “Instagram boys” tangle with slay queens for prominence on the dance floor of Eko’s unending parties; Lagos is the come-alive city of repute, of Africa where the original fakeries of social media constitute a radical contingency for all reality. Lagos Real Fake Life offers an account of the realism of the synthetic, generating an image of Lagos that is both real and unreal, with uncertain futures sought on the grounds of shifting signifiers. …
About noon they arrived to its scorching welcome,
A Sahara of arid wind unfurling before them.
There the sun radiated proudly, burning their skin
with the touch of its beams, unwanted companions.
One of the travellers trudged wearily through shifting sands
avoiding a fall on prying Cacti calling out with colourful pokes.
Another steadied a backpack drenched with dust
Blowing haze and fears from miles afar.
Or so it seemed. Until sooner
When the real danger that lurks in their minds
Appeared from a distant: the veiled ones
welding guns and trafficked drugs. And girls.
The journeying duo said their last prayers
to an unknown god. But the Tuareg greeted them with a smile.
A Box Full of Darkness: The Language of Trauma in Jumoke Verissimo’s Debut Novel
Through her narrative of trauma, Nigerian poet offers a debut novel that presents readers with a paradox: how darkness can both heal and enslave the mind.
Jumoke Verissimo’s first novel has it all — poetic language that gushes gracefully from page to page, the intelligence of a scholar-writer casting a retrospective gaze on the politics of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic, the undulating rhythms of love and sex conditioned by patriarchal affectations, a subversion of cultural norms, as well as a poignant engagement with trauma as an affective experience too visceral for words to embody. …
Although his The Wayfarer and Other Poems appears to have aged very quickly, Pius Adesanmi’s poetry collection remains an important cultural document signifying a literary response to the ambiguities of oppressive power during military rule in Nigeria. There is the possibility of reading The Wayfarer and Other Poems as a text seeking to unsettle the mythology that exile existed solely for Nigeria’s third generation of writers as a space of greener pastures. Indeed, as Harry Garuba suggests, the volume articulates an image of the poet of Adesanmi’s generation as a nomad, traversing the liminal and chequered spaces of home and exile. …
Ebenezer Obadare’s Pentecostal Republic: Religion and the Struggle for State Power in Nigeria masterfully captures the troubling intersections of state politics and religion in Nigeria, staging vividly Pentecostalism’s unabashed appropriation of political power in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic. What Pentecostal Republic accomplishes the most is how it makes intelligible the transformation of the political by the forces of religion. The author tracks and solidly analyzes the ascendancy of a brand of Nigerian Pentecostalism that impacts the performance and discharge of official power in Nigeria, arguing that an “enchanted democracy” (15) is the outgrowth of “the social visibility and political influence of a Pentecostal ‘theocratic class’” (23) whose grips on Nigeria’s democracy further consolidates a vexing desecularization of the country. …
I realized recently that the Nigerian academic Oga culture, that punitive style of scholarly mentorship which forbids student thought and agency, has a diaspora version conditioned by the malaise of essentialism. So I decided to present some advice to you, the Nigerian academic who, because of your Western location, routinely dismiss colleagues in the homeland.
In your brilliant theses and polemics, take only one side of an argument and use it as the premise for your sound logic. Simply argue that all Nigerian professors based at home are inept and crude. …