Saturday, December 31, 2011



State of Emergency Declared in parts of Nigeria

I am not sure what to feel about the news today of the declaration of state of emergency in parts of four northern states by the Nigerian government. Ordinarily, it should enable the government to mobilize the resources needed to check the rampant terroristic mayhem of the Boko Haram groups; and that would be a good thing. But then, it could also provide the police and military the opportunity for unchecked abuse of law abiding citizens. They have a track record: whenever they are unleashed for security reasons, travel in the affected areas becomes impossible, especially if you do not have enough money and will to offer bribes to the armed official so you can drive past their checkpoints without molestation. I guess I just wished that--OK, I think my idealist alter ego is the one speaking now--Mr. Jonathan had previously declared a state of emergency to deal with runaway corruption inside and outside his government. If he had successfully carried out such campaign, then I would be more sanguine about the prospects of this new state of emergency.

Bishop Oyedepo Slaps "President Jonathan"

The last time we saw super-Bishop Oyedepo, he was slapping a hapless, defiant woman who called herself a "Witch for Jesus" in front of his tumultuous congregation. Apparently buoyed by his success in the redemption-by-assault tactic, the great bishop has now done what Nigerians like me have been hoping some super-human power could do to our dear president: slap him out of his presidential stupor. But it is nice to see that "President Jonathan" has gone to the bishop to have his sorry, somnolent leadership style beaten out of him. Except of course, as it turns out, the agenda of the bishop and the president are...

Watch this: 
courtesy of SaharaTV

Friday, December 30, 2011

Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee events at Princeton

Charlie Cobb, Courtland Cox, Ivanhoe Donaldson, Eddie Glaude, Bob Moses, and Imani Perry, Larry Rubin, December 15, 2011, Princeton University  Photos: copyright Chika Okeke-Agulu
"Hands on the Freedom Plow", December 6, 2011, Princeton University

Terra Hunter, Judy Richardson, Dorothy Zellner, Martha Prescod Noonan, Betty Robinson, Janet Moses

Princeton students during the Q/A, December 6, 2011

Dr. Janet Moses

Dr. Janet Moses and Prof Imani Perry

Professor Terra Hunter, moderator

On December 15, The Center for African American Studies, Princeton University hosted a symposium by leading members of the historic Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the group of young, black and white men and women who, risking everything, went to the racial hot zones in Southern United States in the 1960s to participate in the movement that led to the desegregation of the South. These visionaries, these youths, many of them teenagers at the time, imagined a different country, and they worked for it, despite the threats to their lives, and the fears with which they lived daily. If they helped the Civil Rights movement succeed, it must be because of their grass roots mobilization--their "ground game", as the politicos would say--without which the endeavors of the "stars" of the age, might have come to naught. And if the present-day, somewhat inchoate "Occupy Movement" has one lesson to learn from SNCC, it is that they can camp as much as they wish in the gardens and parks of the cities and suburbs; but if they cannot go to the masses with their message and convince them of its justness and necessity, their effort will bear no edible or meaningful fruit.
What was remarkable, to me, was how the testimonies of these men echoed with amazing fidelity those of the SNCC women who had only a week before--on December 6, also at Princeton (at the presentation of their award-winning book Hands on the Freedom Plow)--made equally powerful presentations about their own experiences. For both the men and women, fear about their own personal safety was overwhelmed and numbed by the dread of what their fellow (black) citizens endured in the South--racial terrors and oppressions that had no place in their version of the American dream.And while not every one of them believed in the philosophy of non-violence, the decision to join SNCC meant that they all kept to the practice of non-violence, seeing in it a powerful weapon against a vastly more violent "enemy", the racist individuals, communities and state governments. Ah, the discipline, the courage. And they were young!

Imani Perry and Larry Rubin

Ivanhoe Donaldson and Eddie Glaude

Charlie Cobb

Courtland Cox, Ivanhoe Donaldson

Cornell West during the Q/A

Panelists with some members of audience after the conversation

Courtland Cox, Ivanhoe Donaldson
I learned so much listening to these men and women about the Civil Rights movement, and although I had to go watch again the monumental Eyes on the Prize documentary, nothing compared to the two winter evenings when I, as a student, listened to my elders speak of a time when the youths of America--not many of them, mind you--saved this country from the festering canker of its own sordid history. But as they all agreed, despite all that they and their mates in the Civil Rights Movement achieved, their work remains, alas, uncompleted. Just look at America today. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Christmas Carnage by Boko Haram

This is what these criminals, these animals called Boko Haram did to worshippers at the St. Teresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Nigeria on Christmas Day. The sickness of this entity called Nigeria gets worse. Optimism dies, again. Like Emmet Till's mother, I believe these images must be seen. Otherwise, it is impossible to imagine the blood-thirstiness of these present-day savages, or to understand the what President Jonathan means when he said, in response to the Christmas Day bombings, that Nigerians must wait patiently until the Boko Haram scourge "fizzles" out. Dare not to look.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ayodele Jegede (In Memoriam)

How, tell me, does one say farewell to the future
When the night refuses to wake, terrified
by the dirge of prosthetic gods?

With these hands calloused by grief
With this heart bloated by sorrow, how
Tell me, does one bury a child?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Bishop and the "Witch for Christ"

It is old news that the proliferation of mega-churches and zillionaire televangelists in Nigeria and the third world is directly linked to the unrelenting pauperization of lower and middle classes. Thus it is no wonder that one of the visible outcomes of the IMF and World Bank imposed Structural Adjustment Programs of the 1980s was the rise of "prosperity churches" whose pastors project onto the mental screens of their impoverished members visions of miraculous riches...OK., I am going off on a tangent here. The thing is that I came across this video of a disturbing "deliverance" session in the church of Bishop Oyedepo, reputedly the wealthiest of Nigeria's super-rich pastors. Does the Nigerian law--any law--allow this man to abuse this hapless young woman in the way he does in this video? And to imagine that the congregation seems to have applauded his action. It says something about the power these men and women wield; they way they behave like despotic sovereigns, all in the name of Christ.
Just watch for yourself

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Lyrical Art of "Twin Poets"

I heard of the lyrical art of "Twin Poets" (Al and Nnamdi)--these two young Igbo-American poets whose work I knew nothing about until--just last week. And if this performance typifies their spoken word poetry, I would not mind listening to them all the time in saecula saeculorum

Remembering Biafra

The shame of Nigeria, and the world that supported its murderous campaign against Biafra (because of oil in the Niger Delta), is that decades after that war, not much has changed. Nigeria remains as divided, unworkable, precarious as it was in the months and years leading up to the genocide of the Igbo in Northern Nigeria in the summer of 1966. Ojukwu has done his work and moved on, but the spirit of Biafra lives.

The structurally insufficient entity called Nigeria lumbers on--denied of total collapse only by a criminally corrupt politically elite and global economic interests--leaving in its wake now-frequent stream of "sorrow, tears and blood."  It continues to be haunted by the restless spirits of dead Biafran children; children who, unlike me, could not survive the mass starvation campaign and bombings of Biafran hospitals and markets.

When, Nigeria, will be the day of atonement?  

Friday, December 2, 2011

POST-DOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP--Univ. of Witwatersrand

POST DOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP in the Centre for Creative Arts of Africa, University of the Witwatersrand.

We invite applications for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Centre for the Creative Arts of Africa (CCAA) at the University if the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. The Centre is funded by the AW Mellon Foundation and will be situated in the Wits Art Museum. The Postdoctoral Fellow will work with the Chair in the Creative Arts of Africa (Director of the Centre) on research which will work outwards from the collections of historical and contemporary African arts in the Wits Art Museum. The collection contains not only visual arts, but also musical instruments and objects which are part of performance arts and dress repertoires. We are therefore looking for a fellow who has research experience in one or more of the following fields: African visual art, African music, African performance arts, African dress. The fellow will be required to do some teaching in the Wits School of Arts undergraduate programmes, and will be expected to participate in exhibitions and publications planned within the Wits Art Museum.
The Fellowship will be for a period of 20 months and will include a stipend, a shared office with own computer, library access and a small research grant per year. The fellowship will start in March/April 2012, and will end in December 2013.
Applications must be sent to Professor Anitra Nettleton and should include
title and abstract of the doctoral thesis,
copies of completed articles or published essays (if any)
the names and email addresses of two referees, one of whom should be the supervisor of the doctorate.

Submission deadline 31st January 2012