Being a part of the University of Pretoria has opened my eyes to a lot of things. To some extent I can see what a developed society should be. Where you get emails for the slightest issue; the residence stove was damaged, WiFi will be down or water supply issues. The communication system is so “tight.” The school does not leave you to make assumptions or start grumbling in the dark. They open communication lines immediately there is a problem. Government can borrow from this.
We vote ordinary things like going for a residence trip. There is this clear signal that the school respects your autonomous rights and want your democratic participation. I am scared that this may be because it’s a mixed race economy. Going to all black economies like Nigeria, this could never happen even at federal, state or even constituency level.
Communication is a sign of Value for life
There is a thin line between being human and being Nigerian. Value for life is a major problem which most of us still have to be taught. When I was an undergraduate, the light or water supply could be switched off without notice. No one dared protest.
When the situation got to a breaking point back then, students would boycott lectures and demand to be addressed. Someone from the Senate would then paste a notice on the Senate building door. This was a location where barely 1/50 of the student population passed in a week.
The situation would then become so bad that students would be doused in hausa perfume from head to toe—because at this point all the chic exotic colognes have lost the battle. Conversations are stifled because everybody’s mouth is smelling. The few righteously indignant students would stage a protest and bring the school to a standstill. Then somebody in the Senate would start complaining.
The complaint is not about the protest or about the fact that students want their water and light supply. The complaint is most times about “manner of approach.” They would claim that the students have a right to protest but they need to respect their elders. This is the madness that plagues Nigerian leaders.
We do not uphold the sanity of life, value of life as much as we value the “idobale” of and debasement of the oppressed. How exactly do you expect a person that’s treated like an animal to behave? You think he is supposed to be polite about the fact that he is deprived of his humanity? A student is dragged gradually closer to being an animal and you expect civility from him?
An extremist approach to dissent always fails
Back then students would be expelled for addressing other students and not calling appellations of the V.C. or for using foul language while addressing the same people who did not take every pain to protect them. If elders are truly who they used to be in African communities; they would suffer hunger, death and starvation so that their breed can survive and thrive. But what do we have? Elders who cannot even deny themselves a night’s sleep to ensure that pride, value of life, dignity of being human is preserved.
These ones too will come out and be demanding “manner of approach.” Communication is mocked like it does not matter, but that’s the exact thin line between animals and humans. You mock people who write and speak “Oyinbo” but what about writing excellent Yoruba or Igbo or Hausa notices, memos and opening frequent, efficient communication lines? What about learning about how to create community living by way of verbal participation and debates from stakeholders?
If you cannot even make the world rosy, why not start with upholding the right for the people to speak and be heard. Not just the right, you need to create the platforms, bring the communication to you, let the people find you in their times of need. Not until they decide of their own will to find and replace you, then all this—what we call “civilization” will not even protect you.
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