In defence of Nelson Mandela…the last freedom fighter!!!

Charges by the Prosecution-

“The white people bought and sold him like that…”

“He betrayed the blacks of South Africa; he was a Western Stooge…..”

“He should have done more for South Africa…..”

“They broke him when he was in prison….”

 

Kabir Kareem-Bello for the Defence

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, these charges have been laid against my client over the past few years by various factions. The defence contends that these accusations are based on unfounded postulation and emotional reasoning. I will not eulogise the man; world leaders, celebrities and better orators than me have already done so extensively. Instead I will attempt defend him against the baseless charges listed above.

The prosecution have not been able to provide a single cogent motive for the actions my client has been charged with. The main crux of these charges is based on the notion that my client gave black South Africans a raw deal at the end of Apartheid era. The prosecution alleges that my client failed to adhere to content of the ANC Freedom Charter. Most crucially, the vast social and economic disparity in South Africa since the end of Apartheid is the prosecutions “smoking gun” against my client. It has even been suggested by some that life was better in South Africa when the whites were in charge. The defence deem these charges fallacious and a travesty not only against my client but the Thousands who fought and died to bring an end to one of the darkest periods of the 20th century, Apartheid. These unsung heroes and heroines of all races must not be forgotten.

The defence accuses the prosecution of trivialising the horrors and effects of Apartheid by bringing these accusations against my client. Additionally, they lack knowledge and understanding of history. He is accused of being a traitor because the “equality, freedom, riches etc.” that was expected after the end of Apartheid has not materialised at the speed that some expected. You, members of the jury must acknowledge that the current situation in South Africa is a residue of hundreds of years of colonialism and over 50 years of the systematic and absolute application of Apartheid. There are multiple generations of South Africans who did not receive adequate education; do you know what this does to the fabric of a nation. Four years as President of Nation is insufficient time to heal years of physical, and mental torment and anguish.

Before Mr. Mandela was the hero to millions around the world, he was fighting for justice for thousands of people as lawyer in the townships of South Africa. Before he was the face of hope and personification of fight for freedom and equality, he had fought and won many battles against a system which stripped human beings of their dignity, curtailed their freedom and abused their human rights. The defence does not suggest that people should not be angry at the current situation in South Africa. Poverty is rife amongst the black majority; whilst the vast majority of the country’s natural wealth still belongs to the white minority. To lay the cause at my client’s feet is as disingenuous as suggesting that he brought down Apartheid single handedly.

There are those who say that my client was broken in prison, which is why he gave up the armed struggle, and bowed to the demands of the white minority government. This argument lacks intelligence and is logically flawed. My client took up the armed struggle as a last resort because the oppressors used violence against them and the world was not listening. During the 27 years in prison, his freedom was offered in exchange for giving up the armed struggle which- he had the courage to refuse. It makes no logical sense that he would “sell out” his people and the struggle, which had fought so hard and sacrificed so much for when the world was watching and listening. It would have been illogical to continue the armed struggle when the tide was turning in their favor. Mr. Mandela was the face of “the struggle” faced by millions. He was the hope of a better tomorrow that wouldn’t die; his courage gave people the strength to face the barrel of machine guns to fight for their freedom. A number tragically lost their lives; so to suggest that my client would tarnish their memories is a charge that we should all fight against.

The defence acknowledges that Mr. Mandela and the ANC leadership made a number of concessions during the negations to end Apartheid namely failure to nationalise the country’s vast mineral resources and repatriation of land. The long and hard fought battle against Apartheid was on the cusp of being won; it would be unfair to expect my client to begin the fight against capitalism. The economic powers belonged to a few in South Africa similar to the vast majority of countries in the world. The political battle had been won with the end of Apartheid and the foundations for the economic battles had been laid. My client and the ANC leadership expected this battle to be continued by the next generation of freedom fighters. As a leader of the fight against racial inequality and struggle for freedom & equality; and then the leader of a nation, Mr. Mandela understood that it was a lot harder to sue for peace than to start a war. He had the courage and foresight to put aside his own bitterness and anger in order to unite and heal a nation.

There can be no peace in the world without freedom from inequality. Poverty is a form of Apartheid for millions across the world; the difference is that it does not care about race or creed. The fight for justice, equality and freedom did not end when my client walked out prison on the 11th of February 1990; in fact it was just the beginning. My client knew this, after his tenure as president; he continued the fight for freedom for his people through educating the nation about the scourge of HIV in South Africa.

In this age of # activists; we should not project the limits of our comprehension on Mr. Nelson Mandela. Do not trivialise the sacrifices made by him and thousands of others who fought for the rights of the basic freedoms that you take for granted. Based on the arguments above, my client has no case to answer.

The defence for Nelson Mandela, the last freedom fighter rests.

 

Till next time next week-KKB Out

Education is the right for all….but is University for everybody?

“Going to University is akin to having a passport, its up to you to decide where you want to go with it” #Rappy Random

 

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How many of us are actually in careers related to the degrees we studied. Doctors, Lawyers and the likes excluded. I mean, if your lawyer tells you “I got my degree from the streets of hard knocks”, you are in some serious shit. I have a degree in Business and Marketing but my career is in Quality Assurance Mgt. (The writing is a side hustle till I reach those J.K Rawlings numbers)

Readers of Memoirs of a Young African will understand the significance of my degree, but I have on many occasions’ questioned the tangible benefits of me going to Uni. I was seriously disillusioned in the months after my graduation because a few weeks into applying for “graduate jobs” the realities of life hit my like a donkey kick. All my life, I had believed that Degree=Job; alas each Marketing job I wanted to apply for required “marketing experience”. I hit my lowest ebb when I saw a vacancy, which stated “NO GRADUATES”. I felt like I had been deceived all my life “this is not how it is supposed to be” I thought to myself. I mean I have a Bachelor’s of Arts (We Nigerians and our titles abi?) I spend another 18 miserable months working in retail before I got a job as an Admin officer. Don’t get me wrong; I am not in any way shape or form devaluing my degree. I worked damn hard for it and my parents worked and sacrificed for me to get it. It will forever be one of my greatest achievements.

Proud Parent on my Graduation Day

Proud Parents on my Graduation Day

“Kabir, I want you to study Medicine at University”

“But Dad, I studied Business Studies at College”

“It doesn’t matter son, its not hard, your uncles have done it”

Sound familiar! I had this conversation with Alhaji when applying for university 2000. I have had numerous conversations with people who have shared the same experience “You are going to study Medicine”!! “You are going to be an accountant”. The consensus is, Nigerian parents always want their children to study Medicine, Law, Engineering, and Accounting etc. The situation may be changing now, but in my time, there was pressure on my peers to study subjects, which our parents thought were significant/prestigious and would lead to a successful career. Art, Drama or Theatre was not subjects one dared presented to one’s parents as a degree option.

At the other end of the spectrum, the value I attach to receiving my degree and the time I spent at Uni increases every time I visit Nigeria. I have heard too many stories of 3 year degree programs taking 6-7 years to complete because of strikes, violence on campuses, financial difficulties etc. What is even more difficult to digest is the bleak job prospects facing graduates upon receiving their degrees. I will not put the experiences of graduates in Nigeria who have been unemployed for 5-6 years on par with difficulties faced by graduates’ in UK.  Too many harrowing stories to share!! A prevalent trend is for graduates to study for their MA or 2nd degrees, sadly this will probably only increases of gaining employment by a slim margin. Even more worrying, is the prevailing perception or reality that a BA Degree from a University abroad is worth more than a Master’s from a Nigerian Public University? This is testament to the dire state of my/our nation. My parent’s generation left Nigeria to study abroad with the intention of returning to help build their nation. Now for many, obtaining a student visa is an opportunity to escape the country; sometimes for good. How many of us know somebody who keeps on studying just to get a visa extension.

Nigeria has within it the great minds needed to build a great nation, but they lack the tools to build with and the foundations for which to build upon!!!! KKB

I propose we that we need a “Philosophical Revolution “and/or a “Paradigm Shift” when it comes to education-in Nigeria and the Diaspora.*(My Oga at the top)  I believe that each individual  has a unique talents and abilities which isn’t necessarily academic or fits into the subjects I have alluded to above. The opportunities for vocational training and education should be considered for the development of the individual, the community and the nation. There are numerous examples of people who have been extremely successful in their fields without a University Degree- e.g. Richard Branson. Then there is ample evidence that a University Degree doesn’t necessarily equate to competence- Nigeria’s “Incumbent” being a prime example.

My time at University has helped to elevate and shape my outlook of the world and significantly contributed to the successes I have experienced in my life so far. Following on from the quote by #Rappy Random, i believe that education does not stop at University or begin in the classroom. It begins in the home and should continue until we choose to stop. Ultimately, it about what one does with the level of education he or she is able to attain that should determine success.

Looking back now, while I was in secondary school, my favourite subjects were English and History. I should have studied something along those lines at Uni, it took me 30 years to apply my natural talents. To show that its not too late to pursue one’s dreams, I have decided to go back to University to study for my degree in Creative Writing and get my MA in Migration and Diaspora studies. Does anybody have £12k they can lend me? 🙂

I would like to acknowledge two wonderful people whose tremendous support and friendship at University helped me to attain my BA Degree: Mary Iseghohi and John Odutuyo- THANK YOU!!!

*Debate coming soon

Till next time KKB Out

9th February 2015

Next blog post will be published on 23/02/2015- In Defense of Nelson Mandela…

Change is Inevitable…. Sometimes all we have is our Memories…..

Q4IS Series: Part 4- Guest Writer Ajoke Moshood

KKB and 1st Guest Writer for Kilonshele-KKB.com

KKB and 1st Guest Writer for Kilonshele-KKB.com

My name is Ajoke, I was born in Ogun State, Nigeria. My childhood years were formed in Ijebuland; my teenage and early adult years in Lagos; and have spent most of my adult life in Great Britain. I have decided to share my story with you, with the hope that some of you some will be able to connect with my experiences.

During many conversations with my fellow Nigerian’s in diaspora over the past 20 year years, I observed that most of us reminiscence about life in Nigeria. We like to believe or (hope) that most things (people and places) would remain as we left it. We reminisce about our childhood years with fondness, the environment and community that we had lived, and would like to think that we are still part of these communities. I nurtured this same belief albeit subconsciously, that is until I went home and was faced with reality.

I have always remembered the Islamic Eid –el Adha celebrations with fondness during my childhood. I loved the way it brought families and neighbours together, it was a time for sharing and togetherness. As children we would engage in play such as Ram (cattle) racing and fighting within the neighbourhood in the days leading up the Eid el Adha. The day before Eid, the ram would be washed and groomed; its coat will be spotless, ready for the next day. All these activities added to the fun.

It was a day when all the family members came home from far and wide, an opportunity reunite with distant relatives and meet new additions to the family. After assembling at my father’s house (the Imam), the whole local Muslim community would all walk together to the praying ground at the edge of town. The procession would be led by horse riders with pomp and pageantry followed by the faith leaders and the worshippers chanting and praising Allah in solemn mood. After Eid prayers, we would greet friends and families, and old acquaintances. It is tradition to take another route on the return journey home, everyone would be dancing to music and the air is generally filled with so much joy and laughter. On arrival at my father’s house, breakfast was served and we will all gather round to eat together as a family at the balcony. The ram(s) was then slaughtered after a small prayer. The whole family would gather round where the meat is being carved up and divided. The atmosphere would be electric as every one is fighting for space and competing for pieces of meat. We as children ran errands distributing meat to friends and families around town. The more errands you ran the more gifts of money you received.

The first time I spent Eid in Nigeria after I arrived in the UK was in 2003, after 14 years. After I got married, tradition dictated that I remained with my husband family during the Eid celebration. The only opportunity to visit my father’s house was after the Eid day itself. I have visited at other times before then, it was not possible at Eid times due to children school holidays. I didn’t go to my father’s house because my parents had already passed away. I had the opportunity to spend my 2nd Eid in my own town 20 years after I got married. Over the years, I had visualised my community and have always wondered how much had changed. I wanted to re- live the nostalgia of my child hood. I took it for granted that my siblings living in Nigeria would still pay the traditional homage during the festival, I wanted to surprise them, so did not inform them of my pending visit. The chance to see what is left of my extended family, old friends and neighbours filled me with exhilaration. I was so much looking forward to a joyful re-union- with my childhood memories.

Alas, I was very disappointed to say the least. My siblings did not travel back to the family home anymore since all our parents passed away. Their families have grown bigger and they all remained in their normal abodes in the other parts of the country. There was no more gathering at my father’s house either. The Eid procession from my neighbourhood had stopped, no more horse rides. Individual families now drove to the praying ground; only a small number went on foot, instead of going collectively as a community like we did during my childhood. Furthermore, when I got to the praying ground I did not recognise anyone and no one recognised me apart from two of my brother’s friends. I guess like me, most of my friends were now married and they had gone to seek greener pastures.

I noticed that the size of the families had grown larger, modern cars, buildings and bigger rams and cows were slaughtered for Eid. There were fewer bikes on the roads, and children spent their time indoors watching T.V. and playing games. There were less interactions as most of the houses are now fenced with gates. The town had now expanded and changed beyond my recognition. Most of the houses were deserted, with few older generations living in them. The new ones were now occupied by non indigenes. All my friends and school mates either lives abroad or had relocated to new areas in town.

I felt completely lost, deflated and now felt like a total stranger in my place of birth.

My sense of happiness at home was now hollow, I could hear all the voices and echoes from past years, but there were neither old jokes nor memories to share. I became bored quickly and there was a big hole of emptiness in my heart.

I went to my aunt’s house where I spent most of my time as a child, after her passing, the house was now occupied by tenants. I stood outside the house looking in from across the road; I did not see any face one that I recognised in that neighbourhood. I was asked by one of the tenants if I required assistance. She had the impression that I was lost- lost it in the town of my birth. She asked me if I was new in the town, I told her that I used to live in that house, she murmured her sympathy and left me alone.

I drove round the town, I was not able to locate my old school on my own; the farm lands and empty grounds where we played were now built up; I could barely recognise the local stream when I got there, there is now a small bridge over it.

I had always thought t that my community would remain the same even though in reality I expected some changes. Our child hood is our first love and experience of live. Every other experience that comes afterwards is usually mirrored on out first love.

This experience showed me that ”home is where the heart is” may not necessarily mean our ancestral home. It may also means familiarity of people and places and where we are most comfortable. Living in a foreign land has also taught me that when we migrate for greener pastures in another land, our homestead looses its fabrics and all that we associate with it.

As we contribute to our new communities in diaspora, I ask you the question “Are you getting more or less?

By Alhaja Ajoke Moshood

Guest Writer- A.Moshood

Guest Writer- A.Moshood