Estimated Reading Time: <1
This year, I read opinion pieces and articles on Nigeria’s newspapers and blogs than I had read in years. From Elnathan John’s weekly humorous, but reflective satirical pieces to Tolu Ogunlesi’s deep, and debate provoking articles. I read pieces from Nigerians who learned to write, effectively, out of strong interior need to say something relevant. These articles flooded the newspapers- hard and soft copies- and while some of the writers were angry, others guided their humane, not losing their sense of humor in the process of reflecting on the conditions of the country. Regardless, however, they all have proven that Nigerians are conscious of their challenges, and are ready to keep strewing words together until we get it straight in the country.
If words were swords, we would have had a war sprung out of our writers’ opinions this year. While some discerning citizens could sense the senseless directions of our situation- from bad governance to deep-rooted corruption- others, whose purpose it is to defend a system that they know is sick, and is dying from terminal diseases, are willing to keep defending the rot because of the benefits they are anticipating in the disjointed polity and system; or have apparently lost their faculties hence, will defend any rash thoughts from our decision makers. Replies to letters, articles countering articles, and opinionated essays all stretched the writing process.
In the end, the best writers, for me, were those who didn’t have to benefit or stand the chance of benefiting from any side, who didn’t have to be paid or contracted to write before they wrote. They were those whose gift of the art assured me that though we all may sleep in the same bed, we all can’t lie in the same direction. To me, they have best governed Nigeria than any government may have attempted in the country this year. It terrifies me to imagine this, but picture a Nigeria without writers. Can you? What do you see?
These writers wrote when the country re-based and millions of Nigerians had no idea what re-basing meant; and provided clear writings when we devalued our Naira, and Nigerians weren’t sure if it was a destructive or a constructive decision to devalue. Since millions of Nigerians are deprived of the skills of reading, these writers were hopeful that the population that could read would read these articles and disseminate the ideas to those who couldn’t read; therefore, spread the word.
The enlightenment kept coming because the one-hour or half-hour news on TV and radio, they writers were sure, may not be seen or heard by everyone, because everyone, it seemed, was tired of the filtered news, the produced news castings. No wonder we have the most heated and healthy debates at the newspaper stands. With online writings, also, people could talk back at the comment sections. Nothing liberates the human minds like having an outlet to drop their opinions following other opinions. They hate to be spoon-fed.
We had a turbulent 2014, and were sometimes relieved of this tide with comic-reliefs from our politicians and their cohorts. And so the two instances mostly weaved, produced reliefs that made us remember that we, too, can still laugh, that we haven’t been overwhelmed by tragedy. And that has consistently been done by writers. Writers who stayed up nights to sink deep thoughts into ideas that invoked emotions that sometimes provoked reactions. Writers who made us remember our girls in captivity. They constantly reminded us that people in the north east are Nigerians who die everyday. Writers who crafted unbiased reasons regarding our country’s need for a change of leadership, and desperately so, with accurate analogies. Writers who dared to challenge, whose words were often published the way they were submitted. Writers whose writings didn’t put food on their tables, yet they wrote.
Towards the end of every year, series of awards – from music to movies – are often organized to appreciate the efforts of people who distinguished themselves in various activities in these fields. While I am not concerned about an award like this for our writers, I do hope that someone, even their publishers, would give them some appraisals at the end of every year. This may not be necessary, you might think, but these efforts keep everything- from politics to entertainment, sports to academics- going. They stir-up the human consciousness, making the dailies one of the first things we want to see when we rise up every morning.
I grew up reading books that nursed my desire for writing. Then when I started weaving words that appeared to me like magic, I was sometimes confused with where to channel them. The validation came when I began reading newspapers and online contributors. From them, I subconsciously learned the bitter truth that the chief aim of the writer, amongst other things, is to instruct and excite. It is, above all, to speak the truth without any hope of retribution, without any fear of being reprimanded.
Article written Olajide A. Omojarabi @olaomojarabi
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