Twenties Friday Letters — 08.
Let’s talk our reality for a moment. Folks in our age group get picked up and harassed by the police for existing. Being age 20s in Nigeria is an unwritten crime. Follow M’s thoughts as he takes us through 3 suggestions for organizing a second wave of ENDSARS protests.
Need I fix in mindless introductions? I guess not. Times have changed and so must we. I was a member of a close-knit intelligence unit for the ENDSARS protests until 20th October, 2020. After a night of spontaneous shooting at unarmed citizens, news of unidentified missing persons, a refusal to address the cold blood murders by a sitting president; like the rest of you — I was broken. Hope died.
My initial suggestions for the first wave (of the ENDSARS protests) merely became some sort of paper tiger. No actions. Although I mailed Rinu and a few other front liners of the first wave, nothing really could happen. At that period, we were all confronting a history bigger than our own selves and threading a terrain no one had ever dared step close to. It’s like playing a game of Nintendo you’re not so familiar with. For every level you unlock, you’re surprised at your success. Euphoria mixed with tackling enemy forces is a disturbing combination. We need to strategize! The enemy — everybody who profits from the rot that plagues Nigeria would never let go over coffee or unplanned moves.
Let me take you through a short history of oppression. Breathing, like oppression is an inborn human tendency. My biggest dilemma isn’t conquering the current regime. My biggest dilemma is that you, the current front liners who are fighting for our freedom today won’t become the ones we have to fight tomorrow to reclaim our freedom. There is a fundamental issue with how the average human loves to control. Half of you don’t hate oppression, you only hate being oppressed. To embark on this journey where nobody looks back, you need to evaluate yourself individually.
You can’t fight oppression alongside me when you’re an oppressor. We can’t both be at Lekki toll gate condemning the government when you have no respect for women, Fulanis, or that young house boy who does the dishes in your house. Of what use is a revolution when our only aim is to topple a government? No. The aim is not to replace rot with rot, it’s to replace rot with right. We’re not here to merely replace a regime with another careless alternative. We never learn. The likes of Mugabe and Museveni have once ridden on the wave of justice to remove a regime. They weren’t any better and became regimes themselves. It was Buhari who organised protests in 2011? Okay.
Manifesto Point one is that we must discard our prejudices. It isn’t an easy mental process. It has taken me years to discard my prejudices and I’m still not perfect. Learn. Fight your inner man and beliefs. Respect people. Start today.
Manifesto Point two is where I take you through a very short theory of oppression that I developed. Watch closely. The human theory of oppression has gone through historical stages of introduction, persuasion and coercion. Somewhere in the history of mankind, the first men gathered. Somehow, one of them told the rest of them that he was empowered by an unseen force to rule them all. Humans are generally driven by fear and uncertainties. One man told the rest of the group that he had a divine right to rule them and then he introduced the idea to them in the first place. The role of religion and beliefs (in whatever form) was to persuade and manipulate the rest of mankind to believe that supreme unseen forces chose certain individuals as kings over other individuals and granted them the unexplainable divine right to rule over other humans. Democracy in the mud. This wasn’t all. After these persuasions had gone on for generations, it became systemic. All of the mankind began to regard their need to submit to these kings as norms or laws and it became wrong not to submit. The final and present stage of persuasion is coercion were anyone who dissents or does not submit is punished by laws written by the king as well as security officials appointed by the king/state.
Every form of oppressive regime had always tied itself to some supernatural factor termed as natural laws — traditional kings, male chauvinism, white supremacy. Terms like anarchy, revolution, protests are forbidden, why? Because the combined effects of introduction, persuasion and coercion over the years have forbidden you to say them.
Manifesto point two is our need to break this mental state and realise that whatever change we’re bringing into place starts from the mind. No human should shoot at you and then forbid you from complaining. Is he more human than you? I guess not. Who is Tinubu? Just another human, another cartel boss you’ve been raised to submit to.
Manifesto three says oneness of purpose. I’ll explain. The common enemy — an insensitive, oppressive government isn’t the only enemy. That is one mistake we should never make again. Our enemies are diverse but we can’t identify the enemy if we don’t identify ourselves. Who are we? Also, how do we determine who we are?
We are anybody and anyone who is fed up with oppression and ready to toil for a happier life. The mistake we made in the first wave was leaving most of our clamour to chance and the need to be organic. Soldiers don’t win wars by being organic or being leaderless. If we’re clamouring for policies and a change, we the people need to decide what those changes would be and those who would represent us to aggregate those changes. Emphasis on “we the people”. If we’re soldiers in the struggle for happiness, self-respect, hope and a plea that we shouldn’t be massacred by the police, then that’s what we represent. Any individual or movement who chooses to dissent, modify or compromise the common goals ceases to be a part of this. I understand the place for the diplomacy, but this is not the place for diplomacy.
How do we determine who we are? So here it is. Technology is our biggest tool. Brutality is the government’s biggest tool. Brutality is not as advanced but it would stop at nothing. So you need to outsmart it. Technology in form of social media apps and crypto currency are how we have managed the first wave. It could be the best platform to elect representatives. But there is a problem here — aren’t we excluding our brethren who have no access to these tools? The clamp down on the first wave was easy because it somehow became a middle class protest. No fault of ours. The lessons we learnt were necessary. If we do not reach the Agege boys in the morning, they will become the hoodlums the government would employ at night. How do we reach them?
As much as social media does not mean much to the Agege boy, celebrity worship does. Here’s a gem I discovered we must unlock. We have celebrity capital on our hands. Although, it has limits. But, I’ll explain its benefits first. I’m middle class with a twisted British accent. Unfortunately, this pamphlet up until now has been written in English. How will it be passed on to well-meaning individuals who only communicate in their tribal languages? I can’t last ten minutes addressing an Agege crowd but Small Doctor can. That’s because he’s one of them and worshipped by them and he’s also one of us. If we make this a middle class, educated and social media protest again, we’re dead before birth. Our job lies in communicating the ideals of freedom as clear as possible to those who cannot read nor write. Because within them, lies potential war comrades in the ranks of the enemy. Importantly, we’re fighting for all so this affects them too.
A hoodlum is most likely the rural dweller we couldn’t properly explain the ENDSARS protest to. We must harness the powers that lie in the fact that Ibadan people will lay their lives for Alabi Pasuma, Port Harcourt boys worship Duncan Mighty and Kano folks have all reverence for Nura Inuwa.
Now, I move to the intricacies. Who would an Oshodi chap pay heed to — A Pasuma he adores or an Oluomo who would bankroll him to distort an election? Reasoning fails where survival starts. Middle class money keeps me long term. If I had none of it, I may also gladly receive money to machete a protester if that will feed my starving daughter. There are no hoodlums, they are only people who choose survival over freedom because freedom appears long term while survival is immediate. Let’s think like the hoodlum to understand where he comes from.
Unfortunately, in the intelligence unit I was during the first wave, someone suggested paying off and settling the hoodlums in order for them let us be whenever we rally around for protests. No. In fighting an enemy, you don’t feed another one. The enemy you feed will fatten up while you get exhausted from fighting. When you’re exhausted from the win of the first battle, he’ll rule over your dying carcass. We’re would not oust out Bourdillon only to embrace an Oluomo government. Read that again. Twice.
We will do our best to communicate to every supposed hoodlum that the 2,500 he receives to distort an election in favour of a incapable candidate would soon depreciate due to inflation caused by the government of an incapable candidate. I said earlier that our job lies in communicating the ideals of freedom as clear as possible to those who cannot read nor write. After every form of effective communication and persuasion on our ends, anyone who refuses to sail on that ship must be dropped. We don’t need toxic alliances or some desperate acceptance. Remember the first wave? To gain acceptance, we closed a blind eye to folks dealing crack and organising beauty pageants on protest grounds. Worse off, people began attacking citizens in the name of the protest. We lost focus for a minute. Diplomacy/acceptance is good, but not on a warfront.
We’re tackling the government. We’re also indifferent to anyone who isn’t tackling the government. However, we’re tackling anyone who tackles anyone other than the government. Anyone who isn’t for us should stay away. No one is being forced. But anyone who isn’t for us and yet raises a fist in the way of our protest for freedom must be crushed. Oneness of purpose.
I hope I don’t have to scribble a second pamphlet.
Hurray! We just kicked off “SATURDAY SESSIONS” where we get to gist 9.00 pm every Saturday on clubhouse. Usually, we’ll touch on the safe space letter from the previous day and rant through other stuff. Would love to see you tomorrow. Join through this link:https://www.joinclubhouse.com/event/xBZ8a06p