I was actually going to blog about something else till news filtered in that Mubarak was “going to step down”. I sat there listening to the old man talk and I couldn’t help but change what I wanted to blog about. I am using the word Rascal again… In this case, it is justified.
30 years in power can sure do damage to one’s brain and thinking. At 82, I would think sitting at home, playing with your grandchildren and great grandchildren (if there are any) and praying for death would be of importance to any man.
17 days after the protests began in Egypt, it did look like it was going to end. Expectations were high as rumors had it that Hosni Mubarak was finally going to give in to demands and resign. Even the CIA director said so.
Hours after, in a 15 minutes speech, Mubarak hands over some powers to his puppet and Vice President Omar Suleiman. Stunned silence all over Tahrir Square. People who hours ago had been dancing waiting for Mubarak’s announcement suddenly start to chant “Leave! Leave” and some protesters broke away heading to the State Television.
A quick recap of what led to the crisis. December 2010, a young man in Tunisia sets himself ablaze. He was protesting the fact that Tunisian officials shut down his street vending business. His death weeks after set off new protests which eventually led to the ouster of President Zine al-Abidine Ben-Ali. My guy fled the country at the end of it all.
Lack of job opportunities, and corruption were the issues that led to this revolution. And this quickly spread to Egypt and other countries in the Middle East. Egypt takes over the mantle from Tunisia with the youth calling for the President Hosni Mubarak to relinquish power after 30 years. He was planning on going for another term and then hand over power to his son.
While the problem in Egypt is really not the focus here, I would like to say that as little as 8 years in power can do much damage to one’s brain; you become brain dead; nothing new can get into that head any longer. You get to a point where you lose touch with what is happening around you. You can’t think outside the box. When you stay too long in a place, everything becomes a one-way traffic. You can’t think of new ideas and policies and if another does, they are thrown aside. Egoism and dictatorship become the order of the day. It happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and currently happening here at my place of work. With time, people get frustrated and tired. The elastic limit is reached. It then becomes a case of when push comes to shove. People would want to break free even if it costs their lives. That’s the situation we see play out in Egypt as it did in Tunisia.
Coming back home to Nigeria, we see the same issues except the long years of dictatorship all around us. I have always seen Nigerians as passive people. Nobody is ready to risk their lives… not for anything. WE were born to endure. Make all the mouth we can but not take action. Nobody wants problems. As a very religious country, “All is well”, “It is well”, fall out of our mouths with ease. We refuse to ask the right questions and do the right things. Like Fela said, we are “Shuffering and Smiling”. We say to each other “e go better”. But nobody is ready to take action.
As elections drawn near, it is good to see that the average Nigerian youth is gradually reaching his/her breaking point. Like most Egyptians involved in this revolution, we were not alive when things were good. We head stories told by our parents of life in the past. How good it was. And we think, why can’t we go back to those times? Nigerians are getting more and more frustrated and tired. Thanks to President Obama, the slogan “Yes we can” is on the lips of everybody. Check social media and you would see what I am talking about. People genuinely believe we can do something to bring about change. Nigerians are demanding credible elections. Good signs.
My fear is that do we have the courage to take our destiny into our own hands? Can we like the Egyptian youth down tools, march to Aso Rock and demand credible elections? Can we stand up and guard our votes jealously on election day? Can we ensure that in our voting centers, we are not intimidated by those who want to rig? Would we protest until our voices are heard and not just heard but also extract a promise from the government and ensure they fulfill their promise? Or would we turn back after 3 days and complain from the corners of our homes and our offices? Would we ensure that our politicians do right by us? Are we in the first instance planning to vote? Or we have adopted the “my vote wouldn’t count so why bother” posture?
Are we going to “fight” till things change for the better? Do we have the guts, the heart, the liver for such? Are we ready to knock on the door till they hear us and do the right thing? Are we ready to say NO to godfathers; those whose family members are seeking election or re-election?
I fear that we are still not ready for the change we need… though we are coveting that change. We might not get it right this time, but surely, we would get there.
Btw, what is it with Africa and her dictators?