Thursday, October 11, 2012

How And Why?

by Jonas Dogara
Some time ago I get small discussion with some friends wey just come back from Europe where dem go school. As those kind tori dem dey go, everybody dey yarn about wetin him see/do. Some of dem see elephants wey dey fly, dogs with six legs, giant millipedes wey dey talk, woman with three breasts…. Hmmm, make we no go there.

Seriously sha, plenty interesting things come out of the tori, but the one wey touch me pass na one experience wey all of dem share, even though dem go different schools for different countries. That na say for their classes, they oyibo people no dey fear to get up and disagree with their professors or ask dem strong question. And as the oyibo dem dey challenge their lecturers like this, the Naija people mind dey cut!

If you dey wonder why the Naija people mind dey cut, then you no go school for Naija. Because anybody wey go school for Naija know say to stand up for public and disagree with your lecturer fit mean say you go leave school with a ‘Degree Attempted’ certificate o! Or maybe strong carry-over go gum you until you bring your papa and una village chief to come beg.

Wetin this group of I-done-go-abroad Naija people discover be say, heaven no fall down and nobody die because people disagree with or challenge the ideas of their professors. Actually, the professors dey welcome those kinds of disagreements because e mean say the students dey pay enough attention to wetin dem dey talk, to the point where dem feel say dem get opinion. So the lecturers go explain until the students understand, and na there e dey end. Nobody dey fail; nobody dey bring him ambassador to come see the lecturer.

Na my belief say, na because we been get human beings wey always dey ask question, challenge the way things dey and disagree with society and authorities, na him make man done make progress from an animal no know much about him envirionment to one wey fit fly to other planets. This culture of asking question, disagreeing and challenging na wetin the oyibo society dey encourage and na wetin dey cause change be that. Their educational system dey based on this, from the lowest level to when people wan get doctorate degree. But e no only dey restricted to education o. For social and religious issues, oyibo no dey fail to ask question, disagree with wetin people believe or challenge ideas. Plenty examples dey to show how people dey affect the world with their questions and challenges. Galileo Galilei make plenty observations about the earth and other planets, including say the earth no dey flat, as the Church (we be the authority at that time) believe. In fact, dem find am ‘almost guilty’ and lock the guy up for house arrest for the rest of him life o. But that idea live even after the man die and we know today say the guy talk true. For our own dormot here, Mary Slessor, come challenge the idea say twins na bad thing and eventually we stop to kill twins. Some of us wey dey read this thing no go dey alive if not for Mary Slessor work.

For Naija, to disagree with your lecturer, oga for office, papa, mama, pastor or imam or any other person wey ‘senior’ you or dey in a position of authority over you, fit land you inside hot pepper soup. Dem bring us up for a culture wey say people wey get authority over you or wey dey elder to you always dey correct. In fact, dem no dey lie! So anytime you disagree with somebody like that, e be like say you done talk say him dey lie or you wan show am say you sabi too much, and the person go use all the power wey him get to press your mouth close.

But na inside this our culture na him some of the problems wey we get for our country dey. Most of us done grow up not to ask question, not to disagree and not to challenge. Our whole ‘home training’ dey designed to keep us like this. I done hear of people wey their papa dey mess anyhow e like for house. And e tell dem say for him to mess na good thing. No be good thing for any of the children or the wife o. Na just for him! So anytime the guy release him gases for house, everybody go say ‘thank you, daddy’. And even though dem done grow up now, nobody done manage question their papa or discuss am. That na how the matter dey. We go laugh say this small example no dey important, but na exactly with small things like this we dey take know the big ones. As my people dey always talk, na from mess smell you go know shit smell. If we no dey challenge or ask questions about small things for our houses, how we wan take come out come tackle the big issues for society?

For our country e get so many things wey need questions, challenge and new ideas. Some of dem na small things wey we feel say no dey important, and some na big issues. But again, if you no look the small things, how you go take look the big ones? For most state-owned primary and secondary schools (at least for Rivers State), girls must keep their hair low until dem reach SS3. And even for SS3 dem need to follow certain rules on which kind hair dem go fit make. Now hair no be one of the problems wey dey worry us o. But the question I wan ask na ‘why?’ How the low cut or lack of low cut dey affect their education? I know say some of our neighbouring countries no get these kind rules, and I no sure say e done affect the education of their girls. Another one na about Law students for our universities. For my alma mater, the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, the law students always get to dress formally go class. Restriction dey on the kind colour  wey you fit wear o. If you wear green trouser and yellow shirt and purple tie dey go class, anything you see, make you take am! I know say e dey happen for many other universities too. How the dress code dey affect the quality of lawyers wey we dey produce for our country, I no know. Wetin I know be say this pattern no dey happen for many other countries, including the developed ones, and e no be like say their lawyers dey bad.

Make you understand say I no dey argue for or against the rules for these two examples wey I just give o. I only dey ask why. And I deliberately no mention any very serious wahala dem. I wan let you think about dem for yourself.

For most rules or conventions wey we get, reason always dey why dem put am in the first place. But as society dey grow and change, we suppose dey review these rules and conventions everytime. Three important questions dey wey we suppose ask:

(a)    Why dem make this rule?
(b)   The reason make sense then and e still make sense now with everything wey we know?
(c)    Make we leave am, change am or throway am?

I no go belleful if I no mention our religious nature. Religion na big part of our lives for Naija and our Men/Women of God (both Christian and Muslim) na very big influence on how we dey live and the things wey we dey do. I no be Muslim and I no really know how that side dey work, but as a Christian, I know say for a lot of Christians their ‘Daddies and Mummies in the Lord’ na almost God. Dem no dey lie, dem no dey make mistake and if dem talk, na God done talk so. I also know say these days everybody get access to the Bible and Koran and Hadith. That one mean say we all fit read these books for ourselves and we fit engage our Men/Women of God for discussion about all things religious.

Afterall, no matter how holy these people dey, na still human beings dem be, with the same tendency to use their own sense of wetin of morality as wetin God talk. We need to separate wetin God talk with wetin some people feel say Him suppose talk. I no talk say make we fight out religious leaders o, but I say e go good if we ask dem more questions and demand more explanations. God no go vex.

My belief na say e done reach time wey we go throway the culture of not asking questions or challenging. Now na the time to begin dey ask the important questions ‘why’ and ‘how’. If dem dey do something wey you no understand, wey you no like or wey no make sense to you, ask questions. If you get a better idea, talk am and try to change the system. If you no understand how something dey work, ask how e dey work. Maybe you fit get a better way for that thing to work and our country to dey better because of you. ‘Na so we dey always do am’ no be correct answer!

As with everything for life, we need to dey careful and try our best to ‘exercise restraint’ when we dey question or challenge, so that we no go insult or offend people. Because, when people done dey vex, sometimes even when you dey talk true, dem no dey listen.

As for you wey somebody go ask question, challenge or disagree with, abeg no vex. If you no get proper answer/explanation apart from to vex, then maybe the person wey dey yarn with you get point. Maybe the time to listen well and change done reach.

The truth be say, the time to mistake mumu for respect done pass. Make we begin think, question, challenge and suggest new ideas.  That na one big step to that new Naija wey we all want.

This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Man Die

by Jonas Dogara
The Pidgin English language na the best language for the whole universe! Yeah, I know say you no agree, but that one na your own wahala. My own wahala be say, sometimes e dey hard to fit capture everything wey you wan talk, the way you wan talk am, or as you for fit talk am for another language like English or French. This na one of those times wey e be like say one language no do me to yarn my mind. But I go try.

Courtesy: Owain Thomas
I no dey happy. I dey sad. I no dey feel okay. My belle dey turn me. I wan shout for somebody. I wan cry like small pikin. I wan do all these things plus many more... But no matter how I write am, you no fit still understand complete how e dey do me now. And instead of me to do any of those things wey dey hungry me to do, I siddon here dey joke with my friends and colleagues, dey smile….

I dey smile, because even inside all the bad feelings wey I dey get, the pictures and videos of the good times still dey pass through my mind. I dey remember the small small wayo (alias magic) wey been dey make me laugh and happy when I dey small; the sweets, chocolate and biscuits; all the message dem wey I always dey happy to go; some of the craze food dem wey we dey chop, like akamu and dried pepper; when I dey learn how to drive, my misperformance dem and the plenty laugh wey we laugh; the stories about interesting places wey I never go and people wey I no go ever meet; the stories of a young man wey dem force to fight during the Nigerian Civil War and when e get chance e throway gun and run leave the fight; all the second-hand Rothmans smoke wey I inhale.

I no be Nostradamus, fortune-teller, dibia, babalawo, T.B. Joshua or God. So, I no fit really see the future. I dey sure say all the drinking and smoking no help at all because dem dey actually kill too. But e get one small part of me wey dey think say, if to say the people wey dey in charge of our hospitals do wetin dem suppose do, when dem suppose do am, maybe… just maybe, I no go dey write this piece now.

On Monday (1st October), I vex for the kind health care wey the government dey provide us for Naija. I show that vex in plenty ways, and one of those ways na to write for my blog about my uncle wey dem rush go Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, Port Harcourt, on Friday (28th September) morning and for three days, no consultant come see am to read the results of the tests wey dem do. So, on Tuesday (2nd October) dem finally come see am, diagnose and begin give am the drugs wey dem suppose give am, and all of us begin dey hope say e go well.

The man die this morning.

Na the man wey dey responsible for all the things wey I dey remember now and many more wey I go dey remember as time dey pass.

To you wey dey read this article, for how long we go continue to dey tolerate corruption and the corrupt system wey dey make us poor and lead us and our fellow citizens to untimely deaths either through violence (by the security services and criminals) or through a health care system wey no dey work? Till strong thing happen to you?

To my uncle, if you fit read this thing where you dey, then know say even though the country never change now, we wey dey here must change am. I also want you to know say if family go still dey for that side wey you dey now, then you go still be my uncle. I dey miss you already. I dey even miss that smell of Rothmans for your house. And if Rothmans dey that place, then just dey smoke dey go. If money finish, just buy some on credit and when I come, I go pay.

Adieu Bro.

This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter


Monday, October 1, 2012

Family Matters

by Jonas Dogara
I never wake up on Independence Day with this kind vex before. But I sleep with vex and I wake up with even more vex. I decide not to write this piece last night because of the vex wey dey my mind, with the hope say with less vex for my mind, I go write well. I done wake up and I still dey vex and I must write. So if this piece no be the kind of thing wey you dey used to from me, if I dey yarn plenty, abeg forgive me.

Yesterday I go Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, the biggest and best hospital wey the Rivers State Government get for Port Harcourt. I go there to visit one of my relations wey dey there. I leave there with tears for my eyes and with anger for my heart. Yes, anger. Dem say we be ‘children of anger’. If I no been agree to that title before, now I embrace the title with two hands and two legs!

Dem call me on Friday morning say one of my uncles dey very sick and dem rush am go hospital. Dem say e dey like say the man just dey shake anyhow, he eye dey shine like say dem use toothpick hold am open and e dey sweat like say e play football. My mama sef rush go the hospital.

I finally reach the hospital on Friday evening, around 6 o’clock to see my relation. Drip dey connected to him hand, and him mouth and eyes dey shake like say fly wan perch on top and e dey try to chase am away. I ask my mama wetin doctor say dey wrong with am. She say dem never talk anything. Doctor order dem to do plenty tests for the hospital, and even though we suppose get Free Medicals for Rivers State (as the governor tell us) dem pay plenty money to do the tests. Now, some of the test results done come out but no doctor done come look the results. The House Officer (as dem dey call one of the doctors) wey actually admit the man for morning, show that evening too. E no come check the patient wey e admit or see the results of the tests wey e order dem to do. When my mama, approach am to ask am if e go come see my uncle, e reply say e just come for another thing and not to see patients, and that no be him dey ‘on call’. Then the guy waka comot. That na how Friday end.

By Saturday morning, all the test results done come out, but nobody come see my uncle. E still dey the Emergency Ward and dem dey give am the drips wey dem dey give am since Friday morning, without diagnosis. I call my mama on Saturday evening to find out wetin dey happen and she say one Consultant been come there with him students, but when she meet am, the man say e come to see patients wey dem just admit that Saturday, therefore e no dey see another person. E finish and e go. Na so Saturday pass, and my uncle still dey as e dey – no diagnosis and no proper treatment!

Yesterday (Sunday) evening, I reach there around 6 o’clock again for evening and na the same thing I see. My mother and aunty done already tire. E be like say make dem slap somebody. My mama just dey talk say ‘It has not always been like this. I bath him. I change him, I do everything. The nurses are overwhelmed…’ By the way my mama na retired nurse, so she know wetin she dey talk about. Thank God say e done finally fit close eye dey sleep. I ask her who we fit complain to, and she say the people wey we suppose fit complain to, na dem suppose come treat the man – the consultants! And if you say you wan bypass dem and go to the management of the hospital, who you go see for the weekend? I just siddon there with my mama, dey listen as she dey tell me about the different people wey done die for that Emergency Ward, since Friday wey she reach there…. So, like my uncle, these people no fit afford to go any of the very expensive private hospitals for PH or fly go Germany like Patience Jonathan, so dem just dey die like fowl here.

Who dey responsible for this kind of healthcare system wey dey set up to reduce our population as quickly as e fit? The government. The governments of Goodluck Jonathan and Chibuike Amaechi. As, I understand, the Rivers State Government just dey retire experienced nurses like say the nurses dey disturb dem! Dem dey retire nurses more than dem dey employ. Also, because of the long freeze in employment into the Civil Service, during the tenure of Peter Odili, dem get big gap for experience between the old nurses and the new ones wey dem done employ now. So we get a situation where none of the State hospitals get enough nurses, compared to the patients wey dem suppose deal with. And as dem dey retire the old nurses, na who go teach the new ones? The result na say the standard wey no been dey very good sef done dey drop well well. For the Emergency Ward, last night with very many patients, na just two nurses dey on night duty. I no know how dem go cope with all those patients.

But government no go take all the blame for this one. What about the hospital management and the doctors themselves? Wetin happen to responsibility as a human being? By responsibility, I mean say if you get job, and dem dey pay you to do this job, you need to do the job. Whether you say the conditions no dey perfect, the money dem dey pay you no reach, nobody dey actually monitor you… e no matter. You need to do your job. If the conditions of work too bad for you, then resign. Why doctors no go come work? Why dem no go come see patients? Why a doctor wey admit patient and order dem to do test no go come see the results of the test and talk wetin dey worry this man or order some more tests? And if you say no be you dey on ‘on call’, why you no go get the person wey dey ‘on call’ to come do him job? And who be the administrators wey suppose dey make sure say doctors actually do their jobs? A few months from now, these doctors go find reason to go strike, and the whole of Naija go divide into two, with arguments for and against the doctors!

Just before I leave the hospital I turn to my aunty and mama and say ‘Last year, una say una brother Jonathan na the best thing wey go happen to us, abi? How far na?’

And both of dem turn to me ‘Na him go come solve the problem?’ one of them ask me.

‘Him go do everything? This corruption no dey before him come?’ the other one add.

I no be stammerer, but the plenty things wey I wan talk begin jump over each other and I just end up with very big stammer. I leave the talk there and take my vex go house….

This no be one of those articles where I go begin dey tell you wetin the solutions to the problem be. I go leave you to think about am, while I go try to solve my uncle own.

If you get anything to dey happy about, then ‘Happy Independence Day’.

This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter