By Chief Segun Odegbami
Several years in the past, my crew, IICC Shooting Stars FC, went to play a continental membership match in Malawi.
On the day we arrived, a couple of of us determined to look at a film in a cinema down the street from our lodge downtown Blantyre, the capital metropolis.
We arrived the cinema a couple of minutes after the film had began. We purchased our tickets and had been allotted seats. We had been ushered into the darkish cinema corridor by a steward who led us with a torch to the row allotted to us. We went in, sat down and settled to look at our movie.
Everything went properly till the interval, midway by way of the film. The lights got here again on. We seemed round us. We had been sitting with a couple of different Black patrons in a small part of the corridor near the doorway rest room, close to the rear. There was a ‘gentle’ stench round us. The remainder of the massive corridor, principally empty, had higher seats and had been taken up by White individuals. A separation line was clearly seen in that corridor.
One of us recommended that we moved from the stench of our facet of the corridor to the empty seats a couple of rows away. We received up and moved in a bunch to the vacant seats.
The murmuring within the corridor was loud. We sensed a stirring of discomfort within the corridor. We had hardly sat down earlier than safety males, led by a White supervisor, got here in a rage and ordered us to rise up and return to our seats.
The Nigerian spirit in all of us instantly got here to the fore.
Our very loud and resounding ‘No way’ caught the indignant males utterly without warning. ‘What is wrong with sitting here instead of near the entrance to the toilet? No way’. We weren’t going anyplace. The corridor had so many vacant seats.
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Obviously, from our accents, they knew we had been strangers. They additionally instantly knew we had been Nigerians. Only Nigerians behaved that manner in Africa. We had that status for rejecting any type of oppression.
In doing so we raised hell! There was an instantaneous standoff that might simply flip into a significant scuffle. Everything got here to a brief halt within the cinema as our voices rose in defiance, to the entire consternation of the uncomfortable few Blacks within the corridor.
The supervisor, half-heartedly, insisted we moved. We vehemently rejected his poisoned supply. We raised the decibel of our voices slightly increased. The earth might have opened up for the White man to enter, in his confusion on take care of the matter.
Surely, I had by no means skilled such segregation. Definitely not in Nigeria. I had thought that such belonged to Western international locations and to the darkish ages of African historical past, however certainly not in at present’s Africa. Yet, there we had been experiencing it first hand in Malawi below the management of a Black African President, Kamuzu Banda.
No Malawian dared do what we did. They would have been hauled into jail for a very long time. But Nigerians are a special breed of the Black race. He shouldn’t be the sort you tampered with ‘anyhow’ and received away with it.
The white supervisor quietly referred to as his employees apart. They left, shortly darkened the corridor once more and resumed the film. Some White of us left their seats and walked out of the cinema at that time.
We later learnt that in Malawi, ladies weren’t allowed to put on trousers, Blacks weren’t allowed into some resorts and eating places besides if they’re staff, Blacks couldn’t go to or reside in some components of Blantyre, and so forth and so forth, all of this in Africa!
Mandela was proper. The Black race wants Nigeria. His phrases: ‘‘the world won’t respect Africa till Nigeria earns that respect. The Black individuals of the world want Nigeria to be a fantastic supply of pleasure and confidence. Nigerians love freedom and hate oppression”.
Nigerians don’t recognize the impression of racism sufficient as do different Blacks world wide.
Last week, I watched an interview granted by Jay Jay Okocha about his private expertise of racism in Europe as knowledgeable footballer. I used to be shocked when he confessed he by no means even knew the phrase earlier than he received to Europe. His response to the expertise was to ‘dribble the hell’ out of the Germans on the soccer area, and humiliated them.
Okocha was proper. By the time he was at school in Nigeria, History had been eliminated as a topic from the faculties’ syllabus. Can you consider it? History, the story of our previous, the place we had been coming from that ought to present a compass into our future, in regards to the Slave commerce that forcefully offered our most able-bodied brothers and sisters, and shipped them in chains throughout the Atlantic to the land-of-no-return, and used them on White plantations and on the roads, rail tracks and factories to construct Western Civilization in Europe and North America some 400 years in the past, is faraway from our studying.
My era studied History at school, notably African historical past, and we had been taught not simply in regards to the slave commerce, but additionally in regards to the scramble for Africa by Europeans. We examine founding African political leaders that fought for his or her international locations’ Independence.
The phrases and works of Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere, Haile Selassie, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and different revolutionary leaders in Africa tickled our fancies, fired our creativeness and created small revolutionaries out of many people in increased establishments throughout Nigeria.
In our time, only some many years in the past, Africa was the centre-piece of Nigeria’s international coverage. Nigeria led the African boycott of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal Canada. That motion shook the entire world.
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Nigeria supported Black political struggles and even fought in wars within the African continent from the Congo to Mozambique and to South Africa, preventing oppression, segregation and discrimination towards the Black race.
Nigeria funded and hosted the best and, probably, essentially the most highly effective gathering of Blacks and Africans in human historical past throughout FESTAC, the Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, an innocuous cultural occasion that might have develop into the motion that the Black man wanted to come back collectively as one race, an unusual gathering of its greatest intellectuals from the completely different international locations to seat at colloquiums and give you designs and techniques to sort out their best enemy – racism and its by-products.
That alternative was misplaced when the West described and condemned the competition as a waste of sources, a celebration of barbaric fetish cultures, and a ‘sin’ towards the favored religions.
Meanwhile, give it some thought, that was what Nelson Mandela was referring to because the management Nigeria wants to supply the remainder of the Black race and Africa.
Festac was killed cleverly by the West, by no means to lift its highly effective head once more.
It has been over 40 years since then, and the Black race has not united behind any frequent trigger or motion to entangle itself from the bondage of Slavery and its by-products manifesting until now within the ill-treatment and disrespect meted on the Black race in all places on the planet.
That’s why the world is marching with Black individuals in a number of Western capitals in protest towards racism, and Nigeria is indifferent from all of it.
Instead, it’s Ghana that has taken the lead in offering important management in Africa. Last week there was a big protest march in Accra organized by the federal government to assist the ‘Black Lives Matter’ motion. Last 12 months was Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’, an invite to descendants of these offered into slavery to return house gloriously and to hitch in creating and constructing new settlements that may replicate a brand new and revered Black civilization.
The authorities offered enticing incentives and created occasions to welcome again these returnee Africans to their roots. In the method, Ghana’s economic system received a large enhance by way of the following tourism and resettlement tasks by a number of Blacks that selected to take action.
This new international motion that’s sprouting from the tragedy of George Floyd’s homicide within the United States has ignited a brand new fireplace within the conflict towards racism on the earth.
Nigeria wants to hitch the remainder of the world in that conflict. Nigeria ought to present management in Africa.