INTIMATIONS OF A FINITUDE
By Uthman Shodipe
THERE is a grim certitude now in the Nigerian isle. There is that bold prophetic affirmation resonating in the alleys and the broadways, perceived in the putrid anonymity of the ghettoes and the restless chambers of fortune, signaling the ruin to come. The permanent unraveling has begun. Now the blind thronging towards that violent, inevitable rupture is almost absolute. Nothing can change this. The heavens are in accordance.
We are all latched to this end, detained in a chasm that nothing can alter, chained by a self-absorbing survivalist creed that disowns higher ethicality. None stands aloof in seraphic distanciation. None is beheld in that redeeming glow of innocence and lustrous distinction. None can claim a pulchritude unblemished by this smearing, dirtying universality. We are all complicitous either by the sweeping largeness of our mercenary fixity or the sickening gestural hurry to surrender, to plea pitiably extenuating circumstances before a withering foe.
The nation is a farcical game, now nearing tragic conclusions. Here there is no barometer of piety that is really borne upon patriotic righteousness. Everywhere there is a fraud writ-large. Everywhere there is a smug pretentiousness of the mastery of the corrective path. But there is no death-defying messianic forfeiture. Even those who pretend to put up a fight, the very few who assume gladiatorial pitting against the hated state are sometimes spurred by hidden instigators. There is always somebody somewhere pulling the levers in hidden parochial calculations.
But even a cyclical malady must have an end. Nothing can revolve forever in blissful unchangeability. Nature insists on renewal and change. Nature insists on a fervent concussive disturbance in the general quietude. We are there now.
Naturally, the irretrievability to ruin is often trailed by provocative aberrations: the blind, vulgar contempt for the rules, the sheer hubristic delusions of power to frown at reality, to scoff at the truth, heedless of any countervailing logic, mocking at the face of heaven, ascribing to itself the illuminations of the unerring God. From the ruins of Mesopotamia to the plains of Marathon, from the eclipsed glory of lona to the mystery of the intervening balance of Serengetti, there is a sobering archival illustration of great nations destroyed by little men; there is a moralistic caution of once progressive societies flung into darkness and forfeiture by the submission and indifference of everyone else to the general ills.
Such historical ills are now consuming this isle with implacable cumulative challenge. Nothing is real anymore. The national drama now steers towards a mystifying absurdity that strains logic. Here, their warped democracy is stripped of any indices of developmental graces. It is without the passion of principled articulations. It is without the self-denying, the self-eclipsing ingredients of democratic Hellene. And surely, it is absolutely unknown to the selfless totality of the Athenian agora where service to the state was the natural compulsion of power, where the instruments of the state were gravitated by the uncommon passion to rectify the ills, to rebuild the broken places, to redeem the society in constant beneficial renewal.
And thus, while the instruments of power in more enlightened isle are often spurred by the pull of the higher truth, by the rivet of principled articulations far beyond the pettiness of self-pursuit, far beyond the tawdry hurry of self-gain – power here is defined by the whimsical fancy of primitive arbiters, the thronging parade of little men frozen in mercantilist totality.
For this nation really is not some shared destiny or some common shared provenance in the classical Athenian meaning. It holds no one together in some binding spontaneous fraternity. It is without any sympathetic fraternal promptings. It is treated as an orphan and a prize. Hence the general mercenary hurry. Sure, the tools of power here are often gravitated in mechanical mouthings about their devotion to the state, about the urges of patriotic zeal, about the fervent spirit to move the nation forward. But only that. We all know the reality.
This accursed isle is now confronted with its greatest crucible since the quondam imperial Britain planted a native colonialism in the mischievous guise of independence. This malady haunts us still. While governance once wore the mask of specious productive gestures, straining in dubious propagandist prattle to cultivate popularity and acceptance, this subsisting power alas, pretends no credible substantiation of its own existence. Even in its most despicable fraud, we cannot acknowledge its presence. It is a void in a transitory vacuum. We acknowledge the space but we cannot see the power. We do not know who or what is there! It is this ghostly emptiness that traumatises us all now.
The origin of the present national rivening does not require a cognoscenti. It is an open book. Spurned and rejected by an alert people, spurred by a vindictive fury, a virulent atavistic character who by some unknowable logic of heaven had twice misruled this nation, foisted on a captive people a broken down, decrepit ghostly frame from the womb of Mohammedanism.
The reluctant impostor, he of the distant, solitary emptiness etched in vacuous fragility, quickly graduated into sickly, wobbly ghoulishness. We see a spectre and not the man! Sinking in and out of a legion of paralytic enfeeblement, his diseased frame was hidden for a while by artless contrivances and Soviet era convoluted tales. No more.
The impostor is now terminalised in some vegetative uselessness somewhere in the dunes of Araby or even beyond. Nobody knows for sure. And where all the ingenuity of science that money can procure has apparently proved futile and none abiding, a Goebbellian treachery has taken over the state with farcical improvisational deceit, mulishly bent on stretching the tenure of an expired power.
There is now a functional coup in the Nigerian isle since deceit is enthroned in righteous substantiation, since reckless manipulative courtiers preside in self-protective brazen largeness, indifferent to any rule save their own, contemptuous of constitutional guidance, locked in a ruinous arrogance that is spiteful of enlightenment.
Without the necessary national coherence and the purity of power, there is that inevitable., descent into decay; and debauchery sweeping across the organs of the state, betraying the huge putrefaction everywhere from the chambers of commerce to the once hallowed pulpit, from the groves of Academia to the banking halls.
In this general affliction, a crazed fanatic with murderous fixity crowned the thronging dementia as he attempted to put to flames about 300 innocent people thousands of miles above the city of Detroit. The failed bombing which increased the national notoriety invariably betrayed the rudderless fabric of statecraft through the feigned noise and thunder of a moronic legislature that would issue meaningless ultimatum to a great power. There is no patching up of this Augean filth. There will be no half measures. Surely the coming sanitization will not be superintended by anyone remotely aligned to the subsisting perversion. It will be virginal in the depths of its sweeping venom and in the fury of its cleansing totality. And sure, the cleansing may start with the classical purgatorial routing of a Cromwellian overlord purging the confounded spaces with the iron and the sword, harrying the robber barons into a thousand winds.
That will not be the end. That will be the beginning of the fray. A thousand artifices may be devised to pretend a renewal, to mock the truth and prolong the diseased republic. Not for long. The ultimate finitude must come in the withering fury and storm of a rebirth and a new identity. A more blissful virginal isle will only be gained through wrack and ruin. There is the liberative din now ringing loud and long.
First Published in The Guardian, Tuesday, 12 January, 2010.