From the Past



By Uthman Shodipe

NOT too long ago, there was an air of rout and conquest. Everywhere, there was this invincible intimation, the seeming triumph of an unalterable design. Here, power could be per­ceived in detached, parochial certain­ties. A blind omniscience defined the measure of the state. The will of power appeared irresistible, defiant of every challenge. With the flurry of assaults on all conscionable structures there was a mocking dawning of the inevita­bility of the grim order. With the bold­ness of its fury and the crassness of its primitive venom, the regime loomed as an ineluctable scourge, patently unap­peasable, infinitely committed to the collective serfdom or the ultimate ruin­ation.


With the regime inebriated by the prostrating vastness of its own tenor, it began a transformative glow, deluded itself into a messianic lustre, encour­aged a supportive chorus of monetized voices; the instinctive prowlers who haunt for personal advantages with in­discriminate ease. There emerged in this predatorial crowd a manufactured divine guidance, the artless testimony that the martial order was sanctioned by heaven.


Soon enough the din arose across the land. The clamour reverberated in relentless crudity, hurrying everyone to the embrace of a ‘fait accompli’. There was no logic. No counsel. No debate. The yahoos were unknown to decency and polished articulation. They revelled in the twin slogan of fraud and force, intimidated dissenting clarity into muf­fled, hesitant truth. Nothing could be heard save their thoughtless twaddle.


In this Goebellian horde, there were some with dangerous pretenses to schol­arship; a valueless, muddled claque who deliberately distorted the valid discern­ments of history. In the subtle entrap­ment of discourse and civility they viti­ated the gradation of reasoning, injured analytical constructs with mendacious affront and outright ignorance. They waddled into the chapters of history and contemporary etchings with nauseating glee, mangling the truth, contemptuous of morality, indifferent to the conse­quence of their complicitous fraud.


In their mercantile fixity on the gains of the moment they marshalled the continuity of the flawed order, promptly redeco­rated the bizarre in benign affectation. They profiled aberration not only in the garb of necessity but as an innovative craft, the signal of a new tradition. They crooned that all was well, that the people ought to merely nod and ac­quiesce as the state was strong and prosperous, inspired by an enlightened guide.


But the reality was of a rudderless, floundering polity. It was of a frozen, impenetrable aimlessness. It was of a continuous stasis, of a locked dysfunc­tional permanence. It was of power, distant and foreboding, wandering in dark imaginings. It was of legislated drift, of conundrum and farce. It was of an abused people, trampled and di­minished, abandoned in penurious twi­light.


Well, the conquest is over. The fraud is unravelling itself, yielding to the en­during glare of the untarnished truth. The once perfect scheme of trans­formative ritual is mortally imperilled, struck down by the crusading alert of the unbowed. Now the old certainties are giving way to riot, befuddlement and gnawing exasperation. The polity is no longer at ease.


Look around you. The yahoos are vaulting the decaying ramparts. Not un­like the withering hour of Nero’s Rome, a widening abandonment can be per­ceived in the infectious distancing from the consuming rot. Now there is a scurry­ing towards a righteous monument. Even the vulpine actors are denouncing their past, voiding their identification with the tarnished order. There is a desperate somersault in the new awakening, the conscious seeking of an historical alibi. The shifting circuity has begun.


Not so in the mutilated, ill-tempered vanguard of despotism presently battling for survival with futile sophistry. Weak­ened by the fissures of its own deceit, exposed to ill-fortune by martial senes­cence, the sterile old guard is withdraw­ing into a Goebellian contumacy; the ill-mannered rigidity which cannot perceive the shifting of the earth, patently blind to the deepening of the ominous chasm.


Confronted with a strengthened resist­ance by a sustained oppositional canvas which bears the scars of the defining mo­ment with uncommon valour, faced down by the assertive vigil of a once complacent world, the virulent old guard shrinks into a disconcerted siege, clawing at phantoms with gestural desperation, inventing conspiracies everywhere. In the depths of its self induced tumult, the old guard is fastened to its own rules, increasingly immoral in its dubious attempt at self legitimation. It has become pitiable in its rancorous, repetitive insistence on doing things its own way, on shielding the world from the tyrannical ferment.


But, alas, there is no more refuge in exclusive sovereignty. Everywhere, the instruments of terror are stripped of their territorial curtain, no more immune from the monitoring gaze of the world. The old guard should know better. Indeed, there is a poignant irony in this latter-day conversion to the self-determination orbit. Those who presently hold a cudgel in punitive assertion against a small errant tyrant beyond the coastal waters cannot genuinely prevent a greater hegemonic supervision of their own excesses. They are trapped by their own illicit wanderings.


The world is defining its own values, its own truths. It will not surrender to the terms of tyrants. lt insists on ethical universality, holding governance to a normative measure, jettisoning the restraint of old which waffled in the face of tyranny. No more. The reality now is a stern candour, an active confrontation with evil, the forceful writ that deviation is no longer tolerable, that the world affirms moral responsibility for the plight of the weak, that ultimately those who strut in invincible pretences will be brought low, recumbent before an higher power.

First published Tuesday, 22 July, 1997.