Are you walking the dog or is the dog walking you?
The freedom of the bead is often impeded by the voluptuous hip. Thus is the paradox of the threaded bead, ageless bejeweller of the luscious waist. Beads on their own may seem attractive, astonishing perhaps, but when they are threaded together on a string, they lose the freedom to skitter around as they please.
Think of the youth as the bead, the voluptuous hip as the government, a political party, big business or non-profit. The bead undoubtedly genuflects to the tyranny of luscious hips.
The corrupt youth politician is a poseur. Like his venal peers in medicine, accountancy, social work, journalism, armed forces, and the civil service – among others – with whom he shares a kindred spirit, he flaunts a semblance of character but becomes visibly irritated and embarrassed, when reality punctures his contrived persona.
His dignity is frantically sculpted and articulated to pass him off as a bleeding patriot, but he blooms like the proverbial damaged beautiful boy of Grecian lore.
Gravitas to him is deceptively mustered. It is neither earned nor actualised. Thus he mounts the soapbox of activism, and scuds to the spotlight, like a pirate goon thundering ashore on a metallic scallop shell, the heraldic vessel of his unchaste personae.
When you see the feverish scramble by most youths and youth groups for patronage by political parties, local and international political interest groups, and non-profits to mention a few, the stench of fraudulence hits you; its rank smell, redolent of the stink faeces make in a clogged latrine.
The youths should, ideally, evolve and grow into the much hackneyed but romanticised roles of the ‘leaders of tomorrow’ but inexcusable greed has turned too many into dubious radicals, racketeers and seekers of unearned benefits.
Like the crooked activist, who eventually ditches activism to display ‘table manners,’ they circumvent ethical boundaries and embrace the “Naija way” of “running things.”
Money talks, corruption works; most youths frantically learn and intone the language of the game. They have learnt to agitate shrilly and in all ugliness, until they are courted, funded and co-opted by the predatory ruling class whose stranglehold presumably incited their discontent.
At the 11th hour to the general elections, they emerge from the woodwork, driven by funded spunk, to support or contest all shades of ‘practical’ and ‘impractical’ causes.
Like Arundhati Roy would say, “I’m not against people being funded—because we’re running out of options, but we have to understand, ‘Are you walking the dog or is the dog walking you? Who’s the dog and who are you?”
The Nigerian youth is unquestionably the dog, and he is definitely being walked.
From Boko Haram’s bloody terrorism, armed banditry, electoral violence to herdsmen-farmers attacks across the country, the youths, mostly underclass, perpetrate a cycle of violence, mugging and hacking each other to death in a senseless carnage. And everything thing is paid for.
The latter constitute the muscle and mob continually unleashed as appendages to compromised law enforcers by the country’s oligarchs whose quest is to retain political power and privileges at all cost.
The latter funds the repression, murder and incarceration of inflexible dissenters; even as they patronise and hurl money at those whose tenor of dissent is amenable to their wiles and leash of cash.
Money shaves the edge off the most virulent activist till he ends up as what the Yoruba would call, ekun inu iwe (paper tiger) or what the Indians would call, paaltu sher (tamed tiger).
Supposedly wiser youth coalesce into a pretend resistance and revolutionary impostors, like the electoral paper weight, Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT) or the #EndSARS celebrity arrowheads; ultimately, they ignite the sparks that sodden coal makes beneath a waterfall.
There is no gainsaying Nigeria’s demographic bulge seems in favour of youths, the country is relatively young. Going by the estimates for both males and females, the median age of the country is estimated between 17.9 to 18.4 years of age, even as the vast majority of youths are unskilled, underemployed, and unemployed.
A major implication of this situation is that the youths are unsuited to serve as the vanguard of truly progressive politics and visionary governance that the country deserves.
Where they are co-opted into mainstream politics, they are consigned to the fringes, enslaved to tokenism and the so-called “me-first politics” or “stomach infrastructure.”
Kwame Nkrumah, Aminu Kano, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nelson Mandela, Ahmadu Bello, Mahatma Ghandi and Anthony Enahoro, among others, emerged as leaders of their countries in their youths due to their immense sacrifices and unflinching devotion to the collective – even if sectarian – good.
In sharp contrast, the modern Nigerian youth, or politically ‘woke’ youth, if you like, personifies a dud joke. At the last general elections, while millions of illiterate voters played pawn to the problematic oligarchs, supposedly ‘woke’ youths united to spout and be seen on soapboxes they mounted on the social media.
It was unsurprising that an alternative platform, like PACT, fell apart. Its initial language was untranslatable by realistic yardsticks; its cohorts spoke the same gibberish as the oligarchs. Ultimately, they brought nothing new to the table, save a slew of platitudes and tiresome rhetoric, vigorously broadcast on social media.
Still, the joke persists in contemporary circuits, that, the battle to free Nigeria from the vicious grip of the oligarchs would be fought in social space and won by the cudgels and blades of ‘woke’ youth.
This notion sprouts from ideological fields at home and abroad, where pasture, copse and tributary of thought, flourish from sickly seeds of violence and death.
While Africa and Nigeria’s founding fathers, shed sweat, towering intellect and rigorous man hours to actualise their nationalistic dreams, the contemporary ‘woke’ youth experiments with brawn, reverse intellectualism and lip service.
Yet being ‘woke’ is next to being a deity in contemporary youth circuits. It confers on the ‘woke’ a colossal ego, an exaggerated sense of awareness and idolatry of fawning peer. Hence the revolutionary chants wielded to inflame the polity via Facebook, Twitter, and shades of mainstream and manipulable media, at election time.
Beneath the radical chants, however, subsists an immoderate hankering for money, fast cars and other material things. This translates to a morbid race against time, to acquire wealth by ‘woke’ young assassins and political thugs, internet scammers (Yahoo Boys), and prostitutes, to mention a few.
As you read, youths with key-pad confidence are pounding away on their mobile phones, iPads and computers. They are done mouthing off and tormenting virtual space with insolent gibberish, about not being too young too run.
This minute, they are obsessing about the next ‘insane’ reality show. The filthier the show, the merrier.
The elections are over hence they are done standing on barrel-heads to spout and be seen. They will obsess about trendy filth in real time and what they could cheat the system to acquire.
What Joshua Lubin identified as the “Me” decade has indeed recoiled inward at the expense of crucial national issues, like national progress and ethical rebirth.
The Nigerian youth betrays self; poverty, selfish politicians and unemployment are cited as reasons for the betrayal. True, the society betrays the youth by the hour but it’s about time we understood that repaying perfidy with perfidy translates to self-sabotage.
It’s about time we evolved dependable and practicable means of instituting a humane leadership and culture of citizenship. Only then can we attain progressive rebirth. How?