When we ate rice once in a while

August 15, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Logo Oluwamuyiwa



Prince Charles Dickson

Over the week my friend Ohonusi Samuel shared the story which forms my admonition for this week…he tells a narrative about his friend…I have made a few additions.

My CEO friend, runs a successful Nigerian mining concern, operating a quarry in a remote part of Ogun State, Nigeria. He had taken me there in the early phases of the prospecting and investment analysis. The site was motorable up to a point. Along the way, we saw primary schools that had been established by the late visionary, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, way back… Give it to him, Awolowo did try for his people! (In those days they all tried for their people, whether it was Ahmadu Bello, or Azikiwe…the question still remains to date, where did we get it wrong, or maybe we were never right…but I recall very well then, we ate rice only during Christmas, on special occasions).

We parked his SUV up to the motorable limits and waded through thick tropical brushes, bamboo forests and rough slopes to the project site. We were dressed for the occasion.

I took time to give you this detail because you cannot describe my disbelief to get there to find a Chinese Company operating a massive quarry in that extrasolar environment! They worked and sweated 24/7. There were heaps of finished stones waiting evacuation to customer sites. The Chinese, by design, have abnormal testosterone levels!

As we made it back to the bustling city of Lagos, we stopped by a ‘mamaput’ restaurant close to the massive Redeemed Camp, a religious camping facility stretching several kilometers length and breadth. Nothing yet invented by man compares to a hot-pounded yam with egusi soup decorated with assorted ‘obstacles,’ after a bush trip.

In between swallows, I said to my colleague, “I still haven’t gotten over the shock of seeing the Chinese in those god-forsaken bushes!”

That was when he blurted out a marble-worthy quote I won’t forget in my entrepreneurial lifetime.

Said he, “While the Chinese and Lebanese are in our bushes picking millions of dollars every day, fellow Nigerians are in religious camps shouting, ‘Oluwa dide, Oluwa gbo!’” Meaning: ‘God arise…’

And I wondered which “god” are we talking about, is it the god on the Plateau that we keep fighting for and on behalf of while the same stones are moved out of the Wase axis of the state by the same Chinese.

We are a nation where the government has to explain the rationale of giving or not giving of concessions to persons going to pray to “their gods”, and citizenry are bothered that if it was done for faith A, then why the noise of faith B?

This is the country of plenty parties, the sweet life, loud music, order in disorder. We cry at the about of dollars that is expended on getting us rice to eat, like that is the only staple or cheapest food…alas the truth remains that while wealth abounds all around us, we are either Boko-ing ourselves or avenging some haram done to the Niger Delta Region.

Things were better when we ate rice with those eye-popping beef on Sallah, it was the era when Christians could not wait for Eid to come because we would see the Ram-fights, and partake of the ‘kaza’ (meat). They were the good times, no one thought or was afraid of Islamization. I dare remind us, that then, China was a pariah nation.

We suddenly started killing ourselves, we got it all messed up, or maybe we never even got it right, the years rolled by and Nigeria, the nation where the problem wasn’t the money but how to spend it, and that could not even produce a light bulb, was importing pencils and pens with which her leaders stole dry in all sort of manners.

It was the days of Nigerian Airways, the good old Nigerian Railways that owed salaries only compared to it’s equally old Daily Times, then we ate rice only once in a while but what happened, the Chinese came and if they were not repairing or building new railroads for us, they were now bringing made by prisoners in China ‘adire’ (Yoruba Fabric) for us.

We even started teaching Chinese in some of our schools, everyone was and is leaving Nigeria and we are still shouting Allahu Akbar and asking God to arise and let His enemies scatter when indeed we are our enemies, we are the same people denying ourselves greatness by both our actions and inaction.

We have taken religion to a new nauseating high, while we are people bent on self-destruction, and ever increasing hate ratio. We are only united by our mutual desire for rice, and ‘god’, but divided on who wants to work for it, who should work and whether we should be working.

We are still dependent on everyone but ourselves for everything and most things, the sad reality is that we remain the goldmine; we remain the great potential that could have been great. We remain unsure what we want whether regionalism, restructuring, we do not know whether state and religion are one and the same or differently the same, when stealing is not corruption, padding is neither, we keep soldiering on, praying with the same lips we lie with, until we know that there is no food for the lazy man and resort to working out the true Nigerian spirit; will prayers with work achieve anything?—Only time will tell.









Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.

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