An Open Letter to Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, PhD, OON, Chairperson of Transcorp and Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange
Dear Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke,
Greetings. I apologize for the cumbersome heading of this letter. I may be dangerously approaching one and a half decades in the West, I am still very mindful of the importance of titles in Nigeria. I try to respect our sensibilities. I have also taken the liberty to address you as “Chairperson” as opposed to your normal designation as “Chairman” of Transcorp. You see, I live in North America and I don’t want wahala with the feminists. But I digress. I am writing to congratulate you on the astounding success of your latest initiative and contribution to the advancement of the black race: the launch, on Friday July 18, 2008 of the Africans for Obama 2008 group. The launch was followed, last week, by a celebrity dinner/concert fundraiser for brotha Barack’s election project. It has now been widely reported that you were able to raise in excess of N100, 000.000 for the advancement of your worthy cause.
Prof, shebi you kuku know our people. I don’t know about Nigeria but your venture has caused a combination of hurricane Katrina and Asian tsunami among diasporic Nigerians. They have invaded the internet in an unprecedented orgy of Ph.D – Pull Her Down. There is no name under the sun they have not thrown in your direction. They have gone fishing and their hooks are pulling out all sorts of intents from the pond of speculation. Our people’s capacity for bad belle is simply unbelievable. Nne, don’t tell them that you heard it from me O, but some called you 419 and others called you an attention seeker sha. Some called you a saboteur out to create problems for a candidate who has to contend with rules that make it a felony for him to be admired by Europeans, let alone rowdy Africans in Lagos, Nigeria. The lawyers among them, sounding like characters in the court of Julius Caesar, have gone to town with their arcane legal Latinisms. They are debating things like the locus standi of your action; whether you have committed a crime ab initio; whether something else is going on in loco delicti; some are already planning to appear as amici curiae in case the Americans “catch you” and bring you to trial. Another category of bad belle Nigerians accuse you of outright immorality and unethical behaviour. They claim it is immoral and unethical for you to ignore all the problems of poverty in Nigeria and ship Ghana-must-go to the most affluent country on earth.
Fortunately it is not all bad news Ma. You have found a very vociferous defender in a Washington-based Nigerian Professor who has considerable internet presence. He has been your rock of Gibraltar, a veritable Thomas, refusing to cast even one miserly stone until he has seen, heard, smelled, felt, and touched evidence of wrongdoing on your part. Like me, he believes that there is just no way a Nigerian “of timbre and caliber” like you would be ignorant of financial regulations in American elections. I even went further. I told those who cared to listen that you most certainly needed money to cook and fortify brotha Barack properly the African way. We all know he has too many enemies and he lives in a foolish society where African insurance is looked down upon as primitive juju and backward superstition. Since brotha Barack is unlikely to know what is good for him in terms of the imperatives of African fortification, I guessed that you had decided to do it for him by remote control. We all know that African juju no longer comes cheap, especially in Nigeria. In fact, I am surprised that Nigerian juju men are not yet quoted at the Nigerian Stock Exchange when they now operate in billions and at Dow Jones proportions. After all, Ambassador Edem recently set the people of the Niger Delta back by one billion, two hundred and seventy five million naira to procure an African remote control that would enable him control the brains of the Bayelsa State Governor and the Vice President of Nigeria. Pray, if the ordinary heads of two thieving PDP politicians in Nigeria cost that much, does it not stand to reason that you would need double that amount to insure Brotha Obama’s special head?
That was the line of defense I maintained until I finally got news today that you stated – in an eloquent opening speech at the fundraiser – that funds realized would be used to sponsor members of your Obama 2008 organization to the Democratic Convention in Denver, Colorado. Apparently, your organization wants Africans from Lagos to storm Denver in order to sensitize African Americans to their civic responsibilities. You are on a get-out-the-vote-for-brotha-Barack mission. Shame on your detractors!! They were all wrong!! They thought you were going to “eat” the money.
Now that we all know what you plan to do with the money, those of us who supported and defended you and have now “earned the mouth to talk” must make recommendations. I don’t know what your Ambassador and defender in Washington will recommend but I have a few suggestions. First, when members of your Obama organization apply for American visas to attend the Denver convention, do not tell the American Embassy in Lagos that you are going to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. You will be denied entry visas on the ground that there is no such convention taking place in Denver. There is a Clinton Family Convention to which the Democratic Party and Barack Obama have been invited as sidekicks. Take note of that very important detail. The good news: President Clinton is the first Black President of the US. He is a friend plenipotentiary of Blacks and Africans. Nothing would make him happier than to have a bunch of Nigerians from Lagos drumming and singing “winner o o o winner” at the convention venue. That would be great for President Clinton’s black resume.
Your goal of coming to educate African Americans to vote for a member of the tribe is extremely important. There is always the possibility that African Americans have been afflicted by a particularly deleterious Nigerian virus that developed in the 1990s. Let me explain. One ugly development in the June 12, 1993 elections was that Hausa-Fulani people voted massively for Chief MKO Abiola and abandoned their own tribesman, Bashir Toffa. What kind of nonsense is that? Then came 1999 and the Yoruba disowned their own, Olusegun Obasanjo. How many Igbos voted for Chief Orji Uzor Kalu and Professor Pat Utomi in 2007? They even went about applying the one drop of blood rule in questioning Utomi’s Igboness, as if Oduduwa gave him the middle name Okedinachi. Now that Goodluck Jonathan is part of the furniture in Aso Rock, his tribesmen are the first to deride him as a houseboy. In essence, there is an ugly pattern of voting against the tribe in Nigeria, like so much hens pecking at the entrails of the offsprings of fowls. Now, Nigeria is the black world’s largest non-nation. Any disease that afflicts Nigeria automatically afflicts the black diaspora. You have thus correctly surmised that African Americans could very well have contracted that Nigerian disease and could vote against the tribe in November. This is what makes your humanitarian urge to educate them and prevent this looming disaster such a worthy cause.
I must warn you though. There is a good number of African Americans who blame you and I entirely for slavery. They say the white slave buyer and hunter has no blame. They say the organizer of the Middle Passage has little or no blame. They say Massa of the Deep South has minimal blame. It is a thriving industry of white exculpation. They say we were the greedy fools who sold them for bottles of cheap, bad, inferior rum. The grudge is five centuries old but it is still very much alive. Ever so often, there is an African American asking a continental African to apologize to him or her. Or asking: why did you sell us? It has happened to me a few times in totally unexpected situations and I’ve had to give folks a piece of my vitriolic mind. There may be such career exculpators in Denver. They won’t find it funny for a bunch of funny folks from the Heart of Darkness – who are responsible for slavery – to add insult to injury by lecturing them on voting and civic responsibility. Let’s hope they don’t notice that little oxymoron: Nigeria and responsible democracy. Be prepared.