Re-calibrating The Radical Thrust of Intellectual Diaspora

Who can ignore the excitement and radical thrust of the new intellectual Diaspora? The sign of the times now demands that a growing collection of intelligent Nigerians are vocalising and constructing a historic trajectory with a self-ennobling mandate to offer holistic solutions to the damaged social values of Nigeria. Again, the emergence of a disparage coalition of agenda-driven intellectuals based abroad offers a hopeful take on our body politics. These pursuers of enlightenment rationalism have been divinely commissioned to encourage terrain of ideas, break down iron law of oligarchy and hegemony as tactical necessity of neutralising old assumptions and opening up deaf ears to Nigeria’s urgent and changing needs.

I agree that Nigeria’s high level emigration has given rise to a phenomenon known as brain drain. However, time has changed brain drain to brain gain or bank as we see in the blogosphere terrain. I agree that intellectual of all walks of life are restless, creative, lateral thinking rule breakers. I further agree that intellectuals combine an astonishing capacity for visionary thinking with an appetite for moral energy and direction. In this regard, Nigeria should be recast as a manifestly unjust country with disabling inner contradictions and conflicts and the intellectual Diaspora should brace up to galvanize the public to confront its failings. Nigeria should be seen as a country where dogma has replaced pragmatism and in this regard let our intellectuals confront counterfeit with the genuineness of their purpose.

We say that politics matter and that it is not just a craft and not just a matter of responding to public opinion or of balancing selfish interests. It has to be founded on clear values and clear understanding of what motivates our people. If our intellectuals shy away from this intellectual responsibility, our people will grow more cynical and politics will fall further into the hands of rapacious, opportunist cabal as we currently have in Nigeria. Therefore, the intellectual Diaspora should be the key agents for bringing in sophisticated political knowledge and stimulating social attitudes favourable to liberal democracy and serfdom emancipation.

We know more about how evolution has come to shape all our human drives, our instincts as well as our natural capacity to develop and co-operate with each other. We also recognise how development and material progress have been black Africa’s scarcest commodities. Nigeria is a truly blessed country but brought to heel by its leaders and the complacency of the ruled. The new mandate of the intellectual Diaspora should be to reverse the unbroken trend towards inequality, oppression and tyranny of the few against compliant majority. If the profound material gains wrought by globalisation are continued to be mismanaged by our leader-vampires, if our petro-wealth is not spread out through socially uplifting infrastructures and egalitarian symbols, then atavistic extremists will have their chance, sooner than latter.

Bizarrely our politicians are unaware that politics has to be more than technocratic; that it has to be about ideals as well as about practicalities and how to connect specifics with values and strategy. The mandate of the intellectual Diaspora should be the desire to improve the terrain of public forum through opportunities for rational discourse and encouragement of social democracy to further deepen our nascent democratic values. They should seek to achieve genuine equality between our tribes, nationalities and sexes. It is undeniable that the future belongs to those who are best able to convey, absorb and apply knowledge. The future also belongs to those who could turn against our ignoble past and readily embracing the moment while negotiating the future with visionary exactitude. I acknowledge that societies with strong sense of the future bring out the best in people. The intellectual Diaspora should welcome constructive debates both from traditionalists and dissenters without fallen hostage to prescriptive isms.

It has been said that we live in a runaway world that keeps throttling furiously to uncertain destination. The Diaspora-based intellectuals must not be immune to all the excitements that life and living currently offer. Intellectual Diaspora must plug in to recapture a sense of urgency and progressive unity that is encircling knowledge. Centuries ago, intellectuals of all suasions felt that they were part of a great narrative of enlightenment and civilisational progress but the gains were partial, as Africa’s intellectual voice was drained by the twin evils of slavery and colonialism.

Yet for all the hobbles that truncate Africa’s emerging intellectual tradition, the new intellectual Diaspora are now ready to join the richness of modern moral argument and if need be, shoot from the rooftop, all the specious lies about black Africa’s intellectual pedigree. Sadly there are clearly define enemies of intellectual Diaspora….neo-colonialism, tribalism, intellectual extremism, clan self-interest, political inflexibility and obsession with anarchic tendency which in the end is the enemy of liberty, freedom, equality and unity.

The public realm could be reclaimed through the cultivation of civic responsibility of fairness, inclusion, respect, tolerance and unity of purpose. Let our intellectuals hound out corrupters of our society from their fortress communities and employ reasoned argument to halt the shameless accumulation of privilege at the top. To our ruining class who have held Nigeria hostage for 48 years and balkanise her economic, material, social, political and cultural resources the intellectual Diaspora must be their virtual, smiling assassins.

The new intellectual Diaspora, in spite of its intimidating presence should not foster a terrorist-hostage relationship with its readers and audience. Nigeria is a relatively large public space and within that space I expect our diaspora-based intellectuals to cram in their reasoned visions, aspirations, opinions, argument and disagreements. In a way, the new intellectual Diaspora should be seen as shorthand for a broad movement of ideas that is billed to inform, enlighten and reform.

This new terrain of ideas, this new outpost of revisionist thinking also has a wide berth and could accommodate competing philosophical positions from the weeping liberals to the hardened neo-cons.

Written by
Taju Tijani
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