‘I want to ignite cultural revolution’
DR. Allwell Uwazuruike, son of the renowned Biafran activist, Ralph Uwazuruike, is a human rights advocate and law lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), United Kingdom.
The university teacher is also the co-editor of Afritondo Media, a platform that promotes African stories and voices.
Explaining what informed his latest book titled, The Dogs And The Baboons: The Human Rights Revolution Nigeria Needs, he smiled, “my activism background spurred the writing.”
“While growing up, I was involved in human rights advocacy through literature,” he said.
According to him, “I feel literature is a good avenue to express my thoughts. I love writing, so, why not convey my thoughts through this medium? Why not share my experiences? Why not pass on my messages to today’s people and for the future, I said to myself?”
On the title of the book, Uwazuruike disclosed that it resonated from the comments of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 on the perceived irregularities at the previous presidential polls.
He said: “I often come across comments that openly supported or excused these violations. I thought to myself: ‘Things should not be like this.’ This drove me to write the book.”
He expressed the desire to see the book play a role in helping the country move forward in the area of human rights recognition and enforcement: “I want people to enjoy reading the book. I hope to create a great deal of awareness of the challenges bedevilling Nigeria and the need to revolutionise the way we see things. I also want to ignite a cultural revolution hinged on the principles of human rights.”
On the choice of the subtitle, he replied: “It is very simple. We need to change the way we think. We need to, as a society, incorporate human rights and dignity in all our practices such that it becomes a way of life: a culture. We need to appreciate that everyone has rights, whether a presumed “thief” or “witch.” We need to know that certain practices we condone as normal have no place in a sane society. We also need to ensure that public institutions live up to minimum standards of human rights. Look, if we run a society based entirely on respect for human rights, Nigeria’s problems will be almost entirely solved.”
He said, “I wanted to write a book that would appeal to the casual reader. I am in academics and I know that the regular person in the streets does not enjoy reading textbooks or books written in similar style. I mean, they could read them to pass their examination, but you are very unlikely to catch them reading those books for relaxation or on a vacation. So, I tried as much as I could to avoid such style and, instead, write in a more conversational, creative non-fiction style.
“I share stories and real-life experiences. I use local slang, and sometimes I write like I am actually talking to someone. I wanted to make the book interesting and keep the reader engaged. ”
In this book, Uwazuruike interrogates issues that plague the society, such as mob violence and police brutality, servitude, religious intolerance, poverty and corruption. On the process of curbing these challenges, he said: “First, we need to know and accept that they are there. We need to know that they are unacceptable. People that lace thieves in the marketplace think they are doing the right thing by bringing justice to these persons. People that flog and lacerate school children with canes and whips think that they are training them. Education is the first step. Education is like the trunk of the human rights tree: the stem. Out of this trunk spring several branches. Those branches are the proposed solutions to each of the problems you mention. There are different mechanisms that should be adopted in tackling each one.”
“As I said earlier, the key thing is education. Every police officer needs to be trained specifically on human rights. But this is just the first step. Each officer must be regularly appraised on human rights compliance. There should also be an easily accessible complaints system for the citizens to report errant officers.”