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Alaba’s Rejection Of His Father


david-alabaGETTING the story out of Alaba was like crushing granite to squeeze liquid to quench the thirst of a land in drought. After all, thought Trouble to himself, the story should be in the public space. He had, right from the first time that he met Alaba, appreciated the courage of a twelve year old who leaves home because he did not see his future in the life that his father was leading.

All over Africa today, millions of young Africans, male and female are abandoning their homes and their parents because they feel that the lives of their parents did not provide the dream of their own future. “Now that I am older,” says Alaba, “I can say that my action was foolish but it is the foolish who do not see stumbling blocks in their way, only building blocks.” Trouble smiles to himself. Alaba and agelessness. He was twelve then, now he is fourteen and he talks of now that I am older! The children of nowadays have not had the chance to be children and it is the fault of the parents. “What pushed you out of your father’s house at the age of twelve?” Trouble asked. “My father was a successful politician in an unsuccessful polity.” “What do you mean?”

Trouble asks more out of the wonder of the vocabulary than of the meaning of the sentence. “Look around you. Open the newspapers, look at the page after page of panegyrics for successful businessmen, iconic leaders, and peerless examples to the world. Don’t you often wonder if you are in a different planet where values are lopsided and anything goes? Or in a society where the absence of evaluators does not mean the absence of values? My father was successful in this environment.

Hundreds of people arrive in our house five six o’clock in the morning and sometimes the last does not leave until past midnight. I hated it. Is this success?” “What constitute success for you?” “I don’t know if my growing up has anything to do with it. I was the second of three children, between an older brother and a younger sister. I could not play with my brother because there were six years between us and I could not play with my sister because the neighbours would laugh and say that I was playing with my wife and it would make me cry for shame and embarrassment.

So, I stayed away from everybody. When the political success came I could not stand the crowd. One day, I opted out. My father asked to do something and I refused and he said he should not find me at home when he came back if I did not do what he asked me to do. I don’t remember what he asked me to do but I left swearing never to burden his doorway with my shadow ever again.” “You have not said what constitutes ‘successes’ for you in a life? Were there other fathers you preferred to your father?” “For a democratic system of government to prosper it requires pre-conditions.

I am quoting from my political science text book now. It needs a functioning state, minimum unity to the nation (which should be provided by the constitution) separation between the nation and the majority religion and a viable economy. For a country that has multiple extra-budgetary provisions for prayers, I ask my father if those who crowd our compound everyday can go to the bank and borrow money using prayer as ‘collateral’? Look at the four pre-conditions I have listed.

The first is problematic because we really do not have a functioning state. The second is tenuous because there is no sense of unity no matter how many times our soldiers turned politicians remind us of their sacrifices for the unity of the country, there is no unity of purpose. Separation of religion from everyday socio-political concerns? Not with budgets for prayers! And banks do not accept prayers as collaterals.

As for the economy where is it? Yet our politicians – Obasanjo, IBB, Abdulsalaam, even Abacha, are paraded as successful politicians in a place where the most minimal of requirements for a state does not exist. Do you wonder why the youth of Africa do not see their dreams in Africa? Why the youths of Nigeria, with their quick tempo music and gratification now lyrics do not see their dream future in Nigeria? Can you imagine a failing United States of America where Obama would be considered a success? Or a collapsing France where the president would be hailed as an icon of leadership in the modern age? Or a China where everything – light, water, roads, food are beyond the reaches of middling people and the president of China would be congratulated everyday as the leader of leaders?

Some university professor once said that when we have no evaluators, it does not mean that there are no values. It simply means that there are no defenders of values in the society, there are no persons holding up these existing values and so everybody pretends that there are no values. Do you understand what I am talking about? And then what are the heritages of my fathers to me? Where is the thing that I point to when the Japanese tell me about their religion and the Chinese indicate their tradition and the British give me their stiff upper lip? Yes, Nkrumah, Mandela, Fanon, and that whole generation of anti-colonial agitators left something behind.

But they are not the only ones who agitated against the colonial governments. The Japanese agitated and fought western colonisers. The Chinese agitated and fought not only Japanese colonisers but also western colonisers. But the day after they won their independence, they changed their tunes and, using what they could from their culture, borrowed from the west to go forward. Why cannot my father do the same? Is my father so daft that he cannot see his way forward? Is he so blind that he cannot see others have done it? Is Chinua Achebe’s ‘Tufa! I cannot curse my father’s generation’ enough to stop me proclaiming loud and clear that my father has been an idiot, an illogical buffoon?”

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  • sudan

    I cant see how your story relates to the photograph of David Alaba, a young star who all his life has placed his love and obedience to his father above all.

    • Jon West

      Love and obedience to father is not a substitute for intellectual thought, wisdom and intelligence. I hope my own children think like this man Alaba. He is an intellectual genius.

      • Izedomi Ohirein

        Admiring success through Coup d’e tart & looting public treasury’s, in a potentially rich Country like Nigeria rundown by vagabonds in power is not intellectually ingenious.

        • Kenedy Sola

          You failed to grasp what the guy was saying, on the contrary he never admire coup leaders but against them, and he is against our political system, reread again man by then you might grasp what he was saying

          • Izedomi Ohirein

            Only Obasanjo was elected & never take in a Coup among his list.
            Opportunities in Nigeria are endless, begging for exploitation. I hope the young man understands that & return home to join in Nigerian renaissance.

  • Mr. A

    I struggled to fathom what this article was really about.

    • loveontopover

      If you did not, then you must be a product of the Nigerian school system, sadly! The article is not only about David’s father but also about the failed system that produced his father, Nigeria, who never learnt any new things but got stuck in things that never benefited him, his country nor his own children. So dumb that he asked his 14 year old to leave his house! A system that glorifies corruption, promotes waste of resources and rewards evil and mediocrity! A system that chases away the youth and does not defend the weak. That’s what he was talking about!

      • Mr. A

        Your unsolicited reply says so much about you in the first sentence. Whatever the educational system that threw up a character like you is either a failure or you are the failure. Next time learn not to exalt yourself in public space. We are not peers in any way from what I discern.

        • Omooba Adekunle Orafidiya

          Don’t mind the idiot who calls himself @loveontopover (stupid moniker). He it is who is only semi-literate. The piece is poorly rendered – regardless of whether it was intended as an allegory, a metaphor, hyperbole or whatever. I couldn’t make head from tail.

          • loveontopover

            Don’t blame me for you poor ability to understand thing that are not simple! You ”couldn’t make head from tail” because you are a moron, anyway!

        • loveontopover

          Who is your peer, if I may ask? Your inability to comprehend complicated matters is not my fault. Now that you have put your inadequacies on display on the internet who are you therefore to question my response?

  • This is an allegory.

  • nuelsymbol

    All said than done .The generation of Alaba is going to be worse than that of his father from apparent indications. The incursion of Military into our polity had ruined our moral legacy .We have substituted Corruption for our Custom and Tradition. Even Religious Leaders want their rewards on this earth . They now worship wealthy God and not poor one like in those days according to them .