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Nigerian columnists, language and style


Newspaper stand

I have read the writer’s many pieces in the Vanguard Newspaper and had to stop.

There were times I wondered why the management of a reputable paper like the Vanguard would allow some of his views in print to be read worldwide.

This is a writer who once threw professionalism to the wind in a piece when he referred to Northerners as Herdsmen and “Janjaweed. Janjaweed,” I was not surprised to read about his latest entanglement in the press with his stereotype of the Yoruba as sophisticated morons.


I am not unmindful of his passion for the growth of Nigeria and it is commendable.

I am mindful of his style of writing, which is full of biases that promote the subjugation of other people in other places, a terrible mistake for a writer who is a public intellectual.

I wonder how nationalistic the writer is. I do not expect a writer of opinion pieces to grovel but such a writer must also not sink into the ghetto of the ossified traditions of typecasting people.

Opinion article: is not a place to bandy parochial views but well-researched facts.

Opinion pieces should educate and are designed as a section to engage in the wars of narratives, for me, positive wars.

These wars of narratives are not meant to be won and therefore if people are discussed in opinion pieces, the subjects aren’t supposed to be the bte noires of the writers. Is that the case here?

I have stopped reading the works of many people who are nothing but demagogues.

All it takes is just to see the name and when I chose to read, they never fail me in project demagoguery.
Opinion pieces despite the name must be balanced and devoid of jaundiced views.

I read the pieces of some columnists today and can’t help but wonder why they settle for jingoism and to use the media to fan nativist agendas.

Many Columnists, who know next to nothing about nationalism, are destroying the credibility of these renowned platforms and by extension the image of their publishers.


Such columnists deserve to have spaces in town-hall papers designed to promote the interests of local tribesmen.

I have read too many. One gaffe is okay. Twice is okay. Thrice is enemy action as they say in the military. Four times is unpardonable.
I don’t fancy Tuface Idibia and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie but what I can’t take away from them is their professionalism.

They sit on pedestals and have carved niches for themselves in ways that no-one can criticize.

A Nigerian Columnist in my shoes will write pieces to tear them to shreds.

If they get rave reviews from emotional readers, they will go one mile further to churn out gauche pieces.

They never separate the man from his professional life.
Good breeding for many writers consist of how much they think of themselves and how little they think of the other person.

The policy of today’s columnist is never to criticize the leaders in their own geographical region.

Everything in that region is viewed through rose coloured glasses.

They are only inspired by Sheshat to write about the other side.

I learnt from Professor Dele Owolawi that, “when people allow themselves to be overwhelmed by emotion, reason takes flight.”

It was Napoleon Bonaparte who said and I believe it to be true that, “there are different ways of assassinating a man by pistol, sword, poison or moral assassination.

They are the same in their results, except that the last is more cruel.”
According to Martin Luther King,” like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and objectivity.

It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”

Most writers aren’t patriotic as they pretend to be. A thorough soul-searching approach is required of all of us.

We either do not disagree with people healthily or we disrespect people as a matter of course. We need to work to transcend our ego.

For us to grow as a nation, we must begin to speak the language of reconciliation. Understanding one another and tolerating differences is the greatest act and form of reconciliation, that Nigerians can give to the nation because it would build bridges.

After all we must bear in mind that the foundation of Nigeria was laid by people who like us didn’t come from homogeneous backgrounds but have transformed their society.

Allow me bring in the speech of Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey (famously called Aggrey of Achimota) titled “The lost Black and White Keys” delivered in South Africa in the 1920s to promote racial harmony.

I don’t care what you know; show me what you can do. Many of my people who get educated don’t work, but take to drink.

They see white people drink, so they think they must drink too. They imitate the weakness of the white people, but not their greatness.

They won’t imitate a white man working hard If you play only the white notes on a piano you get only sharps; if only the black keys you get flats; but if you play the two together you get harmony and beautiful music.

This speech from a Ghanaian was important to the people of South Africa of that era and to Nigerians now.

Especially, as we struggle to stem the tide of bigotry, tribalism, ethnic superiority, etc.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Nigerians can play the black and white keys in harmony?

Abah, wrote from Abuja.

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