Every Generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it. (Frantz Fanon 166)
The words quoted above though vague at first sight, symbolized the critical thinking that characterized Fanon’s critique of colonialism and the African continents’ search for personal independence. In many ways the African continent and its search for freedom proved to be an exercise of exposure, a valiant recognition of the structures of self, and a realization that the “land” could be ruled by “us”. Fanon though was approaching his analysis of colonialism from a psychiatric and psychological perspective. However amidst the essays collectively included in “The Wretched of the Earth”, Fanon established a discourse on national culture and the necessity of every generation to question itself and discover its mission and fight for such a mission.
It is now over 50 years after Nigeria’s independence and the same essential problems that had served a telling contribution to the slow-moving place of development remains. It can be said that Nigeria is a growing nation with the same symptoms. 50 years apart and we are back to the discourse of the Biafran state, a discourse that at the first instance created a national tragedy that is often downplayed. The civil war in my own young opinion was a huge tragedy that befell Nigeria. The quick fire coups in 1966 may have fueled the resulting war but it was in the war that the future of this nation became blurred with a recurring theme of “that event”.
Propaganda is normally half the war and over the past year as I have studied the Nigerian political landscape, the indices of propaganda have duly been hoisted around. There is now a renewed agitation by a sizeable portion of Nigeria’s southeast towards the actualization of a Biafran free state, this agitation is at most uncomfortable to the government that is Nigeria. But can these agitations be swept aside by well meaning comrades? It is pertinent to ask the questions that matter. The most important being that how can a people in a free democratic state feel compelled to seek their own path? Only when this question can be answered sufficiently will the reality of this political tension be clear.
“Every Generation” the words of Fanon echo subtly. A compelling beginning to the understanding of the ideals that affect growth in social and political terms. In Fanon’s view, there would always be idealistic struggle and it is left with every generation of youths to determine it. The reason why generational ideals become important is partly because of the natural occurring process of life and death. The continued process of beginnings and ends mean that the ideal between one generation and the next though sharing the same content, may not be in the same context. It is here that we find the links between the past and the present. First of all, it is 50 years since the start of the civil war, and the tide of a New Biafra is still in the discourse of the nation. The leaders of this new revolution are different from the leader who sought the first wave and that is where the notion of identity is solidified. When Fanon talked about the birth of every generation’s ideals, he says that these ideals will be borne out of “Relative Obscurity” in the sense that it is the experiences and the relationships that a “generation” faces that determine its mission. This therefore means that there should be a concerted effort in understanding the realities of the society that this generations have survive in.
Nigeria as a country has always been filled with complex dichotomies that have always impeded on its overall structural development. This dichotomy such as the religious one which is the Muslim-Christian dichotomy has been rampant in the social and political conflicts that have festered in different parts of the Nigerian state. The ethnic view of the society has also created the majority-minority dichotomy, a constant play of opposites that has in some ways negatively impacted the process of development.
In the end though, the tense political landscape that was fuelled by the declaration by a coalition of northern youths shows the fickleness of the political health of Nigeria. Despite numerous attempts to clarify the ultimatum declaration, the implication of such an uncalculated declaration is a tenser situation. By implying that the ultimatum gives the Igbo’s 1stOctober 2017 to vacate the northern zone, it implied that action if such an ultimatum is not met. While the revised explanation of such a declaration is to pinpoint that the youths only wanted to encourage and crystallize the process of the Igbo’s move to self-determination. The question here is how a very vivid time-frame contributes to the success of a referendum towards that goal. Secondly there are countless other avenues and channels that could convey the same message without subtly implying possible violence. By stating an ultimatum, it gave way to possible violence; this is in truth, the worst possible political move.
The question is, and still remains. Has the Nigerian youth today, in the obscure nature of dichotomous political systems discovered himself?, if so, what is his most important mission? And how close is he to achieving or betraying it?
The society today is mixed with hatred and sentiments that serve to obscure the truth for all to see, the average Nigerian is more patriotic to the immediate economic gains and sentiments than to the overall goal of a better Nigeria, while this negative view is not symbolic of most, it is still a common view in the streets. For a nation blessed with so many diverse forms of its own identity, Nigeria’s problem has always been in determining what it wants to be and how best to get there.
My generation! And then I remember Nas and Damian Marley on the song that still resonates with the idea of the society that I have been raised in. My generation, yes this generation, we have to make a change, find our mission and not betray it. For if we don’t, we will forever be stuck in the constant circle of hate and greed. And we will never know. But first we must find ourselves, and by finding ourselves we find our mission.
Fanon Frantz, The Wretched of the Earth. New York, Penguin Books, 1963.Print.
The Guardian Newspaper Online./ Northern youth ultimatum