Thursday, 22 February 2018

"The Snake As a JAMBite: Buhari's Animal Kingdom and Its Metaphor" by Sesan Michael Johnson

"The Snake As a JAMBite: Buhari's Animal Kingdom and Its Metaphor" by Sesan Michael Johnson

Without much ado; as Buhari-led government prepares to clock three years, one can say the government has been characterised by different exoteric, eclectic, dramatic and comical episodes. Since last weekend, the hottest news in naija is the JAMB's nurtured snake that bellied #36m. It's a paradox, that the same JAMB was reported sometimes ago by this government to have remitted an outpouring income into the coffers of the FG.


Be it from the western, African or eastern paradigm; the use of animal metaphor in historical narration is endemic. Take for instance; the Yoruba folklores are characterised with the symbolism of tortoise (ijapa) and other animals. Typically, animal stories and characterisation as well as the intersections between human agency and animal instincts are used to expose the atrocities of public office holders and to derive lessons for the public. Often among the Igbos and the Yorubas these folklores, stories and mythologies are propagated and proliferated at the public spheres under the moon light in the night. Whereas, today's public sphere is fast becoming the Internet under the ultra violet lights/rays of the social media (Facebook, Twitter etc). In another article I had elucidated on how and why the social media is now today's public sphere. Specifically, I made use of Manuel Castell's theory of mass communication as my tool of analysis.


Without mincing words, Baba Buhari has been referred to as the Lion (please, read my "The Lion King and the Band of Hyenas"). We are also aware of how the rats occupied the throne and chased away the Lion King (please, read my 'Buhari and the Mischief of Rattus Rattus'). Cow Colony is still an ongoing hot debate in our polity. Now, we have a mysterious snake that swallowed #35m at the JAMB office. What can I say? For me this shows to tell us that when man couldn't explain an issue/event particularly within the remix of its causality, they tend to romance animal symbolism/metaphor and/or animal historiography as a means of historical escapism.


Well, have you observed that the use of animal symbolism in recent times just like before is becoming a currency? What would you say of 'Operation Crocodile Smiles', 'Operation Pythons Dance' and the latest 'Operation Cat Race'. Anyway, the world is about 'Rat Race', lobatan!


By the way, the 'Eagle' (EFCC) has promised to deal with the Snake (the JAMBite). I only hope, the eagle will not be too angry, I mean too hungry to the extent of not just arresting the snake but swallowing up both the snake and the loot. Remember, when the eagle soars to the mountain top, it will go beyond the reach of the Lion King.


Sesan Johnson a historian, essayist and conversationist. He's a public intellectual available to discuss national issues on the radio, TV and the New Media, 08149382121, smbafrica@gmail.com




"SMB's Historiography, Alaafin's Philosophy and Falola's Knowledge Model" by Sesan Michael Johnson



This piece is just a re-enactment of the concordant echoes from the ongoing Toyin Falola @65 Conference here in UI, Ibadan, Nigeria. In this conference, over 300 scholars are presenting papers. The academic cloud here is tick with the array of academic giants such as Gloria Emeagwali, Akin Alao, Femi Osofisan, Femi Mimiko, Ademola Ajayi, CBN Ogbugbo, etc.

Characteristically, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi III inspired the audience with Yoruba's knowledge systems and spiritism. Iku baba Yeye, Omo iku, omo arun, omo adanu. Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola the governor of the State of Osun took his time to elucidate the meaning of the praise song (Oriki) of the imperial majesty. Since Alaafin is the son of Iku (death), Aisan (disease), hence, death and and disease can not kill their son. This dos not mean the King will not go the way of his ancestors. Alaafin posited that we were made from the earth and that all we eat and use come from the earth, hence, one will surely return to Mother Earth. No doubt, this is a pointer to the deep philosophy of the Yoruba even before contacts with western philosophy. There's reference to #Sanmo #Meje in Yoruba's cosmogony indicating the planetary system of the universe even before the era of Aristostles and Socrates.How did they get this? Our ancestors had expertise in astrology and environmentalism.

Our ancestors have the knowledge of geography and their environment. They were not fools and idiots. Let's embrace and cherish African indigenous knowledges. Premised on experimental analysis of material cultures of the Yorubas, our ancestors had proven to have expertise in iron and glass technology btw 1000 and 1800 AD. According to Eluyemi, our ancestors are material scientists.

My paper "Recasting Historical Epistemology and Scientific Discourse in Africa' advocates for new alternative knowledge systems centre on African IK. Scientific discourse in Africa must be freed from the western paradigms. Calculatedly, we must demolish cultural-cum-educational imperialist archetypes which are currently shaping how scientific knowledge is produced and taught in order to reinvent Africa.

I join others to celebrate this African best... Toyin Falola.... Happy birthday sir. The Bobapitan of Ibadanland

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

‘Recasting Historical Epistemology & Scientific Discourse in Africa’ - JOHNSON Sesan Michael



‘Recasting Historical Epistemology & Scientific Discourse in Africa’
-
JOHNSON Sesan Michael
Abstract:
Using the fluidity of past scientific imaginings in pre-colonial Yoruba history, this paper frowns at the major current trajectory of historical epistemology and scientific discourse in Africa. First, the paper sees history as science. Second, it argues that scientific discourse must be freed from the hegemonic western paradigms in order to re-route it to cultural foundations in science and technology that existed in pre-colonial Africa. Finally, this paper opines that to move forward, Africa must look inward into its past. Therefore, this paper advocates for new alternative knowledge system in an attempt to demolish cultural-cum-educational imperialism which is currently shaping how scientific knowledge is produced in Africa in order to reinvent the continent.




              As Presented at THE TOYIN FALOLA @65 CONFERENCE
THEME: AFRICAN KNOWLEDGES AND ALTERNATIVE FUTURES
THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN, NIGERIA 29-31; JANUARY 2018
 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Debunking the Myth on Vaccination and Medical Violence against the Igbos by the Nigerian Army - By Sesan Michael Johnson

Debunking the Myth on Vaccination and Medical Violence against the Igbos by the Nigerian Army


“He asked me whether he should allow his people to come out for the exercise. I told him, no, that if we could not stop them from killing us with guns, we shouldn’t allow them to kill us with syringe.”[1] – Chief Ezeife



The quote above epitomises the hoax (which I refer to as a myth in this article) that engulfed some south-eastern and south-southern states of Nigeria in the month of October this year. The myth is about the peddled idea that the Nigerian Army through vaccination is executing medical violence against the Igbos. The South East geo-political zone was thrown into confusion after claims on social media went viral that some soldiers entered some primary and secondary schools and were forcefully injecting pupils with poisonous substances allegedly causing monkey pox to depopulate the South East.[2]

On the one hand, the social media facilitated the rapidity of the fertilization and proliferation of the myth; on the other hand, the political tension between the Nigerian army and the Igbo separatist group (IPOM) accentuated the permeability and acceptability of the myth by the highly credulous and vulnerable masses in the affected communities/states particularly in areas where the Nigerian Army carried out Operation Python Dance (Egwu Eke II). Without mincing words, the frenzy and the tension created by the myth (attempted medical violence against the Igbos by the Nigerian army) reached its apogee when there was aggravated panic in the communities and massive stampeding at school gates leading to withdrawal of pupils from public and private schools by parents and guardians.

It took concerted efforts to invalidate this myth, Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters (DHQ) through the Director of Defence Information, urged Nigerians to disregard allegations about the spread of monkey pox through military medical outreaches. Using traditional media and the new media; the Federal government, Ministry of Health, the state governments, religious leaders and community leaders joined the efforts in debunking the myths.[3]

Fundamentally, disease like monkey pox continues to project public health problem with social effects that are complex and diverse, involving issues of class, politics, and religion and sometimes attracting public unrest, civil disobedience, and rioting. Extant literatures referred to various instances of resistances which dates back to the 18th century and has persisted to present times in various forms in different countries.[4]  Since the time of Hippocrates (460 – 377 BC), evident in history of disease and epidemiology is the problem of causation. However, the recent public upheaval that pervaded south-eastern states of Nigeria due to the outbreak of monkey pox is not based on facts rather on myth which had been adequately invalidated.




[4] For example see SEAN BURRELL and GEOFFREY GILL, The Liverpool Cholera Epidemic of 1832 and Anatomical Dissection—Medical Mistrust and Civil Unrest, Oxford University Press, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Vol. 60, No. 4 (OCTOBER2005), pp. 478-498

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The Lion King and a Mischief of Rattus rattus

Professor Piggy, you said from the ancient times that the different types of government systems in the world included feudalism, autocracy, constitutional monarchy, monarchy, democracy, and others. But, what type of government is ours? Oh! Oh! I see, I think its constitutional monarchy or democratic monarchy? How do you mean, professor? Don’t you see that our leader has taken a new title: ‘The Lion King’? Just like Napoleon Bonaparte of France who metamorphosed into an Emperor in 1804, the very year the revolution of Fodio transformed the northern fringes of our world. Well, my student that is why our virtual space is being bombarded by trending tweets such as ‘Welcoming the Lion King back to the palace’. Theoretically, ours is a democracy and a federal system. Surely, each category of animals has its leader. For instance, in a parade of elephants, you will find a leader. Even, in a colony of lizards, you find a leader. However, all these leaders submitted their hegemony to the central leadership of the Lion King premised on a federation paradigm in order for us to attain harmony and progress in our cosmos. Nonetheless, in practice, there have been re-definitions of this federating template depending on who mounts the exalted throne at the centre.



In our cosmos, we are allowed to whisper truths to power. In other words, political discourse is expected to take place in public spaces. So, you should not be surprised by the political narratives and metaphorical exchanges between political gladiators including some closes kin of the king. Has our leader been called a Lion King before now? If yes why? If no why is our leader now called a Lion King? Is our leader manifesting attributes of a lion or a Lion King? Is he ruling as a king and as a lion? What are the manifest characterisations of a king and/or of a lion? Since, the Lion King itself has not refuted this nomenclature; one can indeed assume that he’s indeed a Lion King.
By the way, professor Piggy, who caused the sickness of the Lion King? Was it orchestrated by the crackle of hyenas and the pride of jackals? Or is it an act of God? No doubt, there have been different hypotheses and postulations. Who knows? Only God knows. May be it is known by the Lion King, his doctors, or his inner caucus? Is the causation explicable? Oh no! It is a matter of national security. May be, nobody knows ‘sef’.



Now, let’s get back to the rifts and drifts that may occur (or that might have occurred) between the Lion and the gang of hyenas/jackals.  What could be responsible for the rifts between them? Is it that the Lion King made a ‘kill’ perhaps through his victory in the last general elections and subsequently through the ways he is governing the kingdom particularly how he’s curbing the snatching and hoarding of meats by the jackals and the hyenas. Perhaps, this ‘kill’ is too huge for him to eat alone or he’s too old or too weak to eat alone; hence, the attraction of the band of hyenas and jackals. But professor, I think that is a natural phenomenon in our world. Hmmm, you are right!



For a Lion King to be wounded probably from the attacks on him by the gang of hyenas and jackals shows he’s no longer in charge of his kingdom. Perhaps, the Lion King is a ‘Lone Ranger’. Where were the other lions when the king of their pride is being wounded or attacked? Did he chase them out of the kingdom after the kill he made? Whereas, all the lions should be together to protect the kill they made together. Where are the other lions now? Why is the Lion King alone? Evidently, a lion standing alone cannot face a gang of hungry hyenas and jackals. It is precarious I must say.



But professor Piggy the Lion King had survived and returned just as we had prayed. Yeah, can’t you see the animation of our kingdom on the day of his return? I agree with the deputy Lion King that the recovery of the king symbolises our breakthrough from this burgeoning deprivation. Professor Piggy, can I ask one silly question? Go ahead, that is why you are mine student. Thanks professor. The deputy Lion King who ruled on behalf of the Lion King while he was away, is he a pure lion or a hyenas or a jackal or one of the weak animals that prayed for the return of the Lion King? Well, as a professor, I need to do a scientific research on that before I can lucidly answer your question.
But! But what?  Can a Lion King who found it difficult to attack or defeat the hyenas or the jackals when he was strong, now do anything tangible when he’s already weak, old and wounded? What’s the kill the Lion King is eating alone that the hyenas and the jackals want to snatch from him? Because, the hyenas for instance are not good hunters; they always look for opportunities such as a kill by a lion.


While the Lion King was away in another jungle, someone asked, what can the weak animals do to curb or arrest the gang of hyenas and jackals even before the arrival of the Lion King? The throne must be protected. The current security at the palace can no longer be trusted. Will the weak animals be allowed to get to the palace? Nonetheless, a special task force must be sent as a matter of urgency since only God knows when the Lion King will return. However, it is surprising that the weak animals decided to send their representatives, a mischief of Rattus rattus, to protect the throne. A mischief of Rattus Rattus? Yes, that is the scientific name for rats. But, why a mischief of rats? Oh, that is what a group of rats called. But, professor Piggy, why did they send these weak and very small animals? They are the geniuses among the weak animals that could break through the maximum security mounted at the palace of the Lion King. Rats have the following characteristics: creativity, intelligence, honesty, generosity, ambition, appeal, sociability, influence, intellect, thrift and charisma. Rats go whole-hog for what they are after and they never give up. So, they are go-getters. But, the news filtering into the air has it that the rats had destroyed the throne which culminated into the eviction of the Lion King from the palace. Well, it is audacious to quickly believe that story line. But professor Piggy, in every rumour there is an element of truth. You are right, because naturally rats also have the following characteristics: anxiety, verbosity, thirsts for power, guile, and acquisitiveness. Rats love to meddle in someone else’s affairs. Love to hijack or usurp power subtly. They are also collectors and hoarders of collective resources. Having seen the luxury of the palace, the rats also decided to taste or loot some too. But that is not their assignment. Yes, that is the major problem of representatives; they always forget their primary assignments. But rats are not only stashers of food; they have a well-developed sense of economy. So you mean, the looting of the throne is for the development or the restructuring of the economy to favour the weak animals. Well, only time will say. Also, I agree with the need to refurbish and re-invigorate the palace because rats are also known to spread diseases, hence, we cannot afford the infection of the king again. Or do you the king to go on another long trip? No and never again. The king needs to reign to fight the irresponsible elements in the kingdom.


Who are the hyenas? Should we assume that they are the bad eggs in so called ‘right place’ for public discourse for national unity? Who are the jackals? Are they the cabals in the palace? Who are the ones clamouring for the restructuring of the kingdom? They must be the hyenas and the jackals. Is any member of the Pride involved? The Lion King had roared that the unity of its kingdom is not negotiable. I think that is tenable. Don’t you agree that this kingdom must not be tore apart? Our unity is settled and sacrosanct.  Some are saying, the king only roared upon returning. What is their problem? What else do they want from a lion? How will a Lion King re-establishes his suzerainty or hegemony after a long time from the palace? How else can we ascertain that the king is still very strong as before if not by the tenacity and soundness of his roars? Can the kingdom be restructured? Will the sharing formulae favour the weak animals or the hyenas or the jackals or the lions?



Professor Piggy, the Lion King is shutting down our virtual world. No, he only ordered its monitoring and a check on those crossing the ‘national red lines’ because we do not want to see the ‘reds’ on our streets. Having said that, in the real sense of it and even metaphorically, it is precarious to stay around a lion or a Lion King, except you belong to a higher cat family like tigers, hyenas, jackals, etc. Therefore, the weak animals must be very careful, even as the Lion King returned.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

An Interrogation Of Benjamin Netanyanhu’s March 2015 Speech At The Us Congress Vis-A-Vis The Strategic Significance Of A Nuclear-Armed Iran To The Security Of The Middle East – By Johnson Sesan Michael



Executive Summary:

Fundamentally, the Middle East region of the world is a convoluted and capricious region with avalanche of historical crises such as the Arab-Israeli Wars, Iran-Iraqi War, the Gulf Wars, the Suez Canal Crisis, etc. Currently, the Syrian War, ISIL/ISIS terrorism and discussion on nuclearisation project of Iran are front burners. Importantly concerted efforts at solving the impasse between USA and Iran over the latter’s nuclear programme culminated into the Nuclear Deal Iran signed with the World Power (P5+1). Whereas, Israeli Prime Minister addressed the US Congress in March 2015 before it was finally consummated.  The chief aim of this discourse is to interrogate Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress in March 2015 particularly within the framework of the strategic significance of a nuclear-armed Iran to the security of the Middle East. In this historical speech Netanyahu believed that the deal between Iran and world powers (P5+1) is a bad deal. Netanyahu remarked on the impending precarious situation his nation (Israel) is about to face if the Nuclear Deal with Iran is crystallized. Critically, Netanyahu established the threat poses by Iran to other states within the international system, particularly in the Middle East. This conversation pointedly mentioned the reactions of Saudi Arab and Turkey. In addition to this, Netanyahu beamed more lights on Iran’s destabilising activities in the Middle East. He reinforced the claim of Iran’s support for global terrorism particularly in the Middle East. Premised on the mutual mistrust and misconception between Iran and her neighbours in the Middle East, there is no doubt proliferation of nuclear arms in the Middle East will be one of the shades of reactions and counter-reactions to any attempt on the part of Iran to develop nuclear bombs. This conversation noted that this Iran’s nuclear deal could precipitate a rift or row between the USA and Israel particularly based on the public criticism of the US president by the Israeli prime minister. Arguably, this portends a precarious situation within the framework of the security of the Middle East.  Fundamentally, the March 2015 speech of the Israeli Prime Minister is our main source, nonetheless other sources and extant literatures were also interrogated.