This is a must read article written by Afrobeat musician, Lágbájá, in response to an article written by Okey Ndibe.
Dear Okey Ndibe: Thank you for sounding the alarm in a way that should make us reflect deeper. Mumu is not a condition I proudly proclaim. It was with a heavy heart that I came to this shocking realization that we are indeed a country of mumus. Harsh as it might sound, no other explanation would suffice. It is apparent that the “leaders” know that they would always get away with whatever incredible schemes they concoct because, amongst other reasons,
(a) the mumu people they “lead” are no different from their mumu “leaders” in character
(b) the mumu people are gullible, superstitious and naive
(c) there are no consequences for criminal acts if you belong to the right group
(d) these mumus never demand accountability from their “leaders”
(e) the mumus expect their rulers to loot or would otherwise consider them foolish
Apologies for the seeming overgeneralization but the vast majority runs with this mumu mindset.
There is a limit to how much one can squeeze into a song before sounding less music than sermon. Please permit me to expatiate using your perimeter of “recent events in the past week or two”.
For simplicity I would use a numbered list to analyze and highlight a few seemingly disparate but absurd mumurity examples and indicators.
1. 5 members trying to impeach a governor would make you think there are probably only 6 or 7 members of the House of Assembly. According to the assembly’s website there are 31 members. For mumus, 5 out 31 constitutes a majority.
2. In the land of mumus you can make your own mace and confer it with automatic authority, elect a “new Speaker” and swear him in.
3. No single hospital in Nigeria to entrust the unfortunately injured member with. He had to be flown to the UK.
4. Flown abroad … likely on tax payers’ account
5. Treated … likely on tax payers’ account
6. Visited by officials… likely on tax payers’ account (business or first class tickets?)
7. Nyesom Wike the Minister of State who led the visit was until recently the Governor’s (Amaechi’s) Chief of Staff. He was allegedly nominated for the Ministerial position by Governor Amaechi.
8. Shouldn’t the mumus wonder how Nyesom Wike as Minister of State for Education found the time for this all important trip while abandoning his post in spite of the raging crisis in his ministry with the Academic staff union of Nigerian universities currently on strike? Well the mumu staff and students can rot in hell I guess.
9. Madam Patience would probably have “visited” too, if not for the noise such would generate. So for now, the victim suffers alone.
10. The erstwhile pontificating police boss of the State could not find the patient’s prominent attacker for over a week.
11. Madam Patience having first denied any involvement in the crisis while verbally attacking Soyinka, eventually owns up “pouring out her grievances”.
12. She owns up to a group of visiting Bishops who came on a peace making mission to find a lasting solution to the crisis in their region. Religion is always an easy scapegoat and tool of deception in mumudom.
13. Why would you even think that the Bishops would go back empty handed? Any “transport fare/thank-you-for-coming”, if received, would have likely been financed on tax payers’ account.
14. And why are we ranting about “tax payers”? Why are the tax payers not furious over the incessant misappropriation and misapplication of their hard earned contributions? The answer lies in the question… Aside from PAYE, how many are compliant in mumudom?
15. First a set of 5 Governors and 3 Deputy Governors (representing their respective Governors), left their duty posts for a solidarity visit with the embattled Governor of Rivers State… of course to the detriment of tax payers. (a) They were not on leave, but left urgent work and duties behind for the “emergency” solidarity visit. (b) Flight to and fro Port Harcourt of course likely on tax payers’ account.
16. They were closely followed by a second set of 4 commiserating sympathetic Governors. Of course, again likely on tax payers’ account.
17. Madam Patience’s grievance, as she divulged to the visiting Bishops, started when Governor Amaechi refused to be governed by her, as he would not listen to her veiled orders on how to govern the State… which incidentally is her primary territory being her State of origin. Mumus have no problem with that, fully being in harmony with her as she sings as first lady in Abuja while simultaneously dancing in absentia as Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa and conducting the orchestra in home state, Rivers.
18. Madam ends her confession to the Bishops by saying that Amaechi is her son as she is obviously the mother of everyone in mumudom. The question all mumus should ask is, “Would a good mother promote the demise of her child?”
19. Where was her outraged sense of motherhood when Senators were busy voting to turn mumudom into a Nation of pedophiliacs at the expense of her innocent “daughters”?
20. Where was her outraged sense of “mother of the Nation” when the video of 5 gang rapists went viral. Has she used that “mother of the Nation” power to find the culprits? Not a priority in mumudom.
21. Where was her outraged “motherhood of mumudom” when 46 school children were murdered in Yobe? Indeed the whole Nation of mumus have just gone on with their more important mumu lives like nothing happened.
22. Which brings us to the insane mumurity that gives the “leaders” confidence to try pranks such as the attempt at crafting the under age marriage law, knowing that with the mumus… “nothing go happen”
23. In the land of mumus, the rulers know they can always throw in the religious card, so Senator Yerima leads the child slavery onslaught with the religious chant.
24. While all this was going on, 79 year old OPC founder, Dr. Fasheun was, in his own description, “delivering” Mustapha to Kano.
25. Soon after, Gumsu Sani Abacha had the courage to rant on social media about her proud heritage… because with the mumus who his father savagely ruled over… nothing go happen.
26. Gumsu even called Soyinka who was a victim of her beloved dad’s misrule, “Mad empty Professor” … because in mumudom, “nothing go happen”.
27. Final scores… Jang 13, Amaechi 19, but in the land of mumus Mathematics has a different interpretation for 13 is greater than 19. Even the President of the mumus ratifies that.
28. By the way, both Governors Jang and Amaechi are from the same imploding political party.
29. Jang says he is old enough to be Amaechi’s father… a common escape route that is often quickly bought by the mumu populace. Old enough to be the President’s pawn and to upturn justice might be more like it. Only possible when you know for sure that your people are mumus… Nothing go happen.
30. The Governor is supposed to be the chief security officer of his State, but apparently in mumudom, his Police Commissioner is his boss.
31. The Governor’s security staff could be so easily withdrawn because nothing is institutionalized in a Nation of mumus. The loyalty of the security personnel is not based on the constitution but on personal or maternal affiliations. The mumus keep watching because “it does not concern me o”… “Big men and women are fighting”. Same way the injustice of the Nation’s attorney general’s assassination does not concern them.
32. Most reports in the Nigerian media kept referring to the self appointed Speaker as if he were truly the substantive Speaker. A mere use of “self-acclaimed” would have been logical, but they were already calling him the Speaker because… ignorance? inducement? resignation to the belief that the 5 vs 26 Assembly coup was already a done deal?
33. While all this drama unfolded, Nigeria, like the proverbial head-burying ostrich felt it had the moral right to insist on democratic processes in Egypt.
34. Sahara Reporters had screamed about the underhand conspiracy to proclaim Mustapha “not guilty”. Mumus simply went about their daily mumurity unperturbed because “it doesn’t concern them”. And when it happened as predicted… no problem. Mumus continue dem jolly as if nothing happened.
35. Meanwhile, Daniel and his political supporters carried their politics into the house of God at Rueben Abati’s mother’s funeral service… simply because there is no true reverence for God. Religion is a safe hiding cave. The mumus in the congregation would never protest such sacrilege because… “it is not strange” as the houses of God are now also political grounds. Obasanjo built one in Abeokuta. Jonathan got one built in Otuoke.
36. Meanwhile, some other mumus were again busy putting the Nation to international shame. In unprecedented match fixing fiascos, Police Machine beat Bubayaro 67-0 while Plateau United Feeders beat Akurba FC 79-0. Just in case you are confused, the game was soccer, not basketball.
37. The matches were to determine which one of the two tied teams would be promoted into… wait for this… just the 3rd division of the Nigerian soccer league. How many goals would they have to orchestrate when they want promotion to the 1st division?
38. Interesting to note that one of the teams involved in these shows of shame, the Police Machine, represents the Police Force. Now who would investigate this scandal?
39. Mumus involved in the conspiracy had to include players… team management… referees and other match officials… spectatorshuh That is quite a large mumu cooperative.
40. Since four teams were involved, multiply the number of conspirators by 4 (except match officials and spectators which should be multiplied by “only” 2). Hence, the scam was done in the open. It was a confident public show of shame. No… two confident simultaneous scams. No problem as corruption is everywhere.
41. Before the matches, Police Machine and Plateau United were level on points, goal difference and goals scored, and each was playing its final match which would determine which team would get elevated into the 3rd division league. Plateau United scored 72 of its 79 goals in the second half, thereby averaging more than one goal per minute. This would necessarily include the time needed to celebrate each goal, retrieve the ball, bring it back to the center, wait for the referee’s whistle before kicking off again…. after each goal. 72 times. Or did they just write the preferred figures as we typically do on election day?
42. Is it not curious that neither of the two losing teams could manage a single consolation goal? What else are we if not mumus?
43. Then there was the innocent man who was freed by the high court in Owerri after having been unjustly incarcerated for seven years, “awaiting trial”. No compensation… nobody held accountable for his ordeal. He insisted on being taken back to the prison as that was his only guaranty of a roof over his head and a daily meal. It was merely a “small thing” in the daily bizarre news as mumus went about their daily mumurity with their typical mentality of “e no concern me”.
44. Remember that this is mostly a snippet of the past two weeks or so. But there is more… 20 year old Chijioke Nwankor allegedly Molests a 9 year old pupil to death in Calabar. Reportedly in his own words, he asked her to bend down in the uncompleted building because it was too dirty to lie down as the place was being used as a public toilet. That is mumudom parlance for faeces shamelessly defecated all over the ground. Could the defecation be by aliens from outer space?
45. Well… thankfully, there is always a little ray of sunlight sneaking through the dark jungle. A Briton who was kidnapped by an armed gang shortly after arrival in Lagos, has been released.
…All in just the past two weeks or so in mumudom.
Excuse me, I have to return to work. I need to earn £3000 for my British visa. Wait a minute, did I tell you I am still a Commonwealth citizen?
Okey Ndibe’s article below
The masked phenomenon known simply as Lagbaja is one of the few Nigerian musicians whose art is inspired by the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. In keeping with the Felaian spirit, Lagbaja’s act and art combine prodigious, heart-thumping entertainment with a political message that, at its eloquent best, has the powerful effect of summing up the Nigerian “condition.”
Fela, for example, flung the word “zombie” in our faces. In the heydays of military rule, when our uniformed men exhibited the complex of mini, mindless gods – flinging the lash at hapless civilians or shooting at the slightest provocation – Fela’s term captured that syndrome of senseless, rampaging power. The way Fela deployed the word was deeply penetrating. “Zombie” entered Nigerians’ social lexicon, a handy word for all battered or potentially battered subjects of military despotism. The word entrenched itself as the most natural way to describe the military honchos who ruled (and ruined) us. It also described the antics of the uniformed minions who – forgetting that they were victims of misrule – seemed ever willing to keep the rest of us in line, to still voices of dissent, to serve any regime with rabid, ferocious efficiency.
Fela also gave us “ITT,” deconstructing the name of an international telecommunications corporation headed by the late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola to yield a new term: “International Thief Thief.” His song, “Beast of No Nation,” proclaimed the collective bastardry of the Nigerian society just as his “Overtake Don Overtake Overtake” (ODOO) is a shorthand for anomie.
Today, it is Lagbaja, I suggest, who has offered us the handiest name for our collective malady. In a recent song that should become as much an anthem as Fela’s “Zombie,” Lagbaja famously calls Nigerians 200 million mumu. The word mumu is a quintessentially Nigerian word, its rich inflections and negative connotations derived from its pedigree. It translates (rather prosaically) as a fool, a buffoon, a person susceptible to scams and other forms of trickery.
In the lyrics, Lagbaja names some of the big men who have shaped – that is to say, misshaped – Nigeria: Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, and Olusegun Obasanjo. But there’s an unusual, jolting twist in the song. As the listener settles to it, expecting to hear the familiar “yabis” – words of insults usually lobbed at the country’s past and present misrulers – Lagbaja turns his barbed tongue on the so-called “ordinary” Nigerian, the “followers.” In his worldview, all Nigerians are part and parcel of the fabric of corruption and oppression that the unfortunate among us bemoan.
In Chinua Achebe’s fourth novel, A Man of the People, one of the characters earns a chilly, censorious look when he teases the ill-educated, prototypically corrupt politician, Chief M.A. Nanga, with an old joke: “MA, minus opportunity.” Lagbaja uses a similar linguistic move on all of us. Nigerians, all of us, are corrupt – he seems to say – minus opportunity. At any rate, Lagbaja sees the lot us as mumu, collaborators in our own oppression and debasement, architects of our collective misfortune.
At first glance, Lagbaja’s would appear to be a harsh, excessive and even misplaced indictment. But it’s hard to deny that there’s a vital sense in which the musician is right on target. In fact, it’s impossible to undertake any retrospective of events in Nigeria without coming to the conclusion that too many Nigerians act as fertilizers for the malaise that plagues and wrecks their lives.
Let’s take some of the recent events from the past week or two.
We’ve watched – some riveted with peculiar glee – as politicians from Rivers State darted onto the stage to offer us a veritable theater of the absurd. In an act of particular impunity, four or five members of the state assembly attempted to stage a spurious impeachment of the speaker and to replace him with one of their number. Backed by powerful politicians in Abuja (including, some suggest, President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife), these legislative renegades were prepared to act on the proposition that they outnumbered 27 or so other lawmakers loyal to the speaker they sought to remove.
A physical fight ensued to settle this sordid, “political” arithmetic. In the melee, one legislator seized a make-shift mace imported by the Abuja-backed renegades and used it to batter a colleague, Michael Chinda – a member of the Abuja Collective. Numerous videos of the fracas have gone viral on youtube. In them, we see so-called lawmakers who should have been on Nigeria’s boxing team at the London Olympics. We see the police at their inefficient worst, unable to control a rowdy gathering of thuggish legislators and their hired thugs. We see one of the lawmakers ready to kill or die because the state governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, had insulted his “mother,” aka Patience Jonathan, aka (the fuming pugilist’s) “Jesus Christ on earth.”
I wrote a few weeks ago that there was no substantive principle at play in the political crisis in Rivers State – or in any location in Nigeria, for that matter. It’s all a game about who gets to steal the most from the commonwealth and who gets To Molest the people. Neither faction in the dispute is actuated by the public good. Power, the acquisition of raw power for self-aggrandizement, is the governing motivation.
If Mrs. Jonathan now functions as divinity, a “Jesus Christ on earth,” then her husband, who fancies himself a “transformational leader,” must occupy a special seat in any gathering of leaders, dwarfing such figures as Barack Obama, David Cameron, Angela Merkel, and Paul Kagame. Yet, the terribly injured Chinda could find no hospital within the precincts redeemed by Mrs. Jonathan and transformed by her husband for treatment. Instead, it was to Mr. Cameron’s Britain that the battered Chinda was flown for urgent surgery.
Here’s a safe bet: Mr. Chinda is not spending a penny of his money to pay his bills at the Bupa Cromwell Hospital in Britain. There’s a chance that the hospital demanded and received full payment before commencing treatment. At any rate, those bills will be paid with public funds, most likely provided by his sponsors in Abuja.
The arrangement makes a mumu of all of us who accept this daylight abuse of public resources. Nigerian lawmakers, state as well as national, are paid obscene sums of money. Yet, they hardly ever use the instrument of the law to address the crises that menace the lives of Nigerians – including a non-existent healthcare system. Instead, they gallivant, carouse, undertake meaningless jamborees in Nigeria and abroad, and – when it suits them – take to boxing. They hardly work, but when they fall sick, they travel to such addresses as Britain, Germany, South Africa and India where people work hard and use their brain power.
As if Chinda’s transfer to a British hospital was not wasteful enough, last week a group of his backers, including a junior minister, Nyesom Wike, flew to London to commiserate with him. The odds are excellent that the government in Abuja paid for the flight tickets and hotel accommodation of the five or so well-wishers – to say nothing of spending cash. Mr. Wike and his team must not know how ludicrous they appear to their British hosts; they have no idea how the British would use them as the butt of jokes: Here are these Africans who have too much money but not a bit of sense to do anything for themselves!
It’s an altogether awful picture. I doubt that Mr. Chinda has sponsored a single bill that improved the lives of the people of Rivers State by a jot. Instead, he lent himself as a stooge to carry out the designs of those in power in Abuja, determined to lay waste to his state. He is injured serving this despicable agenda. And then Nigerians, including the hapless people of his home state, must pay the tab for his treatment in London. A statement released by Mr. Wike’s team underscored the ridiculousness of it all. It began: “Prominent leaders of Rivers State from across political and professional divides on Saturday visited the member representing Obio/Akpor State Constituency 2 at the Bupa Cromwell Hospital in London, United Kingdom, where the legislator is recuperating from head and jaw surgeries carried out on him by medical experts in the health facility.” Then it stated that “the leaders were grateful to God for the survival of Hon. Michael Chinda despite the vicious knocks he received from the mace-wielding Majority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Mr. Chidi Lloyd.”
These parasites, shameless consumers of other people’s products and enterprise, are the kind of characters who pass for “leaders” in Nigeria. There are also figures like Ango Abdullahi, a saber rattling jingoist who insists that Nigeria’s presidency must be turned over to a “northerner” or there will be mayhem. Even though Mr. Abdullahi wears the prefix of professor, he doesn’t evince any interest in stellar leadership. It suffices for him that somebody from the so-called North – any “northerner,” however mediocre or visionless – assume the presidential office.
It all boils down to clownishness. I’m with Lagbaja: the fact that the vast majority from all parts of Nigeria permit certifiable clowns to pollute and deform our lives makes us 200 million mumu inhabiting a perfect mumudom!