The Lonesome Voice
The Nigerian is presently treading upon the time bomb called unemployment especially that aspect which affects the youths. In comparatively organized countries like the United States of America where the corporate rich dominate the national economy and consequently call the piper’s tune, the working class and unemployed are effectively manipulated.
The working class man in the U.S.A. is kept busy in his place of work, and his income is barely enough to meet with the essential demands of life and probably an average education for his dependants. But alas, he does not have the mental emancipation and intellectual framework to take care of the essentials first before engaging in the acquisition of superfluities. He has to keep pace with the present trend while his wife, girl friend or daughter has to keep pace with the fleeting fashions. Well, the capitalist salesmen or TV commercials are always ready to put the latest models on display. There is resurgence of advertising by American corporate interests who exploit the sex images of women as well as the stereo types of African Americans and Aboriginal Americans in a manner that is inconsistent with corporate responsibility. Corporate bodies should make their profits in a socially responsible way.
Thus the American worker is always dreaming of a tomorrow that never seems to dawn. He takes up two or more jobs but all to no avail. He is so busy making a living that he never learns how to live.
The American unemployed case is to say the least pathetic. His mental balance has been disturbed by the unhealthy and stifling environment he lives in. He is crippled by the grants he receives from the welfare state. It prevents him from realizing the necessary drive to fend for himself and also from developing anti-government and anti-establishment sentiments. Consequently, he proceeds with a self-destructive mode of life, – excessive alcoholism intoxicating drugs, sensuality and pornography (which sometime evolves to rape), involvement in gratuitous crimes (especially breaking into people’s houses and murders) and street gangs. The above cases are mostly common with high school “drop-outs” and people unskilled in a given trade or profession. Those with relatively higher formal education unveil their grievances through complaints and mass protests of all manners. Many often lead self-destructive lives (mostly, sex-a-holism alcoholism and drug abuse), while those who engage in crimes are often very sophisticated and are mostly involved with more serious ones like bank robbery and extortion. Those who fight the odds and manage to lead societally acceptable lives are often plagued with repeated depressions.
God, what about the Nigerian unemployed? Not even the gods can avert the impending catastrophes. Well, with his get-rich-quick mentality and his inability to conceive a path through which he can take on the intricacies of the modern world, he is nothing but a tool lying in wait for some politicians “revolutionaries” or “reformers”.
The lowborn that generally has a low up bringing from the low class contaminates everything he lays his hands upon in this country. This is because the class system is not well defined here in Nigeria and probably all over black Africa. One can rise from the slum to the top overnight. Here, unlike in the West, high society does not comprise of members of rigidly engrained upper class (often archaic) structures. The only determinant of position and power down here is the amount of money one has.
Let us look at the low class. The low class must not be confounded with communities (often found in very remote villages) who have not been confronted with the social and political disparities of the modern world. For such disparities breed despondency, envy, malignancy and other negative tendencies. Now the low-born’s main pre-occupation is the elevation of his status in society. Since he has been plagued with abject poverty from birth, he looks upon money and wealth as the means of breaking that cycle of poverty. Since he is subjected to all manners of dishonour by society he never comprehends that which is honourable.
Now if such a one should happen to acquire enormous wealth (often through embezzlements, gambling, taking bribes, profiteering, smuggling and other corrupt means), he invariably finds himself in a high social and political position, though his moral, academic and intellectual disposition may be lacking. He then transmits everything low, vulgar and ignoble (that is characteristic of the low class) into his new contemporaries. This is why decay and canker rules so shamelessly in every facet of the Nigerian society. In the streets, villages, churches, mosques, offices, state houses – everywhere.
In Western (Euro-American) societies where it took decades and even generations of barbarianism, hardship and eventually hard work to build the upper class structures, their continual up-keep and honour are guarded demonically, dogmatically and single-mindedly by those who make them up. Its ethos, conventions, hypocrisy, and narrow outlook on life, ethical norms, and values have all combined to alienate its intellectually free spirited and self-searching members from it. For society, especially, high society puts its members in straitjackets, so the free spirited man of the intellect looks upon it as DEAD!
And Rock music with its anti establishment and anti-societal stance could not have come at a better time. The giants of rock music (who had directions) like, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Morrison, Janis Joplin, Lennon and McCartney, Led Zeplin, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones and Sex Pistols spread a new awareness around the world. Most of their followers conformingly joined in the new craze, but they perceived only its surface while the free spirited (mostly upper and middle class kids) used it to broaden their horizons, though to common minds it was just “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ Roll. Steppin’ Wolf’s rock masterpiece, ‘born to wild’ was the ultimate expression of that innate rebel instinct of the rock era. No wonder the song has been adopted as the anthem of the various motor cycle gangs like the Hell’s Angles across Europe and America who use it as a means of living out their anti establishment sentiments. Rock music sent shock waves to society especially the white corporate and political establishment in the sixties and early seventies when its exponents still had direction. Rock music gave the world the Wood-stock legacy, which is a testimony to the high political and intellectual awareness it generated as well as the spirit of being one’s brother’s keeper. And the “hippie” movement served as a springboard with which many young Westerners became involved with the transcendental philosophies of India and the Orient.
Today “rock” music is an exclusive property of record and videotape companies who capitalize on the lack of direction in today’s youths to make money. And as such does not worth my mention. The mid-seventies and early eighties saw the emergence of Reggae music, with its greatest exponent Bob Marley. But reggae preaches the effects of social disparity and imperial siege of the black man and Africa, (black consciousness). It also spread the great social and religious culture of Rastafarianism. The message that reggae propagates is most pertinent to the cause of all who have been either socially or politically encroached upon. And since such encroachment is worldwide, reggae is also a universal phenomenon.
Now looking at the works of the three poet laureates: Bob Marley, Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan. Firstly, Bob Marley. As a composer and poet he was outstanding. He was more experienced and consequently had a higher degree of maturity than the other two. He was uncompromising as an artist. Secondly, Jim Morrison: Intellectual extraordinary! He had a superior intellect to the other two and wrote his poetry on a subjective and obscure but higher artistic level than the others. He was however inferior as a composer. He was opposed to all authority and convention but lacked self-restraint. Now Bob Dylan: He was also an exceptional composer and poet. Unlike Jim Morrison who out-grew high society and Bob Marley who was remote from it, Dylan had a profound understanding of upper and middle class life. He took on the evils of the upper class and corporate rich at a relatively young age, and expended his energy prematurely. A fusion of these three giants would create an awareness and atmosphere that would render the FBI, CIA and other Western terrorist and spy networks impotent, thereby shaking their governments to their foundation.
For one who has not tasted the “forbidden fruit” of modernity, and is well informed with ancient African philosophy (whose bedrock lies in proverbs and folklore) and lives by it, he/she would be in harmony with the inexorable and immutable laws of nature. Though such a mode of life would be lacking in the lofty intellectualism of Western philosophy and the transcendental self-realization of Eastern philosophy. If one grapples with the complexities of modernity armed with only ancient African philosophy his life becomes entangled. He thus, becomes a menace to both himself and others.
For one who is already in the tide of modernity, one must take refuge either in or both the constitution and the Bible and surrender himself to the realities of life. On the other hand he could take on the tide head-on and forge ahead, armed with either or both Western (which revolves around the domain of the intellect) and Eastern (transcendental) philosophies. Let me make one revelation however, either of these literatures would make to you only those revelations for which you are worthy, that is those that the state of your consciousness may allow you.
With a silent conscience, and an unfeeling and redundant soul, the modern man is but a reliable but disposable component of the machinery of government and modernity. A component can operate harmoniously with another if they are efficiently assembled and energized. Then each component is “just great”! But as soon as wear or failure sets in, it is removed and replaced. It is then duly discarded for it is now “useless” and “worthless”.
The component’s dilemma – It was designed to be part of and not a whole machine. Just as a component has to be lubricated to ensure its smooth operation, the modern man has to receive a wage to keep him in good working condition. He makes a living, but is he really living?
When it comes to passion, to emotion, to sharing, to health of the mind the modern soul is destitute. That is why his close and inter-personal relationships sooner or later meet disaster. What good is a relationship if there is no emotional or spiritual bond or involvement? If the modern soul is separated from his work or dominant preoccupation, he becomes lost, ineffectual and even suicidal. And in the quest to fill the emptiness within him he employs the services of psychiatrists, psychologists, drug peddlers and religion. He becomes sensual.
Man liberate yourself from your society or environment –know yourself!