Talib Kweli’s Prisoner of Conscious album begins with a minute-long skit that urges everyone – read as young people – with a smartphone and a voice to “do your job and spread the word”. The conscious rapper could easily have been any of the new-age activists and youth leaders in Nigeria urging their contemporaries to take a stand in 2010, 2012 or 2014 against oppression, injustice and the actions and inactions of government through the mediums of the Enough is Enough rallies, Occupy Nigeria protests and the pro-Chibok schoolgirls marches nationwide, respectively.
Kweli’s audience could also be the teeming youth population that has congregated on social media and who find time, despite their love of self, the allure of youth and all the trappings, to love their country more. Wielding wit and internet-enabled devices as weapons, they continue to attempt to change this country via the internet. Consequently, they have been variously labelled the “click generation”, the “hashtag generation” and more infamously by presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, as “the children of anger”.
One such leader, Chude Jideonwo sums up the challenges of being today’s youth aiming to be a leader tomorrow, in his new book, Are We the Turning Point Generation?, published by Kachifo Limited’s Kamsi imprint. Before he and his Enough is Enough coalition set out to change the status quo, many believed – and some hold this belief to this day – that striving to get things to work in Nigeria was pointless and many a protest march is treated as an exercise in futility, much like aiming fire extinguishers at the sun for the sake of regulating its hotness. Since then however, it has become fashionable to be an activist or sound politically correct on social media and even though this in itself is no solution to the country’s multitude of problems, it is a means to an end. People power has become localised, as has capacity-building, on social media.
In this collection of 40 concise essays, he asks questions of his fellow youth on the intermingling of ambition and cumulative personal integrity, delving headlong into controversial topics including the unity of Nigeria; youth agenda and “the Nigerian dream”; questioning authority; pastors and private jets; technocrats who overstay their welcome in public office; the tendency of everyone to blame or depend on God, the anti-homosexuality bill and more. There are subliminals here and there directed at “moral champions” who analytically criticise and critically analyse the moral fibre and puritanical worth of anyone who so much as screams for change or aspires to political office thereafter.
Subtitled in wit, the book feels more like it was written by a storyteller than a preacher or motivational speaker. It attempts to organise – rather than cheer on – the mob of disgruntled elements that a majority of Nigerian youths have become, into purposeful arrows piercing the soul of “the system”. Will it have the desired impact or will our fathers have the last laugh?
In his inaugural speech as governor of California on the morning of January 5, 1967, Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Was he speaking then as Jideonwo is now, from the vantage point of a man who saw tomorrow? Is this generation ready to deliver a brand new state? Can a book change “the system”? The book was launched last week at The Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos.
-Egbejule writes from Lagos
As featured in http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/the-man-who-saw-tomorrow/179329/ by Eromo Egbejule