By Mpuga Rukidi, Uganda:
It is not everyday that I get to talk about let alone write about a former leader (ex leader sounds improper) of such a gigantic country, because it is not everyday that a former African leader is living in their own country. So when I finally write about such a leader there must be such a compelling reason. And there is.
It was one of the wonders of modern technology – facebook – that presented me the former head of state. It was a picture that swept me off my feet, literally. The former head of state must have been attending one of the functions in his native country. Dressed in his elaborate agbada, and equally flattering headgear, he was deep in sleep. The person who posted the picture gave it an equally captivating caption: I will wake up when you stop saying nonsense!
That got me thinking. Am aware Nigeria has a lot of things to be proud of. Nigerians are the current African football champions. Their film industry is third in the world – only Hollywood and Bollywood -boast more revenue than Nollywood. Am also aware that Naija flow is such a sensation the world over and that 2face Idibia, PSquare, Asa and Wale are household names in music the world over; that one in every eight Africans is indeed Nigerian; and that Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe(RIP), Elechi Amadi and Chinamanda Ngozie Adichie call Nigeria home. All that I know.
While am aware also that with all that Nigeria has every reason to be proud, I cannot accept the fact that they begin to steal our identity, our signature! Now who gave the Nigerian ex president (I will now use this phrase) the audacity to do what is a preserve of Ugandan politicians and MPs? Is Mr Obasanjo not aware that that is a stunt proudly and distinctly Ugandan? Does he know how many pupils would fail their Social Studies exams, with questions such as: Name the man in the picture? By the way is he not aware that it is only people with the heavy burden of thinking for the rest of Uganda that have the permission to pause like that in front of cameras?
What hurts even more is the fact that he did it so well that very soon, and I say very soon, many of our politicians will soon begin to flock Naija to get coached on how to do it perfectly. Imagine all the negative publicity that will create! Imagine the ridicule that will attract, that a country, once so good at its game, is now travelling thousands of miles to learn from those who have proved they can do it even better. The only comfort I got was the fact that our Nigerian brothers and sisters have not yet learnt how to write the captions. Had it been in Ug, the caption would have read something like: National meditation, don't disturb. But they will learn to write good captions very soon, and that makes me scared. So if everyone close to the ex leader (I will now use this tag) is reading this, please let him know that he rubbed a number of people the wrong the way, and that just as we, the people of this country that is the pearl of Africa, shall not interfere with any practice that is distinctly Nigerian, he, an ex president of Naija, should not take over any practice that is distinctly Ugandan. That is not asking too much.
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