Deja Vu Everywhere
Michael Ovienmhada

There are some events that happen in one’s lifetime, which leave an indelible memory. Growing up in Nigeria, one of those events was August 8, 1967. That was the day Biafra soldiers drove into Benin City. It was the beginning of the Nigerian Civil War which was to eventually swallow up a big part of our future—as 3 million men, women, and children lay dead when the guns went silent 3 years after, in 1970.

Another major event was 9/11. I was on my way to the basement of my house In Detroit, Michigan. As I approached the stairs, from the corner of my eye, I caught a newsflash on the veritable CNN—A plane had just crashed into one of the twin towers. The entire country was confused. Big, strong, mighty America had been hit at the heart of its economic power by a group of extremists who had been promised 72 virgins in paradise in exchange for a suicide mission. It is not difficult for me to understand how a mind can process the prospect of dying to get 72 virgins at all. After all, for us Christians—do we not also have to die first to make heaven? Only two men have been known according to our religious teachings to have gone without first having to die—- Elijah who went in a chariot of fire, and Enoch who was so pure in thought, and deed that God had to take him away before he could be corrupted by his generation.

By far however, the saddest day of my life, without comparison by miles, was December 14th, 2012. That’s a day that will for me, forever, “live in infamy.” It was the day of the Sandy Hook massacre—-a day when a 20-year old young man walked into a school and took the lives of 20 children between ages 6 and 10, along with 6 adults.

There’s just no way to wrap one’s head around that level of evil. It is 10 years this week, and one can only imagine how the parents of the murdered children have been able to cope with life these last 10 years. May God continue to sustain them and comfort them.

Every public commentator, myself included, had said at the time:

This is it. If gun control does not happen now, gun control will never happen in America.

It did not happen.

Guns and America are Siamese entities. They will never be separable.

As the past week unfolded, we witnessed a war of titans as Reverend Warnock and Herschel Walker were involved in a battle for the ages. In boxing terms, this battle was the equivalent of Ali versus Foreman—Rumble in the Jungle. Never have we seen so much money poured into a Senatorial race, and never have we seen so much mud raked up and splashed on both candidates. Everything was fair game. In Nigerian Pidgin English parlance, this was a “roforofo” fight. Both candidates set up their war rooms in the mud. Both candidates ate mud for every meal. Both candidates threw mud at each other relentlessly. Every minute on every advertising medium, it was either Walker or Warnock throwing mud. New breaking news. New accusations, so many so far-fetched that it left one to wonder if politics is something for any decent mind to ever consider as a career. A now late Nigerian political godfather put it best in his heyday as Kingmaker in Western Nigeria. He said: “If you want to know the first man who dated your mother, just go into politics.” The runoff was on December 6th. I cast an early vote for Warnock in the small window allowed before December 2nd. In the end, the battle was won on turnout. All thanks to our beautiful, hardworking, tireless, and brilliant Stacey Abrams.

The battle was brutal. If character had mattered, Herschel would have been decimated by miles. A man who, in spite of the level of dung piled on his head still managed to score 49 percent of the votes should go home unbowed. Even though Warnock won, the real victory here belongs to Walker. As he gave his concession speech, Walker admonished his supporters to believe in the Constitution, and respect elected officials. He was making an allusion to election denialism. He was distancing himself from it finally while setting the stage for a new chapter, a new road to travel—a man, like the rest of us, flawed, beaten, yet unbowed.

In other news from around the world, we heard about a student in a Nigerian University who, apparently got so frustrated that he thought he could lash out on Twitter. According to our security officials who have been hard at work, searching every nook, and cranny of Nigerian forests, taking down terrorists—how could a mere student dare to complicate their onerous task by insulting the most important woman in the country?

Was he out of his mind?

I never thought I would live to see such high-handedness from our government officials ever again after what we experienced in the early years of military rule in Nigeria. A certain journalist named Amakiri had written an article critical of the governor of Rivers State at the time. The journalist, was arrested, and his head was shaved with broken bottles. His back was lacerated with horsewhip and he was detained. Newspapers in Nigeria took up the fight. Every day, you would see printed boldly at the top-right hand of Daily newspapers, the caption: What did Amakiri do?

The case went to court. It was handled by a young, and up and coming Barrister Gani Fawehinmi. He won the case for Amakiri who was awarded heavy financial damages for brutalization by the people who govern us. Our rulers have not stopped brutalizing us. We have not stopped talking either. I hope a lawyer takes up the case of Aminu Adamu. One thing is clear. Anyone can say anything they want to say about Nigeria.

Our Press is fearless. Our Judiciary works regardless of any warts, here and there. And there are warts even in the American judiciary.

In a story from the pages of African Magic as it were, last week’s event in the UK made for great comical relief as a Nigerian contender for the presidency took his comedy to one of the most elite stages on earth—The Chatham House, a veritable Think Tank with few peers. When he was asked questions about his plans to address different sectors of the Nigerian economy, and the things that trouble our beloved country, he assigned questions one by one to his surrogates. By his actions, he has invented a new way to do a job interview.

Abraham Lincoln it was who said:

“You can fool some of the people some of the time;
You can fool all of the people some of the time;
But you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

It is yet to be seen if the Nigerian people will fit the mold of “all of the people all of the time.”

This should affirm the candidate, and his display of classical grandiosity stewed In imperiousness.

Long live Nigeria.

Meanwhile, in a move designed to cow the hapless people of Iran whose only crime right now is the cry for a little freedom, the Ayatollahs are digging in as protesters are being executed.

Will the young people of Iran be cowed into permanent subservience?

The Republicans are doing some soul searching even now as their expectations have fallen short in the midterm elections. They can do all the post-mortem they want.

The Republican Party will never be able to move away from Trump until Trump chooses to move away from the Republican Party.

Trumpism is a dagger at the heart of the GOP.

Regardless what anyone wants to think or believe, if Trump were to leave the Republican Party today, the Party would immediately become a shell of its old self. They will do well to continue to massage, and manage his style.

For the highlight of the week—— our girl, Britney Griner is home!
At, six foot eight inches, with a smile so endearing, this beautiful, and talented woman found herself at the center of a diplomatic battle between two elephants. It is to the credit of Joe Biden who may yet turn out to be the greatest president of the last 50 years that the great promise of America is coming to fruition: No one left behind. I look forward to the day that the country of my birth will go to the bat for the least of its citizens.

Love for country never comes by force. It comes in the little things that make it possible eventually for a leader to be persuaded enough, and bold enough to declare as JFK did at his inaugural when he said: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Instead ask: what you can do for your country.” God bless the United States of America.

The beautiful game is winding down in Qatar. Mountains have been cut down, and Valleys exalted. For the first time, Morocco, a North African country is in the final four. Is the World Cup finally within reach for Africa?

As you begin your week, may the light of Adonai, creator of the heavens, and the earth illuminate your path to cause you to excel.

Michael (O’meekey) Ovienmhada.
Author, Poet, Playwright, and Public Affairs Commentator.
[email protected]


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