WE ARE SOLDIERS

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I have an astrologer friend like that; we came to be friends after she read a poem titled “Untitled Picturesque” on my blog. She’s an American and kind of believe in things I’ll never come to terms with. I like her for her critical and unbiased analysis of sociopolitical issues and spiritual opinions though. At some point, she told me many things about myself which have always been secretly personal and left me dumbfounded. She also told me something that scared the hell out of me. She said, “You’re travelling too slowly in your destiny, Moshood. Something was taken from you in 2009, it was deeper than it looked and it shook you spiritually too adversely beyond your awareness. You’re only still recuperating and not catching up yet with the written speed of your destiny.” When I read that message, I must be truthful, it scared me. I could not reply for another one hour before I later simply wrote, “No event paddled by man or demons or the devil himself can be so turbulent to override God’s plan in a man’s life. No devil-anchored incidence can set back the time of man’s destiny or reduce the stamina of his speed in life. Whatever happened in 2009 happened from God’s plan, not outside of it. Devil is capable of many things; he is not capable of surpassing God or in any capacity rubbish His wishes. And I’m sure He has not forsaken me.”
“You might be somewhat right, in a clergyman’s fashion of right,” was her reply. She told me many other things but I could never let devil’s definition of my life become my reality. God sets the pace, Satan travels along. He tempts, he whispers, but as long as man begs God not to test his faith but should only empower him to overcome the attractions of devil’s promises of materialism, man is safe. A king will be king, it’s not in Satan’s plan but God’s, even though Satan promises it.

What really happened in 2009? Indeed, I was robbed of two things, firstly, of my father, then of my mandate. I was not tormented much by the loss of that mandate, but by the loss of my father. He did not deserve to die. He was a honest man. A man of strong will to oppose tyrannism and police brutality in the township of Oyo Alaafin. He would go to court against notorious men of wealth and influence and would speak for himself and defeat a dozen of lawyers even though he was not a lawyer himself. Even after his death till date, the echoes of his typewriter keys are still loud in our ears. He told us once, “If anyone moves with me and remain stupid and quiet to the unjust human persecutions anywhere or everywhere, the person will never be wise. Now if that person is one of my children who grew up under my very roof, he must surely be a complication of an intercourse behind my back.” Lawyers listened when he talked, yet he did not study any Law. All the policemen that were used by “the power that be” to arrest him throughout his life had always eventually come to prostrate to him after his release. Anytime I hear the songs of Yusufu Olatunji and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister that he so heartily loved to sing, pictures of my lively childhood come to mind. Although I was said to have been born when the tensions were lessened, I could not imagine any tension greater than the ones I witnessed myself. They thrust violence at him, he thrust love and justice back. When he was shot, I never for once cried, even when he died, I did not cry. One day, when I waited for a heavy rain to pass somewhere in Oke-Apo and found myself among men in their seventies and eighties discussing the life of my father and crying without knowing that the young man in their midst was his son, I cried from that scene homeward without remembering to wave down a bike. I cried through that night. I cried so much I was surprised I was ever capable of tears; that was the first time I would cry in my matured life. I will not pretend that he was a lover of many people like Christ, but damn it, he loved his children. When we were small, I would tell him whenever I was ill, “Alhaji, mo fee wo commando elerin ati toofan,” and he would pack us all by his right arm, left arm, above his head, at his legs and play films for us in his parlour. My favorite position was to lie in-between his legs and place my head on his stomach while I watched chal chal chal mere sathi, o mere sathi. Mr. India, Disco dancer, Commando by Mithun Chakraborty, Sholay, Ghazab, Mard, Toofan, Hathi mere saathi, Dharam Veer and Watan ke rhakwale were my favorite films. That man is the biggest thing I’ve ever lost in my life. He was my father. No, you don’t get it, I mean he was my father, my daddy!

In 2008, thousands of students elected me as their SUG president at the then Oyo State College of Education, now Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo. The opposite side after receiving the results in bad faith went on to the palace to report that an Atingisi’s son had mysteriously won an election. It must have looked as a threat of sort, I wouldn’t know. A call was placed to the office of the Governor, Alao Akala immediately and from the Governor’s office came down the order that “those boys must not be inaugurated.” Then came the agitations and protests by the aggrieved students and then we went on a five-week strike during when my father was shot by an assassin. The Union was entirely scrapped after that. I remember that day when the suspension notice was handed down to us at the College Management’s Board Room and Mr. Toyin was discreetly recording me with his phone as I told them that I’ll not forget their names. I wonder why on our campuses, men who naturally despise young men of potentials are placed in the helm of students’ affairs. How can you handle students’ affairs when you outrightly hate students? Those are the things I was robbed of in 2009; my mandate and my father. Thanks to all the people who took the two away from me. I’ve learnt to forgive you and even hope to love you. Mine is not to judge, I leave all judgments to Allah. He is more capable of forgiveness than man.

I learnt some lessons. It’s not only in politics but in general life that there’s no permanent enemy, neither is there a permanent friend. Some active opponents to my presidency during the college struggle later ended up as my loyal supporters during my struggle for the presidency of Faculty of Science in Ondo, and I won and served. We proved something in Ondo, that there is no sense in enmity if seriously there’s no meaningful reason for it. Somebody killed your dad, that is why you cannot be his friend, that is an enough reason even though it could still be overlooked if your father in question was Adolf Hitler, Sanni Abacha or Idiamin of Uganda. But someone is my enemy because he did not support me during my election? That doesn’t sound sensible to me. The ability to forgive is a rare thing, it’s only common among psychologically advantaged people, geniuses and men of strength and faith. Now today, how can my astrologer say I’m still recuperating from a 2009 blow when I was not a graduate but now one? Still a Prince, still my girlfriend’s honey, possessed of the strength to dream and ability to think and if God wishes contest elections from 2019 on, and heavens will not crash. So, what have I lost? How have I been delayed? Who cares about my age? Generations have come and gone and the sea is still as alive as fuck.

My brother who has taken after me in literary bent, D’broconner A. Atingisi had told me recently, “Egbon,” he said. “By the time I reach your age, I’m sorry to say this o, unlike you, I want to have had my Masters and attained the financial ability of travelling to anywhere I wish in the world. But now I feel socially threatened, I feel caged, I feel less-privileged. I feel like I’m stuck here, and I really don’t want to end up like my seniors.”

I told him, “Wait, wait, who have you been comparing yourself with lately, WizKid? Your seniors have not, how did you call it, ‘end up’? They’re rather still on the move, finding meanings to their lives. You can do better and achieve better and even be advantaged by time if you learn from our mistakes. Besides, there’s no cause for alarm yet. Our father was murdered and although we were economically threatened, we’re still moving on. We’re graduating from good universities yearly, what other assurance of God’s concern for us and readiness to help us reach our dreamt heights could ever be? Our lives have been planned; no witch, wizard, monarch or economic situation of any country can change any part of it. It is a sin for any man to think any of these forces could negatively alter his destiny. It is a loss of confidence in God to worry about anything at all. Dream on, with your eyes wide open, work hard, pray all along and you’ll never see your fate hampered by circumstances of country of birth.”

Most of the time I write with the consciousness that I’m probably overstating my points or saying things that could be used against me in the future, but I would rather express my heart than butcher my own conscience, languishing my pen in confines of fear. So far, I’ve seen that nothing is fair and our reaction to the unfairness is God’s test of our faith. But some of us have decided to risk lambasting those unfairness whether it’ll end us in hell or paradise. Why are all the prophets born whites and none is born a black man of Africa? And because of this, Asia and Europe have only come down to Africa to religiously separate us, and we cannot marry a girl because she meets our requirements and could be a good teacher to our children but because she’s a Catholic like us, Methodist like us, Anglican like us, Baptist like us, Ahmadiyya like us, Aluhs-sunna like us, Tijaniyya like us, Bhuddist like us, Deeper Life like us, Zoroastrian like us, Witness like us. And a country like Nigeria is loosing her youths to rap music of satanic and completely immoral lyrics, to alcohol and love of materialism, and instead of the elders to be conscious of that and stand up to restore the youths back to their senses and remind them that their time to occupy the leadership seats is near, they’re themselves having affairs out of marriage, embezzling public funds at every opportunity, organizing Landlords Associations to exploit tenants and all sorts of unspeakable sins to humanity. Religious clerics exploit; Power Holding companies exploit, Telecommunication companies exploit, Higher Institutions of Learning exploit, Banks exploit, Police Force exploit, FRSC exploit, the Government herself exploit, what else? In fact, girlfriends exploit boyfriends, boyfriends themselves are notorious internet thieves. And I, Prince M. B. A. Atingisi, preacher of eBayism sit somewhere, thinking about where I’ve reached in the journey of my life and what I hope to achieve before I die like everybody else human, and in fact I’ve realised that to be born in this country at all is war, and although we do not bear arms, all of us are watchful of the magnetic hands of poverty and seek to learn how to cut the ones on our paths by learning crafts and going to schools which are practically business establishments where payment comes before service and I say, indeed, we are soldiers, I don’t see anything else to call us if not that. We’re subconscious freedom fighters, chasers of happiness and victims of democratic capitalism and corporatism. All hands on the deck anyways, let’s together say, we will not surrender, we will not be put somewhere by circumstances but rather by our standards and God’s will. As for me, this is where I stand, God help me, I can not stand anywhere else.

-Lord eBay

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