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    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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Much Ado About Nothing: A story by Qansy Salako

This is a writeup I saw on Sahara Reporters, one I found very insightful, a story only a true lover of our great nation Nigeria will write, and read and understand. It’s titled ‘That Ted Cruz Pun: Apology My Foot By Qansy Salako’. Read below.

Map-of-Nigeria-360x225That Ted Cruz Pun: Apology My Foot By Qansy Salako

The Republican Texas Senator, Ted Cruz, recently stepped on quite a number of unprotected balls with his latest pun on the Obamacare healthcare law. He said to his fellow tea baggers at a rally: [Quote] “You may have noticed that all the Nigerian email scammers have become a lot less active lately. They all have been hired to run the Obamacare website.” [Unquote]

That was enough to set the whole Nigerian blogosphere and internet discussion groups afire as many educated Diaspora Nigerians have since been falling atop each other to express their outrage over how they feel violated, dehumanized and insulted by the political quip. You would think Ted was a Nigerian senator, governor or president.

It was former US secretary of state, broda Colin Powell, who had complained about Nigeria and its “culture of corruption” some 15 years ago, followed by some CNN documentary mentioning Nigerians and bank robbery and now Cruz. It is at each of these unremarkable events that I am reminded that Nigerians actually do have what they call “sensibility,” because bored Diasporic Nigerians never wasted the opportunity to do public letters with signature drives seeking apology from perceived wrongdoers based outside Nigeria.

This new round of pretentious indignation over Cruz’s reminded me of one embarrassing event that happened to me sometime in 1992 or 1993. I was still in academia back then on a research faculty position at UC Davis, California. We were about 30 staff in my Institute which is within the Internal Medicine Department/School of Medicine in Sacramento. I got to the office one morning and found about 20 copies of a 419 letter stickered on my office door. UC Davis Campus Police had circulated the letter the day before to alert the university community of what the Nigerian advance fee fraud letter looked/read like and to warn everyone to be careful not to fall a victim of the rising syndicated crime wave. The letter was unmistakably Nigerian with its wazobia name of the writer, inferior grammar and the familiar stupid plot. I was the only Nigerian-American on the staff.

Unbeknownst to me, the rest of the staff had decided to pull a Ted Cruz on me by sticking their copies of the letter on my door, slipping some under it and scrolling some in the pocket of my lab coat that was hung in the central area for lab coats. I whistled in to begin the day’s work, thinking of my ongoing experiments, the manuscript and the staff training manual that I would work on. I made to turn my door knob, then saw the papers on the door. I perused one and noticed they were all copies of the same letter that I had seen the day before. I looked sideways and saw that about five of our staff were already gathered by the copy machine a few feet away. Immediately, I realized what was going on – ee wo o, these people wanted to catch my first reaction. I thought to myself, this is not the time to feel or behave like an insulted Nigerian. So instead, I turned on my Nigerian sense of humor and went to the group by the copy machine whose number had somehow risen to about eight and said: “I suppose I’m gonna have to come up with a new trick since you won’t fall for this one anymore.” Everybody had a hearty laugh, including to my horrors, visiting medical fellows from Taiwan and France and the two professors who started and own the Institute.

Other Nigerians might have handled the same event differently, of course. In fact, some might have started a letter of protest to the university’s HR or even the president. But I was able to choose my method because I only felt embarrassed not insulted. I didn’t take it personal. My characteristic Salako self confidence remained intact and unshaken throughout the ordeal. Neither did I surrender my ego to easy bruising nor did I have any attention deficit disorder that needed to be cured with protest letters, faxes or phone calls over a shame that I know is bigger than me. I won’t have brain-drained to faraway UC Davis anyway if my country was not being run by a group of rogue leadership.

I personally have no problem with whatever reaction any Nigerian chooses to exercise against global ridicule that we as Nigerians have condemned ourselves to live in. There are 160 million of us; reactions to events are bound to differ. I just wish reactionary Nigerians with sensitive egos could direct half of their lame indignation activism to those ruining our country and disrespecting the citizens every day. Indeed, there are millions of well hinged Nigerians with demonstrated intellect and hard work and who are making remarkable contributions across all economic sectors all over the world. But somehow, these good Nigerian qualities are regressed compared to the dominant criminal traits that have come to define us all.

For about 40 years now, we as Nigerians have watched helplessly as our country gradually became defined to the world by state run corruption, a brand of worldwide fraud that is based on mutual stupidity of the scammer and scammed, drug trafficking, identity theft crimes, etc, not to talk of ritual killings for money at home. Ted Cruz is only 42 years old. He had probably lived all of his adult life seeing the Nigerian 419 fraud becoming a new reality across the world, reading ubiquitous news about official recklessness and stupidity of our leaderships and probably concluded by the time he became a senator that the Nigeria nation state is one giant criminal enterprise. I know a lot of Nigerians who hold similar opinion and they are neither white Republicans nor Democrat Latinos.

The Nigerian self pride is naturally crude and oftentimes misplaced. Nigeria is the only place you would see dirt poor citizens walking or pushing menial carts in dignity even as they wait in sealed off streets for their commissioner, minister, senator, governor or president to drive or fly past. I am not even sure Nigerians know how and what they feel. Nigeria is where you would find the most cheated and disrespected human being alive claiming the happiest living and yet hating to be born in Nigeria, more than anywhere in the world. Go figure.

The contents of some of the letters written to Cruz are a different kettle of fish. The logical thread in most of the letters is to remind Cruz that Nigerians are the most educated immigrant subset in the US with significant contributions across the American economic spectrum and that the Nigerian criminals are a tiny minority not representing a proportion higher than in any other population group. Beyond that, the supporting logic in some of those letters ranges from the absurd to our official state of delusion.

One Nigerian who actually wrote in support of Cruz stated in his own letter:

[Quote] “To silence these protests, please Senator, challenge them to a debate about Biafra and why the division of that country is the answer to all the problems. Thanks for being realistic and truthful.” [Unquote]

This one made me rub my jaw for hours. What has Ted Cruz yabbis in Texas got to do with the price of overripe pawpaw in Nnewi? Could this kind of dopey letter possibly elevate the current level of respect Cruz has for the Nigerian or validate what he already knows and feels?

The Nigerian ambassador to the US, Ade Adefuye, stated in his own protest letter to Cruz:

[Quote] “You yourself made the point that the so-called email scammers have disappeared from the scene. But it is not because they were recruited to work on Obamacare. It is because of the successful efforts of our government working through the Embassy and the international law enforcing agents to curb the activities of these few law breakers.” [Unquote]

What else would Adefuye say about corruption when he works for President Goodluck Jonathan who himself has been telling Nigerians and the world that corruption is not as serious in Nigeria as we believe it to be. Well, Adefuye should know that I personally still receive at least two 419 email per week which I delete at sight. Really, to believe that Jonathan’s anti-corruption antics have reduced Nigerian 419 activities on the global stage or dented our culture of corruption within Nigeria is to believe that Obasanjo was a rich and successful farmer before he was released from Abacha’s prison to again involuntarily become the president of our Republic in 1999.

Amazingly, indignant Nigerians protesting Cruz only want an apology, fake or genuine, forced out of him, just as it was with Powell and the CNN documentary. But of course, what else could they have required from Ted, sue Cruz? Then what, after the apology? Lay in wait for another unfriendly but truthful statement by a prominent person about Nigeria and then kaboom, unleash the typical hollow Nigerian rage? Collect another apology then sit back? Would this legislate against unwanted world views of Nigeria or intimidate foes into loving Nigerians? Is this what the Akunyuli’s new branding of Nigeria all about – great country, good people? Folks need to grab hold of themselves and go to a rehab for anger management. It is my opinion that blowing your top just to get apologies from those who call out Nigeria on its shady characteristics is to live in the frivolity of a grand self delusion.

If only the same vigor of protest phone calls, letters and email directed at Colin Powell, CNN and Cruz could be directed at our pernicious political class at home twice a year. Perhaps the feckless leadership cabal would not be so brazen in how they pillage our resources and disparage our dignity, abandoning the business of governance and letting criminality fester at home and abroad to define us to the world. Just twice a year. Unfortunately, that is not the case with the Diasporic Nigerian activist groups. I am yet to see a concerted and sustained protest by signature hunting Nigerians abroad directed at the Nigerian leaderships to force the much needed change in our country.

Instead, what we see is folks hobnobbing with pilferers of our commonwealth, seeking life saving appointments, plots of land and political relevance at home. They did not mount a quarter of this Cruz type outrage against the deceit of the Nigerian government over the oil subsidy in support of the January 2012 Occupy Nigeria when local salvers like Santa Sanusi was making stupid cases for the government or spent and overrated Iweala was promising one million jobs from the subsidy savings. Today, we now know as some of us saw and stated at the time that the whole so-called subsidy policy was all a scam, an official fraud.

Members of the Diaspora Nigerian groups are the first to hop on flights into Abuja or attend patronizing dinner invitations when our odious leaderships come calling on useless trips abroad. So we end up with oversize state and federal government cabinets that look like university faculty roll calls, but nothing works in the country. Poverty is all you see all over the place with citizens still groping in the dark for basic needs of life such as access to water, healthcare and food, in 2013.

Well, the Ted Cruz and future Ted Cruz’es currently in college are seeing all of our shenanigans, including the news of the $1.6 million spent by our government in the purchase of two armored cars for a bimbo minister in our aviation ministry where rustic airplanes drop from the sky like raw mangoes on a wild farm killing Nigerians in hundreds as if we were at war. It is only a matter of time that another Colin or Cruz would grow up and use our primitive reality in another political exchange within their own political world. Getting up in arms of misplaced rage and fury is not what would make the world laugh with us; we haven’t got much cheer to share with the world. Unless we direct our fragile sensibility at the uncivilized leadership elites destroying our heritage, dignity and future, we will be doomed to unending letter writing and signature hunts each time the world laughs at us.

Leave a comment


  1. Excellency

     /  October 28, 2013

    It’s obvious Mr Writer of this piece, dat Nigerians take to social media rants & “signature hunts” even against their own; Fuel subsidy, Child not bride, anti campaigns to perceived corrupt politicians, GEJ 600 men entourage, even Oduah’s recent pet project etc, oh yes they do. Problem is our leaders are not empathic & perturbed enough to render any demanded apology or make any positive amends, the Ted Cruzs and his likes on the other hand, could easily bow in. Yea writing is good, but may not be as productive here as over there. Kindly profer another solution…

    • Words aяє good. Words go a long way. Don’t be entirely dismissive of tнє power of one’s writing, no matter tнє continent.

      • Excellency

         /  October 28, 2013

        U don’t get me sire, I’m not entirely dismissive of writing, but the author of dat piece made it look like, if Nigerians would react to our corrupt leaders even once like they did Cruz, things would change sharply, but we all know, there have been such outrages that yielded little or nothing, especially when directed against a particular fellow. These corrupt men just don’t care, & so a step more than literary attacks must be embraced. Nigerians write joor, we don’t all hide the wrongs, we write, but it ain’t enuf yet…

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