Friday, April 13, 2007

Return of the Jedi

The force is strong with this one - or at least I hope it is. I appreciate the many comments of concern, but most endearing were the threats of legal action. Nothing like the fear of legal fees to kickstart lazy backsides into action. Over the past few weeks Bharath from Dell became one of my most trusted companions, sharing several moments of silent interaction as the laptop whirred away. Should I ask him about his family, about Bangalore being India's Silicon Valley? Should I ask him why he hadn't used some bastardised Americanised version of his name, like Bart? Perhaps Dell is more sensitive to the differences of the globalised world in which it operates (read Thomas L Friedman's The World is Flat). Should I have asked him why he left Chennai to pursue silicon dreams in Bangalore, or Bengaluru as it's soon to be rechristened? Silence was quite often golden.

Whenever I saw the call sign, I'd pipe up, "Hello Bharath, I'm just trying to brush my teeth, could you call back in ten minutes?". "Hello Bharath, the blasted thing still isn't working (but in not so colourful language)". These weren't foreign, heavily accented, annoying call centre automatons so despised by the British public. They were always professional, courteous, extremely knowledgeable and competent. When my LAN worked, but my wireless received no waves, I watched as the Bharath poltergeist took over my laptop from a faraway latitude and longitude.

The service was very good, but there were delays. The delays were caused by two things - 1) I had to get the data off my hard drive before reformatting (some major coaxing using linux) and, 2) the reformatting cds took a circuitous route to get to my place.

So. I am back in full blog mode. April 11 edition of City People (the rag of ill repute, and therefore my rag of choice), with an interview which has incredible quotes about a supposedly great man.

"If he was alive, a lot of people would have turned up. Nobody would have cried. But they cried because they loved him and they also benefitted from him in many ways. He was one person who believed in people and would never despise their guts. He was loved by all and appreciated for his humane gestures."

I hate to inform you that it is none of the millions of benevolent Nigerian names we're all itching to trot out. It is of course, the man responsible for some of Nigeria's literal and figurative darkest days - General Sani Abacha. His wife Maryam is asked about life at 60, and she spews all the goodness of her husband, a man who would "never despise their guts". Frankly, if you feel a need to say that despising someone's guts isn't on your agenda for human relations, then something is not quite right. She goes on to describe him as a loving father, a man who did the dishes while she cooked. Doing the dishes? Seriously, roll out the red carpet!

There is something irresponsible about any newspaper selling Abacha wholesale as a family man. I don't doubt that he gave his kids his thumb to suck, but I'm not so sure what the Saro-Wiwa family will make of this perfectly painted picture. It's almost as if the we're talking about the nation's favourite cuddly tv chef, and nothing more. Balanced pictures of people's lives must include their relationships and interactions, but it shouldn't detract from what brought the person to prominence. In Abacha's case, there are too many, too notorious to mention.

Whoever the journalist is (no byline), he/she was cowed. Which is a shame, because it's people like Maryam Abacha who should be answering hard questions about Nigeria, and not be celebrated as some grand dame of the nation.

7 comments:

Honesty is refreshing said...

Dude, since you didn't call me back I'm not calling you to tell you that there a few typos in your post. You can delete my comment once you've dealt with the typos.

Chxta said...

About the Maryam Abacha interview and the fact that the journo was crap, welcome to the world of Nigerian journalism.

uknaija said...

Sounds rather restrained to me...wait for the Ovation ten page spread... Widowed angel Mrs Maryam Abacha invites us to mark her 60th birthday with her...

Fred said...

Hitler painted pretty pictures of flowers. 'Nuff said.

April said...

It's good to have you back! The details of your interaction with Bharath made me chuckle.

As for Maryam Abacha and the Abacha sycophants - Deluded! What more can one say?

Everchange said...

i remember a post last year about a certain dictator watering weeds in the prison yard...take it back! Nkem, take it back!

Anonymous said...

Nkem, dont tell me that u paid for the City People magazine in question... it's a shame but that does not come as a surprise as many journalist in Nigeria (or even of Nigerian origin) are easily cowed when dealing with politicians and distractors ... they keep saying "yes sir!" or "yes ma"