Without the right stories, we’ll repeat past mistakes

Saturday March 11 2023
Lagos Labour Party gubernatorial candidate Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.

Lagos Labour Party gubernatorial candidate Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour. His family is of high society Lagos lawyers and the great grandson of the second ever indigenous judge appointed in Nigeria. However, all this is not enough to make him fully Yoruba or a full Lagosian. PHOTO| PIUS UTOMI EKPEI | AFP


Nigeria, elections, tinubu, governor,

Generational tussle between old guard and newbies forces complete makeover of Nigerian story, dream

When I was young, my mother made it clear that no woman in the family was allowed to eat the gizzard of a chicken because it was the exclusive reserve of the man of the house. When I relocated to Kenya, I heard the same story in some quarters. I searched unsuccessfully for its origins. Where then, did it come from?

I was also told that whistling at night attracted snakes and evil spirits. Again, I searched for the origins of the story but found nothing and no scientific backing for the claim. What I did discover, however, was that different societies had their own variation of the same story.

In parts of Greece, whistling is the recognized language of evil spirits, so when someone whistles at night, those spirits haunt and punish the whistler. One can even lose their voice or ability to speak as a consequence!

In Turkey it is widely believed that whistling at night is calling for the devil, while, according to Chinese and Korean beliefs, whistling at night will attract wandering ghosts to follow you home.


Started as a story

How did these beliefs cross oceans and transcend generations? They must have started as a story somewhere and passed from person to person, gaining traction as each community it landed in added its own unique flavour to it. The key here is that it started as a story.

Stories rule the world. Whether you are making a sales pitch, a pitch to your board, a pitch to get approval from your boss or a pitch to potential investors or donors, the ability to tell the right stories with the right hook is one of the most desired skills in today’s saturated market.

If the right stories are not told, we are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past. This is what is happening in Nigeria right now as we head towards the governorship elections of March 11.

Coveted crown jewel

Lagos State is the richest state and largest economy in Nigeria and if it were a country it would be among the top 10 economies of Africa. With internally generated revenues exceeding $1 billion a year, this makes it a very prized crown jewel in Nigerian politics.

The current president-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu was governor of Lagos State for eight years and has maintained absolute control over the state through his anointed governors who succeeded him.

On February 25, Tinubu’s party lost in Lagos state for the first time since 1999. They lost to Peter Obi’s Labour. Tinubu’s stranglehold on Lagos was broken. He lost even in the polling booth near his house in Ikoyi. His people turned to all politicians’ best ally when caught out: Play the tribal or religious card. Now, like most capital and commercial nerve centres, Lagos is cosmopolitan and has people who have settled there from every part of Nigeria.

The Labour Party governorship candidate for Lagos state Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, aka GRV, is a Nigerian architect, activist and politician of Yoruba descent, from Lagos State. In fact his roots run deep into Lagos and his family has been a prominent Lagos family for generations with two Masters degrees.

His family is of high society Lagos lawyers and the great grandson of the second ever indigenous judge appointed in Nigeria. However, all this is not enough to make him fully Yoruba or a full Lagosian. All because his mother and wife are Igbo. This is the narrative being pushed by Tinubu’s supporters.

The drums of ethnic violence are beating loudly in Nigeria. Those who know history have memories of the Nigerian civil war and how uncannily similar things are today. Leaders are stoking fires for their own benefit and taking advantage of the gullible youth who are unaware of history, as past lessons have not been passed down.

Wale Akinyemi is the founder of The Street University. Email: [email protected]