• Sunday, May 19, 2024
businessday logo


Understanding Kalu’s anger (1)


The former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu is obviously angry. There is real bitterness in his heart. There is frustration all over him and this is clearly evident in his seminal writings. His ghosted writings, published under the Leadership Series in The Sun daily tabloid is scribbled with malicious ink and inspired by the estranged wife of Muse, the goddess of vengeance. There is fury in every line. There is murderous hatred. There is war.

The compilation, no doubt, is a good masterpiece of intellectual thuggery. I have read through all the series and they inspire me as a great narrative device, showcasing a knack for translating anger and frustration into a literary flow. The narrative pattern is superb, a great example of how to transmute emotional tantrum and unguarded ranting into a sentence structure; how to fume and   be temperamental with the pen. Readers of his fictional narrative marvel at his extraordinary capacity for vengeful journalism, a tradition of turning words into pellets and destructive missiles; of unleashing mayhem, not with arms and bayonets, but with the written word.

If you consider that Kalu did not train in literary studies, then you must give him a prize and a crown for inventing this unique style of literary anger and adding to the world of scholarship. Many of us, even with our litany of degrees, have not brought anything to the body of knowledge. But, here is a man, with a controversial certificate, unlearned in the art of the word, setting the pace and blazing the trail in developing a genre of writing and communication. In communicating a deep inner anger and an outer frustration with a flowing prose, all directed against Governor Theodore Orji, Kalu has broken a record in the history of Nigerian journalism.

Indeed, we must commend this business mogul for being an expert in tattered verse. For a whole season, the Leadership Series and the entire pages of The Sun have been directed towards attacking the ebullient Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State. The literary attack has moved from malicious criticism to open warfare against Abia State. And what is Governor Theodore Orji’s offence? It is his bold and audacious action of liberating Abia from the stranglehold of a family dynasty where Kalu is the grand emperor. The people’s offence is that they rejected their captivity and joined Governor Orji in the grand match to freedom. 

The cardinal aim of vengeful journalism as displayed by Kalu is character assassination and to instigate hate. But, the tragedy of his writings and his mission is that history already foreshadows his background and the standpoint from where he is coming from. His readers are in full knowledge of the history, circumstances and setting of his work and the reason that inspires his venom. They know that the writings are not shaped by objectivity but merely the desperation of a disgruntled fellow. His reputation of deceit and tyranny resonate over the message. Therefore, the enduring and universal appeal of the writings serves only as a reminder of a political relationship toured sour and of a lonely and deserted man struggling to cut a pound of flesh.

Kalu, by this sheer poetic irony, inadvertently exalts the object of his literary malice. His daily tabloid, The Sun, has so much been unleashed against Governor Orji and the good people of Abia State that rational observers quickly know that theirs is no more about journalism but a clear mission of mischief. Literary historians following the trajectory of a predecessor and a successor and recognising the transformations that have come to Abia by virtue of the liberation know that Kalu’s vengeful journalism is the last-ditch struggle of a drowning man. Therefore, the object of his criticism, Governor Orji, is instantly and universally recognised as the hero who tamed the mythological monster of traditional folklore.

What then is Kalu’s anger? Kalu’s anger is the same well known anger of all tyrants in history whose kingdoms are overthrown and crumbled by the very structures established by them. It is the same angry frustration of the ousted emperor, who sits back in exile, full of regret and scruple, and watches his empire grow and triumph above him and without him. Kalu is shocked by the spontaneity of the people’s rejection of him. Kalu is angry because the collective patrimony of the six million Abians is no more being used to service his home and his family. He cannot come to terms with the fact that he could be condemned to political limbo in a state he once bestrode as a colossus.

The humoured master strategist is angry because his boast that the structures he institutionalised would rule Abia for 50 years and that his daughter was going to be the youngest governor in Nigeria can no more prevail. Kalu’s anger against his predecessor is rooted in Governor Orji’s ardent determination to wrest Abia out of the stranglehold of the dangerous cult of brotherhood headed by one family. He is angry because he has been stripped naked at the market square. The once enfant terrible of Abia has been de-robed. All the simulations that created the Kalu mystique have been unveiled. He is today a loner, denigrated and deflowered. He is as lonely as an orphan, abandoned by even his greatest die-hard followers. Thus, his battle is the ruthless struggle of the python hit on the head. Every grass, plant or the wild around bears witness to the fury of a python in its   battle of life and death.

In the days of his pomp and power, Kalu and his mother were the very personification of power in Abia. For the eight years of his reign and the first three years of his successor, the master strategist held the state by the jugular. From the leadership of the Okada Riders Association, traditional rulers, market associations, clergy to every political appointment from local government councillors to even the aides of his successor, he held a suffocating grip on the state. Power started and ended at his doorstep. Now, he cannot reconcile himself with the bitter lesson of the aphrodisiac of power. The self-acclaimed master strategist is now a wandering minstrel, with no political worth or value.

This is, arguably, Kalu’s anger translated into an awkward literary narrative.