Narratives and counter narratives

It is another Monday. So many thoughts continue to engage my mind. I am confused and indeed confounded by happenings in the land. I am at the moment thinking of our democracy and its current malformations. How for instance can one explain the prohibitive costs, which have been prescribed by the various political parties.

Again, there is the equally perplexing issue of the paddy-paddy presidential pardons that have been granted to the two duly convicted former governors. One is bound to wonder: what is really going on.

As if to deepen my confusion, I have just learnt the point man of our apex bank has decided to join the swelling number of presidential aspirants. There are problems here.

Unfortunately, the victims of this infamous enterprise were powerless and to that extent they were voiceless. It must be said here however that the two 9/11s, leave much to be desired

So all along, a supposedly non-partisan entity was in the thick of things afterall. Possibly and in the light of much of the foregoing, it could well be that, at the end of the day, Nigeria would have gifted the world its own version of democracy.

But these are just tentative reflections. On another day we will have to discuss these issues comprehensively. Thus for now and in the bid to preserve my sanity and as a form of catharsis, I am thinking of something different. Indeed, I am thinking of Ken Saro Wiwa and the other 9/11.

What exactly is the relationship between these. Very soon, the reader will find out. Afterall, today as pointed out earlier, today is Monday. So sit back and relax for such are the troubling issues in the land that, you and I deserve this window of escape – at least for now. So, rather our focus will be on narratives and counter narratives as they relate to some other important issues in the land.

However, let us first take on that absorbing personality – Ken Saro Wiwa. One of his enduring reflections which I continue to remember is the way in which he has linked, voicelessness and powerlessness.

According to Ken, the nature of power is such that, those who have it, more often than not, are able to make their voices heard. By contrast, those who lack power invariably tend to be voiceless.

On this Monday, however, I am not really concerned about Ken and his advocacy. Rather, I am struck by the fact that while the world continues to be treated to the narrative of 9/11 as tragically played out in the United States of America in 2001; there was in fact an earlier 9/11 in 1973, which occurred in Chile.

In the former context, the United States was the victim. This in itself is something of an oxymoron. For, how can a super power be a victim? Yet this was the case. At that point in time, 9/11, 2001, the political and economic symbols of American power were attacked – the twin-towers; the Pentagon and very nearly so, the White House itself.

As the narratives go, the dire and sombre situation was immediately defined in clear terms: The War on Terror. Such indeed is the global reach and voice of America in the world information order. Very little scope was given to other reflections like the well-known fact that: one man’s terrorist, is another man’s freedom fighter.

Incidentally, sometime in 2003, I was an observer at a Civil Society Dialogue between Saudi and American nationals in Bellagio, Italy. It was a truth-telling session in which, it was clear that something had gone amiss in the close relationship between Riyadh and Washington. Indeed, and until recently, there was the belief that the Saudis were involved in the 9/11 incident of 2001.

However, and since then, such is the power of America that she has ensured that the rest of us continue to be regaled on the platform of media orchestration with the atrocities which were committed on its soil by those terrorists. Very recently, the dastardly incident attained a milestone 20 years.

Predictably, there were memorials and moving stories as well as narratives of the incident. Every victim’s name was accounted for. And let us pause and remember here that one of our own, a Nigerian Godwin Ajala, was one of the victims.

Meanwhile, the various families are still mourning. And of course, as such matters go, Washington did not let up and justifiably too in going after those who were deemed to be responsible.

That is the way it should be for any serious nation. You defend your own to the hilt. And America can afford to do this, since she is the powerful country, in what is arguably a unipolar world.

What is most disconcerting however is that, the earlier 9/11 in 1973, when Washington was the aggressor, has been subjected to some form of selective amnesia by the American establishment and the media barons in the United States – CNN and the rest of them.

The upshot is that outside the United States, very little is known about that other 9/11, which as referenced earlier, occurred in Chile. Even those who are very informed, are likely to look at you, puzzled. That, was there another 9/11? Yes, indeed, there was. And this other story goes thus.

On the self-same, 9/11… in 1973, the democratic government of Chile, under the leftist government of Salvador Allende, was overthrown in a Washington inspired coup. Allende was advised to flee. No, he would not, as according to him, he was an embodiment of the Chilean people and resolve. After all, Chile like the United States, was a democracy.

He was killed and this paved the way for Augusto Pinochet to take over power. It was predictably a brutal dictatorship. Over time, thousands of Chileans were killed and the country reeled under the jackboot of military dictatorship.

Unfortunately, the victims of this infamous enterprise were powerless and to that extent they were voiceless. It must be said here however that the two 9/11s, leave much to be desired.

Nothing can justify that dastardly attack on American soil by terrorists. One can only hope then that Washington through its follow-up has successfully sent the message of: Never again.

Similarly, very much the same thing can be said for the other 9/11 in Chile. As the aggressor in this particular instance, Washington did not stand on the sunny side of history. At the risk of sounding too personal, the murdered Chilean President was someone’s father and husband.

Very much the same thing can be said for the thousands who were killed during the period of inspired dictatorship.

Either way, here is hoping that we are now in a better world in which the ghosts of these two untoward 9/11s, will not recur and haunt humanity again. Certainly, and in due course, we will as promised, fully take on those issues which we raised at the beginning of this piece.