• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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The cycle of natal and mortal dynamics

The cycle of natal and mortal dynamics

It is another Friday. And I am thinking about some eternal variables – Birth and Death. Or if you like; the natal and the mortal. So as the old year yields to the new; one tradition which has been faithfully observed is that of the Baby of the Year.

Sure enough, you are bound to see the Governor’s wife and her entourage, visiting the hospital. And in the process, the New Year baby will be welcomed into the new, amid some fanfare. It is usually very thrilling. So thrilling that a coronation of sorts is even obtained. The coronation derives from the fact that the new entrant into our earthly space is usually given the grand title: Baby of the Year.

Chances are that much of what we are seeing is being replicated across the country and even the world. In other words, all over the world babies are being born. However, being born somewhere in the world carries with it a lot of luck or ill luck.

As it is, all things being equal, the child that is born in this social formation is not as lucky as the child that is born in places like the United Kingdom, Canada, or the United States. However, we as human beings have not left this situation to chance. This has become, some parents with the means and if you like, foresight, have chosen to play fast and loose with this situation.

So, rather than give birth to the child in Nigeria, they go abroad. And in the process, the lucky child will acquire another citizenship other than Nigeria’s. Some people on the other side have also wised up to the game. And as such, they insist that even if you were born in a place like the United Kingdom, this does not confer on you automatic citizenship.

To be sure, Nigerians have since responded to this latest dimension of Natal politics, by heading for a nearby country. If you are born there, you can still acquire UK citizenship. Why would people go this length to deliberately ensure that their child is born in one place, and not in another?

The answer is evident enough. The quality of life, access to good education, and health facilities are some of those variables that have inspired some parents to interfere as regards where their children are born. Life expectancy here is on the low side, compared to those other countries.

Our leaders even tell us in explicit terms that to be born here is to be consigned to the vagaries of sub-Standard health facilities. And talking of such facilities brings to mind two former governors who had served for eight years each in the adjoining states of Ogun and Lagos.

They reportedly had knee problems and off to the UK, they jetted for medical treatment. The situation was accompanied by all kinds of photo opportunities. And this is where I thought that the press did not live up to its responsibilities. The episode could have been used to raise issues about the state of our health facilities. Do we have enough orthopaedic surgeons? Do they have enough facilities to work with? These and other questions would have hopefully raised the bar of governance, such that, our own social formation will also be conducive for living in.

Read also: COVID-19: UK pledges £105m to help Nigeria, others tackle Omicron

Indeed, the foregoing may well explain why Donald Trump continues to heap on us all kinds of insults. Whereas, our lot is not inevitable. We can easily do something about it if we try hard enough.

Unfortunately, even the converse situation usually holds. When the mortal strains set it, as they will for all of us, what you get treated to is that, a particular politician or business mogul has passed away in a London hospital. In other words, just as it is bad to be born here, it is also bad to die here.

Luckily, this is not always the case. For in recent times, a number of compatriots in Nigeria and beyond have been claimed by the strains of mortality-death.

In Nigeria here for instance personalities like Bashir Tofa, the Olubadan have answered the final call. Again, these are the orchestrated ones. For almost every day, individuals are completing the cycle of natal and mortality. What was particularly striking for me was the case of Kenya, where two notable personalities reportedly died almost on the same day. There was Richard Leakey, a public-spirited anthropologist, who stood for good governance – a feature that is lacking in post-colonial Kenya.

Equally important was that his studies showed that, indeed, Africa was the cradle of humanity – that life started here in Africa, which in itself is some sort of consolation for us. The other person who passed on was Charles Njonjo, whose life mirrored much of what happened in colonial and post-colonial Kenya. His father was a chief during colonial rule, and he was given the best of Education in Britain and Kenya.

Indeed, he identified more as a white man. Incidentally, the Kenyan writer, Ngugi Wa Thiongo has a name for his type. He called them: settlers under the skin. This refers to those who kept their distance from the mau-mau struggles during colonial rule, but ironically enough they went on to gobble up the fruits of independence in the post-colonial era. Such indeed is life. And if you are sufficiently familiar with Nigerian history, you will appreciate that our dear country went through the same process, whereby those who fought for independence were not to be found in the cockpit of power.

But then, this is another story for another day. Our main preoccupation, for now, is the inevitability of mortality as also witnessed in the life and times of Desmond Tutu. He was at the barricades during the struggle for the liberation of South Africa.

Similarly, he occupied the same position in post-apartheid South Africa when he started to question the excesses and corruption of the ruling African National Congress. Such consistency marked him out as a social force, whose preoccupation was to speak out against evil irrespective of whether it was perpetrated by Black or White.

In saying all these, the reader would have noticed that all these instances of mortality occurred in the public space. Many more have occurred in the private realm. No one noticed, for the evident reason that it occurred on the private platform. On this note, there was for instance the case of Pa Oyenuga. A ninety-something-year-old member of the Chapel of Christ Our Light of the University of Lagos, who passed on recently.

His death was almost unnoticed, save for immediate family and members of his congregation. The over-riding take away from all these is that, whether you are a Desmond Tutu, or Olubadan, or Pa Oyenuga the inevitable call of mortality is the same. That cycle from the Natal to the Mortal must take place. Take this to heart Dear reader, and shape up accordingly. No one will be here forever. Still, and while it lasts, enjoy your weekend.