Renowned Nigerian author Lola Shoneyin delivers a poignant spoken word rendition on the deteriorating state of democracy in Nigeria, providing a compelling narrative that delves into historical roots and contemporary challenges. Published on the Financial Times website as part of a series featuring global writers addressing democracy’s state, Shoneyin’s six-minute video, accompanied by Made Kuti’s evocative music, captivates viewers while shedding light on Nigeria’s complex political landscape.
Lola Shoneyin’s Unfiltered Commentary
In her powerful video, Lola Shoneyin doesn’t hold back in her assessment of Nigeria’s democratic struggles. With conviction, she declares, “It always starts with one man and his gun, peddling promises of new beginnings. ‘I have come to save you,’ he says, his finger dancing on a trigger. Save yourself, soldier. We’ve been here before.” Shoneyin, acclaimed author of “The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives,” uses her poetic prowess to articulate the cyclical nature of political upheavals in Nigeria.
Echoes of the Past
The spoken word piece artfully explores the aftermath of political euphoria, depicting a haunting cycle of terror and fear. Shoneyin vividly paints a picture where jackboots take over markets, and justice succumbs to the strong arm of oppression. Her words resonate with a stark reality where decrees overturn laws, and impunity overshadows freedoms. “We’ve seen it all before,” she asserts, drawing attention to the historical repetitions that have marred Nigeria’s democratic journey.
Shoneyin delves into the roots of Nigeria’s unrest, acknowledging the role of Western colonial masters in shaping the country’s destiny. She connects the dots between historical injustices and the contemporary challenges faced not only by Nigeria but by the broader African continent. The spoken word piece becomes a reflection on the lingering impact of colonial legacies on the region’s political stability.
Nigeria’s Democracy Under the Microscope
The Nightmares of Freedom
As Shoneyin navigates the landscape of Nigeria’s democracy, she unearths the harsh realities faced by freedom fighters who disappear into the night, leaving behind a trail of lost lives. The threat of violence, from shootings to poisonings, and the use of letter bombs, becomes a stark reminder of the sacrifices made by those who dare to challenge the status quo. Shoneyin portrays a chilling image where memory is tied to a stake, and history falls silent under the firing squad.
The Resurgence of Military Coups
The spoken word piece extends its reach to the resurgence of military coups, an archaic form of leadership making an alarming comeback in African countries. Shoneyin references recent events in Guinea (2021), Sudan (2021), Burkina Faso (2022), and Niger (2023). She echoes the sentiments of a recurring narrative – promises of a swift return to civilian rule, only to witness a fragile state caught in the crosshairs of power struggles.
“We’ve heard it all before – transition and return to civilian rule in 3 months, 6 months, 2 years, 10 years. A fragile state is caught in the crosshairs of a power struggle between those who fight with their blood and those who seize it for themselves. Power cleanses all sin,” declares Shoneyin, shedding light on the dark underbelly of political maneuvering.
Conclusion: A Call to Reflect and Act
Lola Shoneyin’s spoken word rendition serves as both an artistic expression and a clarion call for reflection and action. As we witness the unraveling of democracy in Nigeria, her words resonate globally, urging societies to confront the cyclical patterns that threaten the very essence of democratic ideals. Shoneyin challenges us to acknowledge the shadows of the past, question the present, and collectively strive for a future where democracy thrives, untainted by the sins of power.