I remember as a kid how much I loved to listen to adults talk politics and the current state of the Nigerian society. I’d get excited when I saw the animation on my Father’s face when he was trying to argue a point with a friend in the living room. Somehow I always sat there unnoticed, it seemed their arguments were way too important for them to notice me. My dad always seemed way more well-informed than his peers and in my naivety I came to the conclusion that he got his information from two main sources; The 9:00PM news and the morning Guardian.
I hated watching the news as a kid because it always seemed staged (obviously it was) but I never missed out on the daily newspapers. As early as I could remember I would stand outside the balcony in our first floor apartment waiting for the rider to come by and toss the paper. If par- adventure I didn’t make it out on time, I would wait for the mild thud against the window signaling the morning paper’s arrival.
Usually I would glimpse the headlines a bit or rapidly skim through the pages before handing the paper over to my Dad, he would give me this knowing look like ‘so you have to read the paper before me abi’ . It never deterred me, as far as I was concerned I was learning what he was learning (even though by half, I still refuse to watch NTA news till this very day).
I had other plans. I soon encouraged him to buy not just one, but 3 dailies, so we added the Vanguard and Tribune to our dosage. Soon enough, I was looking forward to engaging my class mates at school in similar discussions, hoping I also would seem well versed in political and national issues more than they were.
The first day I tried it yielded an unexpected result.
Sitting with a couple of my classmates during lunch I believed I had the perfect moment to start such a debate, I jumped out of my seat and in a raised voice said; ” Babangida has called for national elections, who do you think the two different parties are going to pick for the Presidential ticket?”
My friend Demola looked up at me from his lunch, a puzzled look on his face then he glanced at my second friend Kayode for a moment. Kayode was staring at me with a confused look.They obvioulsy had no idea what I was talking about but decided to play along. Demola said his party wasn’t coming up till his birthday and the only way he could have the kind of party he wanted was to do well in class. My soul sank a bit. Kayode looked at me and Demola and screamed “you mess Babangida fly fence!” I died.
Demola replied immediately “you chop here, chop here, chop there come begin dey find square root”
My attempt at engaging my friends in an intellectual discourse on political issues had only yielded a ‘messing competition’. I sat there and watched them have a go at each other. It was entertaining I have to be honest but inside me I felt I hadn’t brought up the subject properly but something told me never to try again.
Let’s just say I never discussed politics with anyone again till I got into Secondary School and I found people way more versed than I was.
Political discourse is still a major part of our everyday interactions till this day but I still won’t watch NTA news even if Eva Longoria was reading the damn thing.