Shaking Off “Siddon Look” -By Jide Omotinugbon

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Jide Omotinugbon

Jide Omotinugbon


Siddon look was a notion popularised by the Cicero of Esa-Oke, the late Uncle Bola Ige several years ago, and can be translated to mean so many things: “let’s see how it goes”; “I am unconcerned with the going-ons”; “I will keep watching till I feel it is necessary to talk”; “the environment is not conducive”, etc. I know of many people who want to participate in the building of Nigeria project, not as the much maligned politicians but as contributors in the national discourse; yet, they have opted to siddon look for so many reasons.

One, the way and manner of the discourse no longer seems rational. In the days of yore, when elbows and knees were in the same location they had always been, issues were written about and discussed long enough to find solutions. Not anymore. Nowadays, a two-line blog, not to talk of a lengthy article, is enough to make people call you ‘partisan’, and it is being charitable if you are not called names.

Two, no one seems to have patience anymore. And that is understandable. With all the trauma inflicted on the psyche of the general populace by a few in positions of authority, the skin is no longer thick enough to absorb more pain. After all, we are in the drive through/microwave generations where things ought to happen immediately.

Three, we were able to talk of intellectual discourse then because there were “radicals” whose voices were heard. These days, everyone wants to be heard and the best way to do it is to malign or call people names that editors in times past would change. Now we are all experts in writing, in editing and in blogging, so no one is any more radical than the other.

People like us, while in the university in the early eighties, used the last dime on us to buy newspapers because we wanted to read what certain columnists had to say. We were devoted followers. We would debate such opinions till the wee hours of the following day. And our dormitory colleagues, particularly the ones in science-oriented disciplines, would direct their friends to “go to the room…if you want to talk politics.”

I have been away from the Nigerian shore for some time now but have access online to almost all the Nigerian newspapers on a daily basis. I still do not know of any columnist that I am dying to read these days. Not that there are no good ones. There certainly are, but they are very few. And I applaud their efforts, especially the thick skin they have been able to grow for the name callings – which seems to keep many people away from writing.

In the olden days (yes, I believe I am old enough to use that), there was investigative journalism. Again, not anymore. These days, the very few media houses that venture into this are not appreciated. People always read unintended motives into their efforts.

The few gatherings of Nigerians in the diaspora that I attend, the optimism of a better future is always mixed, no less affected and swayed by the ethnic coloration back home. Recently, I witnessed people waging about how they would still likely be discussing the same issues plaguing us in Nigeria today in another four years, and that was while contemplating whether the recent change in government in the country would make or not make a difference. I have heard supposed intellectuals talking like first year political science students who have just been introduced to the study of Marxism, and saying stuff to the effect that only a “revolution” can save the situation in Nigeria. I have heard name-callings. I have seen total resignation. And yet, I have seen incurable optimism. And fortunately or unfortunately, I fall into the latter group.

I have decided to participate in Nigerian discourses. I have decided to grow a thick skin. I have decided to stop the siddon look. Not rich enough to be at the forefront. Not powerful enough to shut people down. But I do have some ideas that I seem to be tired of keeping to myself. I am going to start using the available media to propagate this. And I know with time, I will have partners.

Paraphrasing one of the books I read back then in elementary school some forty something years ago:

Here I come! Here I come!
But my coming does not prevent farmers from farming!
Neither does my coming prevent early rising farmers from using their hoes!
I just come in to do my thing.
Segede was said to have had her pregnancy in the gourd
While the midwife resides in the bottle.
I am the midwife residing in the bottle
And I won’t have to break the gourd nor the bottle
Before taking (making) the delivery.
Followers. Name-callers. You are all welcome!

Jide Omotinugbon writes from Louisville, Kentucky and can be reached on [email protected]