​Dance of the Spirits: A look at Chinua Achebe on Nigeria’s Unity

“How valid is this notion of unity as an absolute good?

Quite clearly it is nonsense. 

Unity can only be as good the purpose for which it is desired. Obviously it is good for a group of people to unite to build a school or a hospital or a nation. But supposing a group of other people get together in order to rob a bank. Their unity is deemed undesirable. Indeed, Lawyers would call their kind of unity by the unflattering name of conspiracy. Therefore, we cannot extol the virtues of unity without first satisfying ourselves that the end to which unity is directed unimpeachable…

…”virtues” like unity and faith are not absolute but conditional on their satisfaction of other purposes. Their social validity depends on the willingness or the ability of citizens to ask the searching question.

This calls for a habit of mental rigour, for which, unfortunately, Nigerians are not famous.” 

(culled from Chinua Achebe, The Trouble with Nigeria)

I had to painstakingly transcribe Achebe’s work here for the validity of its wordings to the current situation of Nigeria.

We are a country of over 150 million people and 250 ethnic groups which pride with a motto “Unity and Faith”.

And every now and then we always try as much as we can to make ourselves believe how relevant that is to our continued survival and existence. We invented such clichés as ” One Nigeria “, ” Good People, Great Nation “.

But, there again while inventing all those we failed to invent the other accompanies necessary for the continuance of the ” Unity” which we pride. And when a section of the country cry out we quickly draw their attention to the second word “Faith”, that is to say, no matter what you think or see just have faith that we are one nation bound in unity.

The military came and after all of its years of rapes we still had faith in the unity of the country.

PDP came and years of its unfaithful activities and policies we still had faith in this unity.

APC came on board and has as its No. 1 mission to resound it to us that ” Unity” is a must for all of us whether we like it or not and that “Unity is nonnegotiable”

Therefore, we were once again expected to have faith in the Unity.

Suddenly, a voice arose among the people and cried out that “Faith is withered” from among the people because there is no unity but subjugation, tribalism, nepotism and inequality.

Instead of coming together to see how a situation could be sorted out and enthrone unity we chose to preach faith to a people that has for decades not seen faith work in their lives.

Unfortunately, in so doing even the many that had faith as of a mustard seed have seen their faith evaporating into the wind.

They do not want to be talked to about Unity nor Faith again because the two words are now abstract to them and yet again, they do not wish to be told that their “Unity” is nonnegotiable because to them, if they had no opportunity to negotiate in 1900 and 1914, then they must by all means negotiate now.

But, what does it cause to negotiate that we are all afraid of it?

Choosing instead to dance the dance of the spirits called “Python”…..

Between a dance and a talk which is more tasking and tiring???

Your answer therefore is as good as mine.

 Unknown to us, nothing stands in the wake of the Python’s dance.