Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hypocrisy, Covenant University, fine-boy politics et cetera

I have always been a firm believer in the aphorism that travel broadens the mind, and for me, coming to the UK has helped me see my country through fresh eyes. One area that astounds me is the hypocrisy that permeates many aspects of Nigerian society. I remember on one of my visits home, this cousin whom I am very close to accosted me and asked me which church I attended in London. When I told her, she said " I hope it is a Bible-believing church o!" and went on to regale me with her activities at her church in Lagos where she had recently been promoted to lead one of the departments. Later in the trip, she said she had a friend whom she would like me to meet. We went to lunch at a swanky Lagos restaurant with a gentleman of the sort that City People refers to as a "Lagos Big Boy". It was soon evident that this was no ordinary friend but indeed my cousin's married lover- indeed his wedding had been splashed all over the society magazines a few years before. As we left the restaurant, ensconced in the air conditioned jeep of her "friend", I wondered how she made sense of these disaparate strands of her life. It is this same hypocrisy that leads 419 barons and fraudulent public servants to give tithes from their ill-gotten gains and hold thanksgiving services without questioning the incongruity of their actions...

I was set to musing about this by the recent news that Covenant University, owned by one of the churches in Lagos , has instituted mandatory pregnancy tests and HIV tests for all final year students. Students who test positive for pregnancy are to forfeit their degrees, those who test positive for HIV will receive their degrees after they have "received their healing". Questions that immediately spring to mind include: What about the sexually active boys who cannot get pregnant? What about the various other ways that HIV can be contracted apart from sex? How come this healing has not been made available to the 4 million or so Nigerians estimated to be living with HIV? Would married students be exempt? Can all the lecturers and staff swear that they are living chaste, morally upright lives?

I'm glad that some action is being taken but the mind boggles at such irrational, ill thought out and draconian policies being made and implemented in of all places a university. One can then imagine the level of critical thought being imparted to these students.....

Jeremy touches on another aspect of this shadow chasing favoured by my people in his post on the Nigerian police and skimpily dressed Lagos women...

Meanwhile in London, David Cameron struggles as his place in the polls slip further and further down. The Brown bounce is to account partly for this but "Call Me Dave" did himself no favours jetting off to Rwanda to build schools while his constituency was awash in floods and losing the bye election in Ealing to Labour after imposing a fine-boy Asian businessman candidate who was revealed had been hobnobbing with Blair only weeks before joining the Conservatives. Funnily enough Brown is slowly appearing more statesmanlike and now appears to show up Cameron's fine-boy tactics as just that- all show and no action, no meat to his policies. The Tory traditionalists are getting restive but Dave has vowed to stay the course and avoid a lurch to the right. I think part of his problem is that he is still trying to be all things to all men and women, and that can only take you so far.....

In London we have an interesting mayoral contest coming up with the faux-shambolic Boris Johnson, the Old Etonian and former President of the Oxford Union who likes to pretend that he is really just a bumbling, harmless upper class toff throwing his hat into the ring to run against Ken Livingstone. In many ways I suspect it will also turn out as another fine-boy (albeit with jokes added) versus substance contest. As Labour was quick to make clear- can you imagine Boris as mayor after the 7th of July bombings?

To Spitalfields last weekend and a magnificent steak dinner at Hawksmoor which prides itself on serving the best meat in London. The ribeye was superb, succulent and run through with fat and the chips were juicy and crisp on the outside. While the Caesar salad was a bit on the watery side, the delicious cocktails more than made up for the deficiency. The Spitalfields area is an interesting mix - from bearded Bangladeshi elders to funky Brit artists, punks, Goths and pinstriped City boys, the streets are alive with something inexpressibly exciting...

Marooned in Bloomsbury on Sunday, I found myself on the doorstep of the London Review of Books bookshop. It's fantastic- packed with books that you wouldn't ordinarily see in Waterstone's or any of the bigger chains. I bought Chris Abani's The Virgin of Flames which means that I now have four new books by Nigerian authors to read on my forthcoming holiday. Already on the to read pile are Helen Oyeyemi's The Opposite House, Biyi Bandele's Burma Boy and Segun Afolabi's Goodbye Lucille. Who says it isn't a great time for Nigerian literature? And while they may all be based abroad, surely greater attention to Nigerian literature can only benefit all- homebased and international.

Speaking of which I came across the website of the iconoclastic, irreverent poet Lola Shoneyin, who apparently has a novel coming soon. There's an excerpt on the website. Thanks Molara of Wordsbody for the heads up

23 comments:

jadedjune said...

ok, now you need to take a deep breath and breatheee.......phew....
nice post!
xx

Atutupoyoyo said...

The Covenant titbit is a worrying one. The stigma of HIV/AIDS is no closer to evaporating, it seems, and you raise some valid questions. My mum worked as national AIDS co-ordinator some 12 years ago and it appears that the overhwelming attitudes have not changed since then.

If you are a lover of fine steak then you must have visited the Gaucho a number of times I imagine. They remain number 1 for me although I will look out for Hawksmoor when next I'm down in London.

Ekoakete said...

Yep the Naija hypocrisy is certainly an issue. Many a time I have wondered how our country is in such a state while, I'm sure, we have the highest concentration of mosques, churches and Baba alawo shrines per square mile of anywhere in the world.

David Cameron does seem to be getting it from all sides these days. The tories about-turn on grammer schools has also provided much ammunition for his detractors...

catwalq said...

I actually had to take a moment to paue before I posted my reply.
Not being a christian or a member of a majority faith, I am witness to first hand displays of religious hypocrisy. This has also enabled me to seperate religion from spirituality; the two usually do not go hand in hand even though it is assumed that they do.
The secrets that hide in the walls of a church are more horrendous than those on display outside.
Convenant is run by bible-bashing, ignorant hypocrites whose interpretation of their faith is at best entertaining. To curb sexual activities, you promote a stereotype when the bulk of people living with HIV in Africa do not catch it from sexual promiscuity. Look at our medical system; how sure are you about the instruments being used to treat you. I know most people use the thermometer that is placed in your mouth, wiped down and used for someone else.
In the case of the "wardrobe" evangelists, who is to determine what is appropriate or not. I have been told that I am sinful...because I wear jeans; not because my left boob was hanging out or that my derriere rack was on display but because I chose to dorn on an attire that permitted to move around with freedom .I can just imagine the part of "hell" I have earned with such an act.
Utter nonsense!!!

Omodudu said...

True...the hipocrisy thing. I will not say too much...

olu said...

This convenent university thing is really annoying. How can one forfeit a hard-earned degree(dats if its even hard-earned - but hey who cares)just bcos of pregnancy or HIV staus. And what does "recieve their healing" mean. Nice blog

Anonymous said...

it's depressingly sad that an organisation that claims to follow the teachings of christ should display such level of ignorance and intolerance. I guess this is a lesson for parents to stop sending their kids to so called religious institutions especially at such a higher level. A more cosmopolitan environment will help broaden their minds. The bible preaches against fornication, however it did not say we should take matters in our hands to uphold this virtue. It is a thing of chioce and only God will judge us. The university should focus on providing guidance to their students. Bloody hypocrites!!!

londonnaijachic said...

hypocrites i can't bear. Whatever happened to if you are speaking about it, you should be about it.
The covenat university thingg just seems worrying to me so because someone has aids or is pregnant means they don't deserve to complete or continue their education. What if the virus wasn't sexually transmitted? i wonder.

kulutempa said...

i think we're all being a little too harsh on ol' covenant u. after all, they're not saying you shouldn't have sex; they're just saying you shouldn't get PREGNANT or infected with HIV. so they're actually promoting the use of condoms in the prevention of AIDS...which is exactly what conservative Christians aren't supposed to do. ok, they lose all around. on a serious note, though, i can't believe people are still thinking like this in nigeria, in 2007. ignorant buggers!

uknaija said...

@jadedjune- it does drive me mad
@atutu- can I call you that? I didn't really like Gaucho the Canary Wharf
@ekoakete- na real wa
@catwalq- interesting to see a non Christian or Muslim Nigerian.
@omodudu- Please say O!
@anon- well said
@londonnaijachic- na so we see am
@kulutempa- you're right, maybe that's the angle to follow...although that still doesn't help the people who get infected via other means..

Jaja said...

whats happening to my comments?

Technical glitch??

Bitchy said...

Thanks for the link to the website, will go check it out. I'm always on the hunt for new Nigerian writers. I stalk them!!

Covenant university... isn't that the place where all skirts must be floorlength so as not to tempt male students and staff? Sigh.... Oh and I'm soooo looking forward to sampling Hawksmoor on my return. I wonder why I've never heard of it. Thanks Yookay Xxx

Waffarian said...

Uknaija, Lagos society sucks, I don't know where the hell they think they are living, but people there are really living in a "pretend world",as for sex, Nigeria is just a big hole for hypocrisy, everybody is doing everybody, all that church/born again thing does not fool anybody.As for the university, isn't that against fundamental human rights or something?

Morountodun said...

Isn't Covenant University one of the new breed of private Universities? So they collect fees? And 3 million naira later you will say homegirl can't graduate because of pregnancy? I would like to see that stand up in court (yes even Nigeria's courts...

ayoke said...

Waoh! I do hope Covenant University has a good retinue of lawyers. It will be a good learning experience to be on the side suing them and see the range of defences they can come up with for these policies.

laspapi said...

No one here can figure out what the University is doing. I don't think they'll let Oyedepo/Covenant get away with it. The Nigerian society is a much more discerning one now and able to see through charades.

"Irreverent" is an apt description of lola shoneyin. She's a great writer too.

As for the church leader dating the "Lagos Big Boy", its everyman's right to deceive himself/herself. That's one right that can't be taken away.

Kingpin said...

i think us nigerians are a bunch of hycritic people. we're all guilty one way or the other if you really look at everyone.

you, me, your cousin but you know what i've found? that makes us all a beautiful people.

...toyintomato said...

serious ignoramus and extreme hyprocazintistis is cashin those covenant people.
illiteracy at its height!

uknaija said...

@jaja- I have no idea
@bitchy- Date at Hawksmoor? with the Yote's permission of course
@waffarian- I'll wait and see what the lawyers say
@morountodun- na wa o
@ayoke- good to see you drop by- will you be offering your erudite legal skills?
@laspapi- really? Funmi Iyanda's recent experience doesn't suggest that
@kingpin- I'm not condemning anybody's behaviour. It's the hypocrisy I struggle with. How do you reconcile the irreconcilable?
@toyintomato-LOL @cashin

Everchange said...

I've heard from people who attend Covenant U that this policy has been in place for years. All the students know about the test-before-graduation policy when they first enroll at the school. That is the problem with nigerian media. Why paint it like this is something new?

The mandatory testing is WRONG. But the students were not deceived.

Anonymous said...

i know exactly wat goes on in covenant bcos graduated from there. human rights mean little or notin 2 these pple... i stripped naked and searched @ 3.00am in the middle of the nite by the authorities, my also forced to shave my facial hair... a couple of my friends were suspended, 1 for having a chelsea jersey, another for havin a belt with an eagle on it... their excuse was that the chelsea crest is some sort of acient bird(yea believe it or not) out of about 1400 students that started in my set only about 750 students graduated wit me... it makes u wonder wether or not they rnt supposed to at least try and reform these supposedly BAD students... i also undertook the hiv tests by force, the results of which were neva given to us... and for the bit that students were told b4 they entered the skol its the BIGGEST LIE i have eva heard... maybe for these recent intakes but not for the pioneering set... thins like cellphones,jeans etc were outlawed.life was unbearable in that shit hole...!!!!!!!!!!

Chameleon said...

oooh... posts like this make me remember why i love blogville and ur blog especially.

thx for that list of books... im now reading the Zahra the windseeker by Okorafor-Mbachu which u recommended a while ago... so far so good.

is Chris Abani's new one a novel or poetry?

also, saw a favorite author of alltime, the elusive Ben Okri giving an interview on his new work, cant wait to get my hands on that too.

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