Writer, poet and social critique Odia Ofeimun in an interview with Sahara TV, said late premier of the old Western region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was a greater man than South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, Nelson Mandela.
“I am too much of an Awolowo man not to see that the process of moving into independence in South Africa and in Nigeria followed exactly the same pattern. It was based on a negotiated settlement. The liberation struggle did not create the end of apartheid. It was a negotiation and Nigerians negotiated exactly the way Mandela negotiated.
“You can hype it if you like, but the pattern was exactly the same. You move from one meeting to the other, discussing politics and economics, and they successfully convinced Mandela to buy the pig in a poke of an economy and they also successfully succeeded in convincing Nigerians to buy the pig in a poke of an economy.
“The only man in Nigeria, who stood up against it, was (Obafemi) Awolowo. He was quickly jailed and all his men scattered across the prisons in Nigeria. Some driven abroad and the educational system that he had put in place was smashed.” he said
“People talk about Mandela’s capacity to put various classes (of people) together as theory, but Awolowo ironed it out very clearly, why you don’t need a class struggle, in order to create a society in which all children can go to school; in which everybody can get a job, and in which old age pensions will be paid to people.
“It is not just love and I want to emphasise that. Those who criticise Awolowo’s socialism for wanting in love are obviously basing their argument on his claim that a government should be like a sun that shines on all equally. If it is about a theory of how to bring the people together on the African continent, none is as good as the Awolowo’s and I’m not trying to pretend.
“Bring all their writings, fine phrases, alright, but reduce them to economic terms, and I can tell you that there is only one man who rivals Awolowo in this respect and that is Nkrumah. Unfortunately unlike Awolowo, Nkrumah did not believe in either a democratic or a federal theory. If you want to save Africa, you need those two.”
Odia Ofeimun said he chose Awolowo over Mandela
“The simple reason is that what needed to be done in South Africa, after apartheid was precisely what Awolowo wanted for Western Region and Nigeria after independence. Which is to say put every child at school, ensure that productivity takes the creativity of the individual citizen into proper focus and build the relationship between people and not on whether they did not love each other? But whether there is justice and equality.”
Share your thoughts on this comparison. Happy new year guys 🙂