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An Intifada Of The Stomach

By Isidore Emeka Uzoatu


The Arabic word Intifada just cannot get out of my mind of late. Its original version being the 1987 Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied territories, I’m left at sea by its rude intrusion. Then I remember that though from the throwing of stones then it was to advance to the present-day launching of missiles, its primary cause was discontent. Investigated by veteran American writer and teacher Roger Rosenblatt it in an essay for Time Magazine way back then, he had traced the movement to their souls.


I dare say without equivocation that here in Nigeria a different discontent is building up. In fact, the way the nation is moving it will take an ultra-pachydermatous to fail to add ones voice to this build-up more intense than that to a World Cup final involving the Super Eagles. Perhaps more than the little ripple this piece will cause on our national conscience, it is hoped that at least – if nothing else – one can rest assured that one has done what he had to do. After all, I have pen and can write.


O yes, for much as we are all rest assured that that we are definitely on the road to redemption, all the auguries point that we are rather to the other less travelled path to perdition. There is no mistaking the reading on all crystal balls available that the future of this country portends a calamity of exponential proportions. The more so because quite recently it has become our national habit to blame all our woes – past and present – on those who are no longer at the helm of our affairs. One way or the other those in charge are left blameless as though they acquired the position to trade blames on others.


There is no disputation in the truth that ever since the enthronement of the present political hegemony in the land all have not been the same again. Following a chain of corrective measures by them the nation has transformed in ways heretofore never contemplated. Inflation, for instance, is already into double digits. Even basic staples of our stomach infrastructure now post costs way out of the reach of the common man, as the cliché goes, like never in our recent history.


Retrenchment of staff has also become a refrain in the signal tune of our hard times. Small-scale establishments had initially taken it for a blight afflicting only the little till even the banks joined the trail. And now even the multinationals are also running helter-skelter on its account – from the airlines to the food chains.


While these are ongoing, even sectional restiveness that had been hidden has surfaced to join the elongating queue since led by Boko Haram. Break-up is now chorused from every corner of the nation even when it is clear that whatever is afflicting us is only human. I’m sure not one of the agitating groups has ever paused to wonder where the people that will assume the helm following their successful secessions would come from – Jupiter, perhaps.


It was a character in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises that said his journey to poverty happened ‘slowly and suddenly’. The way we are going, this is nothing other than that slow part yet; the next and final phase will perforce be sudden. Unless, of course, something or other supervenes, we may wake up one day and see our country spun out of control. We will wake up and find ourselves all desolate on account of governmental incapability that has been piling up as we hailed messiahs so inept that they have found it even impossible to learn from own mistakes.


If I must be gotten right, I must make haste to state that perhaps this outcome would also have been inevitable had the last regime been allowed to continue with their ‘looting spree’. However, it does appear that if this served any lesson it is that those that took over from them did nothing to reverse the trend or sequence. If anything, they have only achieved at hastening it; not unlike Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky accused the nihilists, they have only achieved at building the Tower of Babel in reverse from the sky to the ground. How else could have been termed given that they have been able to achieve none of the highfalutin claims to power. Not when – even as aristocratic as they come – they have disrespected the basic principle of noblesse oblige.


The implication there is to all this is that we are on that slow road to discontent – an intifada, permit to say. But much unlike where it birthed, I must make haste to add that ours will no doubt be spurred by the rumbles in our stomachs.


  • Isidore Emeka Uzoatu is the author of the novel Vision Impossible.
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