Writer/poet Odia Ofeimun says – Awolowo was greater than Mandela



In an interview with Sahara TV, the writer, poet & social
critique said premier of the old Western region, Chief
, was a greater man than South
African anti-apartheid revolutionary, Dr. .
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 qu!ckly 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.” Ofeimun 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.”
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
Interview transcribed by Punch. What do you guys think
of the comparison ?


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