“I am black; I am in total fusion with the world, in sympathetic affinity with the earth, losing my id in the heart of the cosmos — and the white man, however intelligent he may be, is incapable of understanding Louis Armstrong or songs from the Congo. I am black, not because of a curse, but because my skin has been able to capture all the cosmic effluvia. I am truly a drop of sun under the earth.”
― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
A few days ago, I was privileged to have a chat with some colleagues, a great people with whom I pretend the possession of the global best knowledge of drugs (I believe the meaning hasn’t already been construed), especially as it pertains to therapeutics; hence, patient-oriented; well, in our own part of the world (hopefully changing), almost diminished merely to dispensing of drugs (not even the best of it, that is). For the moment, and in sync with our acquired (almost inborn) comfort zone, let’s content ourselves with the fact that “we’re Pharmacists and we’re proud to be Men of Honour”.
Our concern this time was the significance of the choices we have made and that we make a living of, just by making. Why do we do what we do? Why do we appear gay, mostly in white robes, with a big smile worn on our faces? of course to patronise our patients (who may not care whether we truly know and are godly convinced about all the drug claims we are pouring into their ears for their own sakes), while servicing them with that noble task of drug-dispensing. If you were almost lost on my meaning, apologies. I warned you of this type of writing.
Why do we alight from sleek cars smashing and pacing (sometimes wiping off sweat from our faces with wet and stained handkerchiefs) into Medical doctor’s and colleagues’ offices to ‘patronise’ them to ‘patronise’ our drugs? (with inverted commas) with drugs claims that were pushed into our hands. Of course, the company researchers must be scientifically correct.
Why are we so magnanimous to open wide the doors of our community Pharmacies round-the-clock to patients? who must (it’s always for their own good) not leave without even as negligible as a sachet of Paracetamol. Human beings always need drugs, and therefore almost always need us, I must say.
Why do we make these choices? And why do we leave the borderlines, penetrating the interior to look at the roots of these drugs? Do we really need them; and if we do, how so?
That’s about it for Pharmacy. Why is the work, maybe life, environment of the Nigerian Pharmacist the way it is? Why is there so much disease that remain uncured and that claim the lives of people, even more than nature (sometimes called death)? Why do the people, supposedly voted into government by other people, look the other way? even when the stench from here chokes mosquitoes as well as elephants to death of corruption, poverty, poor commitment to the citizenry, systematized assassination of public education; hence, no-school-for-poor-man-pikin, bad roads claiming precious lives (now Prof. Festus Iyayi, who passed away on the 12th of the 11th month of the 13th year of this millenium), sirens of government officials (I have no right to tag them servant leaders since they never christened themselves as such) disturbing the angry peace of unemployed, idle, hungry but not-dissatisfied Nigerian graduates (dem own better. How about those wey no go school?)
Why do some people get jobs and some, don’t? Neither is it all those who graduated with a first-class get all the jobs nor is it all those who failed, or merely passed out of school, get no job but all the play (and when play gets boring, all the idleness). Why does our society frown at many acts that are normal (there has to be a huge disagreement over what normal is, I believe) in other climes, even when there are no alternative courses of action? Such may include petty theft (I also frown at all acts of stealing) when ‘terminal’ hunger sets in for the myriad of poor Nigerians (or people of the world). Someone once told me no one ever dies of hunger but malnutrition. Stealing keeps the hungry man from dying. For the filled man (the one I imagine is most obvious, usually but not in all cases, with his potbelly, stealing keeps him away from killing himself for not sating his insatiable greed, at least for the time being.
Why do we prostitute? Are we nymphos? And why does the society almost yell at this ‘shameful’ act in the day, while patronising same, and becoming subjects, at night? One laughs. Just like the Pastor, who condemns the spiritualist on Sundays and seeks his help when the congregation isn’t watching.
Why do we spend twelve years in preparatory schools for a page of certificate that bears the grades that attest to how well we have gulped all the lessons? that were initially gulped by our teachers, who themselves were taught by teachers who gulped those lessons and passed them on ‘as received’ and so on. Only God now knows where those lessons originated in the first place. No one should tell me he knows. Should I care? Why do we tag those grades to our chests, seeking more attestation from JAMB’s (the nation’s Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board) exams? and trust me, parts of our lives were already wasted in that process trying to beg JAMB to tell the Universities that we are humans, who still have some worth. hmmmm. I recall the exploits of personalities of men and women of old like Sango, Oya, Obatala, Oduduwa, Basorun Gaa, Afonja, Moremi, Obanta and more; how much of such attestations did they possibly have to warrant their immortalisation? These men’s names were written in the sands of times.
Going forward, the message that the admission bell needs to convey should be “Congratulations! You are now a Nigerian Undergraduate in a Nigerian University. Be prepared for the worst. By the time you are posing for the paparazzi in your convocation gown, be aware you might have lost your youth.” Thanks may be to ASUU’s (Academic Staff Union of Universities).insistence on quality education and the Federal Government of Nigeria’s prudence (saving for the rainy days – no one should bother to ask in whose pockets the rain pours).
By this time, if you’re lucky to be awarded a first degree in less than or equal to twenty years since you started your education in Primary one, then I reckon you are indeed fortunate. Now that you are out, so what? What’s next? Graduates of Nigeria….
To converge at abandoned train stations or other clandestine rendezvous, smoking weed and washing down the throats with multicoloured dry gin, kain kain, even when the sun is as high as permitting only squints?
To submissively heat up our asses in front of cable TVs, being the dutiful audience that the money-spinning companies try hard to please with condescending advertorials, while we flip through channels after channels, pretending to be masters of current trends and happenings around the world?
To lazily be couched in a manicure room, whining at the shadows of boyfriends who are almost insensitive to our emotions, eventually jilting us like they are ignorant that we too have strong emotions? or become accomplices or the thoughtful conveyors of the emotional soothing balm of words, only the ladies know how. Why do we spend more than twenty years to learn to do these things and yet are unable to do them well enough? We should be sympathetic enough to want to change why we do what we do, if what we do isn’t good enough.
If Sango and his contemporaries did not go to a university and they were able to achieve what they achieved (whatever that is), what is stopping us? people of my generation? What?
Do we need to recreate our own realities? Do we need to rebuild and then, build our own environment the way we want it? the way we can fit in? starting from what we learn, the kind of schools we go, how we learn it, why we learn it, from who we learn it and what we learn it for?
Who are we? What do we do best without even training? What can we do without needing attestations that ultimately do little in attesting of us for anything? Just musings….
“Each generation must,
out of relative obscurity,
discover its mission,
fulfill it, or betray it.
” ― Frantz Fanon