The world woke up a few days ago to news of yet another escalation in the Middle East. This time, just like 50 years ago, it was Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Jewish calendar.
Over one thousand people have died in two days of fighting. Life will never be the same for many whose families have been affected, those injured, and dreams shattered both in Israel and the consequent retaliation in Gaza.
I have analyzed the situation in the Middle East for 51 years since my High School days, and especially in 2021 when I had the rare chance of paying my Palestinian Taxi driver in Copenhagen Denmark, extra money to just sit and talk with me. I heard him out. Here’s my conclusion. For as long as the problem in the Middle East is viewed through the prism of religion instead of geography, by which I mean the right of peoples to exist in a defined geographical space, the question will never be resolved.
In the dying days of his administration, Bill Clinton tried to broker peace between Arafat and Ehud Barak. In that deal, Ehud Barak had the backing of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, to yield East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian State. Some religious based countries in the Middle East prevailed on Arafat not to sign that agreement.
That was a sad day for the world and it set the stage for the events of the last few days. Shortly after the failure of that attempt, an extreme rightist religious group, Hamas, began to gain ascendancy in Palestinian society.
They have a stated platform for the total destruction of the Jewish State. This is not a tenable position in the search for peace. Now, here we are in an endless cycle of senseless violence, upon more foolishness on all sides as it has been with humanity since the beginning of time when, with only four people on earth, Cain killed Abel.
As the Middle East burns, the United States is in a state of anomie, a situation of moral decay and lawlessness as the House of Representatives is without a Speaker, Kevin McCarthy having been removed by the MAGA wing of the Republican Party for working with the Democrats. For one minute, one was led to think that the Democrats were from North Korea. Clearly, Trump’s incursion into American politics has brought with it, a particular brand of poisonous cantankerousness. America will never be the same again. Welcome to dysfunction in the greatest country on earth.
In other stories around the world, in my beautiful country, Nigeria, I arrived with a sense of hope and optimism to be a part of the solution we have been looking for to help build our country. I arrived on Tuesday, October 2nd. I have been sleeping since my arrival, trying to adapt to a new time zone. My first duty was to jump in a Danfo bus to the computer village in Ikeja to situate my phone, my banking, and other issues.
I saw our people in motion, tireless in their hustle, unrelenting in their hopes. Everyone is in a hurry, the man walking, the driver driving, horns blaring at no one in particular. You’ve gotta love Nigeria, our home, sweet home. In a few days, I will slide anonymously into the ancient city, only one of two places in the world that calls itself a city. Benin is the place of my origin. Her red soil, sweet corn, and burly-physiqued unique descendants of Igodomigodo stand out in their fearlessness and sophistry. Much progress has been made by previous governments.
Much more progress is required especially in getting our restless youth organized and putting them to work producing things to export to the rest of Nigeria and abroad.
This is the mission upon which I will be devoting my energies—- win or lose, in my pursuit to be Governor. The future of our people is bigger than our individual ambitions. People like me, my generation, beneficiaries of a Nigeria that was once functional and gave us everything—-we owe Nigeria, big time. Nigeria does not owe me anything. I owe Nigeria.
Author, Poet, Playwright and Public Affairs Commentator.