by Ike Klinsmann
“It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power”…Chimamanda Adichie
Democracy is the Greek word for people’s power (Power to the people). But the question is this – to what degree is this power actually controlled by the people? Are the masses really in charge and do their voices really matter? But again, what is true of Nigeria is also true of most countries in the African continent and few countries in the west. Throughout history, a selected few have always controlled the society using diversionary strategies. Misinformation, disinformation, fear, post-truth, paranoia and manipulations being the weapons of choice. It’s called Propaganda Engineering – which aims at keeping the masses stranded in the valley of decision, uninformed, misinformed, paranoid and incapable of making valuable political decisions for themselves and their families
The difference between a developed democracy and a developing democracy is that while the democratic institutions in developed democracies are strengthened to antagonise the single story, Institutions in developing democracies like Nigeria are designed to boost the multiplier effect of the single story. Powerful people have indeed kidnapped democracy in Nigeria
At this point, we may have been wondering – What then is the single story? A single story means the cover-up of the past and the manipulation of the present in order to influence the future. When you repeat a lie over and over again, then it becomes a truth. Portray a story as one thing over and over again and that is what it will definitely become. A single story is created for one purpose and one purpose only – to benefit the creator. Invented to influence the way the society reacts and designed to make the masses think in a certain direction which the inventor wants them to think. Politicians (with the help of the media) are master inventors of the single story of which they are the greatest beneficiaries. Never let the truth get in the way of good politics, they say. In their worldview, truth is irrelevant, power is supreme and must be retained at all cost.
Chimamanda Adichie warned “The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but they are incomplete”.
Dangerous characteristics of the single story are as follows
- They cover-up sensitive information: Like the present government in Anambra State, they will claim to have invested much in education but will never tell the public there are no books in the state libraries. They will hide the current reports on school drop-outs in the state. They talk about creating jobs but fail to disclose that statistical evidence revealed that 7000 job seekers applied for a single job vacancy in the state.
- 2. They silence the opposition: They dislike opinions that tend to reveal their shadows and silence all opposing voices that may introduce alternatives. They enjoy exclusive rights to societal psycho-mental hypnotism. They will repair or construct roads then blow it out of proportion in the media, the masses claps and jumps as if it was a big deal and not the function of governments to repair roads
- 3. They don’t balance reports: A balanced report destroys the single story. They don’t want to bring up issues for open debate, in contrast to the United Nations Sustainable Development goals which states that governments should share information, exchange ideas, encourage meetings and brainstorming, and work in good faith across cultures. When technocrats ask important questions, they send their personal assistants to give unreasonable answers. They don’t want alternatives to existing problems because they like Donald Trump are demagogues who benefit in chaotic times
- Propaganda Engineering: They take absolute control of the media, censor reports and filter the type of information they wish to share with the masses. Using all “Damage Control” strategies in the book, they clean up their scandals, re-package lies and re-position falsehood thereby keeping the population in perpetual darkness.
A disillusioned society is an easy tool for manipulation. Once this is achieved, the population becomes brainwashed and zombified, singing hallelujah to a despot who has a proven record of gross incompetence. This is the major aim of Obiano’s APGA government in Anambra State today.
The single story shows how vulnerable the society can be when truth and politics are in conflict. But when you reject the single story, you can control your destiny. As Adichie advised “Stories have been used to dispose and to malign. But stories can also be used to dispose and to humanise. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity”.
When you allow others to tell your story, then they will choose what to tell and how to tell it.They will take your story, tell it the way they please and it will become your story. A Professor of International Relations at the Stockholm’s University told me a few days ago that Nigerian voters are so poor that they accept less than $1 (300 Naira) to vote for politicians during elections and that the Ibos are so morally bankrupt that they can sell their mothers in exchange for political favours. I was very furious and asked him who told him this and he replied that one politician from Nigeria told him. But is this really the truth? If a limited few accepts $1.00 to sell their conscience at the ballot box, do we all do the same? I have never sold my lovely mother for any political nonsense and have never encountered anyone in the entire Iboland who has done so. Is this how cheap the single story can be, who invented it and is this our story in Anambra State? If Politicians have written your story on your behalf (though without your consent), is this really your story?
The time has come for us to change history, to re-write our story. Anambra Election 2017 is a chance for us to correct the ills of the past. Will you vote with both eyes wide shut or will you seek the truth? How will you measure political accountability and determinants of good governance? Will you vote again without a balance report? Adichie prophesized “when we reject the single story, when we realise that there is never a single story……..we regain a kind of Paradise”
But this condition comes with a cost. To regain the Paradise Lost in Anambra State, we must reject the single story
Anambra Calls, Will you answer!!
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
IKE CHINEDU KLINSMANN
Coordinator President Goodluck Jonathan Initiatives in Scandinavia – 2015
Former Team Leader ICT & Digital Communications
Tony Nwoye Governorship campaign Organization 2013