by Pius Adesanmi.
Oto ni ki eyan je iya
Oto ni ki iya je eyan
I don’t know why the Yoruba conceptualise suffering as consumption. In Yoruba, you can eat suffering or suffering can eat you.
Mo nje iya (I am eating suffering)
Iya nje mi (suffering is eating me)
Both expressions are synonymous. Whether you are eating suffering or suffering is eating you, it has the same meaning in English – you are suffering.
What I don’t like, therefore, is the combo of “mo nje iya, iya nje mi”. That is when you are eating suffering and suffering is also eating you.
I hardly ever see this combo in Nigeria. All over the country, people are suffering. They are impoverished. They are either eating suffering or suffering is eating them.
One exception is Minna. I have seen slums in and across Africa. I have seen poverty and misery and hunger. I have seen the worst spaces of backwardness in many cities across Nigeria, I have never seen anything like Minna.
In Minna, they eat suffering and suffering eats them. Won nje iya baba nla iya si tun nje won.
My own Lokoja, backward Lokoja, is in the Stone Age – just as Lord Lugard met and left it. Yet, Lokoja is Dubai compared with Minna.
There is a space that looks like suburban America in Minna – manicured lawns, mansions, etc. It is about the size of two blocks or even less. Outside of these two blocks of personal wealth produced and sustained by the oil blocks of the Niger Delta lies an endless ocean of poverty and misery. I have never seen that level of poverty and suffering and backwardness in my life. The city is locked in prehistoric times and poverty.
Yet this city has produced two of the people responsible for her suffering and the suffering of the rest of Nigeria.
Thirty years after one of them went to treat radiculopathy in a hospital in Paris, his city is still in the prehistoric age with no hospitals to speak of.
His city hosted nearly all of the people responsible for Nigeria’s misery today.
They crowded in that small part of town which looks like the 21st century – smaller than two blocks really.
And locked out the rest in the prehistoric age.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Pius Adesanmi, a professor of English, is Director of the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Canada