Monday, October 11, 2010

Sermon on the Mountain

“I have a dream that one day, on the sand dunes of the Caliphate, the sons of the dongaris and the sons of former sultans will be able sit down and eat tuwo together…”

I am Martin Dauda Turaki Jnr, and I am happy to be with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration of our collective resolve to fight residual military dictatorship in our democracy. For more than 50 years, our forefathers fought the colonial masters to secure our political freedom. But 46 years later, the Niagaran is still in bondage. Forty-six years later, the Niagaran is still crippled by the manacles of dictatorship and self-righteousness. Forty-six years later, the Niagaran lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a mighty ocean of opulence. Forty-six years later, the Niagaran is still languished in the corners of an intolerant primitive society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we have come here today on this hallowed ground of Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, to dramatise our opposition to a shameful political situation.

In a sense, we have come to the nation's commercial capital to cash a cheque. And lest I forget, when the neo-architects of our republic wrote the captivating words of the 1999 Constitution and the Declaration of Independence from Military Usurpers, they were signing a promisory note of which every Niagaran was to become heir. This note was a promise that all Niagarans, yes, men as well as women, would be guaranteed the "unalienable rights" of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". It is obvious today that Niagara has defaulted on this promisory note, in so far as the talakawa are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, Niagara has given the common man a dud cheque which has bounced back, like a rubber ball, marked "re-present, insufficient funds". But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are no sufficient funds in the central bank of opprtunity of this great country. But let me assure you that we are going to cash this cheque, a cheque that will give us, upon demand, the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Fellow Action-men and Congress-women, we have also come to this hallowed spot that used to be the racecourse for the colonial masters to remind the powers that be of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to waffle or to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to swallow the valium of gradualism. The youths and the generality of our people are becoming restive. Now is is the time to make real the promised dividends of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of civilian dictatorship to the sunlit path of participatory democracy. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. Let me warn that it would be fatal for the nation to everlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering heat of a growing revolution will not pass until there is an invigorating sunshine of freedom and equality. Take note that 2007 is not an end in itself but just another beginning. And those who hope that the Niagaran needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening when the nation returns to monkey business as usual...

Congress-men and women! I am not unaware of the fact that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you came from the narrow cells of emotional jail because you refused to succumb to one man's inordinate ambition. And some of you have come from where your quest for political freedom and economic independence left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality and the barkings of EFCC. Do not worry. Children of God should fear no foe. Yes, you have been victims of "creative persecution" but you should continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Gombe, go back to Aba, go back to Sapele, go back to Yola, go back to Yenagoa, go back to the slums and ghettos of our cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed, insha Allah!

My people, let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I promise you that with this broom in my hand, we shall sweep away political intolerance, moral deliquency, religious bigotry, social injustice, abuse of power and unbriddled contempt for the rule of law by those who are supposed to be the custodians of the law!

Action-men and women! I stand before you today to give hope where there is none, to give courage where everybody else has turned a coward and to put my life on the line in the absence of true, genuine "heroes". Some of you may call me the reluctant rebel or a rabble rouser with a death wish but these are times that call for self-sacrifice and, if need be, martyrdom. I have a dream today! I have a dream that our tomorrow will be better than our today. Yes, I have a dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of our constitutional provision, to wit, that all men are created equal, and that nobody, no matter how powerful, is above the law. I have a dream that one day, on the sand dunes of the Caliphate, the sons of former dongaris and the sons of former sultans will be able to sit down and eat tuwo together from the same bowl at the table of equality. I have a dream that one day, even the Niger Delta, a region sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. Yes, I have a dream... that my four wives and their little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the character of their husband and father but by the content of their own character.

I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Anambra, with its vicious anarchists always on the prowl, with its godfather having his lips dripping with the words of "imposition", "rigging", "impeachment" and "nullification" day, right there in Anambra, the rampaging Bakassi boys and Bakassi girls will be able to hug and join hands with the true fighters of democracy and jointly say: Free at last! Free at last!!

I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, every valley shall be exalted, and the Obudu hills in Cross River State as well as the Alantika mountains of Adamawa State and the Jos Plateau in Plateau State shall be made low, the rough roads plain, and the crooked places straight...

This is our hope, and this is the faith I go back to Abuja with.

With this faith, we will be able to chip out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the discordant tunes of our anthems, old and new, into a beautiful symphony of nationhood. With this faith, we wil be able to work together, pray together, struggle together, go to jail together and stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And that will be the day...the day when all of us will be able to sing with new meaning that... though tribe and tongue may differ/In brotherhood we stand.

Sermon on the Mountain is an adaptation of the famous "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr, late civil rights leader, in Jim Crow America, August 28, 1963.

*This Opilogue was first published in TELL on January 22, 2007.

No comments:

Post a Comment