Column Opinion

Tom and Jerry and Nigeria

By Prince Charles Dickson Ph.D

It’s so easy to be negative and there are so many reasons for the long term to be positive.

Tom and Jerry is a series of theatrical animated cartoon films created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, centering on a never-ending rivalry between a cat (Tom) and a mouse (Jerry) whose chases and battles often involved comic violence… 

The series features comedic fights between an iconic set of enemies, a house cat and mouse. The plots of each short usually center on Tom’s numerous attempts to capture Jerry and the mayhem and destruction that ensues. Tom rarely succeeds in catching Jerry, mainly because of Jerry’s cleverness, cunning abilities, and luck.

A longtime television staple, Tom and Jerry has a worldwide audience that consists of children, teenagers and adults, and has also been recognized as one of the most famous and longest-lived rivalries in American cinema. In 2000, TIME named the series one of the greatest television shows of all time.

The cartoons are infamous for some of the most violent cartoon gags ever devised in theatrical animation, such as Jerry slicing Tom in half, shutting his head in a window or a door, Tom using everything from axes, firearms, explosives, traps and poison to try to murder Jerry, Jerry stuffing Tom’s tail in a waffle iron and a mangle, kicking him into a refrigerator, plugging his tail into an electric socket, pounding him with a mace, club or mallet, causing a tree or an electric pole to drive him into the ground, sticking matches into his feet and lighting them, tying him to a firework and setting it off, and so on.

As a matter of me, I look at issues from the larger picture. I do not just dabble into matters, I THINK, I look beyond sophistry, anchored more on bare-face political partisanship, and ethnicity or group affiliation. I leave room for human frailties but I THINK before I write or talk. Again, I am going to rehearse my take on a nation fighting herself in a quest to be a nation.

Let me start in this manner, Atiku and Okowa is largely keeping on frame with one North, one South, one Christian, the other Muslim. Peter/Datti, one Igbo, the other ‘trace’ Fulani (don’t ask me to explain) and finally, Tinubu/Shettima both Muslims, one South and Yoruba, the other North and Kanuri, all are situated in dichotomies, APC is a Muslim party, does it make PDP any Christian, how about the Labour Party?

It’s in this light, I watched the Federal and state governments fight each other like Tom and Jerry over who was responsible for increased poverty or put succinctly multidimensional poverty. They basically threw banters at each while citizens suffered and found solace in supporting their own ‘thief’.

Our dichotomy is not a subject within the shores of this nation that one talks about without understanding, it evokes a lot of passions from the heated arguments which it generates, everyone holding dear to their values, and idiosyncrasies. A lot has been written, on old perspectives likewise new viewpoints.

Our propensity largely has remained to think as easterners, westerners, northerners, middle belters, all depending on the turns of event. And

Every nation has one dichotomy or the other, if it is not the north vs south, it is versus blocs, religion or even ideological dichotomies. There are several reasons why such dichotomies exist. Sometimes it is a function of creation or political correctness like we have in the Nigerian case.

In our sensationalism, we have in every sense approached most problems sectionally thereby creating all kinds of unnecessary petty-culture-ethnic-religious-parapoism and bourgeois mentality in dealing with our national issues.

Dichotomy is one that is used by political apologists as a socio-economic weapon. Apart from the positives, our dichotomy has been used to exploit and bamboozle the masses without major consideration being given to the dynamics of the law of development which in essence deals scientifically with the unity and struggle of opportunities and opposites.

All the Tom and Jerry in our politics can only be solved by a social revolution. In this sense we need more than a free, fair and credible election, what we need is the progressive element (Sadly that progressive element today is largely on paper only) to come together as a striking force. Because they have a revolutionary duty to this nation to help in striking a balance, to disabuse the thought pattern that has been built.

There is an ideology of hatred, one that props up again and again, Lagos in West, Anambra in the East, North vs South, Muslims vs Christians. This is a factor that reactionary elements within the system use in battling the progressives. Like the first coup, or the IPOB saga, the problem still persists, our problems borrows a lot from bourgeois theories, which essentially is directed at confusing our intellect, like we try to argue within the parameters of “anti-class theory”, “theory of undevelopement”, “take off theory”, “theory of cooperation”, “theory of external push”, “end of ideology theory”, “convergence theory”, “the theory of the periphery in the periphery”.

Wonderful sociological concepts that do very little in helping us shift in the way of progress because only few theories work for us…”theory of corruption”, “theory of bad governance”, “chop I chop theory”, and “killing for god theory”, “blaba blu, Indonesia statistics theory, and unifier theory”, “bandits theory” and cross carpeting theory, “debate theory” and many more.

Dichotomy is everywhere, sometime last month I was in Chemnitz, a part of Germany. It helped me appreciate and learn about Karl Marx’ Chemnitz and the dichotomy, and differences. But when not managed it only retards conscious development of the people, creates inter ethnic hostilities and allows for continued exploitation from and management of political power.

We end another year, having fought all kinds of Tom and Jerry without recourse to providing an answer to the question, are we a nation? We go into a general election without answering the national question scientifically in relation to the phenomenon of our socio-political economical development.

The national question “is a question of solving vital national problems of social development, abolishing national oppression and inequality, eliminating obstacles to the development of peoples, including achievement of factual quality and internationalism in national relations.”

Everything we have done so far, brings to question the concepts of “national character”, “national culture”, “national consciousness”, ”national philosophy and psychology” all often used and discussed without carefully and critically understanding their contradicting class nature in antagonistic societies and their relative independence.

Nigeria should be a nation of a lasting historical community of people constituting a form of social development based on the community of economic life in combination with the community of language, territory, culture, consciousness and psychology. But are we?

Are we a nation of various ethnic groups moving towards greater realization of cultural togetherness, peace and stability for all?

The summary of this admonition is both a warning and a challenge on the basis of what I have outlined; it is only fair and fitting to direct our critical analysis of the Nigerian political climate in the form of serious warning that all is not well. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to do and say what is right and choose which battles to fight on the premise of parochial locus standi.

We need to come to grips with realities of the moment which point to the inevitabilities of the future, because time is running out, we cannot continue our Tom and Jerry stand if we are serious at initiating a hurricane of social revolution. Are we ready—only time will tell.

Contact the writer: pcdbooks@gmail.com

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