Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Bravery Of Our Fathers

Image source:

I picked this up while surfing the net of late. Its called Obafemi Awolowo's Allocutus from The words reached deep down and connected with my soul, especially the paths I highlighted. I believe its a message for the now irrespective of the circumstances in which the speech was given.... reminisce and meditate on these words; contact something!

 In "Adventures in Power Book One: My March through Prison" by
Obafemi Awolowo [Macmillan Nigeria Publishers, 1985]; pp. 198 ff.

I must say, and this may have to be taken up with a higher tribunal,
that I do not agree with your Lordship's verdict, and the premises on
which it is based.
For upwards of 30 years, I have been in politics in Nigeria; during
this period I have operated in various important theatres in the life
of this great Federation. I have, with others, fought against
British imperialism with all my might, and with all the talents that
it pleased God to give me.

Together with other nationalists, some of whom are with me and many
of whom are not with me here, we have successfully thrown out British
imperialism and enthroned Africans in positions which, 20 or more
years ago, they never dreamt of occupying.

I have been an unyielding advocate of a Federal Constitution forNigeria. I have all along, with other leaders of this country, been
a very active and constructive participant in all the constitutional
conferences which have taken place since 1953, and which have
culminated not only in the attainment of independence but in the
production of a Constitution of which Nigerians are very proud.

This Constitution is now being gradually violated.

I have also fought against anything which savours of injustice. It
is thus an irony of history that, as one of the architects ofNigeria's independence, I have spent almost half of Nigeria's three
years of independence under one form of confinement or another.
Since 1957 I have fought, as your Lordship remarked, with vigour
against the feudal system in the Northern Region and for its
eradication. I have also fought to prevent the spread of this evil
political system to other parts of Nigeria.
During the same period I have strongly advocated the breaking up of
Northern Region into more states in order to have true federation in
Nigeria, to preclude the permanent subservience of the people of
Nigeria to the autocratic ruling caste in the North, and to preserve
peace and unity in the country.
In short, I have always fought for what I believe, without relenting
and regardless of consequences to myself. I have no doubt, and I say
this without any spirit of immodesty, that in the course of my
political career, I have rendered services to this country which
historians and the coming generations will certainly regard as
Naturally, Sir, in the course of my long, turbulent and active
political life, I have attracted to myself a sizeable crop of
detractors and political adversaries. Similarly, I have in the
course of this long career seen both triumphs and set-backs; and I
have met them with equal mind.

Peter, not Peter the Apostle, but Peter the hero of Hugh Walpole's
novel entitled "Fortitude" said: "It isn't life that matters but the
courage you bring to it."
After life had done terrible things to Peter he heard a voice that
said to him, among other things, "Blessed be all sorrow, hardships
and endurance that demand courage. Blessed be these things: for of
these things cometh the making of a man."

In the words of Peter, therefore, my Lord, I declare (not that I have
heard a voice): Blessed be your verdict; and I say in advance,
blessed be the sentence which your Lordship may pass on me.

I personally welcome any sentence you may impose upon me. At this
moment my only concern is not for myself, but that my imprisonment
might do harm to Nigeria for three reasons.
First, the invaluable services which I have hitherto rendered and
which I can still render will be lost to the country – at least for a

Second, there might be a heightening of the present tension which has
lasted 15 months, and has done incalculable injuries to the economy
of the country.

Thirdly, for some time to come, the present twilight of democracy,
individual freedom and the rule of law, will change or might change
into utter darkness. But after darkness – and this is a commonplace –comes a glorious dawn.
It is, therefore, with a brave heart, with confident hope, and with
faith in my unalterable destiny, that I go from this twilight into
the darkness, unshaken in my trust in the Providence of God that a
glorious dawn will come on the morrow.

My adversaries might say who am I to think that if I am imprisoned
the country might suffer? What if I died?

The point, of course, is that I am still alive and will not die in
prison. Furthermore, the spirit of man knows no barrier, never dies,
and can be projected to any part of the world.

This being so I am confident that the ideals of social justice and
individual liberty which I hold dear will continue to be projected
beyond the prison walls and bars until they are realized in our

In this connection, I must stress that in this very court room,
indeed in this dock and in the entire Federation of Nigeria, the
spirit of a new Nigeria is already active and at work. This spirit,
working through constitutional means which I have spent the whole of
my lifetime to advocate, is sure to prevail, before very long, to the
delight, freedom and prosperity of all and sundry.

No comments:

Post a Comment