Best In Africa
I was arrested for the first time at age 62. For building an Orisa house, in Ile Ife.
I made the statement to a bunch of police officers most of them young enough to be my children.
First, what do these bunch of kids know about an Orisa house, before deciding that the best line of action was to arrest me?
Virtually everything they’ve learned about an Orisa house (or temple) comes from Nollywood films and their Christian and Muslim clerics.
How does Nollywood present Orisa houses? In the worst possible forms, to scare people, to malign and demonize the practices, to distort the ceremonies as awfully as possible–all out of their colonized and broken minds, as means of money making.
How do Christians and Islamic clerics present Orisa practices?
You tell me. I’m listening.
There I was, in this crowded room, with this assortment of kids, all loaded with guns and bullets, shooting questions at me, asking me to defend myself. I thought it was ridiculous for me to defend myself especially because they had not presented a coherent reason for arresting me.
Why do you arrest a citizen for building his own house, after buying the land, doing a proper state-certified survey, making a government-approved plan, and following all the rules?
Well, these boys describe themselves as “Best In Africa.” So perhaps this gives them the imagination that they can arrest me and ask me to make a statement without properly informing me about what I had done wrong.
They gave me a form to fill.
Name: Moyo Okediji
(this is tricky, I thought, Should I disclose that I actually have dual citizenship, specifically to protect me from harassment by kids like them in what Trump characterized as tyranical “shithole countries?”)
(“teaching” would have been more appropriate. But perhaps I could get them to respect a little bit more if I wrote “professor?” I bet few–if any of them have a decent form of education–even as they think they know the world better than I do.)
(This is hilarious. Perhaps I should also have told them that my middle name is Benjamin. Would that mitigate their attack on me? In truth, I haven’t been in a church since I left Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo, in 1973–and it wasn’t because I wanted to attend the school chapel, but because they imposed attendance on me. I don’t worship anything. Only the human life and art are sacred to me.)
Address: Department of Fine Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University.
(Does anyone actually live there? But it was the only address that came to my mind.)
GSM no: 08100236235
(Wow! They are in the digital era. Statistics show that more cell phones are registered in Africa than in the whole of Europe and the United States. Unfortunately, my own phone is not registered. Perhaps there are more unregistered phones circulating in Africa than those registered. I simply bought the SIM card at the airport.)
I Moyo Okediji….Male/Female
(I will leave this blank until they insist. I have both male and female chromosomes in me.)
…having been duly cautioned in ……….. Language
(ACTUALLY, NOBODY CAuTIONED ME IN ANY LANGUAGE! I decided to leave this space blank)
…that I am not obliged to say anything unless I wish to do so but what ever (spelling error) I say will be taken down in writing and may be given in evidence………………….I voluntarily elect to state as follows
(Liars. They are compelling me to write the statement, yet they say it is voluntary.)
I am a professor of art and art history at the University of Texas, Austin, USA.
I am building a cultural center at Aba Iya gani.
The purpose of the building is to create a space of creativity to promote indigenous African culture. (I BET THESE PEOPLE IN UNIFORMS OF BRUTALITY HATE THAT!)
The buiding will aslo serve as a tourist attraction (LORD, I HATE THAT PHRASE “TOURIST ATTRACTION” BUT IT MIGHT SAVE MY LIFE HERE), as part of the Osun State cultural policy to develop tourism (I HATE ANYBODY TURNING MY PEOPLE AND LAND INTO A TOURIST MECCA), and generate resources for the state. (I BET THEY WILL SWALLOW THIS PART AND ENJOY IT).
We intentionally have used indigenous methods of construction to make the structure unique in architecture (DOES CONCRETE ACTUALLY QUALIFY AS INDIGENOUS?)
We employ young people as artists and we pay them to make paintings. (I BET THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT A PAINTING IS).
The building will be in full operaation by May 2019, when we will officially open it. We have the support of the Ooni Obarisa Ojaja (THIS SHOULD DRIVE THE FEAR OF GOD INTO THEM), who is the Life Patron of our organization, called the University of African Art. We are creating (TOO MANY USES OF “CREATING,” BUT THE WORD SHOULD IMPRESS THEM SINCE IT IS THE OPPOSITE OF DESTROYING) an international platform for the promotion of Nigerian values. We appeal to the police to support us and provide us protection from people who have now been making my life and the lives of my workers really difficult.
SIGNED, dated July 5, 2018.
I WOKE UP THIS MORNING FROM A NIGHTMARE IN WHICH THE POLICEMEN WERE TEARING UP MY STATEMENT AND PUSHING ME INTO THEIR CELL. IT WAS SO GRAPHIC, I WAS SWEATING, THOUGH IN REALITY THEY DID NOT TOUCH ME PHYSICALLY. SEEMS THE EXPERIENCE HAS BRUISED ME EMOTIONALLY).
Interested in some of my published works?