Media Trainers Endorse Tope Fasua’s Crushed!
By Jim Pressman, Freelance, Abuja
CRUSHED! the highly acclaimed new book by versatile, Nigerian-born international businessman, motivational speaker, economist, chartered accountant, publisher and bookshop-owner Tope Fasua, “turned historian and sociologist by choice,” has been placed on the core reading list for students at the International Institute of Journalism IIJ) Asokoro-Abuja, Nigeria, beginning from next semester, side-by-side with two other development classics, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth and Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. He got the announcement when he appeared alongside Blueprint newspaper staffer, and poet Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz, and self-effacing as usual, said he was humbled by the placement of his book side-by-side with Fanon and Rodney.
Edited by his former lecturer and colleague, Duncan Hughes [who gave him a copy of East-West Pendulum, part of the inspiration for the work] and fellow-Nigerian Abolade Oyelere, the 400-page ‘hot-potato-treatise’ CRUSHED! Is an acronym for what the eagle-eyed observer subtitled “Navigating Africa’s Tortuous Quest for Development, Myth and Realities.” Some of his friends are already worried about his safety, given its extreme candour! More on this later, or below. With it, the author says he hopes: “provides shocking insights – enough to jar black Africa, and especially its underachieving big brother, Nigeria, out of its deep slumber.”
Proudly Nigerian with neither complexes nor illusions about his lot, the widely travelled and street-wise author who yet is as ‘well-read’ (excuse the Nigerianness of the phrase, well…?) as the regular academic states (pp.vii-viii): “(the book) is about the accident of my birth in Nigeria, and the fantastic opportunities it offers to make a difference.” But no crass opportunist, he resists the temptation to ‘cheat’ as he goes on to state (ibid.) that “Africa and Nigeria in particular offers unique vistas fro he who is willing, or brave enough to propose solutions. Many times, what people notice is the opportunity to ‘make money.’ But many have made such monies and have lost the quality of their lives in the process.”
He even quotes the holy books, which he rightly notes ask, “What shall it profit a man (or woman), to gain the whole world and lose his (/her) soul?” Now, you take him for religious? Wrong! He believes in God, of course. However, Tope Fasua, who would really rather teach [ensuring of course his reward is not all stocked up in Heaven!] than preach, were he to change jobs, is quick to point this out to you: in the world economic system, there is really no provision for the typical preacher man’s consolatory “God will provide!”
The author exhorts Africans to now “be more responsible about what they want to do with their continent, in view of what China, which was hitherto dismissed as ‘a hopeless situation,’ yet now with its population of 1.4 billion is adjudged second best economy on earth.” On the need to get up and act whatever our backgrounds, and to stop groaning and moaning about our history, Fasua reminds Africans (through Nigerians who for him represent the whole) that: “If a man is used to being gifted with anything he could ever want straight from childhood, he will never be able to grow and find his own soul.” This is why he argues, by extension, Africa and Africans have “suffered more from (foreign) aid than AIDS resulting from HIV, which nobody has accepted claims to its original homestead.
Writing and speaking in a manner reminiscent of other African thinker-writers Ayi Kwei Armah (Ghana), Yambo Olouguem as well as Ousmane Sembene (Senegal) Fasua refuses to ‘romanticize our culture and past,’ even while admiring the good aspects and the intrinsic values therein to which we must return and adapt to the current realities: “No culture is perfect,” he concludes, but change we all must” by making the best of our double-edged diversity – the false security imagined hitherto in homogeneity having been shattered by the Somalia experience [ref. the knee-jack reactions in chapter 4] – by “re-writing our history as history is kindest to who do the writing by themselves, and since when we fix our history we fix our future.”
To our leaders, the recommendation is short, but pungent: “Too much Government, too little governance, the bane of Development – the true, sustainable and meaningful brand, in Nigeria!” The advert for the leader who holds the ace for Africa’s future would thus read: “Wanted, a benevolent and therefore beneficial Dictator, a Philosopher-King capable of thinking fast and out-of-the-box, away from the present, borrowed systems which have proved too expensive and wasteful to lead us to the scripturally alluded to, ‘Promised Land’.”
This is only the first book from the economist-accountant and global businessman, turned historian and sociologist, by conscious choice, who confesses he is no trained writer. It will certainly not be the last as he already feels a sequel in the offing. Writing for him is “like exorcism,” he says. “Get it out and be free. But [again] it is not exorcism…”
If you wish to be part of this ‘setting in motion of a shift in paradigm; the hoped validation of the thinking of those who have attempted a holistic approach to the African conundrum;’ this Chioma Ajunwa –type of Olympian, final [?] “attempt to begin draw out the African … to remind him or her that at some point this summer-all-year-round idyllic environment-induced party must end at some point!” Then, come join us and patriot Tope Fasua, as he declares in his preface [p.x]:
“I didn’t ask to be black; I didn’t ask to be Nigerian. But I am ready to make the most of my situation; in fact, to even die trying.” The first step is to grab a copy of this book at Readers are Leaders Publishers/Bookstore, today! And “proceed to be the change you want to see in the world.”
Stop Press: Do not laugh, please! Such was Mr. Fasua’s passion that, in his own words: “… forgot to put the name of the author – me – on the front page, even when I had almost completed the work, until my then 9-year-old daughter Shania, saw a rough, printed draft and asked if this was my book. When I affirmed to her it was mine, she went ahead, picked up a pen and wrote my name on the [cover] page, just beneath the title…” If you want to know how Fasua reacts to this touching gesture, get a copy; but this piece is this reporter’s birthday gift to Shania Fasua (How old are you now, girl?) to share with Mom Dora, brother Josh and little sis Isabella! Don’t you worry, Daddy will be just fine.