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Awolowo Was Greater Than Mandela ––Writer Odia Ofeimun

January 2, 2014

Writer and poet, Odia Ofeimun, has rated the late Premier of old Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, above late former South African President, Nelson Mandela. The social critic, in a chat with Sahara TV which was uploaded to YouTube said although “Mandela was good for the liberation” of his people, Awolowo made far-reaching impacts on the lives of many Nigerians.
“People talk about Mandela’s capacity to put various classes (of people) together as theory, but Awolowo ironed it out very clearly, why you don’t need a class struggle, in order to create a society in which all children can go to school; in which everybody can get a job, and in which old age pensions will be paid to people.”
Ofeimun, while comparing the two leaders, said:
The processes leading to independence in South Africa and Nigeria “followed exactly the same pattern” but it is unfortunate that the liberation struggle championed by Mandela did “not create the end of apartheid.”

He said Awolowo negotiated Nigeria’s independence just as Mandela did, adding that it would amount to a “hype” to think that there were differences in what the two leaders essentially fought for in their respective countries to end colonisation.

Ofeimun said, “I am too much of an Awolowo man not to see that the process of moving into independence in South Africa and in Nigeria followed exactly the same pattern. It was based on a negotiated settlement. The liberation struggle did not create the end of apartheid. It was a negotiation and Nigerians negotiated exactly the way Mandela negotiated.

“You can hype it if you like, but the pattern was exactly the same. You move from one meeting to the other, discussing politics and economics, and they successfully convinced Mandela to buy the pig in a poke of an economy and they also successfully succeeded in convincing Nigerians to buy the pig in a poke of an economy.

“The only man in Nigeria, who stood up against it, was (Obafemi) Awolowo. He was quickly jailed and all his men scattered across the prisons in Nigeria. Some driven abroad and the educational system that he had put in place was smashed.”

While choosing Awo above the late anti-apartheid leader, Ofeimun said the philosophical postulations about the workings of a state put forward by Awolowo were superior to those credited to Mandela.

Insisting that Mandela could not match the stature of Awolowo, the Edo State-born poet said Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah was the only African leader that could be seen to rival Awolowo.

But he however added that Nkrumah’s ideology of pan-Africanism lacked the capacity to “save Africa” when compared to Awolowo’s brand of socialism.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

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