We’re all looking for a bit of recognition, even if it’s the unconscious and hypocritical need for attention over the fact that we’re not publically seeking out attention.~Abby Rosmarin
Nigerian-born Uju Anya, an associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburg got all the attention she sought after her controversial tweet about the late Queen Elizabeth II went viral. The tweet was so widely discussed that it even elicited a response from the usually taciturn Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.
Uju Anya is no stranger to ruckus though. She is one of those who never heard the phrase “some things are better left unsaid”. Actually, given some of her cheeky replies to shots aimed at her, I believe that she stokes controversy and revels in social media dopamine.
Some eulogise her as a heroic speaker of truth who has consistently campaigned against the ills of colonialism, racism and sexual discrimination. While others have adjudged her a bitter lady and dumped her in the basket of frustrated ‘Twitter windbags’ parading as feminists.
Let me be clear before I proceed. Madam Uju’s tweet though factual was vile, cruel and disturbing. Beyond all that, someone posited that wishing another person a painful death only goes to show that given the opportunity, she would do worse than the colonial masters. Well, that is plausible, but then some people talk a lot more than they can do and she may belong to that group.
I am not a fan of the British monarchy or any monarchy for that matter but I do not share Uju’s sentiments and here is why.
I am a post-civil war child like her. As a matter of fact, those of us born immediately after the war felt the impact more than Uju who was born in the late 70s. As a progressive, I seek to move on. I was taught to respect the dead and mourn with the bereaved. I would rather remain silent on the death of one whom I loathe or at the most express my disdain privately among those I can relate to and reason with.
However, I am neither the self-confessed lesbian who only realised her sexuality after 2 kids with her ex-husband nor the child abandoned by an irresponsible dad — as she claims — who spent his time frolicking with numerous side chicks. It is in this context that we should seek to understand Uju Anya’s personae. Is she what Malcolm Gladwell described as the mismatched in his book Talking To Strangers? But the world is in a hurry. Few people have the patience to read a 280-letter tweet let alone research Uju’s momentous background.
It brings me to the point where I begin to wonder why she chose the western world in the first place. Why not stay back and contribute more to developing Africa? I mean for how long will Africans keep passing the buck? Sixty-two long years after independence Nigeria remains a sprawling realm of poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment.
Even in the developed world where the system works we still can’t get our acts together. Try getting a new passport from any embassy abroad and give us feedback. Are the Europeans still running Abia state? Ok if you say the Europeans ‘underdeveloped’ Africa what did Africans achieve before the colonisers? Tucker Carlson and Rev Manning have interesting perspectives that will have you wondering if the colonialists really underdeveloped Africa despite all the atrocities they committed.
Be that as it may, our controversial professor is entitled to her opinion just like everyone no matter how far-fetched or stupid. But opinions have consequences, especially in her world and for her status.
It could explain why she has been quiet in the past few days following her tweet. I guess she consulted her attorney to mull possibilities after the statement from her institution. Twitter validation and followers do not bring credit alerts so I expect her to double down going forward. She wouldn’t want to be cancelled by much of western academia where she thrives.
But who knows, she could be a pawn of the liberals who may have assured her of accommodation as some media reports have insinuated. After all as bad as her tweet was, Twitter and indeed much of the social media overlooked worse statements directed at Putin. In fact, Facebook adjusted the company rules to allow death wishes on the Russian leader and his comrades for invading Ukraine. It is this western hypocrisy that nauseates a lot of us.
My friends often accuse me of being a fan of Putin, Xi and Trump. But the truth is that I am only a fan of the first two so long as they check western imperialism and of Trump as long as he challenges the US establishment. Let’s just say that I’m a fan of those who offer a kind of balance. And that is what we need in today’s world. But as our soro soke generation would say..this life no balance.
The Queen is gone and her remains will soon be laid to rest. Britain already has a new King, Charles III. It would appear that the British are more willing to move on faster than Uju Anya. So rather than insulting the dead and bemoaning past years of colonisation, I think Africans need to dissipate more energy on productive discourse because life has to go on..innit?