As our Very Important British Family Visits

Prince Charles of Wales and Nigeria's foremost traditional rulers

Lekan Fatodu

Our very important British family – the heir apparent to the British throne, Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla – came to Nigeria and unsurprisingly got many seriously talking.

It is no longer news that the Nigerian government and its citizens recently played host to Prince Charles and Camilla at a pleasant reception in the country.

But what may linger for some time is the real import of the visit and the discussions the august visitors threw up amongst Nigerians.

Nigeria and Britain share a strong bond due to the colonial history they both share – the British government commanded and controlled power of the state in pre-independence Nigeria.

Though Nigeria has since gained independence from Britian – 53 years ago, to be precise – the country remains dependent, on many fronts, on Britain and other similarly powerful nations.

Like one of Nigeria’s popular humour merchants once joked, if there was a circumstance of colonisation again, many Nigerians will willingly submit to colonial rule against the leadership provided by their country’s current crop of leaders. The comedian also went further to say that if a ship was anchored on our water by either the British or American asking Nigerians to come in for another slavery expedition, not a few Nigerians would jump aboard.

Of course, many would easily wave this thought off as a mere joke. But for some visible harsh realities, I have no doubt that many Nigerians will not think twice before conceding to the two sad assumptions given by the comedian.
In fact, a few shocking facts would give life to the crude wisecrack from the comic performer. Presently, over 80 million Nigerians are reported, by the Nigerian government and by the United Nations, to be living in extreme poverty, a terrible situation that continuously robs victims of good reasoning and sound judgment.

Similarly, Nigerians still top the list of Africans who continually dare the treacherous Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea in futile efforts to cross to Europe in search of the proverbial greener pastures.

The foregoing clearly suggests some of the reasons behind the comic act. It is therefore for want of words or the sake of moderation that would make observers describe the scenarios presented as second-slavery.

No living soul would be confined to many of the harsh circumstances in their home country with no hope in sight and will not contemplate any offerings from the Western countries that are better organised and whose citizens are seen as better off and even superior.

The purpose of the visit of Prince Charles and his wife as previously provided to the public, and some of the highlights from occasion are valid pointers to how our foreign friends and family, if you like, are regarded by us.
“Some of the issues like the farmers/herders crisis are deep-rooted and are about the economy, land resource, climate change and cultural issues.

“The Prince of Wales will be looking at the causes, talking to people who are working in this area and together, seeing if we can find solutions and move on,” the erstwhile British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright said in a statement.

That means, in simple terms, that the prominent member of the British monarchy was in Nigeria to help find practical solutions to the protracted internal conflicts in the country as it appeared to have advanced beyond the capacity of the Nigerian government.
And there was a fascinating side, or the most talked about point of the visitors’ outing, which was the viral picture of Prince Charles with some prominent traditional kings across Nigeria.

The picture which had Prince Charles seated in front while the traditional rulers sat behind him is still generating so much debate with many expressing outrage on why Prince Charles, who was described as a visitor by all interpretations, confidently took a position of the host in the picture while the real hosts comfortably sat as the guests or the royalty’s subjects.

I am as such, constrained to take another look at the views of those who said the picture is a reflection of the thinking of a government that continually seeks solutions from outside, the traditional rulers who still act as though the Western monarchies and cultures are superior to theirs and stimulation for the despondent citizens who are exploring all routes to leave Nigeria given the notion that foreign countries hold better promise.
But something must surely change, and it must be soon.